The First 4 Things Your eCommerce Website Must Have

Planning an eCommerce website? Here are the first 4 things your eCommerce website must have when starting out.

These are the basics you’ll need to get right when starting your eCommerce website. Get these wrong and you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot before you’ve even started.

It’s vitally important to start your eCommerce website correctly, or suffer the chance of having your store “penalized” before it’s even out of the starting blocks. Read my article on how to succeed with an eCommerce website for more information on building a successful eCommerce business, but before you do, let’s get the foundation laid.

Here are the First 4 Things your eCommerce Website Must Have:

1. Your eCommerce Website Must Have the SEO Basics Down

First 4 Things your eCommerce Website Must Have - 1. SEO Basics

SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is a massive subject and and often highly subjective.

In the context of this article, Basic SEO relates to ticking all the right boxes to ensure your eCommerce website is optimized for search engines to enable indexing correctly. I recommend starting with a CMS platform like WordPress – my favorite CMS and almost always my first choice.

A quality theme for WordPress should be Schema compatible out the box, if not a plugin can be used. In a nutshell, Schema is an efficient way to structure to ensure that search engines can understand the content in context. Remember a search engine is after all just a computer reading the text on your web page. Schema makes that content more understandable to a search engine, that means correct indexing and ultimately higher rankings when people search for content related to your website. To find out more about Schema, read the Schema FAQ on the Schema website.

From there we make sure things image alt tags, descriptions, meta etc. are included, and done correctly. Remember, these are the SEO basics, once the foundational SEO is correct, we notch things up.

My go-to plugin to SEO optimize posts and pages is Yoast SEO. Yoast is free and works really well, there is a premium version with more advanced features, the free version is what I recommend to start with.

For more in-depth reading on a broader perspective on SEO basics I recommend this MOZ article and also this article by Neil Patel.

2. Your eCommerce Website Must Have SSL

First 4 Things your eCommerce Website Must Have - 2. SSL

SSL is the acronym for Secure Sockets Layer. In Google Chrome it’s that green padlock in the browser bar indicating your data is encrypted. SSL builds trust in website visitors knowing their private data is secure, and for an eCommerce website especially, that is paramount, imagine getting your credit card information stolen.

An SSL certificate encrypts data between your eCommerce website and the visitors browser. This data includes credit card numbers, usernames and passwords etc. and it’s vital that you protect your customers data! First and foremost you owe that to your customers, and second, it’s just plain good for business. Websites get hacked on a daily basis with customers personal and financial data being compromised. Hacked websites end up with unhappy clients and a dent in the bottom-line, and sometimes even close down due to such breaches.

As outlined above, SSL encrypts the data passing between your customers browser and your web server. If somehow the data is intercepted, because it’s encrypted, the person intercepting will not be able read that data. That’s peace of mind considering the sensitive nature of data exchanged during an eCommerce transaction. I can’t stress how important SSL is to your eCommerce website. As of the writing of this article, Google and many other companies are pushing for a safer web with mandatory SSL.

SSL is now more accessible and affordable than ever before. With projects like Let’s Encrypt now offering free SSL, there’s little reason not to have an SSL secured website. Find a reliable web hosting company offering free SSL and it won’t you a cent, and will reap valuable rewards for your business. With SSL becoming more affordable than ever before, you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking paid SSL certificates are going to dissapear. I doubt paid SSL Certificates offering extended validation are going anywhere, there are many companies that want and benefit from premium SSL solutions. For many users, that extra expense is not always needed, an affordable SSL certificate or free SSL certificate works just fine, and that’s what I recommend you use.

Takeaway:
SSL is mandatory for your eCommerce website – use an affordable SSL certificate or free Let’s Encrypt SSL and secure your visitors data without breaking the bank.

3. Your eCommerce Website Must be Mobile Friendly

First 4 Things your eCommerce Website Must Have - 3. Mobile Friendly

StatCounter confirmed mobile phone and tablet usage exceeded desktop usage back in October 2016 already.

That means your eCommerce website will get more visitors from mobile devices than from desktops. Not being mobile friendly will be a huge negative to your website. Not only will visitors bounce (internet terminology for landing on a page and immediately leaving that web page), but search engines like Google will actually penalize your site by not referring visitors as often.

I’d argue being mobile friendly is even more important for an eCommmerce website than for a regular website, simple due to the nature of what’s happening – goods are being evaluated. Making it as easy as possible for your website visitors is of utmost importance. Even if people are not directly purchasing something on your site today, the established trend for people buying items, is to checkout an item online before buying it either online or in a bricks and mortar store. Having a visitor not being able to view your products on their mobile device is going to send them to your competitive whose eCommerce website is mobile friendly. And that’s if in fact they were even referred to your site via a search engine to start with, which is unlikely.

Visitors to your eCommerce website must have a seamless enjoyable experience from start to finish, this includes:

  1. All pages must be viewable and look good on all devices
  2. Mobile searching for products for must easy and not frustrating
  3. Viewing products and categories on a mobile device must be simple and uncluttered
  4. Adding products to the shopping cart on a mobile device must be quick and seamless
  5. And of course checkout on a mobile device must be easy and hassle-free, including entering payment details e.g. credit card info

Ensure your eCommerce website ticks each box, or you will suffer reduced sales and search engine results and traffic.

Takeaway:
Your eCommerce website must offer a pleasant experience to users viewing on mobile phones, tablets and desktops, or get left behind by your competitors.

4. Your eCommerce Website Must Have Multi-channel Sales Channels

First 4 Things your eCommerce Website Must Have - 4. Multi-Channel Sales

Your primary selling channel is your website which you own, that’s a good thing, but adding a second channel is a must. With Facebook passing two (2) billion users in June 2017, it’s my secondary channel of choice, this Techcrunch article tells more.

And with Facebook Ads being super powerful and relatively easy to use, it’s even more effective. And what could be better than having your products on your website automatically be sold on Facebook? Nothing. Facebook for WooCommerce allows you to do all that and much more.

WooCommerce is already the most popular eCommerce platform in the world, and it’s now even better, allowing you to drive sales with Facebook in two ways:

1) Facebook Ads Extension: Facebook Connects Businesses with People and includes:

  • Conversion tracking: See how successful your ad is by seeing what happened as a direct result of your ad (including conversions and sales)
  • Optimization: Show your ads to people most likely to take a specific action after clicking on them, like adding an item to their cart or making a purchase
  • Remarketing: When people visit your website, reach them again and remind them of your business with a Facebook ad

2) Facebook Shops on Pages: Increase sales by creating an online Facebook store and includes:

Facebook shop integration
The shop section is a tab you can add to your Facebook business Page that lets you display your products right on your Page. It’s ideal for merchants, retail and eCommerce advertisers who want to reach customers on Facebook.

Takeaway:
Use Facebook to drive sales to your eCommerce website and even sell products directly on Facebook to maximize your business reach.

Summary: Get the Basics Right or Hamstring your eCommerce Website before it’s Even Started

Why go to the expensive and effort of an eCommerce website if you’re not prepared to give your business the best chance of success? Get these 4 basic things right and your foundation is solid. From there build your eCommerce business one brick at a time, and always remember to be patient.

I build eCommerce websites that are rock solid and optimized for success, let me help you succeed with your eCommerce website.

Athlone Harris-Compton

Website builder, solution creator and last but not least, husband to my wonderful wife. I'm blessed of the Lord.

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