Launching yourself into a new eCommerce venture can be a daunting prospect when you’re not an expert. It can be difficult to know exactly what you want when there are so many things to consider and you don’t have a predefined budget. If this is your first foray into running a business online, then we’ve gone into detail about some areas to be aware of before immersing yourself into a digital build.
Identify Your Needs
A good starting point is working out your anticipated turnover of your store, which can provide you with a good indication of where to start looking. This is important as it will usually give you a good estimation of the budget you will have to build your site, and will also give you an idea of how important online sales will be to your business. The design of your website might be your biggest expense, but it’s important that it is visually appealing and functional in order to generate a good amount of revenue.
Create Your Business Name & Secure Your Domain Name
Choosing a stand-out business name is no mean feat in today’s consumer-driven world. Opt for something clear and memorable that will aid you in getting business. You can try out a corporate name search to make sure it’s not already in use, and don’t forget to register your chosen name as soon as possible.
Ideally, you’ll wish to have your business name as your domain name, but this won’t always be the case. If you’re unable to secure your ideal domain name, ensure the one you choose is simple and easy to spell, whilst still relating to your business. Try reversing the name of the business to get around taken URLs, such as “SallysSewingWorld.com” if your business name is “Sally’s World Of Sewing”, for example.
Choosing Your Platform
Choosing the platform you wish to build on can be key to the success of your online store. Once you have assessed your anticipated turnover, you should be able to choose the correct platform based on the guidelines outlined below:
Woo Commerce – for small/medium sized companies. Woo Commerce is the eCommerce arm to WordPress as it allows companies to create stores with a strong aesthetic focus. It’s a great platform for companies starting up, or a company that perhaps has a WordPress site and is looking to move into eCommerce. Turnover/anticipated turnover from £0 – 300k.
Shopify – for small/medium sized companies. This platform tends to be seen as the next step up, is very much geared towards eCommerce, and is relatively affordable to develop a store on. Its limitations come with its ability to scale or develop custom functionality for stores. This platform serves eCommerce in an affordable form, but requires transaction fees and monthly fees as compensation. Turnover & anticipated turnover from 50k – 500k.
Magento – For small/ medium/large companies – The largest open source eCommerce platform in the world, Magento is a robust and proven platform that can be scaled with custom functionality and boasts a wealth of extensions. Custom functionality can be expensive when trying to replicate a look and feel for a more lifestyle brand that may lean towards Woo Commerce. Whether you go for the ‘Community’ version (free) or ‘Enterprise’ (paid), this is a platform for companies that are serious about eCommerce that you can grow with. Turnover & anticipated turnover from 250k – 50m+.
Demandware – for large companies. This is a truly enterprise eCommerce platform recently acquired by Salesforce. The platform is giving Magento Enterprise a run for its money and has been taken up by some of the largest online retailers in the world. Demandware comes at a cost with a revenue share model which is expensive, but it also means you get their support and they have an interest in your success. Turnover & anticipated turnover from 5m – 100m+.
Be Mobile Friendly
Mobile commerce is big business and is forecast to be worth $626 billion by 2018. It has tripled in size between 2012 and 2014, and cannot be ignored when setting up your eCommerce business. People need to be able to navigate your site whether they are on desktop or tablet, so it’s a good idea to use a responsive website design in order to maximise sales. Responsive design is an intelligent solution that adapts the site layout and features based on how it’s viewed.
Start Marketing Early
Marketing early can give you a head start when in the process of setting up your eCommerce business. Set up social media profiles and start writing content for your company’s blog so you start organised and ready to go when your website launches. It’s a good idea to set up a “coming soon” section on your page where people can sign up to receive updates about your business which will also help you to start building your email marketing list as soon as possible. You can then start to offer visitors free shipping and discounts to encourage return visits and first purchases to get you going!
If you’re interested in starting up an eCommerce store on the Magento platform, get in touch to see how we could help you!