Since we started FDRY, we always wanted to build a successful ecommerce agency. We knew it was going to take time and dedication to build a name and be recognised an industry leader, however, we understood that staying adaptable to tech stack changes and being responsive to client needs was the key to get to the top. There were and still are pain points and obstacles to overcome, and we are continuously striving to improve our approach.
We knew starting an ecommerce agency was going to be an exciting venture, which required careful planning and execution. In this article, we would like to share with you a few things we’ve learned from building ecommerce websites whilst running a web design company.
Understanding the industry of ecommerce websites
Part of the process when creating an ecommerce website is researching the industry/sector the brand belongs to. By researching the ecommerce industry to understand the current trends, market demands, and potential competitors. This initial research and discovery process will help identify your niche or target market. What is more, it will invite you to consider specialising in a specific vertical or type of ecommerce business to differentiate yourself. Having a bespoke angle and tone of voice will make you stand out!
Draw a bespoke business plan for your ecommerce website
Develop a detailed business plan outlining your brand’s goals, target market, competition analysis, financial projections, and marketing strategy. This plan will serve as your roadmap and can be useful when seeking funding or partnerships. Plus it will have a blueprint to connect to your target audience.
A business plan is a critical tool for entrepreneurs and business owners, providing a structured framework for decision-making, communication, and overall business success.
The key reasons why a business plan is crucial for ecommerce:
Direction and Strategy
A business plan helps clarify the overall purpose and goals of the business. It outlines the mission, vision, and values, providing a clear direction for the company. It also helps in developing a strategic framework by defining the target market, competition, and positioning within the industry.
A well-thought-out business plan provides a basis for making informed decisions. It helps in evaluating the feasibility of different business strategies and scenarios. It assists in identifying potential challenges and developing contingency plans, enabling better decision-making in times of uncertainty.
Funding and Investment
Investors and lenders often require a business plan before providing funding or loans. A comprehensive plan demonstrates that the business owner has thoroughly considered the risks and opportunities. It outlines the financial projections and expected return on investment, which is crucial for attracting investors.
A business plan helps in allocating resources effectively, including financial, human, and time resources. This ensures that the business operates efficiently and maximises its potential for success. It assists in prioritising tasks and activities based on their impact on the overall business objectives.
Communication and Alignment
A business plan is a communication tool that can be shared with employees, stakeholders, and partners. It helps ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding the company’s goals and strategies. It fosters alignment within the organisation and encourages a shared understanding of the business’s mission and objectives.
By conducting a thorough analysis of the market, competition, and potential challenges, a business plan helps in identifying and mitigating risks. It allows businesses to proactively address potential issues and plan for contingencies, reducing the impact of unexpected events
The business plan serves as a benchmark for measuring the company’s progress over time. By comparing actual results to the projections outlined in the plan, businesses can assess their performance and make adjustments as needed.
A business plan is not a static document; it should be reviewed and updated regularly. This process encourages a culture of continuous improvement and adaptability, allowing the business to evolve with changing market conditions.
From strategy to ecommerce web creation
At FDRY we have built hundreds of ecommerce sites over the past 12 years. I know, we are bragging a little bit. However, this is to say that building an ecommerce website requires careful planning and attention to various aspects to ensure its success.
There are some critical elements to consider when creating an ecommerce website, which you shouldn’t compromise on, to ensure gives you hedge against other competing websites:
Ensure a clean, intuitive, and user-friendly design that makes it easy for visitors to navigate and find products. A simple and effective layout can enhance the user experience and increase conversion rates. Avoid too many contrasting elements and page distractions by keeping a steady flow of information in segmented sections throughout the page.
Optimise your ecommerce site for mobile devices. A significant portion of online shopping is done on smartphones and tablets, so a mobile-friendly design is crucial for reaching a broader audience. Apple and Samsung devices are currently market leaders, so you may want to invest in a second hand device for testing purposes or make use of websites that offer virtual mobile testing tools.
Use high-quality images and detailed product descriptions. Customers should be able to view products from different angles and get a clear understanding of what they are purchasing. Ensure you include reviews from previous customers and a section with FAQs to offer peace of mind to customers and accelerate decision making.
Secure Payment Options
Implement secure and widely trusted payment gateways to instil confidence in your customers. Ensure that payment transactions are encrypted and comply with industry standards for security. There is no harm in installing standard credit and debit card payment processing companies like Visa, MasterCard and Amex, alongside other payment providers like Amazon Pay and PayPal. However always ensure the site offers mobile payments and can integrate: Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay as standard.
