Ecommerce is huge — and that’s an understatement. Economic experts agree that we are nearing the end of a major shift from physical to digital retail; for the past few years, traditional retail has been left in the dust while ecommerce has grown nearly 300 percent. Today, ecommerce is immensely profitable, with high-earning ecommerce sites earning a monthly revenue close to $600 thousand only six months after opening their online shop.
However, most ecommerce researchers are quick to point out that opening a digital retail store is not a guaranteed success. While some ecommerce sites blow away the competition, others flounder just like their brick-and-mortar predecessors. Entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on the ecommerce boom would do well to make their sites as close to perfect as possible, and they can do so by following these simple steps.
Know Your Industry
Not all industries adapt well to the ecommerce model, which means to build the absolute best ecommerce website imaginable — one that looks amazing, performs flawlessly, and makes money like a dream — entrepreneurs must know for certain that the industry they choose will work online. To that end, an entrepreneur must do sufficient market research before jumping straight into Web design. Some of the most important industry factors to know are:
- Suppliers. Who creates the goods you want to sell? Are the creators and brokers reputable?
- Price. How much does the product cost to produce, and what is the market price? What is your margin on every sale?
- Shipping. Is your product shippable? How big, heavy, and/or delicate is it?
- Interest. Are there real customers for this product? Do you have a passion for it?
Develop Your Brand
The brand is the beginning, middle, and end of every company, especially those that do business wholly online. A brand is the sum of a company’s identifying characteristics, from its name and logo to its color and font schemes, and an unappealing brand will not spread far on the Web. While devoting time to understanding their chosen market, entrepreneurs should consider the most important aspects of their ecommerce brand, including:
- Name. This will appear on everything your company produces, from the ecommerce site itself to social media pages, apps, and more.
- Logo. This should be the visual representation of your entire brand, including name, tone, and story.
- Slogan. This should summarize what your company does and why that matters — in a concise and catchy way.
- Tone. This should be consistent in your writing throughout your media channels.
Choose a Platform
Once entrepreneurs have established the basics of their ecommerce company, they can begin to build their actual site. The first step of this process is selecting an ecommerce platform that suits a particular entrepreneur’s needs and taste. There are dozens of ecommerce website builders to choose from around the Web, but not all of them offer the same accessibility. More likely than not, entrepreneurs will need to endure trial runs with different platforms before understanding what functionality is perfect for their site.
Use Familiar Features
Ecommerce is far from new — it is estimated that by 2017, Internet sales will total more than $370 billion — and most shoppers have come to expect a handful of practical features from online stores. The most successful ecommerce sites boast:
- Horizontal and vertical category menus
- Drop-down menus with more information
- Search bar front-and-center
- Links to social media in lower left
- Login box in upper right
- Shopping cart in upper right
Though it is important that a new entrepreneur’s site is not indistinguishable from the hoard, it is smart to integrate such integral aspects and tools to create a functional site. As long as the navigation and information are organized comprehensively, the site should be nearly perfect.
Examples of Nearly Perfect Sites
Throughout the years, various ecommerce sites have accrued awards for their simple, beautiful, effective design — which many entrepreneurs wouldn’t hesitate to call close to perfect. Those who want to surpass prior standards and inspire customers and designers alike with true perfection can take cues from these outstanding examples of ecommerce: