Are you about to build your first eCommerce website? If so, one excellent way to do it is with WooCommerce on WordPress.
This platform allows you a range of options for your shop, and if
you know how to build a store successfully, it can be a very lucrative business.
You need to know the best way to do this right from the start.
To help, we have collected our top 5 pro tips for building an eCommerce store.
1. GET THE CORRECT WEB HOSTING
Web hosting is space on a server, provided by a hosting company, that allows you to store files that make up a website.
These files will include the code, images, and themes showing the website and making it run. The amount of space you are allocated depends on the type of hosting and the package you purchase.
You may wonder why this is so important. Imagine it as the digital equivalent of renting a shop. Many of the same rules apply to hosting that would apply to finding physical premises.
Firstly, you need to consider the location. The web hosting company you choose will house all of your information on a server. That server will have a physical location, and where it is situated will determine the speed at which your website is delivered for your audience.
For example, if you target customers in the United Kingdom, it would not help to have a server situated in North America. The internet connection would take a much longer time to relay information, as it has to travel a larger distance. It would make more sense to get web hosting closer to your target demographic.
Luckily, there are some ways to get around this problem using content delivery networks “ CDN”. These are data centers located around the globe to house your website data, making information retrieval quicker.
However, you should still consider the server location when you decide upon hosting.
Store Storage Options
The second consideration when choosing web hosting is storage. If you had a physical shop, this would be the place to house your stock.
If you only have a limited product range, you probably don’t need a lot of space and can go for something smaller. If you have a huge inventory, then you will need a lot more space.
You must also consider the type of product you are selling. If your eCommerce website is simply showing stock, selling it, and a physical item is sent, then you may be able to stay fairly light on space depending upon how many products you sell.
However, if you sell direct download music and audio files, you will need more space as the items are heavier.
The final consideration you must have is the reliability and security of the server.
Firstly, your details, website, and customer data need to be secure. The server it is on must be impenetrable to cyber attacks.
The site needs to be reliable, as you also need to be connected to the web 24 hours a day. In e-commerce, if you are not, then your eCommerce website will lose customers. With this unreliability, it is unlikely they will return.
Minimum security features of e-commerce hosts should include:
- Bundled SSL certificate
- PCI-compliant payment processor
- DDoS protection
- Regular backups
- Server and sitewide firewalls.
The hosting environment you choose will have a direct impact on your overall security. some styles of hosting will be much more secure right out of the box, like Managed WordPress Hosting or Managed Woocommerce Hosting.
Luckily, a variety of WordPress hosting companies offer a higher level of security to their hosting environment and a bundled CDN services like Nexcess Hosting and WP Engine Hosting, and Kinsta Hosting.
2. GET THE RIGHT LOOK
When you visit a website, you are presented with the front end. This is the term used to describe what we see and interact with as website visitors. The behind the scenes workings are known as the back end.
The front end of your website is extremely important for two reasons.
- Firstly, it needs to be user-friendly and facilitate sales.
- Secondly, it needs to present the branding that is reflective of your business.
Once you have the hosting package, you have two options.
The first is to get a custom-built website that reflects the company branding. This can prove expensive but will get the results you desire.
The second one is to build the site yourself, using an out-of-the-box solution. These solutions often have several customization options, so you will still end up with a fairly unique website.
This can be done relatively cheap, even if you hire a developer for some of the tricky design tasks.
WordPress Themes and Plugins
WordPress uses two devices to customize the front and back end of your
eCommerce website. These are themes and plugins.
WordPress Plugins are additions to the WordPress site that give it a unique function. For example, they may increase the website speed or allow for comment boxes or make a self-hosted Sales funnel, like the CartFlows plugin.
WooCommerce is a plugin that allows you to turn your website into an online store.
WordPress Themes dictate the overall look of your website. When you start, WordPress will come with a default theme. However, you will require a little more individuality.
While there are many good, free WordPress themes for use with the WooCommerce plugin, you should consider buying a premium Woocommerce theme.
They will tend to have better setup instructions, deep integration with Woocommerce, and provide help and guidance should you have any queries.
In addition, premium Woocommerce themes tend to have less code, allowing your website to run quicker.
Keeping It Clean and Clear
As a store owner, the theme you choose should focus on the three factors needed to sell a product.
- the aesthetic appeal
- clarity of descriptions
- and level of customization on offer.
To increase the aesthetics, you need great visuals, and that comes from images. This may be when you need to spend some money and hire a professional photographer to get great shots of your products.
Don’t opt for cheap, poorly lit images taken from your mobile.
