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For ecommerce, 2014 was a year of milestones. Worldwide, sales hit a record high of $1.3 trillion. Alibaba claimed the title for largest global IPO ever. The overwhelming majority of U.S. shoppers are now buying products online. It was a good year.
But 2015 is expected to be even better, with global sales growing at 6.4%. E-commerce industry is growing. Amid this highly lucrative segment if you are thinking of starting your own ecommerce store, here are a few basics every ecommerce store owner should be aware of.
#1. Ecommerce platform
Selecting the right platform to power your ecommerce store is the most critical part of setting up an ecommerce store.
It starts with selecting either a Self-hosted or Hosted category. With the self-hosted plan the company provides the software but not the hosting whereas the Hosted category provides the hosting.
The most widely used ecommerce platforms include:
• Shopify (Hosted) – The admin panel has a beautiful user interface, the add on apps enables in adding numerous customizable functionalities but they do not offer customizable checkout panel.
• BigCommerce (Hosted) – The admin panel of BigCommerce is easily navigable along with clean user interface.
• Magento (Self-hosted) – One of the oldest ecommerce platforms, Magento has numerous features but is not easy to customize.
• WooCommerce (Self-hosted) – This WordPress plugin has thousands of themes and plugins and is accompanied with all the goodies offered by WordPress.
Based on your store’s requirements and the available budget, choose the ecommerce store that fulfils all the needs of your ecommerce store.
#2. Web hosting
E-commerce platforms such as Shopify and Squarespace are self-hosted, and they provide unlimited storage when you go for their premium plans. But if you choose Magento or a Woocommerce you need to have web hosting provider service. Take these features into consideration while choosing the web hosting provider:
• Customer service: They should respond to queries immediately and have 24/7 customer support. An active forum is an added benefit.
• Storage capacity: Ecommerce storage is determined by the pictures and videos uploaded which take up considerable space. Some web hosting companies limit not only the amount of data stored but also the amount transferred onto their servers. Unlimited storage and data transfers are essentials when you are starting your E-commerce store. Website design and source codes, product pictures, content and all other information will occupy a good amount of space. Unlimited storage is required if you are planning to scale your store in the future.
• Security: A private SSL will help build customers’ confidence in your site. They protect not only credit card information but also user logins and passwords.
• Speed: Your web hosting provider plays a key role in your site’s load speed. Fast load time will make the user experience better and improve the search engine rankings. According to research by KissMetrics 47% of consumers expect a page to loads in 2 seconds or less. 40% of them will abandon the site if it takes too long to load.
Some Famous and popular Web host providers you can choose from Hostgator, Go Daddy, BlueHost and DreamHost.
#3. Search Engine Optimization
The first three results on the search engine receive almost 25% of the organic traffic. This highlights the importance of having your ecommerce store search engine optimized. A quick way to reduce the SEO efforts for your ecommerce store, use an ecommerce template/theme which is search engine optimized. Some points related to search engine optimization for the ecommerce store which you should be aware of include:
• Find Effective Keywords, people tend to be quite specific when they are conducting a keyword search. Include long tail keywords as they are given higher priority by search engines.
• The content on the website should be unique and relevant for higher ranking in search results.
• Optimize your product images. Give keyword friendly names to your product pictures ideally, each keyword you choose for each particular image should be as relevant as possible so that every ALT tag associated with each image is unique.
• Avoid broken links. Would you ever visit a website after being welcomed with a “Page 404 Not Found”? Thoroughly check the links on each page, so that this issue is never encountered by the visitors.
• Make Your URL Structure Easy for Search Engines to Crawl. Proper URL structure can make it easier for search engine robots to find and crawl your site, and recognize what your site is about, thereby making it appear in the search results.
• Have Unique Meta Descriptions for Every Webpage. Limit the description to 140 characters and include keywords in the meta description.
#4. Payment gateways
What if your ecommerce store looks and feels great but makes no sales? The aim behind building ecommerce stores is to improve sales and make global sales, the products on your online store have to be sold for this. When a customer buys a product online, it is the payment gateway which receives the account information from your online store. In net banking transaction, gateways directly engages with the customer’s banks. Different customers have different needs in terms of the gateway service that suits them best. Things to consider when choosing a payment gateway provider include:
• Offers choices to utilize the installment gateway as a safe facilitated administration, incorporated through the shopping basket or the ability to host your own particular secure installment structure.
• Always confirm an administration supplier’s notoriety and check for PCI agreeability.
• Look for administration devices so you can screen and control installments and payments.
• Fraud tools are a must have, they help in preventing fraudulent transactions.
The most commonly used payment gateways include – CCAvenue, PayPal, Authorize.net, WooCommerce and 2CheckOut
#5. Landing Page Selection
Now you have done all the hard work for your E-commerce store from choosing payment gateways to Search engine optimization. The next big step is to convert those visitors into potential leads. But what’s the best way to get them convert – landing pages. They are web pages through which you can capture a visitor’s information such as their emails and guide them on what to do further.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a major disconnect between the importance of landing pages and their use by marketers. According to Marketing Sherpa’s Landing Page Handbook (2nd edition), 44% of clicks for B2B companies are directed to the business’ homepage, not a special landing page.
Reasons Why You Need Landing Pages:
1. Easily generate leads
2. Marketing offers-Freebies in return for Subscribing
3. Collect demographic information
Some points to consider:
• A call to action button: Tells visitors what to do, where they should click, and what to buy. It lights the path to your checkout and turns a visitor into a customer as quickly as possible.
• Include a clear tagline and the sub heading should carry a clear value proposition.
• Only asks what is necessary.
• Use Pictures with the clear message what your product or service wants to convey.
• Optimize your landing page for mobile users.