Many people decide to start own online business. Here are some marketing and technical parameters you need to pay attention to, in order your project to be successful.
1. The platform – start by choosing suitable platform to manage your online store. There are thousands solutions on the market and 5-6 are mostly used by the small and medium store owners. The platform is the base on which your online business will be build and usually it is a serious investment. The various platforms have largely unified core functionalities (product introduction, payment, etc.), but the difference comes in the details and the time and resources you will need to implement them. There are pretty much working solutions (SummerCart, OpenCart), which are build up with the idea for online business and are upgraded constantly, there are others which require further investment in developing them. You can use some widely used system for content management (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla, but you can choose and more selected one like Magento. Before you choose, get informed upon:- The volume of load that the system can take – some systems are not developed for website with high load or cannot take large number of products (over 10 000 for instance). Make an audit of your inventory and precisely define your requirements.
- Licenses cost – some of the platforms require licenses payment for usage. It is important to know if these licenses are developing with your business, what is the time period for payment, are there any additional payments;
- A possibility for optimization – nowadays building up an online store is just the first phase of starting a business, it is very important to be able to optimize the content, the technical part, etc. Don’t underestimate this phase because it is essential for the upcoming success of your website and for your investments, needed for you to do.
– The resources you have to spend for internal corporate maintenance – even the technical part of your business cannot be 100% delegated. It is necessary to have someone from your team to cooperate with the web developers for the maintenance. Otherwise you cannot expect serious results.
- The future you expect for your business – yes, you probably plan to go well, but it is important to answer yourself “how well?” It is not very pleasant the moment when after a year you face the fact that it is necessary to migrate your store on new platform, because your business has grown bigger. The opposite case – you have paid serious amount for developing a platform and then you don’t succeed to develop your business, is also not suitable.
Be cautiously optimistic and think several years ahead with good and bad scenario.
- The hosting – most of the online store owners chose shared hosting because of the lower price, but keep in mind that in period of time with large load (for example during promotions) this solution could have a negative impact on your business. Talk to your web developers for using VPS or cloud technologies. Some online business owners choose to maintenance themselves the servers where their information is stored. For us, this is the most irrational case, especially for small and middle sized business. Also don’t fall for cheap solutions about servers abroad. Very often they don’t have URL address, which is with geographic focus on the country where your business operates, and this is bad for the search engine optimization and actually can make your website undetectable.
- UX и UI – behind these words lays the way your website looks like and what type of experience you provide for your users. This is the next key moment standing behind the success of each project. Invest in good design, which will ease the way your customers navigate in the website, in cutting the time for purchase process, in design suitable for different types of devices and so on. In global plan the UX and UI specialists are among the high payed, but the reason for this is if they handle your project the best way, your website will keep the customers and they will be able to orient themselves in in fast and easy. Don’t think you can make the design yourself. This is a market which requires years of experience and a solid everyday education.
4. Semantics – most of the things here overlap with the previous, but it is important to have specialists to cooperate in building the right website structure, the words you will use, the way the customers will find you. If you find good specialists, they will spear you serious amount of finances which you would invest in time for advertising and marketing. The website’s semantics is one of the founding elements for its optimization.
- The search engine optimization (SEO) – this is a process which starts with the website project and it actually never ends. Prepare to invest monthly in optimization for your online store and prepare yourself that the results don’t come at the moment. The optimization is a separate serious phase from the online store’s maintenance process and the larger the competition gets, the more you need to invest. The good optimization specialists won’t lie to you that you will be one Google’s first page. But they will improve your website’s visibility by actively working with you. Generally the optimization process happens on your website (on-page) – for example content optimization, technical optimization, etc., and out of your website (off page) – for example link building.
- Content – in order to have a good optimized online store it is very important to have unique content – text, pictures, and video. While planning your website, answer the question is there a person (from you team or external), whom you can trust the content management. This requires serious investments for:
– Writing own product descriptions – one of the most frequent mistakes are copying description of already existing products. This way you are telling Google and the others search engines that you don’t invest in content and actually you don’t offer anything new and different to what someone is already offering on the Internet. Writing own content gives you opportunity to use the know-how you have and to develop it in a way it will be working for your brand.
– Quality pictures – the model copy-paste is not advisable for pictures too. The least you can do is rename them. But investing in your own pictures or adding product descriptions with your own illustrations would improve the user experience and it will give signal to the search engines that you give more qualified content.
– Blog, social media – don’t forget to develop your online store alongside with the social media. Some of them could me powerful tool and sales channel. There are online stores with business model based only on investing in social media.
– Press releases – if you can afford it, invest in quality content in first class websites. Develop own content and offer it to other websites, blogs, etc. Don’t trust the old work model for buying links per kilogram. It’s no longer working efficiently.
– Comments and reviews to the articles – allow, even if controlled, to your users to share their experience from your products or services they have bought from you. This is another way to create unique content. Ask the programmers of your website at the very beginning to include this kind of option, but also think twice if there would be somebody to approve the comments.
- Security – security is turning into a major factor for every website. Invest in any possible way in improving your website’s security – install SSL certificate, provide secured hosting, generate the absence of malware or spam and so on. Bad security of your website could harm your users, also yourself (imagine a situation where Google has placed you on the black list – in reality your website will not be nearly visible).
- The maintenance – at each case you will be needing such, but it is important to know how much it would cost at what time periods it will be paid. Usually the things that require payment are the technical maintenance of the website, optimization, database, etc. Don’t rely on the firefighting model. According to your business scale, guarantee yourself at least monthly maintenance. Consider it as part of the expenses your business will have to do.
- The team
Managing own online store is a serious investment and therefor it is important at the very beginning to be confident you can manage such project. It requires serious investments for time, weekly training on new trends in the field of online trading, regular maintenance. Online trading will become even more attractive for lots of people and when looked from the outside is easy to manage business model with fast return of investment. The reality shows us that if you want to have a successful online business it is essential to spend more finance and time in it.