There is no doubt that ecommerce is a booming industry. In fact, by the end of 2022, this market is on track to reach $4 trillion in sales. There is no better way to capture a piece of these profits than by investing in an online store with excellent optimization potential.
However, creating an ecommerce website is no small task. It’s a big investment, and there are a lot of moving parts. To help, we have put together a 20-step ecommerce website checklist for 2022. This guide will walk you through everything from setting up your website to marketing it effectively. Following these steps will create a website that attracts customers and helps your business succeed. You’ll no doubt be more prepared for launch day after reading this.
Ecommerce Website Design
1. Select your ecommerce platform
When choosing an ecommerce platform, there are a few factors to consider. The first is the size of your business. If you’re just starting out, you may want to choose a platform that is easy to use and doesn’t require a lot of technical expertise.
The WooCommerce plugin for WordPress is a good option for most small businesses. WooCommerce is not only free and open-source, but it also has a developer-friendly environment. Therefore, teams worldwide can create software extensions to continually increase usability and efficiency.
Another option is Shopify which comes with a wide range of templates and apps to create your store. However, you may need Shopify Plus to access these features at a high cost.
2. Choose a domain name
Once you’ve chosen your platform, it’s time to start setting up your store. The first step is to choose a domain name. This is the URL that customers will use to access your store. Choose a domain name that is easy to remember and spell. You also want to make sure it’s relevant to your business. The Top Level Domain (TLD) .com is king here, though other options now exist like .co or .io (especially if you’re a tech startup).
3. Determine your web hosting provider
Next, if choosing a self-hosted system like WooCommerce, you must set up hosting where your website’s files are stored. You can choose from shared, managed, or dedicated hosting. Shared hosting is the most affordable option but does not offer as much control or flexibility. Managed hosting is more expensive but gives you more control over your server and includes security monitoring and regular backups.
Lastly, more extensive sites will likely want their own VPS or virtual private service utilizing customized integrations. SASS systems like Shopify don’t need separate hosting as it’s included in the service.
4. Create your homepage
A quality website is essential for any business, but it is vital for companies that rely on ecommerce. The homepage is the first impression potential customers will have of your company, so it is important to establish that it is well-designed and easy to navigate. The homepage should quickly show visitors what you’re selling and how to buy it.
5. Use high-quality images
The old saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to online shopping, this couldn’t be more true. People want to see the products they are interested in buying, and high-quality product images are the best way to provide that information.
Product photos should be clear, well-lit, and detailed. Customers should be able to see what the product looks like from all angles, and they should be able to zoom in for a closer look. In addition, it’s crucial to use model photos that accurately represent the size and scale of the product.
Ecommerce Website Functionality
6. Ecommerce plugins and extensions
Ecommerce software plugins and extensions provide a platform that makes it easier for your products and services to be accessible. These tools enable you to tailor your site to solve customer challenges, keep track of customer data, and improve customer service and support.
You can also integrate inventory management, product listing, marketing automation, and order processing features that will save time and increase productivity.
7. Intuitive shopping cart
Customers should be able to easily add items to their cart and checkout without confusion. A well-designed shopping cart will make buying products from your store smooth and hassle-free. Good shopping carts are intuitive and easy to use, with clear buttons and icons that customers can understand at a glance.
Moreover, a good shopping cart will allow customers to easily change the quantity of items they’re buying or remove items from their cart if they change their minds. By making the shopping experience straightforward, you’ll encourage more customers to complete their purchases and become repeat buyers.
According to Oberlo, nearly three out of every four dollars spent on online purchases today is done through a mobile device. Ensure your site is responsive and correctly displayed on a smartphone or tablet.
An ecommerce website that is not mobile-friendly is likely to lose out on sales and customers. But there are a few things to keep in mind when making an ecommerce website mobile-friendly:
- Design your store for smaller screens, making the layout simple and easy to navigate.
- The site should be able to load quickly on mobile devices.
- The user interface should be optimized for touchscreens.
- Ensure mobile security so that customers can make purchases with peace of mind.
- Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to identify areas for improvement.
By following these guidelines, businesses can guarantee their ecommerce website is mobile-friendly and capable of attracting and retaining customers.
