E-commerce is a constantly expanding and developing sector, and there is always room for new businesses to step up and take a slice of the market. Thanks to the many e-commerce platforms and website-building providers out there, it is quick and easy to get an e-commerce website up and running.
However, having an e-commerce site is not the same as building a profitable and stable business. To ensure long-term success, you need to be aware of the ever-changing landscape of consumer habits, technologies and trends, and you need to be ready to change alongside them. Here are six steps to setting up a successful e-commerce business.
1. Take your time
One of the most common errors made by entrepreneurs when starting an online business is to rush the launch. In their eagerness to get the business operational, they cut corners and/or focus on the look of the website rather than its functionality. Your website needs to be tested in every possible way in order to ensure it is functional and secure, and that you have analytics set up to track performance. Your business should only launch when you have completed all your market research, built and tested the website, and created your digital marketing strategy.
2. Prioritize the user experience
You could have the best product and marketing strategy in the world, but if customers struggle to navigate your website, find there is not enough information to make a decision or hit error pages while trying to purchase, they will go elsewhere. You should focus on ensuring that the customer can browse the website and make purchases with ease, and that you provide efficient shipping and exceptional customer service.
3. Invest in cybersecurity
An e-commerce website with inadequate security is vulnerable to cyberattacks, which can spell disaster for businesses of any size. For example, a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack can be deployed to flood a website with fake traffic, causing it to crash so it cannot be used by real customers. Your website and network need to be protected against a wide range of cyberattacks and this is an ongoing task, as criminals are continually adapting their tactics and looking for weaknesses.
4. Maintain a social media presence
Social media marketing is vital to e-commerce businesses in terms of customer communication, marketing opportunities and insights into your customers’ lives and buying habits. Your social media accounts are the ideal place to share useful content and promotions that will appeal to your audience. Your social media activity should reflect your brand and its personality.
5. Make sure you are mobile-friendly
Nowadays, an increasing number of people are using smartphones and tablets when searching the internet, so if your website is only designed to be viewed on a desktop computer, it will impact its usability. To ensure that your website is easy to use both now and in the future, be sure to optimize it for mobiles.
6. Embrace search engine optimization
To increase the chances of your website ranking at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs), you need to develop a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. This means designing your website and its content in line with what the search engines such as Google and Bing deem to be high quality. However, SEO is a complex topic, so if you are not familiar with the process, it may be worth hiring an SEO consultant to help you create a strategy.