More than one million sites online today are eCommerce sites (that account for over Three Trillion Dollars annually!) In 2020 more and more people were moving away from traditional 8-5 gigs and were looking into the lucrative world of eCommerce.
But, what actually is it, and how do you even get started with such a massive market? I will be answering all these questions and more.
Let’s get started.
What is an eCommerce website?
Simply put, is a 100% online shop where people shop, purchase, and track orders online. Unlike other types of selling platforms, if it is not 100% online, it is not eCommerce. So everything from a small company that offers freelance work to heavy-hitters like the homemade mega-giant Etsy falls under the umbrella of eCommerce.
Now that we know what an eCommerce website is let’s find out how to start your own business.
Choose Your Platform
There are many platforms to choose from, but the best way to determine what is the best website builder for eCommerce, you need to know what you want to sell and how.
The platform you use needs to be suited to your skill level with maintaining the website and ensure that your stick within your monthly budget once you get the site up and running.
Let’s take a look at a few of the various eCommerce websites to see how each differs:
Even if you have barely heard of eCommerce, you probably are familiar with Shopify. Here are some of my favorite features they offer:
- Cloud-based sites
- Multichannel eCommerce
- Perfect for small to medium-sized businesses
- Powerful Back Office
- Used by Top brands like Tesla Motors, Budweiser, Red Bull, and even the NYSE
Last but not least, Shopify is affordable; I know I can hardly believe it myself. With a basic site costing about 25£, it’s pretty hard to beat. In my opinion, Shopify is the best eCommerce platform for SEO as well. (More on SEO later. )
Now for the cons – while Shopify offers a whole lot, it also is the only platform that has a transaction fee. Content is also a bit of an issue when you switch themes. Unlike other platforms switching themes on Shopify will result in needing to reformat your content. Lastly, the price point is great but beware of add ons that can end up costing you a lot of money.
Head-to-head with Shopify is WooCommerce. This customizable eCommerce platform is built on WordPress. That means that if you already have a WordPress, you can simply add this FREE plugin and voila your store is now open. Nearly a quarter of all online stores are being supported by this easy to use platform.
Another major plus is the WooCommerce prides itself on the level of security its platform has for site hosting. The platform gets regular cybersecurity updates, and there is an ease of updating your own site with adding extra elements.
The cons, similar to Shopify, are namely about the cost. The plugin is free, but the various integrations can add up significantly. You will have to pick and choose what you want to add to your site and plan monthly costs around that.
Used for over twenty per cent of all eCommerce sites. Magento is flexible, giving you a variety of features to your site. It actually has the most far-reaching features list with multiple hosting options, support, and built-in features.
Magento’s biggest pro is its flexibility. This is because it allows you to integrate other tools from third parties to the platform and upload products from third parties as well for your e-shop. You can also make the price vary on each item. For example, you can have an employee price, customer price, or corporate price listed for the item to be specially suited to the buyer.
Cons – This platform is not easy-access and is really built for developers and people who have the expertise needed to use Magento. Due to the skill level needed, a Magento site can easily end up being slow loading and then need an SEO expert to come to swoop in to help.
How to Go To Market
Now, that you have picked what to sell and which platform to use, it is time to market your brand and business. Here is a step-by-step process to hit all the major points:
Step 1: Market Research
Before you can go to the market, you need to know who your target market is. This is best done via market research and looking into your marketing channels. Your market research will tell you who your customers are, who your competitors are, trends in your industry, and other details about your consumer base.
All of these stats will help you create a buyer persona so that you can market directly to your consumer. For example, if you are selling a muscle-enhancement product line for men, you would want to consider age and gender predominantly. If on the other hand, your online store specializes in surf and other ocean-friendly products, targeting landlocked people would be pointless and worse costly. In other words, consider your target markets locations.
Some other examples of considerations are:
- Education – Your content should never exclude your reader nor talk down to them
- Income – Each income group will respond differently to offers and promo messages you deliver
- Personal beliefs or lifestyles – make an effort to understand your consumer base values, ways of life, as well as ways they communicate. This will create a natural connection between you and your audience
When it comes to popular channels for marketing the usual ones are:
- Social Media
- Paid Ads
- Email Marketing
- Video Content
- Guest Blogs
Each offers an avenue to attract, engage, and convert your audience. Utilizing these channels with your market research will help you target your audience by location and interest. It will also provide you with an intuitive understanding of their needs and interests.
Step #2: Creating the Right Content
In Step 1, you learned how to determine your target market as well as the various channels you can use to reach them. For our next step, let’s talk about content. Content in SEO is king, so your site must reflect what you are selling, and items need to be accurately described.
Content vs Traditional Advertising
Most of us are inundated with endless advertisements from the moment we wake up until we turn off our phones. This means that we tend to tune these things out as background noise unless it is something that really catches our attention.
Content, on the other hand, if well done, is specifically crafted with your customer in mind and answers an issue or need they are having. When creating content, make sure you have the following:
- Provides New information
- Offers FREE resources
- Meets a Deman or Need
- Has Readability
Step 3: SEO for eCommerce websites
This is a necessary part of your content and should NEVER be ignored! Many eCommerce sites offer some semblance of an SEO package but typically, without the proper expertise, you could be missing out on literally thousands of potential customers. As noted above, Shopify is the best eCommerce platform for SEO.
Here are my TOP 10 SEO Tricks and Tools:
- Research eCommerce keywords – (check out Ahrefs)
- Product descriptions need to be optimized – H1s, Meta Titles, and Descriptions
- Try not to use jargon
- Use Bullet Points to Enhance Readability
- NO Duplicate Content – this is very tricky since an eCommerce store will have very similar or nearly identical products – use 301redirects or consider adding canonical tags
- 100% responsive design – nearly all online shopping is done on a smart device, design your site with that in mind
- Sitemaps – your platform can auto-generate these but make sure to add them to your GSC
- Avoid Broken Links – 404 errors will drive your customers away fast! Use these tools for a quick fix, Moz, or ScreamingFrog. Both of these tools are also handy for all of of your SEO for eCommerce websites
- Loading time – more than 3 seconds, and your customers will leave. Use Pingdom or PageSpeed Insights to track and fix
- Outsource all of the above to an expert to make sure your site is 100% optimized for eCommerce success!
Well, my friends, I hope you enjoyed this ultimate guide to all things eCommerce.To recap, know what you are selling, where you are selling it, and how best to present and deliver your message to the masses. Don’t forget that if your customers can’t find you, you will NOT sell. SEO for eCommerce websites is critical, so get optimized now.