Small businesses around the globe struggle to have a firm presence on the internet.
In 2020, e-commerce sales are expected to account for 15.5% of retail sales.
A business owner recently asked me how he can get an e-commerce website so he can sell his products online 24/7. He wants to reach customers all over the world.
I showed him articles on how E-commerce can integrate all inter-company and intra-company functions, meaning that e-commerce could also affect the physical flow, financial flow and information flow of the supply chain.
The contemporary e-commerce trend recommends companies to shift the traditional business model where the focus on “standardized products, homogeneous market and long product life cycle” to the new business model where the focus on “varied and customized products”.
It’s true that whatever goods and services you are offering, the internet levels the playing field. It lets you compete with the more prominent businesses, reaching customers all around the world who can buy goods and services from you 24/7.If you have any doubts about your business' ability to meet up with any of these things, then you aren't ready for an e-commerce website. Click To Tweet
Many developing countries have also made giant strides regarding e-commerce. There are several essential e-commerce websites, online stores and payment gateways operating today in developing countries.
These e-commerce websites deal in everything from mobile phones and other types of mobile devices, fashion products, home appliances, consumer electronics, flight fares, hotel reservations, bulky gadgets from diverse industries and so on. They have also developed their localised shipping and payment methods such as cash on delivery.
However, this requires careful planning and taking the right steps. I hope this article, and the accompanying Infographic, will help you make the right decision on getting an e-commerce website.
The most important things you will need to consider if you’re interested in getting an e-commerce website are:
The cost of having a functional and secure e-commerce website or online store varies depending on the features required.
Do you want a simple local online store with an appealing user interface where your customers can do their online shopping?
Or do you want a large user-friendly online store like that of Amazon that has unique features that you can use to sell to customers across the globe? The more bells and whistles your e-commerce website requires, the higher the cost implication on web development.
Remember that as an e-commerce business, you will be under a lot of scrutinies by potential customers at home and abroad. That your brand is a small e-commerce business does not mean that it has to be mediocre.
Your customers deserve the very best, and your online store must be ready to deliver.
If you don’t cut corners and you give your customers the very best e-commerce business website, they will patronise you. You will get a good return on your investment in no time regardless of whether you’re dealing in mobile phones, home appliances, consumer electronics or whatever.
Sadly, small businesses do not have an excellent reputation for online security. Therefore, if you’re interested in getting an e-commerce website, then security must be your top priorities in your web design and web development.
An e-commerce website builder like Wix, Squarespace and Weebly are website builders that offer the ability to sell online as an extra, so their tools aren’t as powerful.
Regardless of whether you’re using WooCommerce or any other solution, you still need to ensure that all other details on your e-commerce website are top-notch.
Your existing and potential customers will share their debit cards and credit cards information via your website. So ensure that you have a reliable payment processor and online payment gateway in place.
Security of your website visitor, your site and your online payment gateway must be thorough. Neither you nor your clients would appreciate having their personal information stolen during online shopping.
Do you intend collecting sensitive information like your customer’s credit card information? Then, an SSL certificate is vital regardless of whether your customers are in Lagos, Abuja, the UK or America.
You can have a free SSL Certificate like Let’s Encrypt, or you can go for a premium SSL Certificate from brands like Norton, etc. It depends on the goods and services in your online store and your web hosting service provider.
As mentioned earlier, the web hosting provider you select for your e-commerce website is essential.
Does your web host offer domain name registration, shared, managed or dedicated web hosting solutions and so on?
Choosing a domain name for your online store is a strategic decision. When registering your domain, be sure to select a memorable domain name. Don’t pick a domain name difficult for potential customers to remember or pronounce. Since your domain name will be on all your essential stationery, choose a domain name that people can identify.
Your domain name must be unique and memorable. It’s an integral part of your brand and corporate image.
If you intend for your business to be around for a long time, then register your domain name for at least the next ten years or more. Also, to protect yourself against cyber squatters, be sure to add all the significant domain extensions related to your chosen domain name and not just the .com extension alone.
