HOW TO DESIGN AND BUILD AN E-COMMERCE WEBSITE- 6 STEPS TO BUILDING YOUR ONLINE STORE

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Note: This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend products that I personally use and/or that I believe will add value to my readers. The process of starting an online store can easily be overwhelming for a beginner. In this video, I am breaking down steps that should take to design and build a fully functional and responsive online store for your e-commerce business. In my previous video, I spoke about the importance of designing a customer experience for your online store, today I am going to discuss the steps to designing and building a fully functional and responsive online store. Now that you know your niche by now and have designed an offering suited for your targeted audience, now you want to create an online experience that will make you stand out and that will serve your target market. If you are still not sure what your offering is and what kind of story to tell online, I strongly suggest you check my video on brand creation basics and check my resource page, I have designed workbooks and planners that will help you tell your brand story in the most authentic and effective way. Click here to subscribe to my channel Now it is time to set up your online store: 1. NAME & REGISTRATION The first step is to register your business, get a tax ID, licenses and permits that are required for your business and make sure your name is available online just in case you might want to trademark it in the future. Your name should be easy to pronounce and be memorable. You can purchase your domain on Dreamhost, they offer domain names for as little as .89 cents. Open a bank account for your business and choose a business model; is it going to be a Business to Consumer model (B2C) or is it going to be a Business to Business model (B2B). Your business model will influence the kind of design and functionality that you will need for your online store. 2. PLATFORM You must decide on the kind of platform that you are going to use, is it going to be a SAAS? SAAS is an acronym for Software as a service. The widely known and used SAAS include Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace. Are you going to use a CMS which stand for Content Management Systems, they include Woocommerce (an extension of Wordpress), Magento and so on. The latter offers a lot more customization for your online store. You also want to think about hosting as I mentioned before Dreamhost allows you to also host your website should decide to go the CMS route; I would highly recommend that you use Dreamhost for hosting, domain and business email. Do your own research as well and find it which platform is suitable for you, a lot of these platforms offer free versions or free trials which gives you ample time to get acquainted with the platform and decide on the one which fits your business needs. 3. VISUAL IDENTITY We are going to talk about the visual identity of your store. By visual identity, I mean your logo, typography, color palette, pictures, and stationery, any visual aspect of your brand. Your visual identity plays a great part in the way you want to position your brand in the mind of your audience. If you are a beginner on a budget, and you don’t have the money to hire a branding agency; I would strongly suggest that you use a minimal design or that you hire a freelancer to help you with the design. There are plenty of marketplaces that offer such services, my favorite being Fiverr, I have personally used them in the past. There is a wide range of services offered for as little as $5 so depending on the kind of service that you want, you might want to look into it. Whether it is logo design, copywriting or web design, you will find their services rather affordable. If you are going the DIY route, another marketplace that offers a wide range of digital assets is Envato, you will find a wide range of web themes, templates, videos, photos, pictures, codes and so on. The prices are also affordable. So whether you are looking for graphics or someone to write your copy, these are great places to start. Canva is also a great graphic design tool that you can use as a start, it has a free version that will offer a wide range of graphics, pictures, and templates and so on just in case you are on a tight budget. You can upgrade to Canva Pro for about $9.99/month billed yearly and build a brand kit, access a rich library of pictures, icons, shapes and vectors, and the many other great features such image resizing, background eraser just to name a few. These are my recommendations but as I said before do your own research, only you know exactly what you need for your business. Do not neglect the visual aspect of your brand, it forms part of your overall strategy and it is a brand leadership component. 4. USER EXPERIENCE DESIGN How your prospects interact with your website is extremely crucial to the success of your brand, you have to make sure that your intended customer stays on your website and successful purchases your offering. Your site has to be aesthetically pleasing, easy to navigate and the checkout process has to be as seamless as possible. Here are the key elements to consider: Homepage/landing page: this is where the user first lands, it has to look as purposeful and uncluttered as possible. There is always the temptation of wanting to include a lot or little information depending on your overall online strategy. Your homepage should include important categories, a search button, product listing, and appealing imagery. The layout and call to action button and overall look of the homepage will obviously be greatly influenced by the kind of products or services that you plan on selling and the audience that you are targeting. Be sure to add sub-categories as well so that customers can easily find what they are looking for. Product page: your product page should include good quality pictures 4 to 5 images, a good product name (remember what we said about names before) then add a good product description. If you are selling fashion items you might want to include a sizing guide, in case it is an electronic item let’s say a camera, make sure you include product specifications and the quality of the imagery. Showcase your value proposition each step of the way by writing copy that captures people’s emotions and compels them to action. Checkout: cart abandonment is one of the major problems that most online businesses have to deal with. Do bear in mind that you will have to design an easy and seamless process, do you not have more than four steps to check out, keep them at three if you can. Account creation should also be optional. Ensure secure modes of payments and disclose all the costs prior to checkout. One of the biggest turn off is to find that you have to pay for taxes and shipping, costs that were not disclosed beforehand, this makes you look dishonest and creates doubt in the mind of the buyers; consumers want to be as unbothered as possible so please bear that in mind as you design your checkout process. Device responsiveness: make sure that your website is responsive to not only desktop but also mobile and tablets as more and more online purchases are done through mobile devices. 5. INTERNAL PROCESSES AND INTEGRATION It is very important that you choose a platform that integrates well with other applications and software on the market. The first thing that you must do is draft policies; privacy so that people know that the information they share will remain confidential and will not be shared with third-party companies, refund and return policies for your business. Some of these platforms have already existing policies ‘drafts that you can refer yourself to and customize them. Education: depending on the nature of your business, you might want to have educational content such as tutorials, manuals, blogs, videos any form of educational content for your customers to refer and as a way to get acquainted with your brand. You can check Fiverr for copywriters or check the website getacopywriter.com. Both of these platforms provide affordable copywriting services. FAQ page: FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions, to help and guide your prospect customers. Integration: you must ensure that your online store integrates with billing & invoicing, google analytics or whatever form of analytical tools that you are going to use to track visitors and consumer movements and behaviour; tax and accounting, shipping, email marketing, online payment platform, and a customer relationship management software. These are relevant elements to consider when choosing a platform for your online business. 6. MARKETING AND OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT Now that you have taken care of all the elements regarding the functionality of your online store, it is time to focus on how your product/offering is going to perform on the market and ways to make sure that you are competitive on the market. Pricing strategy: once you have factored in all the costs involved in your e-commerce business, how much will your markup be? You have to consider all the costs and how they will affect your bottom line. I will discuss e-commerce business costs in my future video, I hope it gives you an idea on how to price your products and be competitive on the market. Email marketing: you might want to start a newsletter and build a list, not only as a sales strategy but also as a way to gain authority in your field and in the mind of your customers. The more educational it is, the better it will be. Make it a weekly thing and set an expectation in their minds as a way to build your audience and community online. Automation: it spares you from the constant micro-management of tasks that are time-consuming. This gives you time to focus on other aspects of your business. This applies to your inventory management system and your list building. Social stores: create social media pages, engage online and building social stores as backlinks to your online store. Analytics and SEO: a free option here is google analytics as previously mentioned, make sure you also register your store on Google for search engine optimization. This might be overwhelming, but by setting the right foundation you are setting yourself up for success and avoid future needs for constant revamping. Running a business is no easy task so you want to make sure that you have a solid platform because the last thing that you need is a store that does not function properly. If you have any questions leave me a comment below, Xo, Ange

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