Clear Call-to-Action (CTA)
Have clear and compelling calls-to-action, such as “Add to Cart” and “Checkout.” Make the buying process straightforward, minimising the steps needed for customers to complete a purchase. The chunkier, clearer and more distinctive the call to action leading to checkout… the better!
Robust Search Functionality
Implement a powerful search feature that allows users to find products quickly. Include filters and sorting options to enhance the search experience.
Responsive Customer Support
Provide accessible customer support through live chat, email, or a helpline. Address customer queries promptly and offer assistance throughout the purchasing process.
Display trust badges, customer reviews, and testimonials to build trust with potential buyers. Communicate your return and refund policies to reassure customers.
Loading Speed Optimisation
Optimise your website’s loading speed. Slow-loading pages can lead to high bounce rates and negatively impact the user experience. Compress images, leverage browser caching, and optimize code to improve loading times.
Implement SEO best practices to improve your site’s visibility in search engine results. Use relevant keywords in product descriptions, optimise images, and create a sitemap to enhance search engine indexing.
Plan for scalability to accommodate the growth of your business. Ensure that your ecommerce platform can handle increased traffic and transactions as your business expands.
Analytics and Metrics
Integrate analytics tools to track user behaviour, monitor site performance, and gather insights. Analysing data will help you make informed decisions and optimise your website for better results.
Adhere to legal requirements for ecommerce websites, including privacy policies, terms and conditions, and compliance with data protection regulations. This helps build trust and ensures legal compliance.
Social Media Integration
Integrate social media platforms to leverage social commerce. Allow customers to share their purchases on social media and include social proof on your website. Some social media channels offer ecommerce integration so you can display and sell products via their platform. So this is worth considering to strengthen your sales channels.
Regular Updates and Maintenance
Keep your ecommerce platform, plugins, and security measures up to date. Regularly update product listings and ensure that your website remains functional and secure.
By paying attention to these factors, you can create a robust and effective ecommerce website that provides a positive experience for customers and contributes to the success of your online business.
Finally, 10 key points to add to your ecommerce strategy for a successful online business
One very important tip when starting an ecommerce business is to thoroughly research and understand your target market. As outlined above, knowing your audience is crucial for several reasons.
We have worked with many entrepreneurs on their ecommerce ventures and seen extremely successful brands thrive and others struggle and fail. Several points which we have come to add to our strategy catalogue to ensure success are the following:
1. Create a Tailored Product Offering –
Understand the needs, preferences, and pain points of your target customers. This knowledge will allow you to curate a product or service offering that specifically addresses their requirements.
2. Create an Effective Marketing Plan –
Tailor your marketing strategies to resonate with your target audience. Knowing their demographics, interests, and online behaviour will help you choose the right channels and messaging to reach them effectively.
3. Competitive Advantage –
Identify your competitors and analyse what they are offering. Differentiate your ecommerce business by providing unique value propositions that cater to the specific demands of your target market.
4. Optimised User Experience –
Design your website with your target audience in mind. Consider their preferences and habits when creating a user-friendly interface, optimising navigation, and presenting product information.
5. Pricing Strategy –
Set competitive and attractive prices based on what your target market is willing to pay. Understand the price sensitivity of your customers and align your pricing strategy accordingly.
6. Customer Communication –
Develop communication strategies that resonate with your audience. This includes the tone of your marketing messages, the style of your content, and the channels through which you engage with your customers.
7. Customer Service Excellence –
Anticipate the needs and expectations of your target customers and offer exceptional customer service. Address their concerns promptly and aim to exceed their expectations to build brand loyalty.
8. Adaptability and Innovation –
Stay attuned to changes in your target market. Consumer preferences and behaviors evolve, and being adaptable and innovative will help your business stay relevant and competitive.
9. Data-Driven Decision-Making –
Utilise data and analytics to continuously understand and refine your understanding of your target market. Monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) related to customer behaviour, conversion rates, and other relevant metrics.
10. Build a Community –
Foster a sense of community around your brand. Engage with your audience through social media, forums, and other online platforms. Building a community can lead to word-of-mouth marketing and brand advocacy.
Understanding your target market is foundational to the success of your ecommerce business. It guides nearly every aspect of your business strategy, from product development to marketing and customer service. Regularly revisit and update your understanding of your audience to stay responsive to their changing needs and preferences.
If you wish to discuss your ecommerce website venture with us, we are always happy to run a discovery session in our FDRY office. We can share our insight on what works, what creates pain points, what brings challenges and what brings successes. After all, we have built over 650 projects and worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs growing their digital businesses.