- Step 1: Learning the Internet Jargons
- Step 2: Deciding on ‘the’ systems
- Step 3: Customizing & taking your shop online
Before you start, learn a few internet jargons such as what domain name is and what hosting is all about.There are too many nonsense floating around such words, so be patient and learn as much and understand only what you find is required of you to understand.Domain is the address, no different from what you give as a address when asking someone to visit you in real world, while a hosting is the house/office, which the address points too.. that is how simple it is.
There are a lot of options for deciding on a eCommerce platform, if you’re just getting started, look up on Google search (or any other search engine you would use) for Open Source eCommerce Platforms.You might want to look at the feature list and some may overwhelm you.. full load things you never know you needed, but then, look for the following only.
Simplicity means, how simple the demo screens look like and can be understood for your daily use. Flexibility is how many plugins, themes and support links are available for such tools. Too many is very good in such cases.
It does not have to have too many features, just the ones you would need.
And what you would really need are just the three:
- Ability to control the look and feel, include your own brand/logo
- Ability to upload your product and product details, images and content
- Ability to integrate a secure payment gateway
If you ask a development company about what platform or ecommerce solution to go with, they might just advise the one that they are adept at or simply based on what is a market trend. While this could be true, but may not always result in creation of what you need.
And now going towards the “How” part of things!
How is more of a execution element, it is best advised that you try your hand with more than one demo system and get a feel of it. Yes, you will have to spend, spend a lot… you will be spending more precious than money and that would be your time.
Your time spent learning about the integral functions of ecommerce could save a lot in the future, both time and money, hence do it now.
That’s the how part.!
There are tonne of companies which would do this for you, you can outsource to India, Indonesia, Philippines or you can have a native development company work on the specs and delivery. Else, if you are savvy enough, you can do the code on your own. Though it not advisable.Reason, it is not your business to code and do not code unless you are an expert or too desperate, let the experts handle the task.Majority of the web development companies today seems to gravitate towards open source solutions such as Magento and for a good reason too, they bring good value for customization and the customer do enjoy great benefits. However, not all development companies actually know what they are doing and often tend to mess things up when you need any form of customization that is going to become very unique to achieve.One way to resolve this problem is to keep things simple and another way is to avoid such customization altogether, but then, if your competitors are having a better site, you will feel compelled to achieve a greater look and functionality, if not greater… well, at least at the same level.When we talk about customizing a eCommerce store, we need to understand that there are some nifty elements that needs to be understood and will directly result in effort consumption.While customizing any given eCommerce store, we at 101eCommerce have discovered that the following will always require some or other customizing regardless of what product or solution you have chosen as your ecommerce platform.
- Home Page
- Product Page
- Products by Category Listing Page
- Product Search & Result Display Page
- Product Cart List and Check Out wizard (with anywhere from 1-5 steps involved within)
- Checkout and Payment Pages
- User sign up page & welcome screen
- My account, Profile Pages
- Shopping History, Wishlist Management pages
This would sum up to be anywhere from 7-15 specific pages to be designed and customized as per your themes. Once this is done, if you are to add any plugins, those plugins should work well with your look and functionality, so that is another add on effort.
All said and done, the work will now be comprehensive.
Then you will have to spend time doing:
Product Setup and Content Proofing
This is a definitive stage, by the time you start feeling that worst is over, real task of setting up the eCommerce store begins to dawn on you, depending on how many products and categories you have for those products, the sort of attributes the products carry, the images upload, the performance tweaking for image loading on product pages, it would seem like forever, but then, this has to be done.
Once again, the advise here is to work with professionals who specialize in Online Product Data Entry or Product Information Management.
These specialists are trained and well aware of how the products should be placed, content displayed, what level of image processing will be required to make the sites load properly and make it very presentable.
Such professionals are time savers and will even get you better competitive positioning over the Internet Search Results.
The way your product information is presented and ease of use is extremely crucial for online sales to happen.
Finally, a Check List you must have:
- Check if your products are displayed correctly and the product name is displayed in website url i.e. www.yourecommercesite.com/product-name
- Keep the URL length small, it helps with display advertisements and such
- Make sure your product images are clean and of smaller size for easy loading
- Check your site performance on websites such as http://gtmetrix.com/
- Optimize your site on an on-going basis, do not expect to get everything right at one go
- Get a SSL certificate, this helps customers establish that you are for real and you have something secure
- Put your social media links, Google Analytics codes on key Pages, develop a site map and let search engines navigate around and index your sites. Learn to work with webmasters
- Have Live Chat code and stay online all the time (if you can or at least during key business hours) to look for potential customers who are visiting your product page and observer their behavior, ask them if they need support. This increases sales conversions and improves customer experience greatly
- Make sure that your hosting provider is a good one, do not go for cheap hosting unless, you are not too serious about your business.
Well, that concludes the things you need to do to get started in terms of your ecommerce website and setup, but there is more, a lot more…
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