Ecommerce web development is an often grueling process. But, once you get to the end, all that time and effort you spent on your eCommerce site will definitely be worth it.
Ecommerce Web Development: Better Late Than Never
You might think that keeping your brand offline is what makes you unique — charming, even. But, what you don’t know is that you are missing out on sharing a piece of the profitable pie. Sales from eCommerce websites have been steadily growing over the past decade. In 2021, eCommerce sales are expected to hit $4.891 billion worldwide. With those numbers, it would be foolish for any business owner to pass up such a lucrative opportunity.
Sure, the thought of entering the eCommerce sphere this late in the game can be daunting. There are between 12 to 24 million eCommerce sites across the web. Is it really worth your time and money to try and compete with all of them? The answer is yes. It would have been great if you had started building your eCommerce site years ago. But, as they say, better late than never.
The future of retail is online. And while we may not completely wipe out physical stores from existence, it is clear that eCommerce is poised to outnumber them in time. Additionally, both millennials and Gen Z prefer to shop online because it is more convenient, safer, and allows for easier price comparisons. And with both generations wielding great purchasing power, brands should make the transition as soon as possible.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Ecommerce Web Design & Development
Building an eCommerce website demands time and effort. A lot of people refuse to put in the work simply because it “seems hard.” With the proper guide, though, eCommerce web design and development can go much smoother.
Step 1: Define Your Business Model
The first step in the eCommerce web development process is to define your business model. There are three primary models to choose from — B2C, B2B, and C2C.
- B2C stands for business-to-customers. Choose this model if your product caters to individual end-users. Common examples of B2C models in eCommerce include Amazon and Alibaba.
- B2B stands for business-to-business. Choose this model if your product or service caters to other businesses. Common examples of B2B models in eCommerce include Amazon Business and TradeKey.
- C2C stands for customer-to-customer. Choose this model if you want to provide a platform where individuals can sell their products or services to other individuals. Common examples of C2C models in eCommerce include Amazon Marketplace and eBay.
Step 2: Determine Your Budget
Money is always part of the conversation for any new undertaking. Unless you have unlimited funds allocated to this project, you will need to set a budget that your eCommerce web development company can work with.
Keep in mind that web development does not come cheap, but it also won’t cost you millions of dollars. The cost generally ranges anywhere from $10,000 to $500,000 depending on your needs and specifications. Make sure to shop around for the right developer so you can compare price points. Of course, you can also hire an in-house team, though that will cost a lot more.
Step 3: Get to Know Your Market and Competitors
Setting up an eCommerce website requires in-depth market research, too. This means studying eCommerce trends and analyzing what suits your particular customer base the best. You can do this by conducting surveys, focus groups, and even events to really get into the minds of your end-users.
Additionally, you will also need to research your competitors. Examine the performance of their websites using statistics like market reach and engagement. What SEO strategies are they using? Are they working? Researching your competitors’ websites is a great way to properly get your foot in the door.
Step 4: Come Up with a Domain Name
Typically, your domain name will consist of your company’s or brand’s name. Once you have one in mind, make sure to purchase the domain name as soon as possible. This way, you won’t get beaten to the punch. If you have a particularly common brand name, though, you might find it hard to secure a domain name that’s still available.
Step 5: Choose a Platform
There are many eCommerce platforms available today, including Shopify and Magento. There is even an eCommerce plugin for WordPress called WooCommerce. When choosing a platform, make sure to consider the following:
- Responsive Design. Customers should be able to view your website properly using any device.
- Content Management System. This comes in handy when you need to publish content like press releases, news, or articles.
- Product Management. Your platform should allow you to monitor your inventory with ease. It should also let you offer different versions of the same product, easily add/edit products, and offer discounts.
- Payment Processing. Customers should be able to pay for their purchases using a variety of methods. Apart from credit and debit cards, your eCommerce site should accept electronic payments like PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay.
