There are many advantages to designing an eCommerce website, including the fact that you can continue running when everything else shuts down. Businesses that were already online when the COVID-19 epidemic hit shifted their customers to their websites. While you should never make business decisions based on fear, you may now be ready to start a digital shop.
In the U.S., the eCommerce market is worth around $419,879,000, with an average annual growth rate of 9.3%. This growth alone should inspire entrepreneurs wanting to start new online or add digital shopping to their lineup.
If you’re thinking about designing an eCommerce website, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
1. Choose a Niche
One of the first things to consider for your online store is fulfilling a niche need. Plenty of big digital retailers exist, such as Amazon and Walmart. Those places fulfill people’s basic needs. You have a chance to gain a stronghold with niche items. For example, you might personalize a product you’re selling. Think about what you can offer that no one else does. Designing an eCommerce website isn’t exactly rocket science, so you’re competing with everyone who has a similar idea. Make yours unique.
2. Study Other Retailers
Designing an eCommerce website starts with the most fundamental design elements. Study other commercial sites and take notes on what you like and don’t like. Remember that you’re competing for attention with over a billion other websites. You want to capture user attention but also meet expectations.
3. Pick a Hosting Company
Your website needs a place to live online. Think of your hosting plan as your digital storefront. It’s where you store files so the public can access and order items. You want a hosting company that offers reasonably priced packages but also gives you the option to scale up as your business grows.
4. Decide on a Platform
You’ll also want to decide what type of platform to sell on. You could skip the hosting search and go with a site such as Shopify or Wix to build your store. These are excellent options for those with little technical knowledge. If you want a bit more control over your store, you can choose a platform such as WordPress with a Woocommerce plugin. Or, you can install shopping cart open-source software on your own servers.
5. Set Your Style
Start by asking yourself what you want customers to feel when they visit your website. Designing an eCommerce site should factor in how different colors tap into user emotions. However, the process should also respect any color palettes you already have in place. Using a style guide can help you make everything on your site consistent.
6. Take Professional Pictures
You might be tempted to pull out your smartphone and snap photos of your products for your online store. The problem is that such images may have weird shadows or don’t showcase the item in the best way. Consider getting photos from the manufacturer, investing in a professional photographer or buying the equipment needed to take pictures yourself.
7. Write Product Descriptions
Put yourself in the shoes of the average site visitor when designing an eCommerce website. They may have never heard of your brand before. They aren’t in a physical location where they can view the item from all angles or pick it up. It’s your job to write a description that explains every detail.
Include color, weight, size and unique features — you can even mention how the product feels in your hands. Think about the questions customers have asked about the product and answer them in your description.
8. Choose Payment Methods
For an online store, you’ll need to choose different payment methods than the ones you use in a brick-and-mortar store. While you can still process credit cards, you may want to avoid taking checks and replace them with something like Stripe, Square or PayPal. Set up the accounts you need to move forward with these payment options. Watch out for the fees!
9. Create Multi-Channel Marketing
In the 2018 B2B Ecommerce Trends Report, researchers uncovered that most B2B retailers expect online sales to grow 25% a year. One way you can encourage current in-person customers to spend more is by automating processes. If someone orders the same thing every two weeks, reach out and offer to automate the process online for them. Think of ways you can cross-promote between offline and online channels. Designing an eCommerce website should always include a meshing of both worlds.
10. Highlight Popular Items
One mistake businesses make with online sales is trying to offer everything and then some. People often feel overwhelmed with too many selections. Create individual landing pages for different audience segments and display only one or two items on each page. Limit your offerings and choose goods to highlight in your sliders.
11. Get Mobile Friendly
There are over three billion smartphone users around the globe, with predictions of this number rising to 3.8 billion by 2021. People now shop on their phones while on the go. If you want to reach the masses, you must ensure your eCommerce store is mobile friendly.
12. Test Everything
Once you finish designing your eCommerce website, go through each aspect of it and make sure everything functions as expected. Click on items to add them to the shopping cart. Go through the checkout process and ensure everything goes through correctly. Does the customer receive confirmation that their order went through? How can you simplify the process?
13. Promote Your Site
Now that you have everything in place and have tested the site functions, start promoting your store. Start by marketing to current customers — or family and friends if you’re just starting. You should also create a social media campaign and bring in email newsletter subscribers you can market to directly. Offering a coupon for signing up for the newsletter is a great way to draw in new subscribers.
14. Gather Reviews
People are much more likely to consider buying from an unknown source if they see reviews showing other satisfied customers. Send an email and ask those who purchased from you already to share their thoughts about the product. Seek out reviews on social media and share them on your website. Grab testimonials from your top customers.
Start Designing Your Ecommerce Website Today
Designing an eCommerce website today is easier than it was at any time in the past. However, easy shouldn’t mean careless. Take the time to plan your site in detail and test everything to see what performs well. With a little extra effort, you’ll have a stable revenue source that will be there no matter what else goes on in the world.
About The Author
The Designerly staff is committed to providing well-researched and ongoing learning resources. We're dedicated to educating you on key design concepts and showcasing strategic marketing plans to help grow your business.