An ecommerce site is the most immediate form of online business you can start, compared to a business that uses a third party platform or marketplaces like Etsy, eBay, Amazon, or Airbnb.
When you create and host your own ecommerce site, you will be selling your goods and services directly to your customers, without a "go-between."
Host your own sites
You retain control: The best part about a direct ecommerce site is the level of control you have over your store. You'll be able to customize virtually every aspect of your ecommerce site, including the look and feel of your store. But this flexibility can make the process of getting started more complicated, too.
Focus on user experience: Your biggest considerations with an ecommerce site will be setting up your website to offer the best user experience. Choosing the right web design is crucial, as is making sure that your shopping cart software is well-suited for your business. Be sure to check out the various shopping cart options available-from Shopify to X-Cart and many more.
Use a third-party marketplace
There are more and more third-party ecommerce marketplaces available, like eBay, Etsy, Amazon, and even Airbnb or Fiverr, depending on your product or service. Building a business through one of those ecommerce marketplaces can simpler, since you'll have to make fewer decisions, and you won't have to build your website yourself-you'll use an existing template. However, one way or another, you'll end up paying to use that third-party platform.
Focus on what makes you different: If you're using an ecommerce marketplace, pay particular attention to the quality of the images you use on your page. Good product photography can set your listing apart. But remember, hosting your own ecommerce site isn't a free pass for using mediocre images either. Either way, customers will rely on images to form an opinion about your product or service's value.
Right from the start; think about business planning as something that you do regularly, not something you do once in the earliest stages of your startup.
Figure out if there's a market for your ideas
Pay particular attention to your market analysis and a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to confirm that there's a market for your product and that you have identified your competition.
Decide on a name
Deciding on your business name and registering your domain name should be done in tandem. The last thing you want is to find out that one or the other (the domain you bought or the name you chose) is registered to some other business.
There are clear benefits to having a domain name that's the same as your company or product name. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find you when they search for you online. The same is true when you're naming your storefront if you're using an online platform like Etsy or Ebay.
Build out your site with us
In some instances, it will definitely make sense to build your own site. If you're building an actual online product, like a SaaS product, your team probably already has the skills necessary to build your marketing website.
If you're simply using the web as a platform to sell something analog (clothing or a subscription meal box, for example) or a service like consulting, design services, or even vacation rentals) you might benefit more from using an existing platform, or at least a template ecommerce option, so you're not starting from scratch.
Hiring a web design firm is a good idea. They help you to build a perfect site right out of the gate. Test your hypothesis that your product or service is marketable using a lower cost, simpler option at first.
Make it mobile friendly
It's still possible to build websites and elect to use templates that aren't mobile friendly. You can pretty much broadly assume that it's a bad idea. However you decide to build your online presence doesn't skip making it mobile friendly.
If your site is not optimized for mobile, your users will have a less positive experience when they try to find you from their phones, but Google will also penalize you in search results, meaning you'll be harder for new customers to find organically.
Pay attention to image quality
The agency will help you to select good images to build your credibility. Whether you're selling products, ideas, or experiences, using high-quality images will make a difference.
If you're selling products, either hire a freelancer to do the job right or invest in the equipment that you'll need to take and edit high-quality photos. If you're not sure you can afford professional images, check with local colleges to see if there are students looking to learn and build their portfolios that cost less than well-established professionals.
And don't fall into the trap of settling for terrible stock photos. You know the ones. The super corporate looking or 1997-esque images won't be doing you any favors, especially if you're entering a more crowded market.
Think about blogging
Content marketing (blogging) may or may not be part of your initial marketing plan. The key here is to retain optionality. If you're building your site from scratch or using an ecommerce template through square space or someone else, make sure to build the site in such a way that adding a blog wouldn't be a major reconstruction. Your agency will create design and guide your for the same. They will help you to market your website well.
Consider monetization and affiliate partnerships
Monetizing your ecommerce site through affiliate partnership and on-site ads is something to consider. If you do decide to incorporate third-party ads on your site, start slowly, especially if your site is minimalist at first. You don't want prospective customers to be confused about what you're actually trying to sell on your site.
Don't set it and forget it
When you launch your site, if it's self-hosted, set up Google Analytics, or look into whether agency can offer you monthly insights on how well your site is performing. Use that data to test small changes to your site that might have an impact on your sales.