7 Useful Steps to Build a Successful Online E-Commerce Platform
People prefer convenience in everything, and the evolution of credit cards is a much-related example. Let us go down memory lane and remember the methods people used to make payments with. It was either by cash or by check. Then, when credit cards emerged on the scene, most individuals stopped carrying cash. Why would you want to carry currency in thousands when payments can be made in a simpler way through a credit card?
The success of e-commerce platforms has a similar logic behind it. Initially, when people wanted to shop, a plan had to be made with several hours being reserved to visit the market place. This approach has changed completely. Everyone is highly comfortable with adding products with a click, making digital payments, and waiting for the package. Instead of spending hours, you can purchase your favorite products in minutes.
The unimaginable revenue of E-Commerce websites
Looking at the revenue of well-known e-commerce sites would surely give you a shockwave. For the top-rated online retail software, the annual revenue is in millions or even billions. What is the reason behind it? To begin with, e-commerce stores do not have any geographical boundaries. While staying in Australia, you can buy something from an Indian e-commerce store. Reputed credit card platforms like VISA or Mastercard are integrated and customers are able to make their e-payments smoothly.
For any business venture, success and failure go hand in hand. A lot of e-commerce stores have closed down after running for a few months because they never took off properly. Either the owners did not know about the best practices or they adopted an overambitious approach to deal with things. You need to have the right tips and tweaks so that the business venture does not face failure.
Seven key steps you need to complete for kicking off an e-commerce business
If you go by the book, there are countless steps entrepreneurial gurus advise to follow. Let us have a look at the seven key ones.
1. Recruit the best software development company
More than 80 percent of the business success depends on how the programming tasks have been carried out. People would consider your products only after they develop trust in your website. This only happens when the user experience is uninterrupted and they do not have to face lengthy loading times. All this depends on how skilled the development talent is.
2. Ensure that all stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) are being completed properly
Before an e-commerce website is developed, various other stages should be completed. Everything starts with business analysis through which the software firm will gather your requirements. After that, the UX/UI (user interface/user experience) team will work on the GUI (Graphic user interface). Once this stage has been completed, the development and testing stage will be initiated. After the Quality Assurance team tests your solution one last time, the website will be deployed on your server. Then, the support and maintenance stages are launched.
A fact is that only an experienced website development company follows these stages in a systematic manner. Most of them jump straight to the development stage without completing the design. As a business owner who is spending money, make sure that you are picking a web development firm that is present at the top.
3. Employ Agile methodology
These days, most web development, mobile application development, and other programming projects are being developed using Agile methodology. It works well because, with each delivery, the user is able to see a working feature. One does not have to wait for the entire application development process to complete. This way, if there are issues in any sprint, you can report them so that the changes are made as soon as possible. All these goals can only be accomplished if the agile methodology is used.
As a client, this project management methodology will suit you because, with every sprint, you will see a feature/component working. Therefore, make sure that you have discussed this aspect with the web development firm.
4. Get hold of the best possible hosting provider
Compromising on the quality of hosting services is the biggest blunder that any website owner can make. Always remember that your user experience depends highly on the standard of performance a website has. Most users leave e-commerce stores because they undergo updates at peak shopping hours.
Have a proper look at the web hosting services and compare two or three top plans. Try to get in touch with someone who has been using their services before you purchase a plan. The quality of services portrayed by the hosting company has a relationship of direct proportionality with business sales.
Irrespectively of the platform/service provider you are choosing, make sure that you perform a comparative analysis of the price being paid and services offered. Do not get a website hosted only because the provider is charging a crazily low price. It can be a troublesome situation when you set up an e-commerce store, add a top-level product line, and then struggle with the performance of the website.
Prompt technical support is always needed when there are accessibility or server related issues. If the server goes down for a second, all the transactions or “add to cart” attempts by the user will go into a mode of non-responsiveness. This is when buyers will stop trusting you. They would assume that the order has been successfully placed while this may not be the case. Make sure that you have an experienced development company that drills into the problem and comes up with a quick solution.
5. Pick a theme that represents your store effectively
As a business owner, you should do your homework regarding what customers find important. Loading your website with animations and heavy GIF images will do nothing but make it slower. From an online shopping store, a buyer will only expect top standard products and a smooth way to make payments. No one would have a look at the animations you have included in the theme.