9. Test your website before launch
Before launching your ecommerce website, it is essential to test it thoroughly to ensure that everything is working as it should. This includes testing the payment system, the shipping and checkout process, and the search function.
Testing is performed manually by going through the steps of placing an order and checking for any glitches. Alternatively, various software programs can automatically test websites for common errors. By taking the time to test your site before launch, you can avoid potential problems and ensure a smooth experience for your customers. Many payment gateways like Stripe allow you to switch the site into “test mode” so that test purchases don’t actually charge a credit card of yours. This way, you avoid losing out on non-refunded processing fees.
Ecommerce Website Business Functions
10. Set up a payment processing system
Setting up a payment processing system for your ecommerce website is a relatively simple process (see below):
- First, you will need to choose a payment processor. Many options are available, so be sure to research the various processors to find one that best meets your needs. For example, if you’re creating a subscription-style shop, you might want to use Stripe instead of PayPal since, to get the best support, you’d need to enable Reference Transactions in PayPal, which can be difficult to obtain. (not sure how to determine all this? Let us help you identify your needs and the best fit)
- Once you have selected a processor, you must create an account and obtain a merchant ID.
- This merchant ID will allow you to connect your payment processor with your ecommerce platform. After this connection, customers can now make purchases on your website using their credit or debit cards.
- Finally, test your payment processing system before going live with your website to ensure everything is working as expected.
11. Determine your shipping and return policies
Figuring out your shipping and return policies can be a balancing act, as you want to offer free or low-cost shipping while still making a profit. There are a few different options for shipping, including flat rate, calculated rate, and free shipping. You must determine what type of shipping works best for your business.
You also need to decide on a refund policy, which can be costly if you refund the customer’s total purchase price. Alternatively, you can offer a partial refund, exchange, or store credit. You will need to decide what works best for your business and customers. Just make sure you clearly state your policies on your website so that customers know what to expect when making a purchase.
12. Offer customer incentives
There are a few things to remember when offering customer incentives for your ecommerce site. It would be best if you made sure that the incentive will be valuable to your customers, easily redeemable, and affordable for your business. With these factors in mind, here are a few ideas for customer incentives that you can offer on your ecommerce site:
- Discounts on future purchases
- Free shipping on orders over a certain amount
- A free gift with purchase
- A contest or giveaway with valuable prizes
Offering one or more of these incentives can encourage customers to shop on your site more frequently and spend more money. Ultimately, this can lead to increased sales and profits for your business.
Ecommerce SEO and Content Strategy
13. Optimize your website for search engines
Anyone who wants their website to be successful must ensure it is optimized for search engines, also known as search engine optimization. Several factors go into this, but some of the most important ones include choosing the right keywords, providing quality content, and building backlinks.
- Keywords are the terms people use when searching for something on the internet. To ensure that your website comes up in the search results, you need to choose keywords that are relevant to your site and include them throughout the content.
- Quality content is another essential element of SEO. Not only should your content be informative and well-written, but it also needs to be updated regularly. This shows search engines that your site is active and relevant, which will help you to rank higher on the SERP or search engine results pages.
- Google is more heavily weighing the load time of a website in boosting or diminishing its search engine ranking, so make sure your website loads as fast as possible.
- Finally, backlinks are links from other websites that point to your site. These are important because they show search engines that your site is popular and trustworthy. If you can get high-quality backlinks from reputable websites, it will significantly improve your chances of ranking well in the search results. By taking these steps, you can vouch your website is optimized for search engines and set yourself up for success.
14. Google Shopping
Google Shopping is a platform that allows businesses to list their products and services for sale online. To create a Google Shopping feed, companies first need to set up a Google Merchant Account. This account will allow them to manage their inventory and list information directly within the Google system.
Once set up, businesses can then begin creating their product listings. Each listing should include relevant information such as price, product image, and product description. Once created, these listings will be automatically included in Google Shopping searches, making it easier for potential customers to find and purchase your products.
15. Create effective marketing and social media campaigns
Ecommerce businesses need to be incredibly creative when it comes to marketing and social media campaigns. After all, potential customers need to be drawn to your website and then convinced to purchase products or services that they may not be able to see or touch in person.