Ideally, also consider registering various misspellings of your domain name. Registering misspellings of your domain will help to protect your customers from being scammed by criminals. Criminals may create a phishing website with a similar domain name. To lure unsuspecting persons into doing their online shopping on fake sites.
If you also notice that a lot of your customers and online traffic are coming from a particular country or region, register the domain extension of that country. All these will help to establish your online presence and your e-commerce business as a credible business, regardless of whether you are dealing in mobile phones or any other goods and services.
Which of the content management system available is your web hosting provider proficient, e.g. WordPress, Joomla, and so on? What about your shopping cart? Are you going to go for a custom solution or an over-the-counter shopping cart solution?
Online shopping is a personal experience that your customers will not take lightly. Use a web host knowledgeable about the content management system you use in developing your website. So they can provide adequate tech support when required.
Please, whatever you do, make sure that a robust website hosting solution is in place to ensure that your site is available 99.99% of the time. Web hosting is the foundation of your e-commerce business.
So don’t even think about cutting corners with web hosting. Do thorough research on the web hosting solution that other global companies are using and try to adopt the same or better.
Also, ensure that your web hosting provider has excellent customer support. There is nothing worse than someone trying to visit your website only to discover that it is not available.
Always go for a web hosting company that offers 24/7 customer support. So before signing up with a web hosting provider, make sure you check out their customer support options. Do so at odd times of the day and not just at regular working hours. You will tell whether the web hosting company is living up to their promise of providing 24/7 customer support.
Because of the weak power supply system in developing countries, I would avoid web hosting service providers from these countries. Instead, go for those based abroad. Their power supply and services are reliable. Also, avoid going for the cheapest web hosting provider. Instead, go for a premium web hosting provider (affiliate link). Yes, they are more expensive, but you are getting value for money.
That you operate an e-commerce business in a developing country it does not mean that it must be on a sub-par web hosting solution.
To be sure you’re on the right path with your e-commerce website, strive to emulate other global giants like Amazon and so on. Using the likes of Amazon as your benchmark will help to ensure that you have set high standards for your e-commerce website.
What if your customers claim that you sold them damaged goods, how will you handle it?
For any e-commerce business to thrive, it is paramount that you have excellent customer service.
Do you have policies that take into account scenarios such as chargebacks, refunds, and so on? Such things often happen in online shopping. If you don’t give these things the proper attention, they deserve they can ruin your business.
Different customers expect different things from a website. Are you capable of meeting the demand of your customers for your product or service on a long-term basis all year round in your online store?
According to this article, as many as 31% of consumers are likely to spend 31% more on products and services from businesses with excellent reviews, while negative reviews can drive away 22% of customers.
The same article also notes that as many as 80% of American shoppers say that shipping price and speed are very or extremely influential in determining where they shop. And a whopping 85% of customers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
If you intend to sell physical products, then you need to give serious thought to this. There’s no point having an e-commerce website if you cannot meet the demand of customers for your product or service.
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Other Things to Consider
Besides the above, if you want your online store to thrive, you will need to consider such things as search engine optimisation (SEO), Pay per Click advertising (PPC) and social media marketing (SMM).
Online business and online shopping is very competitive. If we do not find your website on search engines as Google customers will probably flock to your competitors to do their online shopping.
You will also need to find pay per click sites where you can advertise your website
What you must know about online shopping is that customers like to do their online shopping at e-commerce websites that are popular on Google and social media networks.
Does your online store is rank low on Google? Or does it receives a lot of negative comments on social media? Then your customers will go to your competitors to do their online shopping.
Google and social media are two essential tools that you will need to use daily if you want to sell products or services online. If you find search engine optimisation and social media too daunting, you can outsource these so that you can focus on your running your online store.
These are some essential things you’ll need to consider if you’re interested in getting an e-commerce website.
If you have any doubts about your online store’s ability to meet up with any of the above, then you aren’t ready for an e-commerce website.
If you want more information on this, let’s chat. I’ll be glad to guide you on how to use digital marketing to ensure that your e-commerce website thrives.