Starting an E-commerce site: The 5 basics

Starting an E-commerce site: The 5 basics

E-commerce is HUGE. You own a business and don’t have a website? Well, what are you waiting for? With more and more people choosing to shop from the comfort of their own homes rather than braving the high street, having a website opens up an audience size that can blow your standard, physical shop foot-fall and purchase counts through the roof. Some have ditched the brick-and-mortar store altogether, with many new businesses are operating solely through e-commerce websites. The benefits are pretty enticing; fewer employee wages, no regular building maintenance costs, no electricity and water bills, no increasing monthly rent or alarm systems, no in-store advertising or product bags; the list really does go on and on.

However, designing and developing an e-commerce site that is user-friendly, enticing from a brand perceptive, and functional does come at a price, and there are plenty of money-draining pitfalls. Whether expanding off a brick-and-mortar business, or launching a completely new venture with an online store, we’re here to give a few starter tips and tricks with our very own One Hour Wines website as an example; tips and tricks that cover the basics of establishing and running a successful e-commerce store that will take you from profit to profit.

Spend your money wisely on your website design.

You probably think you’re saving on costs by paying for a slightly subpar website whilst you get your e-commerce site started; then paying for new additions and improvements along the way. The initial cost for this kind of website might seem cheaper, but you will soon find that money needs to be spent every time another new feature is added, making the website more expensive than previously estimated once all costs have been added.

Not having the best-suited website for your business can also hinder customers from making any purchases. Maybe it takes them too long to find the product they are looking for, or the site isn’t user friendly, or there are simply too many clicks to complete their purchase. Spending a little bit more on your website at the beginning of your e-commerce journey will not only get you the site that you really need, i.e. with all the necessary features and compatibility with mobile devices, but will also increase customer satisfaction and improve brand identity.

So, invest a little bit more at the start when developing an online site in order to spend less on it as your business grows. Take a look at our website, to see how an effective and functional website design can really drive sales. We managed to sell 10,000 bottles within 2 months of our launch.

Your keywords must be targeting the right thing.

If you’re selling luxury designer bags on your online shop and the keyword for your ad is “bags”, your traffic is being directed to your homepage, because that is all your site sells. This leaves customers to decide where on your site to look further. Most of the time, customers search for specific things, such as “black Prada back-pack” in order to get better results in their search engines. Setting a more descriptive keyword/s in your ad sets, can more efficiently drive traffic to the appropriate landing page on your site, which could lead to a potential sale. It’s a win-win situation, more targeted keywords are also, in fact, cheaper in ad terms than the broader keyword “bags”.

For example, by targeting our audience and making the best use of keywords for our ads, we had 21,000 unique visitors on our One Hour Wines site.

Get realistic with your timeline and goals.

You might not be aware of the time it takes for certain marketing activities to come into effect and what each ROI yields. In reality, it’s worth tracking all of your marketing activities to know how each is performing to see if you need to stop one avenue or increase your spend on another. At the launch of our business One Hour Wines, we yielded a direct Return on Investment of over 500%, with sales doubling each week.

Allocate time efficiently.

Many business owners think that as long as they’re working and doing as much as they can with their time, they are automatically being efficient. What should be noted here is that although you’re doing a lot, it may not be targeted enough to help effectively reach your goals. So next time you think of spending large sums on seemingly useful marketing activities, focus your efforts on something more fruitful such as effective SEO or email marketing. The One Hour Wines site managed to gain 3,500 email sign-ups in the first 2 months.

Make sure your customer service is on point.

Your website may be great and user friendly, your ads may be properly targeted and driving the right traffic, and you’ve set yourself a realistic ROI timeline. If your customer service is unsatisfactory, these efforts could be futile. Just like you’d complain in a restaurant if the waiter was rude or your food took too long to get to your table, customers are going to be disappointed if your e-commerce service isn’t what they expect.

Developing good relationships with customers is extremely important for your e-commerce site because there is no face-to-face interaction, so customers often feel as though they’re dealing with a non-human entity. Creating a mutually beneficial relationship with customers can be achieved through social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook (check out our combined 3.8K followers on FB and IG). Adding a chat feature on your e-commerce site can also improve customer service so anyone visiting your website can ask questions about product offerings and make general enquiries. The e-commerce world is growing rapidly, so it is important to stay on top of things and add a distinctly human element to your site by having excellent customer service. By interacting with our followers and their friends, and creating a relatable tone-of-voice, One Hour Wines managed to maintain 35% of our returning customers.

Whilst you might be tempted to invest in as many digital marketing strategies as possible, this does not necessarily equate to the results that you’d like. By carefully devising an effective strategy and continually monitoring your current digital marketing activities, you can not only save money, but also take your e-commerce site from strength to strength.