Your product descriptions need to be extremely clear. If you are not great at writing, then hire someone to do this for you. Professional product writers will get in all the information, manage to be persuasive, and do it while being economical with the words used.
Once you have great aesthetic images, you need to customize your store to fit with your branding. Ensure you have a theme that allows you a host of customization options, from changing colors to fonts and layouts.
3. SIMPLIFY THE STORE CHECKOUT PROCESS
Arguably, the check-out is the most important feature of your WooCommerce website. If it is faulty or does not work efficiently, items can not be purchased, and you do not make sales.
In fact, the checkout cart itself is only one part of the process. You have to create an easy workflow that will encourage people to buy and make it easy for them to do so. Start this process by including clear ‘add to cart buttons or ‘check out now options.
Another way to increase sales is to make sure you upsell products. This can be done by including banners showing items that others purchased, or also recommended items. If you have a fashion website, you may choose to pair up garments with other pieces that work with it, in a ‘get the look’ style appraisal.
Be clear about all pricing. Include taxes, and place easy-to-read shipping rates. If not, people may feel cheated that the original price is not the final one and go elsewhere.
Around 69% of shopping carts get filled then are abandoned. This means people add products to them, but never actually make the purchase. If you can get this rate down, your sales will increase drastically.
Ways to get this rate down are to include trust badges and payment methods.
Secure and trusted payment methods, such as Stripe, Paypal, and major credit card badges always help. Make these sale pages as simple as possible.
Also, a cart abandonment recovery plugin to restore those abandoned carts are very helpful, the plugin captures the email address of users on the checkout page.
If the purchase is not completed within 15 minutes, it starts sending an automated series of follow-up emails that you can customize to match your brand.
Here is a free plugin to do it WooCommerce Cart Abandonment Recovery
4. GIVE EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE
One way to keep customers coming back is to have excellent customer service.
That does not just mean responding to emails on your part, but by giving them as much help and information as you can before it gets to that point.
The easiest point of contact is a frequently asked question section. The link to this can be placed in the footer of your page and should contain all of the most frequently asked questions.
You can also direct people here before they make contact via phone or email.
One way to do this is by integrating a customer relationship manager (CRM) into your WooCommerce strategy. This will keep records of all transactions, emails, and phone conversations. You can also integrate email communications, and make calls from the system.
Another way to give great customer service is to talk to people on your social media channels. Very often, you can solve people’s problems before they even try to contact you. Not only does this help that customer, but it shows others who follow you how good and attentive your service is.
There are also many direct chat options available for WooCommerce
websites. You can integrate Facebook messenger plugins, so any queries customers have will come straight to that platform communication system. Similar devices are available for WhatsApp.
Avoid any customer service that sends people around in circles, without giving them an actual solution. You may have been in similar situations like this before, where you get directed to an FAQ section that does not answer your problem.
then sent somewhere else. Make sure that your customers go through a process, with the final step being some kind of direct contact with a representative.
5. KNOW HOW TO USE SEO
So you have your excellent store, with all its great images, and you even have yourself set up for great customer service experiences. Now all you need are customers.
Internet marketing is a huge field in itself, involving social media, advertising campaigns, and a whole host of other factors. You will need to form a strategy as soon as you have built the site, but one of the key factors that you should start embedding while building it is SEO.
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. It is the method by which your webpage will appear on search engines. The better your SEO, the more likely you are to rank in front of the people searching.
Let’s say someone types ‘black Adidas sneakers’ into Google, and your store sells them. You need a way to tell Google that people should come to your eCommerce website and that you sell black Adidas trainers. All of this comes under how well you have configured your site for SEO.
One of the leading SEO methods you should know about from the start is keywords.
Keywords are the terms that people type into search engines. Some of them have lots of people searching for them, and some have fewer.
You need to select the right keywords for your website and attempt to get yourself higher in the rankings for those keywords. This can be done by embedding them in titles, text bodies, and the alt tags of your images.
There are many tools, both free and paid, to help you find the correct keywords. When searching for them, you need to strike a balance, as keywords have various levels of competition.
For example, ‘black Adidas trainers’ may have millions of people searching for them, but competition will be high. You are unlikely to rank higher than the major clothing retailers when you start, so you may wish to rank for terms that have fewer search volumes, but less competition.
Free WordPress SEO Plugins
If you want to optimize WordPress SEO, you absolutely need an SEO plugin. So here are the best free WordPress SEO plugins to start with.
When building your eCommerce store, do not be afraid to get assistance. Many freelancers online will be willing to undertake small or large tasks if you hit a wall.
Having a great site starts with getting the right hosting. Your first stop for fast and efficient hosting should be Nexcess Hosting. With plans beginning from as little as $19 per month.