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Online store development

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Commercial success in the modern age is no longer as easy as it used to be. The traditional formula of securing a favorable location, cutting out competitors and minimizing costs has evolved. Big and loud brands often struggle to resonate with today's consumers, while physical store locations can be more of a nuisance than a convenience. Interestingly, even small stores can operate with minimal budgets and no inventory.

This transformation has been further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused significant upheaval in the retail sector. One unexpected result was a dramatic increase in digital sales:

May 2020 Accenture study predicts a 160% increase in purchases by inexperienced or infrequent e-commerce users.

Smartphones are predicted to account for 50% of online spending by September 2023. Between October 2019 and October 2020, small e-commerce stores saw a staggering 96.5% increase in web traffic, with more than a third of the stores seeing a 100% to 200% increase.

Digital retail represents a vast and expanding opportunity under these favorable market conditions. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps to create and run a profitable online store.

Choosing a niche and developing a business plan

The e-commerce market is incredibly diverse, and even industry giants like Amazon start out as niche retailers. To define your focus area, do the following:

Conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis to evaluate various niche ideas and products. Identify unmet consumer needs by exploring gaps in the industry. Use social media, analyze your target audience's concerns, learn Google's search volume trends, and explore bestsellers on platforms like Amazon and eBay. Develop your ideal buyer personas based on demographic and psychographic data.

Choosing the right business model

Understand the buying behavior of your target audience to determine the most appropriate business model:

B2B E-commerce: Selling to wholesalers, retailers and business buyers.

B2C E-Commerce: Direct to Consumer Marketing

DTC (Direct-to-Consumer): Eliminate the middleman to connect directly with customers.

Finding Your Ecommerce Platform

E-commerce platforms vary in types, built-in functions, and extensions. Consider long-term goals and scalability when choosing a platform:

Determine the number of products you plan to sell and choose a platform that meets your current and future needs.

Evaluate the core features natively provided by the platform and identify additional features that may require extension or custom development.

Explore available e-commerce platforms based on your business goals, operating model, vertical, and technical requirements.

Design your online store

Design plays a critical role in attracting and retaining customers. Keep the following in mind when designing your online store:

Reflect your brand style and values through design.

Ensure website navigation is intuitive and easy for customers to learn.

Identify the features you need, such as the About page, product videos, shopping cart, and checkout process, to enhance the user experience.

List of your products

Showcase your products effectively and create compelling product pages: Create compelling product descriptions that address customer concerns, highlight features, and highlight benefits. Invest in high quality product images by considering professional photography or building a do-it-yourself setup. Set clear product categories to improve catalog display and inventory accessibility.

Setting payment methods

Before launching your online store, provide various payment options to potential buyers: Connect your store to several payment methods, including payment systems such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Stripe and major credit cards.

View payment gateway packages, credit card payment processing, and payment gateways with merchant accounts. Understand the potential transaction fees associated with each payment method. By following these steps, you will be able to create and launch a profitable online store using the growing possibilities of digital retail.

When it comes to carriers, it's important to consider factors such as rates, deadlines, and restrictions. Some popular shipping companies include USPS, FedEx and DHL. Each carrier has its own pricing structure and service, so it's important to compare and choose the one that offers the best value for your business. Be aware that cheaper suppliers may have limitations, such as not accepting bulky items or having insurance coverage for possible damage.

If you plan to ship internationally, you can start by selling and shipping to coastal destinations. As your business grows, you can learn international strategies to meet your needs and expand your shipping capabilities accordingly.

Another option to consider is the Buy Online, Pick Up In Store (BOPIS) offer for customers who prefer to pick up their orders from your physical storefront. BOPIS is becoming more and more popular and can provide convenience for your customers by directing traffic to your physical location.

Once you've decided on shipping strategies and carriers, it's important to publish and market your online store effectively to drive traffic and increase sales. Prioritize different eCommerce marketing channels and develop a pre-launch promotion strategy for each channel. Some common marketing channels to consider include:

Social: Build an online audience with social media platforms by sharing product announcements, teasers, and behind-the-scenes content. Announce your launch day and offer special discounts/promotions to your followers.

Influencer Marketing: Collaborate with influencers in your niche to increase brand awareness, engagement, and sales. Influencers can help drive your first few sales and increase your online search engine presence.

Paid Advertising: Consider running targeted ad campaigns on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. These campaigns can drive brand and product discovery in real time, and you only pay for meaningful activities such as clicks, visits, inquiries, or sales.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Invest in optimizing your website for search engines to improve organic visibility and drive relevant traffic over time. SEO takes time and constant effort, but it can bring long-term benefits.

Email Marketing: Build an email list and run email marketing campaigns to engage with your audience, share updates, and promote new products or offers. Email marketing provides personalized communication and can encourage repeat purchases.

Remember to constantly monitor and analyze the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, making the necessary adjustments to optimize your results. By thinking about a shipping strategy and implementing effective marketing tactics, you can maximize the success of your online store.

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