The good news is that there are several ways to create an effective digital marketing strategy and social media campaigns for an ecommerce business. One way is to offer online discounts or coupons via emailed newsletters; another is to create informative blog posts or videos highlighting the product or service offerings. And finally, you can run contests or giveaways on social media that generate excitement and hyperlinks to the website. By using one or more of these strategies, ecommerce businesses can reach a larger audience and draw potential customers to their sites.
16. Use data to improve your ecommerce business
Data is the fuel of any successful business. How can you know what products are selling well or which marketing campaign has been most effective without it?
Fortunately, there is a wealth of data at your fingertips. Analytics tools can provide insights into customer behavior and allow you to tailor offerings accordingly; A/B testing optimizes websites for conversions by identifying areas that are most popular among visitors on the web page they’re visiting–known as “hot spots.” Heat maps also show where people spend time browsing sites to see what parts interest them most or lead potential customers straight into the conversion funnel.
Google Analytics (GA) is a great tool to start with. It’s free and can be set up to properly track your sales funnel. GA will provide valuable insights into your website traffic, conversion rates, and more. With this data, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about where to focus your marketing efforts and how to improve your website’s overall performance. In addition, GA can also be used to track the effectiveness of your paid advertising campaigns.
Ecommerce Website Security
17. Focus on security
Businesses must take steps to protect their customers’ data because it’s required by law and is important for maintaining customer trust. With so much of our personal information being stored online, companies need a security strategy to safeguard this data. One way to do this is by ensuring that their website is secure and encrypted. This will help to prevent hackers from gaining access to sensitive information.
In addition, businesses should also train their employees in best practices for handling customer data. By taking these precautions, businesses can help ensure that their ecommerce website is safe and secure.
If you plan on storing credit card data on your website directly, you’ll need to be PCI compliant. Many payment processors such as Stripe and PayPal store this data thankfully on their own servers, mitigating your own risk.
18. Keep your website software updated
Ecommerce website security is critical for any business that sells products or services online. Hackers are always looking for ways to exploit vulnerabilities in websites, and out-of-date software is one of the most common ways to gain access to systems. Keep your website updated, including anti-virus software, and run regular scans of your website.
In addition to updating your software, you should also confirm that all of your passwords are strong and that you have a reliable backup system. By taking these precautions, you can help to guarantee that your ecommerce business stays safe and secure.
19. Consider multiple payment methods
There are a few legal considerations when setting up your payment methods for your ecommerce business. First, you’ll need to ensure you comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). This is a set of best practices for handling credit card information, and failure to comply can result in hefty fines.
If you’re only going to accept credit cards, you need to set up a merchant account with a bank or financial institution. However, if you want to give your customers more flexibility, you can accept multiple payment methods, including options like PayPal, Stripe, and cryptocurrency.
Finally, you’ll need to consider the fees associated with each payment option. If you’re not careful, these fees can eat into your profits. However, if you take the time to research your options and choose a suitable payment gateway, you can minimize these costs and run a successful ecommerce business.
Here is an article listing credit card processing types displaying the various features, price structures, and potential drawbacks you may encounter.
20. Plan for scalability
Before you launch your ecommerce business, it’s important to have a plan in place for scalability. That way, as your business grows, you can avoid legal, financial, software, and logistical problems down the road. Begin by choosing the proper legal structure for your business. This will determine how much personal liability you have, what tax obligations you owe, and how much paperwork you need to file.
Put together a team of experienced professionals who can help you manage your growth. By creating a solid legal foundation from the start, you will be set up and ready for growth and expansion.
Use our 20-step ecommerce website checklist for 2022 to establish your site and provide an excellent customer experience. If you follow the steps to create your site, the chances will be higher than your store is prepared to handle the traffic and sales volume that comes with being successful online.
To stay ahead of the competition, you need a storefront that delights your audience and encourages them to return. You should aim to complete this list to give your customers an unforgettable shopping experience.
Investing in quality web design ensures that your business has a solid online presence and can take advantage of the growing ecommerce market. Our team of experts at Fountain City takes a genuine long-term interest in our customers.