eCommerce Website Development: The Basics

eCommerce is the wave of the future.  Don’t believe it?  Sixty percent of shoppers today engage in online shopping, which was unheard of a decade ago.  Businesses are increasingly turning from brick-and-mortar to online sales in order to appeal to today’s shopper and boost their bottom lines and that makes eCommerce website development a key to success.

Many businesses (especially smaller ones) shortchange themselves while planning their eCommerce websites.  We highly recommend consulting with an experienced and reputable eCommerce website development agency to ensure all your bases are covered.

However, if you’re determined to do it all in-house, here are some basic things to keep in mind.  First, planning your eCommerce website development begins far in advance of going live.

Choose the Right Platform and Design Elements

eCommerce Website Development

Image via Flickr by simplr_photos

There are numerous platforms to handle your eCommerce website development- Magento, Shopify, Drupal, and WooCommerce are some of the most popular.  Don’t assume they are all the same; different platforms have different capabilities and functionalities.  It’s important to find the platform that matches the needs of your individual business.

Your site’s design needs to reflect your business’ persona and allow you to gather and make the most of analytics.  Most importantly, the design should afford your customers a seamless and enjoyable shopping and purchasing experience, and encourage their return.  The design planning stage is also the best time to consider customer engagement elements, such as blogs.  According to Google, blogs get noticed, which will help move your website up in search results.  Any way you can engage with customers is good for business.

SEO and Marketing are Crucial

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a very important consideration during the development of an eCommerce site.  SEO involves both creative and technical elements designed to improve your company’s rankings, drive traffic to your site, and increase search engine awareness.  Most people are drawn to results that are among the first they see, a phenomenon known as a primacy effect.

With greater visibility at the top of the results, your site will attract more visitors and thus generate more sales.  If your site is buried in search engine results, customers are not going to flock to your business.

It’s not enough to just create a website for eCommerce and expect sales to flow in.  You need to market the site itself.  We recommend you consult with an experienced marketing firm that can handle ever-changing SEO requirements  as well as marketing your site, and give your customers effective ways to interact with you.   Ongoing customer engagement and dynamic web design keep customers interested and sales flowing.

Use Responsive Web Design to Cover all Devices

Increasingly,  shoppers are using their smart phones and tablets to connect with their favorite websites.  Last year, an estimated 25% of all online transactions occurred on mobile devices, and that number will continue to grow.

When developing your site, you’ll need a responsive design – one that adjusts to the various devices and screen sizes that shoppers may use.  To give your customers the best possible experience from browsing through purchasing, make sure your design is flexible enough to look and function perfectly on every device.

Two Key Features Every Site Should Have

The first is a “guest checkout” that is both optimal and user-friendly.  While it’s tempting to make everyone create an account before purchasing, not every customer will want to do that.  Obviously, account creation will get you more customer data points, enabling you to do follow-up communication and track sales. Your repeat buyers may want accounts to take advantage of deals and notifications you send out.  But one-time buyers just want to order and leave.  A good website will accommodate all buyers.

The second key feature to include is a good search function.  At least a third of customers find products on websites via searching.  Make sure your search function is easy to find and easy to use.

One search tool that customers rate highly is known as a “faceted search.”  A faceted search allows the use of filters to narrow down search results by color, price, size, etc.

Security is Most Important

Security is one of the most important aspects of eCommerce website development. As customers become more knowledgeable of security risks online, they are increasingly reluctant to engage with websites that are not secure.  There is an element of trust involved when shopping on the internet, and no businesses want their customers to become victims of a data breach courtesy of an unsecured web portal.

Therefore, your website must support Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption, the industry standard for establishing secure connections and safeguarding all sensitive data being transmitted.  This is vital, not only for credit card information but also basic demographic info such as addresses or phone numbers.  Many of today’s customers are tech-savvy enough to identify secure sites by noticing whether the URLs begin with https, rather than just http.  Websites with SSL Certificates experience increased Google Rankings and improved conversion rates.

Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance is also vital if you’re planning to allow the use of credit cards on your site.  PCI compliance is required by the major credit card companies in order for purchases to be made.

Be Responsive During the Development Process

Once the initial planning stage is complete and you’ve begun development, it’s important that you maintain continual communication with your developers.  Constant testing will be required, and you’ll need to do it in a timely manner to avoid going way over budget.  Your devs will no doubt have many questions throughout the process, and your prompt responses will help them stick to their schedules.

 

                                                            IronPlane enjoys helping businesses of all sizes find solutions that fit their specific needs.  From developing startup sites to providing ongoing support and maintenance, IronPlane has the expertise and experience to get your business noticed in an increasingly vast online world and keep your customers coming back.  Contact IronPlane today for a free consultation – let us show you how we can fine craft your online presence to fit your vision and provide your customers with a shopping experience they’ll want to repeat.