Apr 9, 2014

How to Build a Great eCommerce Business

It’s easier than ever to build an eCommerce website these days thanks to the many tools and platforms available. Whatever your price or functionality requirements, there is most likely an online solution for your retail offering. So how can we know which platform to choose?

And though you will be working within cyberspace and, possibly, without the worries of a bricks and mortar store, there are still many challenges that must be regularly addressed in an eCommerce business if you want to build a strong foundation then grow and maintain successful strategy.

With over 15 years of experience with online retail organisations, we’ve compiled a list of 6 steps to building a great eCommerce business. Add your comments – what did we leave out? What do you disagree with? We’d love to hear from you.

6 Steps to Building an eCommerce Business

Step #1: Define yourself

Building a strong brand offers countless advantages to an eCommerce store. Because you don’t necessarily have the advantage of a physical store to drive home your branding in person, a strong online brand must make an impact on customers and earn their loyalty.

What makes your business notable? Take these points and build your brand offering around them. And stick with it! Maintain your brand voice across all channels and interactions with consumers – do not be inconsistent. Even B2B companies should consider branding.


Step #2: Know your customers

A common problem among any online business is not knowing who your customers are, and building a strategy around the wrong audience. Don’t try to market to every audience out there and spread yourself too thin. It will negatively affect your website design, marketing messages, communications, and much more.

As your business develops, keep the customer front and center through analytics, regular communications, and constant feedback. What are they raving (or complaining) about on social media and in reviews? What new features or products would they like to see from you? Get their input and track their behaviour to learn how you can improve your website and your offering.

Recommended reading: How to Create Buyer Personas [Free Template]


Step #3: Set up a strong website

Building a fast, secure, and effective website is – obviously – of utmost importance. There are many platforms out there, and you need to know that it is secure, easy to manage from the back end, fast, reliable, SEO-friendly, and scalable.

For the front end, navigation, design, personalisation, and a dynamic user experience are priorities.  Find a web partner that you can trust and that looks beyond a short term objective of launching a website. Long term planning is essential if you want a website that will be flexible and ready to handle highs, lows and new challenges.

Designers hired on the fly for a one-off job are not likely to understand your brand or business objectives. Ongoing testing, updates and improvements should be a regular part of your eCommerce strategy, and a trusted web partner will help you navigate these waters while keeping an eye on your overall business objectives.

Recommended reading: The Anatomy of The 'Perfect' eCommerce Site Design [Infographic]


Step #4: Write effective copy

Don’t let just anyone write up any of the copy on your website. Convert browsers with engaging copy that tells a story, sketches a picture of an experience, shares your company’s mission, and – overall – drives action.  There are endless opportunities to convert users, from product pages to call to action buttons to newsletter signup pages to headlines. And remember that branding - establish your voice and be consistent in all your communications and online assets. Consistency is key!


Step #5: Think about SEO

Not only does great copy help deliver your marketing message and drive users to act, but web content can also be an essential search engine optimisation tool. Content should be

  • Easy to write, edit and publish in your content management system (CMS)
  • Easy to share
  • Relevant to your audience
  • Contain keywords and phrases that you want to be found for in searches, but that make SENSE in that piece of content
  • Readable! When designing your website, consider the layout and how all types of content (e.g. landing page text, blog posts, FAQs, long form articles, etc.) will appear to web users.

Recommended reading: 17 Insanely Practical eCommerce SEO Tips to Increase Organic Traffic


Step #6: Make customer service a priority

Customer service needs to be a priority at all times. Consider your message and your audience for all communications and interactions - the most basic “welcome” emails are opportunities to be the best eCommerce website out there!

This applies to tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, follow-up emails, phone calls, website copy, or responding to a negative review – these are all chances to share your brand voice, your top notch level of service, and your passion for your online store. Differentiate yourself based on your service and offering, and you can earn loyalty and trust from customers.  

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