Covering bases: have you invested enough in your e-commerce store

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As part of our ongoing ‘Covering bases’ series of articles, aimed at folk attempting to build or launch a new bootstrapped dot-com business, perhaps in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, or perhaps as a side hustle, this entry is designed to help you understand whether you are spending enough money on your new digital property.

When you run a small digital business, or e-commerce store, the user experience and the first impression you provide is often intrinsic to your success.

We’re living in a technological age and with the advent of coronavirus lockdowns consumers are increasingly shifting their behaviour towards making more purchases online. Convenience and the low cost of entry is why the e-commerce sector continues to accelerate.

If you want your e-commerce-enabled business to be a success, you are going to have to have to build a good website where customers can browse your products and services any time of the day or night, wherever they are… and feel reassured enough to make a purchase from you. This is why it’s essential that you don’t cut corners and that you invest your money where it is most required.

Think of it as a digital version of a brick and mortar store. You will have to focus on design and layout, functionality and showcasing your products in the best light possible in order to generate the maximum amount of sales. Below are a few areas you should consider investing more in, rather than taking a bootstrapped approach.

WEB DESIGN

Successful websites are normally designed by a professional who knows (1) front-end languages such as JavaScript and css; (2) understand the principals behind building a user interface such as colour science and responsive design; and (3) understand what customers will want (and expect) from your property when they access it. For example, a website selling steel fencing panels to the construction industry is unlikely to want a primarily pink website.

A professional in web design will not only be able to make your page look great, but they’ll ensure that it’s functional too. Well worth the investment. A brief design consultation can fill the agency in with your needs and requirements an can familiarise them with your brand aesthetic and industry.They can then use/create your logo, build a basic brand identity, fonts and more to craft a website to successfully sell from.

PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY

Product photography can make or break a sale. This is largely what your customers will rely on in order to determine whether they want to make a purchase or not.

Product photography should highlight the best aspects of your products, showing them from different angles, focusing on important features and generally making them look as appealing as possible. Use a professional product photographer who will have the right equipment and expertise to get the best from what you’re selling.

WEB COPY

Relatively few people are familiar with the word “copy”. It’s essentially an industry term for “writing” or “written content”. A copywriter is a professional writer who will craft words for various aspects of your page and can help to maximise sales through things like product descriptions, informational pages (about pages, shipping pages and FAQ pages), a company blog and more. Increasing numbers of businesses are taking on full time copywriters, but there are plenty of freelancers out there if your business has a limited budget and can consequently only afford limited content.

SECURITY

Your e-commerce website should be served from a secure domain. Historically, the majority of websites were served from a http:// address until you added a product to the shopping cart. However, now it is assumed that the entirety of the transactional, or membership website should be served secure, including images.

An SSL certificate for your hosting environment does not cost much money. Indeed, you can often get them for free as part of a hosting package.

Whether it is free, or you have to invest a couple of hundred Dollars, a good SSL certificate is vital.

Of course, there are other areas of your website you will need to invest in too. But these three areas are a pretty good place to start.

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