The most successful e-commerce websites are those that make it easy for a potential customer to find a product that matches their needs, provide all the information they’ll require in order to make a purchase decision, and makes it as simple as possible for them to complete the purchase once they’ve decided they’d like to do so.
They need to be fast, easy to navigate and avoid unnecessary distractions.
The best place to start, by a country mile, is with keyword research & product data.
The key is to use the keyword research to fully understand how your market searches for your products or services (which terms they use, what solutions they are looking for) and then plan your categorisation based on that information.
Combining that information with tip-top product data that meets the feed specifications of digital marketing channels such as Google and Facebook, and also includes product specific detail, such as the dimensions of a table or the colours a coat is available in, allows you to structure a website in a manner that ensures visibility, has logical navigation, and allows users to sort and narrow relevant products using the data you add. You can also use it to automatically generate categories rather than having to manually manage them every time a product is added to your site.
You get that data right at the start, and it’ll pay dividends not only in the building of your site, but in Google Shopping ads, Facebook retargeting and organic search visibility.
Next, you need to present your products or services. That means good quality product photography. Obviously the photography depends on the brand, but many an e-commerce site has been let down by bad quality photography, or lack of detail shots, multiple angles etc. Video is a nice to have too if you can get it, but the photography needs to be bang-on before you start.
Got all that? Okay, then it’s time to choose a platform. Obviously we can help you with that, but some key advice is to avoid any of the build it yourself platforms such as Wix and Squarespace if you plan on selling online. Take it from a guy who has had to fight with those platforms to get them working with Facebook catalogues and Google shopping – they just aren’t up to the job.
If you’re certain you want to use a pre-built solution – go for Shopify.
Just be aware that as you expand, the way shopify makes money is typically by charging for additional extensions that add functionality you may need. These usually add a monthly amount to your Shopify charge, so it can become expensive. On the other hand, you don’t need to worry about slow hosting, and the learning curve for operating a Shopify site is low, so you’ll be able to get it up and running quickly with minimal hassle.
Alternatively, for smaller e-commerce sites, something like WordPress with Woocommerce offers a lot more flexibility than Shopify, but generally requires a decent amount of familiarity with the platforms (the more you can do, the more you need to learn) – so you’ll want a developer on board.
Similarly, for larger sites with more products, Magento is an excellent, highly flexible tool with a great product attribute and categorisation system, but you’ll need to make sure you have top-notch website hosting in place if you want it to be quick (which you do), and you’ll definitely need an agency or developer behind you if you want to get the best out of it.
You may have noticed that we haven’t even touched on the design aspect. That’s because we’re not re-inventing the wheel here. Users understand how e-commerce sites should work and there are specific elements that need to be in specific places, certain features that you can’t do without. Making potential customers search around for core elements in order to make a purchase on your site, is a sure-fire way to lower your conversion rate, so we’re not going to do it.
The hard work is everything before the design – you can then spend half an hour looking over the top themes on a site like this and find a well optimised theme that is tried and tested, responsive & mobile friendly and customisable to your brand. Pick one you like and then we begin the task of combining it with your product data and photography with the ultimate goal of creating a customised, easy to use showcase for your products.
This site is built on wordpress, using a flexible theme called ‘Salient’, we have woocommerce built in for client payments, but obviously we don’t sell anything other than our time. It’s a highly flexible tool though.
Don’t leave the customer without info. they need, and simplify the process.
What’s the complexity of the products like? Are they configurable? Multiple sizes? Do they all have different attributes?
What have you used in the past? What are you familiar with? What did you like about it (or not)?
Do you have comprehensive product or service data? How is it structured? How many distinct products or services will you be providing?
Do you already have copy? Can you write it, or do you have a copywriting resource? Do you have industry expertise we can leverage?
Do you already have relevant images, photography, video? If not, can you get them? Their visual presentation is really important.
Everybody has different needs and we understand that. We don’t see web development as a standalone job, we’d much rather build a roadmap and work on building online success over time than install a platform and a theme and hand it over then walk away. That’s an old way to do things that results in stagnant, out of date sites that look dated and untrustworthy. So our model is more about building any web development into an ongoing digital marketing strategy. The product data for example, will translate into a Facebook catalogue or Google shopping ads, so getting it right first time will save many a headache down the line.
Let us know what you want to achieve and we’ll help you put together a plan that ensures your new site will do what you want it to do.
Read more about some of the specific services we offer below, or just get in touch for a chat now.