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An 11-minute read that can change the way you do business forever. In this article, we will look at the 6 step process to start an ecommerce business, the 6 essential features of an ecommerce website and online shop, and 6 useful additional features to enhance the prospects of your ecommerce business.

examples of what features to add to your website according to the article

Are you looking to start an ecommerce business? Do you already have a business in Malta that you would like to expand with an online shop? Ecommerce is a fantastic way to reach the global market 24/7 and capitalises on an increasingly preferred avenue for modern consumers using the Internet.

6 step process to start an ecommerce business

The process of starting an ecommerce business is simple. First you must have a useful product or service that is of value to a clearly identified target market. Next you need to develop an attractive and reputable brand and discover the right ways to reach your target audience and convert them into customers. Finally, you track, analyse and fine tune your online business activities to increase online sales conversions. Let us look at these in more detail:

1. Create an online business idea

If you’re starting from scratch, aim to fill a gap in the market with a product or service that solves a problem or creates an opportunity. Make it an offering that you are truly passionate about, as this will be key to your continued motivation. If you already have a business you want to take online, work on modifying your offering to make it attractive and available for online purchase.

2. Discover your target market and develop your product

Develop your product or service to meet the particular taste and behaviour of a well defined target market. First consider which needs can be fulfilled by your products or services and who your customers will be. Then learn all there is to know about your target market, from their demographics to their particular consumer psychology, and fine tune your offering accordingly.

what a little boy wants versus what a grown man wants

3. Put plenty of personality into your brand

Dress up your business in a brand that people will connect with and love. A good brand, including your name, logo, colours and voice, will make your business stand out and compel customers to trust and purchase. Remember to be unique and keep it simple. Your brand must be easy to remember and recognise. Your brand’s personality must be reflected in your logo, website, online shop, social media and branded paraphernalia.

the things needed to build up a personality

4. Create an ecommerce website and online shop

Ensure that your website is very user friendly and can creatively funnel potential customers towards making an online purchase. Make sure that your website provides interesting and helpful content and offers valuable answers to important questions so that your clients can make a good informed decision throughout the buying process.

5. Reach your customers with Internet marketing

Make your ecommerce website visible online. If online consumers can’t find your business, they can’t buy your products and services. Well employed Internet marketing tactics, such as search engine optimisation and pay per click advertising, can boost your online business quickly. Trial and error could teach you what works and what doesn’t, but capitalising on professional experience will minimise expensive delays and mistakes.

6. Track, analyse and fine tune

Use Google Analytics and Search Console to obtain valuable statistics on your website usage, your website users demographics and behaviour, and the success of your various online marketing techniques. These tools also demonstrate how people are finding your website, using which keywords, the bounce rate and at which point they leave your website. All these features allow you to make the necessary changes to improve your ecommerce website and online shop to get better results.

screenshot of Google analytics and what they can show

6 essential ecommerce website and online shop features

Now that we know all the important factors required for a successful online business, let us dive deeper into the essentials to develop an ecommerce website and online store that actually mean business.

1. CMS (content management system) with ecommerce functionality

The main feature of a CMS is that allows multiple users to update the website content from multiple locations, simultaneously. This feature is also what allows you to manage your website content and online shop catalog seamlessly, no matter how big your ecommerce business may grow. Most CMS are fairly simple to use and no technical knowledge is required.

2. Responsive design

Responsive web design allows your website to adapt its format and layout to the size of the screen it is being viewed on. When it is official that over 50% of Internet users access it through a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, this is by all means not a feature to be overlooked. A badly displaying website that is hard to navigate on a mobile device would cause people to go looking elsewhere.

the website adjusts to all platform sizes

3. Search engine friendly

Nobody will be looking at your website if they cannot find it. The most effective way to draw a continuous stream of free, organic search engine traffic is through search engine optimisation. Search engines prefer websites that are functional, provide plenty of useful and relevant content and which become considered an “authority” among their competitors. SEO means optimising your web pages and online shop with relevant keywords, updating website content regularly, developing inbound links, optimising code and page loading time, and so on.

what features affect the ranking of SEO

4. Attractive and user friendly

Now that you have a stream of website traffic, you must provide your visitors with the best user experience possible. Is the web page they landed on relevant to their search? Does the website captivate their attention? Is the navigation intuitive, simple and straightforward? A skilfully designed website will lead a visitor to purchase, request a quote or leave their details.

5. Website management tools

Setting up Google Analytics and Search Console for your website is essential to discover how your website is performing. These will track and measure all your website activity and provide valuable insights that will help you make the adjustments necessary to have a truly successful ecommerce website.

6. Website maintenance and support

Website support allows you to get on with your business while your website backups, updates and error fixes are handled by the experts. This service may extend to content updates and internet marketing to support your business, so you don’t invest unnecessary time and money.

6 useful ecommerce website and online shop features

While not essential, these ecommerce website and online shop features are highly desirable and may be well-worth the extra investment.

1. Multiple payment options, languages and currencies

Multiple payment options, such as PayPal and other payment solutions, make your online shop comfortably accessible to a larger pool of people. Multiple language and currency options help take your business beyond Malta to reach and serve the global market effectively.

examples of several payment option for online shops

2. Cart recovery

This tool automatically logs clients’ details and shopping cart contents when they leave your website without completing their checkout. A remarketing system can be employed to encourage them to complete their purchase.

expalantion how does cart recovery works

3. Stock control

A stock management module allows you to keep track of your stock online. Stock levels, which are managed from the backend, are automatically reduced when orders are made and increased should an order be cancelled. This feature can inform you and your customers when items are out of stock, in stock or last few items available. It may also be set to hide out-of-stock items.

setting panel for managing online stock

4. Home page banners

Slideshow banners on your home page allow you to display special offers or new products, thereby increasing return visits and engagement by people looking for special deals. These are easily managed from your CMS backend.

an example of a home page banner

5. Mailing list subscription

This tool allows your visitors to subscribe to your mailing list. This will prove a valuable source of interested leads when advertising a special offer or new product by email. You can also offer a discount or a download of useful material in exchange of a sign up. This tool is extremely valuable as you can maintain contact with a genuinely interested pool of potential customers.

encourage people to subscribe to your mailing list

6. Social Media integration

Create an integrated channel whereby your website can bring you more social media followers while your social media profiles generate more website traffic. Social Media offers increased exposure and can draw website traffic through commenting, posting and advertising. Various platforms offer access to and create a line of communication with customers and potential clients. Depending on your offering, one social media platform may be more suitable for promoting your business than others.

how can your website and social media platforms be connected

Now that you know everything there is to know about how to develop a successful ecommerce business, ecommerce website and online shop, all that is left to do is spring into action. We are here to help you take your business online in Malta and worldwide. Contact us for a free consultation to find out how we can help you start an ecommerce business in Malta.

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