Websites aren’t exactly a new idea but there is still be a lack of awareness for smaller businesses. According to The Federation of Small Businesses one-in-four UK small businesses still operate without a website, and for those that do have one, only a third are using it for sales. Does this sound familiar? More and more customers are finding and buying products online, The Centre for Retail Research stated that e-commerce is the UK’s fastest growing retail market with sales expected to grow from £44 billion in 2014 to £52 billion by the end of 2015. Starting a website doesn’t have to be a complicated project, there are many tools out there to help small businesses, but it’s crucial to get it right from the start so that a complete online brand can be built.
Whether you build it yourself or get in a professional there are a few things you need to have clear in your mind. Here is my e-commerce website check list to get you started.
- Domain name : You need to buy and register your domain name (URL). Do you want to have a .CO.UK or a .COM? A .COM is the global standard, but there’s no reason why you can’t potentially have both. How does your business name look as a web address? Sometimes writing your business name down as one word can look odd, do you need to consider adding a hyphen? Or maybe you could take a leaf out of B&Q’s book and buy your genre domain. B&Q’s website URL is actually www.diy.com, demonstrating the wealth of options out there.
- Home Page : This is the first thing most customers will see so it needs to be eye-catching and free of clutter but also makes it clear exactly what you do.
- Navigation : Ensure your site is easy to navigate and logically structured. Always get friends and family to test its usability before making anything live.
- Images : Ensure your images are clear, look professional and aren’t too small enabling your potential customer to see exactly what is on offer.
- Competition : Look at your competitors’ sites. What do you like about them? What don’t you like? Make a list and work through these points on your own website.
- Branding : Use the same colours on- and offline to keep your branding consistent.
- Call to Action : Target your content to your audience and make it clear what you want your visitors to do next, i.e. buy from you, contact you, visit you at an event, sign up to a newsletter.
- Content : Keep your content relevant, don’t try to overuse keywords in an attempt to please search engines. This can actually get your site blacklisted. Try to keep the content fresh so that search engines have new things to find, you could even consider writing a blog.
- Purchasing : make it easy for customers to purchase your products, e.g. ensure there aren’t too many clicks between them adding items to the basket and checking out. Analyse your site as if you were a customer and also review other sites’ shopping facilities.
Do you have any top tips for developing an e-commerce site? I’d love to hear from you so do pop a comment in the box below.
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
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