Make no mistake as we are living in the 21st century - where everything has gone online, especially after the Coronavirus outbreak. The web has become the place to be, whether you are a department store or a multinational conglomerate.
Nowadays, having a credible digital identity, i.e. having a business website or an e-commerce platform is equal to an evident sign store in front of your door. So, to build a fruitful business, setting up an online shop has become a prerequisite. It has opened up another avenue to make sales and created an interface to interact with potential customers even without having them walk into the store.
However, creating an e-commerce platform isn’t as easy as paying for a domain. So, here are 10 steps that a small or medium enterprise must follow to build a perfect e-commerce website:
Step 1: The e-commerce market has space for everyone, but finding what makes you stand out is the key. Specialize in what and how you have to offer.
Having a unique offering isn’t the only way to make a business work, but coupling it with the right identity is. Hence, research is of the utmost importance. Creating your niche in a space flooded with unique yet similar business concepts is what will differentiate an enterprise from the rest. As a business that stands to make a profit, beginning with asking yourself the right questions will be the first step in building a perfect e-commerce website.
Step 2: Decide on the kind of your e-commerce business.
Despite having a B2B, B2C, D2C, or any other kind of business, deciding the type of business you want to operate is the next very important thing. The focus may vary from selling offerings to resellers (B2B) or selling to consumers brought from a brand to directly selling to the consumers by brand. Hence, having clarity on the kind of e-commerce business will help navigate through the coming steps.
Step 3: At this step, make decisions about the business plan and the budget for the upcoming journey. Make sure you count in the marketing costs while at it.
Any plan can only take off on its merits, and ensuring that having a full-proof business plan with answers to all the whats, ifs, hows, buts and whens is an ideal place to start. Consider costs for even the smallest of things, summarise all sorts of objectives, set a timeline, count in all the technical aspects and the marketing needs it’ll cost to bring the project to life, and the entire cost of creating an online store - buying a domain name, developer costs for e-commerce store, cataloging costs, registration, web hosting and more.
Note: Businesses must remember that people will treat their e-commerce as a mirror of what the brand stands for, its values, and most importantly its user friendly.
Step 4: Next step in the line is to choose a product acquisition model that works for your business model.
To shape your e-commerce strategy, it is essential to consider a product acquisition model - to understand how you can stock your store and handle the inventory as the business grows. Dropshipping, manufacturing, or wholesaling are the 3 most popular models that will fit most of the business needs. However, these are not the only places to start with. Every business need is different and trying a combination of different models will benefit the business in the long run.
Step 5: Select a business name that can make your brand stand out. Don’t hesitate to do thorough market research, if need be.
There is no harm in trying to make everything work. Extensive research on what can work well for your business is the best way to go around it - it will boost brand reputation, create a brand persona, and will also help break through the clutter. A small or medium size startup must understand that it is in the name; it is the identity that will draw a line between you and your competitor.
Step 6: Choose an e-commerce web hosting service that serves your needs best. Invest in a service provider that can provide more than just security.
Customers purchase from an e-commerce platform only when they know their data is safe from hacks and leaks. Taking time to weigh in options as to where you must host the business can be difficult, so during this step, you must look into the resources that you’ll be offered such as disc space, bandwidth, or security mechanisms such as SSL certificate, anti-DDos, or if even the plan justifies the price you’ll be paying.
Step 7: Time to make creative decisions, now that the back-end tasks are in place. Choose a UI/UX design that is simple, user-friendly, and yet captivating. Also, ensure that the theme of your e-commerce aligns completely with your brand identity.
The first impression is not necessarily the last, but it definitely sets the tone for the rest of the experience. Designing a website must be completely based on how a customer travels through the website to make a purchase. The UI/UX must be configured to a customer’s comfort as much as it is designed to please the eyes - hence, besides adding attention-grabbing images and enticing content, the website must be built to meet the needs of a customer, i.e., must load fast, should be mobile-friendly, among other things.
Step 8: Set up secure, reliable, and quick payment gateways. Also, put up a mechanism against cyber-threats to fight against any security breach.
Businesses must understand that it is essential to understand the importance of this very step. Even though today billions of transactions are being carried online, customers are still skeptical every time they make a purchase online. So, setting up an e-commerce store that is quick and secure is the only way to manage even the most anxious of customers. This way the business is no more prone to cyber-threats
Step 9: Integrate the e-commerce platform with CRM, ERP, PIM, and SEO among other systems.
An e-commerce platform is not a stand-alone entity, it requires a number of forwarding and backward integration with a combination of third-party systems that puts it on the map. Systems such as customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, product information system, and search engine optimization can hugely increase business efficiency by improving customer experience, automating back-office functions, driving customers to the platform, and saving time and money.
Step 10: At the end, customize shipping settings before the e-commerce goes public. Also, take a run-through of the entire website to fix any bugs or experience inconsistencies.
Determining the shipping policies and solutions bears a lot of impact on the psychology of the consumer. It provides a clear and precise understanding of what the customer’s rights are if anything goes south.
Summing it Up
Having an e-commerce identity provides the solid foundation that small and medium enterprises require to establish their name. The Indian e-commerce space is growing exponentially; and, in 2022 alone, it is predicted to increase by 21.5 percent reaching US$74.8 billion benefiting most e-commerce businesses, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. E-commerce is here to stay, and it is the right time to take the plunge and start before it is too late.