Read time: 7 Minutes
Welcome, and thank you for reading this guide on how to start an e-commerce website. How many of us have thought about starting our own online shop? How awesome would it be to work from home every day? How helpful would this e-commerce website be to our local shop? Imagine the money coming in 24/7, all year long, from anywhere on the planet… Well, it’s not that simple.
What? Thanks for ruining it Anthony!
Don’t worry, this guide will help you achieve your goals so if you’re ready, let’s start!
Amazon launched their e-commerce website in 1995. Compared to actual bookstores, they had no limitations and could literally sell any book in the world. Because of their initial success, they started to grow and sell pretty much anything. I can’t recall how many times clients asked me to build a kinda Amazon website. Not easy…
In 1998 Google and Paypal definitely made it easier to sell online. One would generate traffic, the other allow you to process transactions.
In 2004, the PCI security standards started regulating this wild ecosystem, reassuring buyers all around the world.
That’s when e-commerce websites exploded. I started making them in 2009, and at that time there was still some room even though some industries were starting to be crowded.
No it’s not a new viral challenge ( I wonder what that would look like), it’s a way to visualize the e-commerce online shopping market. Imagine a bucket that was empty at first and was filled over the years.
Between 1995 and 2004, the market was mostly filled with big companies and a few start-ups. The reason why is fairly simple: e-commerce websites were very expensive to make, not really mainstream, and definitely not in most entrepreneurs preoccupations.
Between 2004 and 2010 the public started to learn more about e-commerce and some entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to start a business. Most of the big companies that haven’t adopted it before finally joined the herd.
The bucket starts to be filled, but it starts to change a lot. Some big companies failed to succeed online and some small businesses became huge.
After 2010, everyone joined the party. Making an e-commerce website became much easier, with an array of solutions for every need.
Not only this, but artists can now sell on specialized platforms like Etsy, anyone can sell on Ebay, Market Places like Amazon are huge, people sell on Social Media, on Blogs, everywhere…
The good news is that the bucket gets bigger every day. In 2000 the value of e-commerce was about $27 billion, $143 billion in 2009 and $630 billion in 2014. Between 2000 and 2014 the bucket got 23 times bigger , and no one knows when it’s going to stop.
Like any business, you must evaluate what’s the market like in your industry, find a niche, and study your competition. The good news is that it’s not too hard to do online.
I recommend you get some help for these long nights of research:
For SEO: You must know the keywords since you’ve googled them. If you don’t have all of them, it’s ok, you can use MOZ Keyword Explorer, a great tool that will give you Search Results and more importantly suggested keywords with useful data associated to it.
For knowing how many visits a competitor gets and who’s linking to them, what keywords they rank for, etc… I use SEM RUSH. Even though it’s not perfect, it’s one of the best tools to get competition’s data.
For anything Social I use Social mention, You enter a keyword and the system tells you who’s talking about it across all social media and blogs.
For Adds, I recommend you use every platform add-generator to get to know how much is an add. You can do so on Google Keyword Planner and any Social Media that has an add system. That will give you a lot of insightful data and help you plan your future Advertisement budget and strategy.
Are you still there? Really? Wow, you must be really motivated. Good.
E-commerce has a bunch of rules, and you kinda have to follow them. Creativity is great, but don’t change everything. Why, you ask? Because user (buyers) know how to online shop and anything new, while potentially great, is also scary and confusing. Keep what works, and have fun with the rest.
In general, make sure that users can find the products easily, the navigation must be so awesome that anyone, even your 70 years old grandpa, can find the product they are looking for.
The search should also be awesome. Don’t make your visitors use a basic search that only looks for the exact keyword. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but users assume that every search bar works like Google now.
Search result for “mintoun bind”: Do you mean MOUNTAIN BIKE? Yes, we have some, they are right there.
Anything that helps the user is great. You should spend time on building your catalog, make it logical and self-explanatory. The Information architecture and the UX must be well-thoughts, for any type of users.
Don’t assume every customer is like you.
Don’t forget that customers shop on any type of device.
Write UNIQUE product description. You want to know the difference between you and your competition? The product description. Most of the Online store owners will simply copy the brand description, yes, the one you’ve seen everywhere and you thought you could use too. Sorry but that’s a bad idea. First of all, your creating duplicate content, that means your page will rank badly. Then, what do you feel when, as a customer, you finally find a product page that has a lot of professional information, useful tips, and great pictures or videos? You’re much more enticed to buy.
Your price is not the most important criteria for customers. If you offer great service, good quality products, great choice, good advice, free shipping, reward programs, money-back policy, customers will not care about a few dollars difference.
Treat your customer right!
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