So, let’s say that you’ve set up a business. While every business is unique in its own way, especially if you work in a very specific niche or under certain conditions, you will find some similarities cropping up in how you need to run every business.
For example, a food delivery business might look very different from an IT support business, but the owner still has to think about administrative duties, taxes, paying employees, and marketing strategies. One of the things that every business has in common is that they will benefit from an online presence.
Business websites used to be an optional feature. A large corporation might have a business website, or a business that specifically operates online may need a website. But nowadays, even small local businesses will benefit from an online presence, and it is often necessary for growth.
The business website might differ from company to company. A social media account with a basic website consisting primarily of a landing page and a few bits of information might be enough for some companies. But other companies may need a more in-depth eCommerce website.
So, what is eCommerce? How can an eCommerce site help your business? How can you set it up properly? Let’s find out.
What is eCommerce?
So, what’s the difference between a business website and an eCommerce site?
In short, an eCommerce site is a kind of business website. Not all business websites have eCommerce capabilities, but all eCommerce websites are used for businesses. An eCommerce website differs from a simpler business website because people can buy and sell products directly from the website.
It has tools that allow customers to put an item in a basket, take it to checkout, buy directly from their funds, then have it delivered to their home, all without leaving the website.
If you’ve ever bought something online, you’ve been on an eCommerce website. If you’ve been on a business website that included a list of products and a way to contact the buyer, that wasn’t an eCommerce website.
Why is eCommerce Important?
Most people still remember 2020 and Covid-19. People weren’t able to just pop to the shops and grab what they wanted, but they had to either take extra precautions or shop online. Online shopping was around before Covid-19, but people were forced into this new method of purchasing.
Believe it or not, people liked shopping online.
It’s convenient to be able to shop from the comfort of your own home, or even on the go by using your phone. Even when physical stores were opened again, the paradigm shift that started before 2020 was much further along, and online shopping became a much more viable business strategy than focusing on in-person purchases.
There is still a place for in-person shopping. Some people like the social side of shopping, or they enjoy being able to see their products in real life and even try them out.
But eCommerce allows companies to reach more customers than ever before. Some businesses have been able to shift entirely to an online model, cutting down on operating costs significantly, while still being able to cater to customers around the world.
Not every company requires eCommerce functionality on its website, but it does make it much easier and more convenient for people to buy your products. If we know anything about consumers, its that convenience is king. If people get frustrated trying to buy your products, they may find a competitor that will make their lives easier. So, beat them to the punch and buying the buying process as streamlined and straightforward as possible.
Doing eCommerce Right
So, you’ve decided that eCommerce is the right move for your business website. Fantastic. Now all you need to do is set up your website and make sure that it’s functional and attractive enough for your customers to enjoy using it.
This is, unfortunately, where things can get complicated.
There’s a lot that can go wrong when designing and developing an ecommerce website. So, let’s consider a bad example first.
Let’s say that you’re trying to buy something online, so you find a business website that promises to sell you the product. Your first opinion is that the website is cluttered and hard to navigate. What does this make you think?
Well, if the website isn’t properly designed, what does that say about the product itself? Professionalism is a promise of competence, and it should run through every part of a business, including the website. Also, you may get frustrated struggling to find the product that you want to buy. Some people give up at this point.
Let’s say that you persevere, you find the product. The product description is unclear and there isn’t a good picture of it. Again, it’s harder to trust the product or the company because you aren’t sure what you’re going to get for the money. If you were buying something in person, you wouldn’t need a clear description, but you’re forced to hope that the prduct is what you need and that you won’t have to go through the hassle of returning it.
Finally, you’ve decided to buy the product, although many people would have moved on by now. But when you try to check out, you find the system is confusing, slow, and irritating to use. This is often where you end up with abandoned shopping carts. Some eCommerce websites are perfectly functional and professional, until it comes to the checkout stage.
If you have a lot of abandoned shopping carts, it’s a sign that there’s a problem with your system and that customers are getting frustrated and giving up.
This example shows what can go wrong, but also where you can get things right. Whether you design the website yourself using a template or hire a professional developer to create a custom website, these are some key points that you need to consider.
- Does your website look attractive and professional? For example, is the font easy to read?
- Is the website easy to navigate? Does it make sense to a user?
- Can they find products quickly and easily?
- Are your products adequately described and, if applicable, photographed?
- Do you have a clear return policy?
- Is the checkout system quick and easy to use?
If you get these things right, you’re one step ahead of the competition and much more likely to retain customers.
Adding Content to Your Website
So, your online store just needs a landing page and the store itself, right? Well, not really.
Again, business websites used to be fairly spartan because that was what people expected. But now the internet is full of content.
What is content?
So, content is your way of communicating with your customers. When you post things onto a social media account, you are creating content. This content might be text, videos, or images. But it is always a way to reach your customers and share things with them.
Social media marketing thrives on creating content and creating relationships with your customers. If they see your business being active in their lives, they will be far more likely to use it. However, the same applies to your website.
Content marketing attracts people to your website and keeps them there.
If you compare it to shopping in person, creating content for your webiste is the equivalent of a store-owner talking to their customers. People like to buy things from people that they feel like they know and like. This is the same whether it’s a friendly shop-keeper or an informative website.
Content also allows you to set your business up as an expert in its field. However, the key is to create good, relevant content.
People can see through worthless content. It’s why AI content still isn’t the same quality as human-created content. It can’t add anything to the conversation.
If your website has a blog or another platform for content, you need to ensure that it’s regularly updated with interesting information. The content needs to be related to your product, even if its not directly advertising it. So a gardening eCommerce site that sells gardening equipment and seeds would benefit from a blog about gardening, not a blog about finances.
Generating content does take time and skill. Writing isn’t everyone’s strong suit and, even if what you have to say is valuable, how you say it matters as well. People will notice mistakes and awkward wording.If you have a blog and don’t have the time or skills to fill it with good content, then hire a content writer to make your life much easier. You can give them guidance on what to write and how often you want to update your blog. If you want to write about a niche subject, try finding a content writer who specializes in that subject and, ideally, someone who is familiar with SEO marketing strategies so that you can get the most bang for your buck.