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New Web Store? Your Checklist for Success in 2018


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This article was originally featured in the k-eCommerce Blog. You can read the original article here.

Thinking about opening a new web store in 2018? We’ve got some good news: getting the web store you need is easier than you think.  Whether your online objectives are to generate more revenue, instill brand loyalty, or gain that competitive edge, this guide can help you get on the fast track to success.

Here’s a checklist of the seven critical components of a winning web store and listen to our webinar on demand titled “Wired for Success: 7 Steps to a Winning Web Store” to learn more about the topics covered in this article.

Design

We’re visual creatures, so the look and feel of your store is a significant part of the customer experience. Whether you are building a B2B or B2C web store, optical considerations like logo placement, color choice, layout, and theme are vital to your image.

But there’s more to looks than meets the eye.

Shoppers increasingly access the web from mobile devices. As such, it is crucial to implement a fully responsive design so that your store remains accessible and visually engaging whether your clients are browsing from a laptop, desktop, or smartphone.

Responsive design has implications for search engine performance as well. Google and other search engines heavily penalize sites lacking proper configurations for use across mobile devices.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a web designer to achieve this. Let your site reflect your branding with a well thought out plan. Reliable e-commerce platforms, like k-eCommerce, allow you to implement the web design you need and come pre-built with a selection of professionally-designed, fully responsive themes that you can apply quickly through your Content Management System (CMS).

Navigation

According to Hubspot, 76% of consumers say that what they want most in a web store is making it easy to find what they want. Just as your website needs a clean design, it also needs to offer smooth, streamlined navigation. Your customers should be able to locate the search bar at a glance, apply filters with a click, and browse menus with intuitive ease. Is your customer service number easily accessible and footer complete with customer service information to help the customer make their purchase?

Organizing your online store’s products into logical categories is a critical part of your product catalog (see below), as this facilitates optimal menu building and linking product images helps your customer find the information they need faster.

Similarly, detailing product records with specs and attributes allows customers to take advantage of advanced search options and locate products by color, brand, size, and more.

Product Catalog

When it comes to building your product catalog, you want to choose an e-commerce solution that provides you with numerous tools for showcasing and promoting your products.

Detailed product descriptions are obviously important both for providing your customers with information and for helping search engines evaluate the page. Product specs and attributes are equally important. As a rule, the more detailed and unique a product page’s contents, the better.

But text descriptions are only a part of the equation. Every item should also feature at least a few full-color images with zoom capabilities when necessary. Rich content such as videos is a great addition, too, particularly for demonstrating functionality.

While this might seem like a lot of work, it’s worth it. And platforms like the k-eCommerce solution let you import products and images in bulk using an Excel spreadsheet. You can then configure them as needed in your web store.

Web Store Integration

Choosing an integrated e-commerce solution is, overall, the smartest decision you can make. Integration to your ERP brings time and cost savings from not having disparate systems, improving operational efficiencies.

Companies that don’t integrate with their ERPs are forced to copy everything back and forth manually: orders, inventory, pricing, promotions, customer information, and the rest. Ironically, this can turn success into a liability, since high-traffic sites can get hundreds, even thousands of orders per day.

When you integrate, each time a customer purchases an item in your web store, not only is the order sent to your ERP but your web store’s inventory updates as well. Other customers will then be able to see right away if the product is available or not.

On the flip side, pricing and other elements managed through your ERP will always stay up-to-date, as any changes you make in the ERP automatically sync to your web store.

SEO

Search engines like Google are your primary source of traffic. To maximize that traffic, you need search engine optimization (SEO).

Basic SEO involves identifying the terms in which your clients are searching. For example, a shoe store would want to rank for shoes as well as boots, sandals, cleats, and other types of footwear.

But SEO also tells search engines about the content of your website. And good SEO demonstrates that you are a relevant and reliable source of information on the subject. Every search engine has a different way of assessing this, but in general, they look for original content and well-configured page elements like the title tag and meta description.

It takes work, but a winning SEO strategy does not require a tech degree. Most e-commerce platforms come equipped with built-in SEO tools for optimizing your pages.

Customer Experience

SEO will bring customers to your store for a product. But a rewarding, memorable customer experience is what will keep them coming back. When designing your web store, always try to see things through your customers’ eyes.

Consider the following:

  • Are the search tools and shopping cart visible at all times?
  • Can clients easily modify their shopping cart, and save it to return for a later purchase?
  • Are the customer’s order and invoice history available when they log into their account?
  • Does your web store suggest items based on past purchases and previously viewed products?
  • Is your company contact information easy to find?
  • Can shoppers read product ratings and reviews from other customers, and leave their own?

Details like this create a first-rate customer experience, which in turn fosters long-term customer loyalty.

Social

Regardless of whether you’re B2B or B2C, you need social media.

Social media opens your web store to millions of users from all over the globe. It facilitates the relationship-building process with clients and leads, promotes brand recognition, offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to share their industry expertise, and can even function as an extension of your online boutique.

To get the most from social media, you should choose an e-commerce solution that integrates easily with AddThis. Doing so allows you to add social sharing buttons to your web store’s pages, which lets customers share products and promotions with their friends and followers at the click of a button.

Opening a web store is a big undertaking, and there is a lot to consider. But as you can see, success starts with choosing the right e-commerce platform. Does the solution integrate? Does it offer responsive design? SEO tools? A rich product catalog? A smart decision here will save you a ton of work in the long run, and will make your web store ready to win in 2018!

k-eCommerce is an innovative B2B and B2C e-commerce platform that integrates with Microsoft Dynamics. It allows you to propel self-service channels, accelerate online sales, and reach new markets. k-eCommerce serves organizations in the manufacturing, wholesale and distribution, and retail industries. Contact us today and discover how our e-commerce solutions can help your business grow.

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