In both Canada and the US, many well known brick and mortar stores are closing down as society has shifted to making more of their purchases online.
As consumers, shopping online has allowed us to avoid long lines, make more educated purchases, save money, all from the comfort of our home.
Today businesses are shifting their focus and marketing efforts towards an online presence, however standing out from competition and generating sales is certainly no easy challenge.
The success can all stem from several factors including which web design company was hired to develop their eCommerce website.
In the following article we will look at some harsh realities of starting an online store and factors to consider to ensure the likelihood of success.
1. Check out your competition
Reality Check: You’re not the only company that wants to dominate market share within your industry.
There are billions of websites on the internet and that number is exponentially growing every single day.
If you look at the competition within an industry, even if you drill down to a geographic level, the race to the top is like crabs in a bucket.
Whether you’re looking to launch a new ecommerce store or already have one, examining your competition can provide valuable insight on how to improve your website and marketing strategy.
You don’t need to be a web development expert to see why certain websites do well and dominate the search results.
When examining your competition online, it’s important to look at factors such as:
Branding & design – What makes their website attractive and memorable? How are they communicating their message?
User experience & layout – What do you like about their website from a user perspective? Is it easy to navigate?
Quality of content – Is there content informative and well written? Do they blog regularly?
Pricing – How do your prices compare? After all, the internet allows us to comparison shop very easily.
SEO analysis – How are they ranked in the search results and what may be giving them an advantage? What is their backlink profile like?
Digital marketing efforts – What type of internet marketing strategies are they executing? Are they running pay-per-click advertising or have an affiliate program?
These are just a few questions that may be asked when evaluating your competition but essential in order to formulate an effective online strategy.
2. Have a reasonable budget
I had someone inquire about looking to have an ecommerce website developed and their budget was only $1000. The reality is their budget is only a fraction of what more seasoned web developers or agencies would charge.
Sure it’s possible to hire students or offshore freelancers to develop an ecommerce website on a small budget however the likelihood of getting a website that is successful and would provide an ROI is likely none.
If you plan on launching an ecommerce website, it’s important to have a realistic budget especially when there are thousands of other websites who are either backed by big pockets or people who are have a deep understanding of digital marketing.
In short, your budget will definitely determine the quality and success of your website.
To give perspective, a professional web developer will typically charge between $75-$150/hour. Therefore a $1000 budget won’t even cover the project planning phase.
Your website should be seen more as an investment then a purchase especially when you consider what your competition may be spending.
If you’re not willing to invest with your wallet, then I suggest you invest with your time.
3. Define an SEO & marketing strategy
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
This old adage can be applicable to websites. If your website was setup without considering search engine optimization to increase search visibility and ranking; or include an internet marketing strategy, then it will be as if your website just doesn’t exist.
Search Engine Optmization is a complicated topic and considers hundreds of factors which can be broken down into on-page SEO (factors on your website) and off-page SEO (external factors such as backlinks).
Unfortunately SEO is not a “set it and forget it” process but in fact an on-going process of making sure your website can be understood by major search engines while creating new content and building valuable backlinks.
In addition to SEO, your marketing strategy should also try to capitalize on other strategies such as newsletter marketing, pay-per-click advertising, affiliate programs, video marketing, social media marketing which can increase traffic and more importantly generate sales.
4. Get it developed in WooCommerce
WooCommerce is an ecommerce extension that integrates into WordPress and the most widely used ecommerce tool.
Currently it powers 29% of ecommerce websites in the US and 37% of ecommerce websites in Canada.
When compared to other self-hosted ecommerce platforms, WooCommerce provides several benefits that make it an ideal tool for building an online shop.
Since WooCommerce is open source, it allows developers to modify its code to develop custom functionality to suit your business needs. For most businesses, this is rarely the case as there are thousands of plugins available to choose from.
Whether you’re a startup or large corporation, WooCommerce is an ideal tool for building an online store.
5. Hire the right web design company
This is probably the most crucial step in determining your businesses online success.
If you don’t have experience in a certain field then hiring for a certain position will become a challenge.
To most, all web developers may seem to provide an equal outcome and the hiring decision is typically based on cost or their sales pitch.
Unfortunately not all web developers follow best web development practices or a basic understanding of SEO which contribute to online success.
For example, when developing in WordPress some developers will edit the parent theme for site modifications. When theme updates are made then previously added code was overwritten. This fundamental is often overlooked.
When hiring a web design company the following can help minimize the possibility of hiring the wrong freelancer or agency:
- View their portfolio to see the quality of their work
- Have they worked on a similar project previously
- Ask them what makes them different than their competition
- How long have they been developing websites?
- What type of companies have they worked with?
- Read reviews from previous clients
- Have they received any awards for their work?
The list above can give you insight into their qualifications and likelihood that they will deliver a successful website.
Developing an ecommerce website is much more complicated than developing a basic or informational website considering the customization & functionality requirements and the overall scope of the project.
It’s important to gauge your competitors websites prior to starting a project in order to provide insight in factors such as what ideas can be adopted and what can do differently in order to stand out.
An on-going digital marketing strategy is essential in order to gain visibility, grow your website traffic and most importantly generate sales.
Hiring the right ecommerce development company for your project is the most crucial choice in determining your online success. While it can be tempting to hire based on cost, be sure to perform a background check on previous work and ask the right questions to ensure you’re hiring the best option for your ecommerce project.