Ten steps to creating an eCommerce website

Posted by Stephanie Croucher | September 2, 2020

Key learnings:

  • Why following a proven process is crucial to the success of an eCommerce website build
  • The importance of structuring an eCommerce website to build trust with your potential customers and maximise for search engine optimisation
  • How a solid SEO and content creation strategy is the most sustainable way to market your website

If you have been burnt in the past during an eCommerce website build, you aren’t alone.

Sadly, it’s an all too common story. Business owners either don’t understand the process, they are unprepared or they simply put their trust in the wrong people. And often it’s a case of choosing an inexperienced supplier who can only deliver part of the solution.

Avoid making a costly mistake twice. Minimise the stress and maximise the effort by being prepared.

Follow a proven process

An eCommerce website build isn’t something that you can wing. It needs a proven process to guide every step of the way.

Building a website without a process is like going on a long road trip without a map. There are lots of twists, turns and possible detours on the journey, but without a map – or in the case of a website, a proven process – you can’t stay the course.

With a process in place to guide the website build, you can be sure that you and your developer are on the same page. You each know the steps that need to happen to bring your website to life. And you are both working towards a common – and clearly defined – goal.

Clarify your brand and message to build trust

For customers to take action on any website, trust is a crucial factor. And that is especially the case for eCommerce websites.

It only takes one small inconsistency for your customers to click off your site… and onto your competitors.

Trust is hard earned but easily lost.

Your brand is the foundation for building trust with your customers. A solid brand needs leadership and strategic thinking to develop.

It should be supported by clear and consistent messaging that tells your customers how you can solve their problems.

When you can nail your brand you will have the ability to tap into an ever growing digital market.

Maximise organic search to get traffic

SEO is one of the greatest investments you can make in your business.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking you can think about SEO once your website is live.

Your eCommerce SEO strategy should be considered and implemented as part of the website development process.

The benefit of SEO is that the traffic it brings from Google organic search is free.

Google Ads, on the other hand, can become quite costly if you are relying on it to bring the bulk of your traffic.

Once you have laid the foundation for your SEO and add to it consistently with high quality website content, it will work hard day after day to bring new customers your way.

Structure your eCommerce website

How you structure your eCommerce site can be the difference between making the sale… or losing it.

The structure of your website not only helps your customers easily find what they are looking for – the user experience – but it also makes it easier for the search engines to index your site and show you in the search results.

It’s really important when you plan your structure to consider your market rather than develop a structure to suit your own business operation systems.

Group like products together and build a structure that is easy to navigate. If you don’t get this right at the start, it becomes a very costly exercise to fix down the track.

Organise product data ahead of time

Your product data is more than just the name and price of the product. You will need a title, description, specifications and product photography at a bare minimum.

If you are trying to compile this information while your website build is already underway, your project timeline – and the associated costs – will very quickly blow out.

Start the conversation with your website developer early so you have everything organised into the correct format for your website.

Consider the customer journey

If your website doesn’t offer an exceptional user experience, you will be kissing loads of potential sales goodbye. Every visitor to your website needs to have a smooth, quick and hassle-free journey through the pages of your site.

But not all website designers are trained in mapping out customer journeys (also known as UX). That’s why you need to engage an experienced digital strategist who can anticipate the market needs and put pen to paper to map out their journey.

A well-thought out customer journey will build brand credibility and trust in the market… and ultimately translate into more sales for your business.

Design should be impressive and strategic

A website designer isn’t a brand strategist and nor do they have the skills required to map out your website structure. But when you have done the legwork to identify your brand, build your structure and map out your user journey, your website designer can then dive right in and do what they do best… create an outstanding website design.

Giving your website designer the right information from the start will save a lot of frustration and countless back and forths to get the design right. You only get one chance at a first impression and your website design needs to leave a good one!

Have high expectations of your website developers

When it comes to website development, you really do get what you pay for. Relying on unskilled and inexperienced developers to create your website will only ever deliver a poor result.

You need expert coders who know the ins and outs of creating an effective eCommerce website.

They need to have a solid approach to data security and experience coding bug-free checkout processes.

Every glitch on the website opens you up to vulnerabilities.

That could be in the form of a poor user experience which results in frustrated visitors leaving your website… or worse, being hacked and suffering a data breach.

Do your homework before getting a website developer to code your site. Make sure they have a track record of delivering exceptional results. Have high expectations… and hold them to those expectations.

Allow ample time for data entry

Data entry of your product information isn’t a task that should be underestimated. It is tedious and time consuming. The bigger your business, the more sophisticated the data entry process will need to be.

Either way – whether your product catalogue is large and complex, or more on the lean side – you will need a professional to help with your data entry. And it’s not something that can be left until the last minute.

If you use an ERP, you should consider a way to feed that data information into your website. Maintaining a single source of truth will mean less duplication or potential data entry issues arising later on.

Market, market, market

The truth is, building your eCommerce website is only the first part of the story.

You need to be prepared to market your website to see long-term results.

With a clear marketing plan you can leverage the power of digital marketing and get the results you are looking for in terms of sustained brand growth.

Your digital marketing plan should be guided by strategy and include elements that are going to drive qualified traffic to your site.

Starting with a solid SEO and content creation strategy is both a cost-effective and sustainable way forward.

The eCommerce website experts

Here at Brilliant Digital, the journey of creating an eCommerce website is a path well-trodden. We have worked with many hundreds of clients to build a website and digital brand that hit the mark and deliver solid results.

And after twenty years we have seen it all: the good, the bad and the ugly. In that time we have developed a proven process to guide every stage of the development of an eCommerce website.

Read more website design articles.

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