Find a Web Development Company
If you are new to selling online and not sure where to start looking for a website development or ecommerce company to work it, do as we do with most things Google it! Search for ‘Web Developers’ ‘Web Designers’ and if you really want to narrow it down add your area or county to the search such as ‘Web Site Developers Dundalk’, ‘Website Designers Monaghan’. This should show you a list of companies in your area and perhaps Google Ads for companies not in your area!
Then do your research, review the web developer’s website, length of time in business and their previous work. Check out their clients websites and review them for ease of use, speed of loading, functionality and the checkout process. If necessary contact some of their clients and ask them for their opinion of the company. When you are ready approach the company with your requirements.
It is worth spending time doing your research and speaking to a number of companies, more than likely you will be working with them for a minimum of 6 months if not the next 6 years!
UnderStand What a CMS is
Choose the platform that is right for you. Are you offering services or products for sale? There are a number of selling online content management systems these include:
For websites selling products:
WordPress + Woocommerce – possibly one of the most popular systems on the web at the moment. You or your web developer can download and install this system on your own hosting or you can subscribe to their online system for €45 per month see – https://wordpress.com/pricing/ WordPress’s functionality can be extend through the use of plugins free and paid.
Shopify has been around since 2006 and offers an online solution that you can modify yourself or engage a web developer to make changes for you. Shopify functionality can be extend through apps – free and paid.
For websites selling services:
If you are a service based company, selling access to subscriptions or courses, you can also use WordPress with an LMS plugin such as Learndash. There are other options such as Joomla and Drupal which would not be as widely used as WordPress.
The corresponding hosted solution for online learning would be the likes of Teachable.com
Develop Your Web Site Content
Sometimes the hardest thing you do in building an eCommerce website is pulling together the content for the website. Your web developer should work with you to outline the site architecture and can guide you on navigation and menu titles. However, its likely you will be the one developing and collating the content for the website. You can engage a copywriter, who can be worth their weight in gold if they understand about quality content and search engine optimisation. If a copywriter is not an option, start working on pulling together the content for the pages and products or services you offer. Review the text you are using for key phrases, for example if you sell ‘Men’s Shoes’, make sure you have a category optimized for this phrase and look at the other phrases your customers use around this search term such as ‘Men’s Shoe Sizes’ ‘Men’s Shoe Fashion 2021’ and ensure you have quality relevant content around those phrases your customers use to look for your product or service.
Photography and video are really important, we are naturally visual. So a quality photograph or a video is likely to catch and retain our attention longer than text. If your supplier can furnish you with images, consider hiring a photographer or buying stock images. Video is great for retaining customers and demonstrating a product or service and you should really be using video on your social media at this stage!
research Payment & Shipping options
If you have an ecommerce website selling either a service or product you will need to have a payment method, so your customers can choose to pay by credit card, debit card or by Paypal. There are a large number of options to choose from. Your deciding criteria may come down to cost per transaction – Paypal is roughly 3.4% + 35 cent per transaction versus a monthly subscription service which are usually between €20 – €30 per month with online merchant transaction on top – around 1.6%. Other factors to consider is what insurance is in place to cover you for a fraudulent transaction and customer support.
If you have a product based ecommerce website understanding packaging, shipping and returns is critical. Last year we saw the strain on deliveries and shipping time lines slipping due to overwhelming demand, this year we are seeing the impact of shipping to and from the UK, additional tariffs and delays. Know where you want to ship to and cost the delivery options.
understand Online Marketing
There are over 1 billion websites on the internet, so getting found by your customers and potential customers takes a lot of work. Core to everything you do should be search engine optimization – the ability to get found on the search engines, primarily Google – but there are others.
Most of us use Google as a search engine and Google are continuously changing and updating their algorithm. But the key things to get right from the outset to be in with a fighting chance are:
- Quality relevant content, that is regularly updated and interlinking on your website
- A mobile responsive web site – most of your consumers are now coming to your website via their mobile phone
- A fast load website, you need to aim for 5 second or less
- Quality inbound links from external websites
- And the plethora of social media options to promote your website to your customers
This is not an exhaustive list of things to do, its a summary of the most common questions and queries we have come across in 25 years of website development, internet training and online mentoring with SMEs in Ireland.
If you have any questions or think I should add something to this blog, feel free to email me – [email protected]