Choose a color theme that goes with your product options. Let’s consider an example to gain more understanding of this point. Furniture is usually made in blue, brown, gray, black, or white. Although there are different color combinations that people use for beds, cupboards. and other related, stuff but these are the usual options. Hence, make sure that these shades are incorporated into the theme. In other words, people should feel that the theme corresponds with the seller’s profile.
Do sharp color combinations go well for e-commerce themes? The answer to this question is no. People usually get grossly irritated when the website they are accessing has sharp color combinations. The reason being that it becomes hard for them to focus on things. Take your time when you are checking theme options. Hold many meetings and discussions with your designers.
It can be a problem when a theme is implemented and it backfires. Thus, be careful when you are making a selection. Professional web development companies allow you to pick a custom combination or go for one of the default recommendations. A good color combination always improves the sales volumes since more people show interest in the website.
6. Go for a reliable online payment platform
When you are running an e-commerce store, people will regularly carry out transactions and punch in their credit card details. Digital payments go through banks, and a structured payment gateway has to be implemented. Once a customer enters their credit card details, these details get verified and checked. Along with that, appropriate security standards have to be set up so that no thefts or online hacking attempts take place.
Which parameters do you need to take into consideration when a payment gateway is being picked? One of them is network security. When a customer enters his credit card details, they are passed over a network and shared before the payment is made. If the gateway is not secured, this information can easily be accessed by illegitimate hacking personnel. This means that your financial details can be misused in the worst possible manner and even end up with bankruptcy. Choosing a 100% secure payment gateway is the only way to secure customer information.
What is the average transaction processing time that a payment gateway requires? This is something that business owners need to think about. Do not expect the customer to choose your store if the average transaction time is several minutes. Most buyers are not patient, and they want things to be quick. The optimal time for a credit card transaction to complete is one to two minutes. Slow gateways require a lot more than that, which is why customers start looking for better alternatives.
Some payment gateways work well but only when the transaction load is low. Thus, you need to ensure that such an option is not picked. During sales seasons, customers attempt several transactions. If the payment gateway is not up to the mark, things would go completely haywire. You can execute some test transactions to see how the network is responding. In this way, low-quality experiences and lack of customer satisfaction should be an issue.
7. Develop an SEO strategy
Why would people visit your store if they do not have enough awareness about it? The top-rated e-commerce stores are usually listed on the first page, so people do not bother going beyond it. For them, getting their desired products in the shortest possible time span is the biggest priority. Hence, to get traffic, you need to ensure that appropriate SEO strategies have been applied. Here are some points of focus:
- Top-notch keyword enriched content
When users type in certain keyword phrases, only a limited number of links matching the search are shown to them. Why is that so? For every search, the keywords are matched with the content published on different pages and relevant ones are shown to the user. Therefore, having a strong updated content development strategy is very important. Ensure that keywords are updated from time to time so that maximum user searches lead to your website.
- Relevant backlinks, which increase credibility level
When you are new in the market, it is not easy to gain the trust of people. Customers normally prefer already established options and do not want to opt for new ones. How can you increase the trust factor and convince people to consider you? Having the best backlink maker can help you in this case. When people find your link on already established pages, they do not have any issues with considering your products.
- Optimization of videos and product images
Direct search for images and videos is something that a lot of people do. How can people reach your website if the images are not optimized? Using the relevant keywords and phrases for images and videos is needed a lot. Optimization of images leads to better customer responses and improves your sales volume.
- Original readable content with proofreading
Even if you are offering state of the art product options to the customers but the content available on your website is not up to the mark, people would not be convinced to come your way. Content preparation involves a lot of hard work. You need to provide plagiarism-free information so that Google does not apply any penalties on your website. Secondly, proofreading should be done in an efficient manner. Submitting content with grammatical mistakes can leave a negative impression. Content should be readable and keywords or important phrases should not be inserted for the sake of it. They should be used in a natural way so that people do not get the feeling that the content does not have a flow. If the readability is up to the mark, attracting people would not be a challenging task. Lastly, the tone has to be conversational and not promotional. Users avoid e-commerce stores that have self- praising descriptions about the products.
If you are looking for a successful e-commerce store, you should go for the best development. Before you hire a developer, ask for some references, and read honest reviews. Choose a web hosting with more uptime and bandwidth for a better experience and if you are not able to provide a fast loading website then users might be dissatisfied. Choose the theme that best suits your products and your audience. Add the online payment method to your online store to increase your audience and sales, as online payments are now the safest way to shop. Development is important, but SEO will help you generate leads and sales by ranking your site. You can use online tools, but it will be much better to hire a strong SEO team.