After selecting a platform, you will also need to select a publisher to host your website. Like platforms, there are many that offer web hosting services, such as GoDaddy and SiteGround. Take the following factors into consideration when choosing a web host:
- Loading speed
- Easy scaling capabilities
- High bandwidth handling
- Uptimes and downtimes
- Security features
- Responsive customer support
Step 6: Design Your Layout According to Your Branding
Perhaps one of the most important factors in an eCommerce site’s success is the design. Customers want a visually appealing website, with a layout that is easy to understand and navigate through. Nobody wants to go through multiple pages at checkout just to buy a single product.
What do you need to take into account when building your eCommerce website design?
- Take a minimalistic approach. When there are too many things happening at once, customers won’t know where to divert their attention.
- Make navigation easy. Use breadcrumbs and simple menus. Place the home button in a visible area so they can find their way around with no trouble.
- Utilize consistent branding. Your logos, color palettes, and font styles should all work together to deliver a unified message.
- Use images to capture attention. Make sure never to use blurry or unrelated images, though.
- Organize products into understandable categories.
- Utilize functions such as search bars, filters, and sorting.
- Integrate product reviews on product pages to help customers make a decision.
- Write short but captivating product descriptions. These should highlight important features and benefits.
- Make the purchase process as smooth as possible. Don’t ask customers to fill out unnecessary forms and fields. That can irritate them enough to just abandon their cart.
- After a successful purchase, show a page summarizing their order. Include their contact information and billing and shipping details as well.
Step 7: Iron Out the Elements
After building the website, you will now focus on back-end details that add to a better customer experience. The best eCommerce website design never skips out on the following elements:
- Designate searchable tags, phrases, and keywords for each product.
- Optimize your eCommerce website so it gains better discoverability in search engines.
- Optimize your eCommerce website so it loads and responds faster. Customers hate long wait times.
- Ask your eCommerce website developers to add rich snippets, which are bits of code that help search engines position your products at the top.
- Protect your website and your customers’ information by applying secure firewalls and other protocols.
Step 8: Decide on Payment and Shipping Solutions
This is another essential part of the eCommerce website development process. You can’t make any sales if you don’t settle on payment and shipping solutions.
When choosing yours, make sure to go with a trusted and reputable one. Bigger providers might charge more, but they typically have more credibility as well. Your payment solution should not come with hidden charges, too. That will only scare customers away or ensure they never make a second purchase. As with selecting a website platform, your payment and shipping solutions should allow for scalability.
Step 9: Test Out Everything
A visually appealing eCommerce site that allows for easy navigation and a smooth purchase process will certainly help your business. But, how do you know you check off all the right boxes without proper testing?
Testing your website lets you identify any snags and glitches. It gives you an opportunity to look at your eCommerce site from a customer’s viewpoint. It is ideal to have actual users test out your website to give you unbiased results.
A good eCommerce development company will do the following during the testing phase:
- Ensure usability and ease of navigation.
- Ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
- Identify which steps in the process present obstacles, if any.
- Check that all the links are working.
- Determine if there are any factors that could result in cart abandonment (i.e. slow loading speed, complicated purchase process, etc.)
- Check all the above things across all devices.
Step 10: Go Live and Market Your Brand Digitally
Once the previous step clears, it is finally time to go live. You may feel tempted to delay deployment because you want your website to be perfect, but you can always make changes along the way. This brings us to the next point.
Ecommerce web development does not stop at deployment. You will need to continue improving and updating your website as time goes by. Make sure to prepare a strategy in case something goes wrong. Furthermore, you will need to monitor the performance of your website and obtain feedback. This will help you make positive changes as you go along.
Of course, you will also need to get the word out that you have this great new eCommerce site. To do that, you can use the following digital marketing strategies:
- Announce it through a press release.
- Use social media to get customer attention. You can post it on your social channels and use paid ads to reach a broader audience.
- Send out an email blast to your contacts and subscribers.
- Create interesting and valuable content such as articles, videos, infographics, etc.
Worth the Trouble
Clearly, eCommerce web development is a long and winding road. However, if you put in the time, budget, and effort, it will reward you with better brand visibility, new customers, and perhaps even higher sales.
If you need reliable eCommerce web development services, Tanner Grey is the obvious choice. Call us today at 844.500.1339 or contact us online to get a free estimate.
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