10 Steps to Create the Perfect eCommerce Website for Small and Medium Businesses

Don’t get me wrong because we live in the 21st century – where everything has moved online, especially after the coronavirus outbreak. The web has become the go-to place, whether you’re a department store or a multinational conglomerate.

Nowadays, having a credible digital identity, i.e. having a business website or an e-commerce platform, equates to an obvious sign on your doorstep. Thus, to build a successful business, setting up an online store has become a prerequisite. It opened another way to make sales and created an interface to interact with potential customers even without bringing them into the store.

However, creating an e-commerce platform is not as easy as paying for a domain. So here are 10 steps a small or medium business should follow to create a perfect e-commerce website:

Step 1: The e-commerce market has room for everyone, but finding what sets you apart is key. Specialize in what you have to offer and how you offer it.

Having a unique offering isn’t the only way to make a business work, but pairing it with the right identity is. Research is therefore of the utmost importance. Creating your niche in a space awash with unique yet similar business concepts is what will differentiate one business from others. As a for-profit business, starting by asking yourself the right questions will be the first step in creating the perfect e-commerce website.

Step 2: Decide on the type of your e-commerce business.

Whether you have a B2B, B2C, D2C or any other type of business, deciding what kind of business you want to run is the next very important thing. The focus can vary from selling offers to resellers (B2B) or selling to consumers from a brand to selling directly to consumers by brand. Therefore, having clarity on the type of e-commerce business will help navigate through the next steps.

Step 3: In this step, make decisions about the business plan and budget for the upcoming trip. Be sure to consider marketing costs while you’re at it.

Any plan can only take off on its merits, and making sure having a comprehensive business plan with answers to all the what, ifs, hows, buts and whens is an ideal starting point. Consider the costs of even the smallest things, sum up all sorts of goals, set a timeline, count all the technical and marketing needs it will cost to bring the project to life, and the total cost of creating a an online store – buying a domain name, online store development costs, cataloging costs, registration, web hosting, etc.

To note: Businesses need to remember that people will treat their e-commerce as a mirror of what the brand stands for, its values, and most importantly, its usability.

Step 4: The next step down the line is to choose a product acquisition model that suits your business model.

To shape your e-commerce strategy, it’s essential to consider a product acquisition model – to understand how you can stock your store and manage inventory as the business grows. Dropshipping, manufacturing or wholesale are the 3 most popular models that will meet most business needs. However, these are not the only starting points. Every business need is different and trying a combination of different models will benefit the business in the long run.

Step 5: Select a business name that can make your brand stand out. Feel free to do in-depth market research, if needed.

There’s no harm in trying to make everything work. Thorough research into what can work well for your business is the best way around this problem – it will build brand reputation, build brand persona and also help break up the clutter. A small or medium-sized startup should understand that it’s in the name; it is the identity that will draw a line between you and your competitor.

Step 6: Choose an e-commerce web hosting service that best suits your needs. Invest in a service provider that can provide more than just security.

Customers buy on an e-commerce platform only when they know their data is safe from hacks and leaks. Taking the time to weigh the options as to where you should host the business can be difficult, so during this step you should consider the resources that will be offered to you such as disk space, bandwidth or security mechanisms such as SSL certificate, anti-DDos, or even if the plan justifies the price you will pay.

Step 7: It’s time to make some creative decisions, now that the main tasks are in place. Choose a simple, user-friendly and captivating UI/UX design. Also, make sure that your eCommerce theme perfectly matches your brand identity.

The first impression isn’t necessarily the last, but it definitely sets the tone for the rest of the experience. The design of a website should be entirely based on how a customer navigates the website to make a purchase. The UI/UX should be set up for customer convenience as much as it is designed to please the eyes – therefore, in addition to adding eye-catching images and engaging content, the website should be designed to meet the needs of a client, i.e. must load quickly, must be mobile-friendly, among others.

Step 8: Set up secure, reliable and fast payment gateways. Also, put in place a mechanism against cyber threats to combat any security breaches.

Businesses need to understand that it is critical to understand the importance of this step. Even though today billions of transactions are made online, customers are still skeptical every time they make a purchase online. So, setting up a fast and secure e-commerce store is the only way to handle even the most anxious customers. In this way, the company is no longer prone to cyber threats

Step 9: Integrate the e-commerce platform with CRM, ERP, PIM, and SEO, among other systems.

An eCommerce platform is not a standalone entity, it requires a number of back and forth integrations with a combination of third-party systems that put it on the map. Systems such as customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, product information system, and search engine optimization can dramatically increase business efficiency by improving the experience client, automating back-office functions, guiding clients to the platform and saving time and money.

Step 10: At the end, customize the shipping settings before the e-commerce goes public. Also, scour the entire website to fix any bugs or experience inconsistencies.

The determination of shipping policies and solutions has a lot of impact on consumer psychology. It provides a clear and precise understanding of what the client’s rights are if something goes wrong.

In summary

Having an e-commerce identity provides the solid foundation that small and medium-sized businesses need to establish their name. The Indian e-commerce space is growing exponentially; and, in 2022 alone, it’s expected to grow by 21.5% to $74.8 billion, which will benefit most e-commerce businesses, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. E-commerce is here to stay, and now is a good time to take the plunge and get started before it’s too late.

Edwin S. Wolfe