eCommerce Business Blueprint

Ecommerce platform

To run an eCommerce business of any scale will require an eCommerce platform. This will organise product data, publish to channels and manage sales. Platforms come in all shapes and sizes and there is a monthly or yearly cost involved. If you are running a business then it will be worth it.

For a company starting off I would recommend 2 options:

  • Stand-alone eCommerce platform. Good examples are Linnworks and Veeqo. These products are strong on back-end processes and listing but will required a separate website.
  • Shopify. Shopify can be extended from a website to an ecommerce platform using plugins.

Product Content

Take care when creating content. When creating product descriptions, the more details the better. Include:

  • Multiple high-resolution images (2000 x 2000px is a decent size)
  • Detailed description
  • Attributes and dimensions
  • Product identifiers e.g., EAN barcode

If you are launching across multiple channels, plan the content you will need for all the channels before creating your inventory. This will cut down on rework in future.

When creating a product, it is always easier to upload using a spreadsheet.

Marketplaces

Marketplaces are a fantastic way to get started selling online as they require less technical knowledge than launching a website. The larger marketplaces (i.e., eBay and Amazon) have a huge international userbase allowing merchants to reach customers all over the world.  Recommended marketplaces for retail start-ups are:

Amazon

Amazon is the world’s largest marketplace with hundreds of millions of customers. Amazon is a catalogue-based system where sellers simply add their offer to a listing that already exists.  This makes it super easy to get started as no content creation is required.

eBay

eBay is not the eCommerce force it once was but is still a major eCommerce player and well worth selling on.  The listing process is straightforward and sellers have much more opportunities to brand their listings than on Amazon.

Fruugo

Fruugo is a growing UK based marketplace that focuses on international sales.  It is easy to produce via a product feed and Fruugo take care of all transaction and currency conversion.

Etsy

Etsy is the leading marketplace for handmade and vintage products.

Website

Shopify is the market-leading website solution and an easy platform from which to launch your business. It also supports an ecosystem of apps that can extend its functionality. Other options include Wix, Big Commerce and Magento.

Categories

Research your categories carefully to ensure that their names match high volume searches. Ensure that each category has quality descriptions and complete metadata. Keep the number of top-level categories low – 6 to 8 maximum.  Take time to build a user-friendly structure that will make navigating your site easy.

Accepting Payments

Two popular methods for accepting payment online are:

  • PayPal.  A popular alternative checkout solution previously owned by eBay.
  • Stripe.  A payment gateway which is easy to setup and use with reasonable fees.

Implementing these two options for your customers will give your customer the option of paying via an alternative checkout or by card.

Blog

A blog is a wonderful way to communicate with your customers about new product launches and other company news. It is also an invaluable tool for search engine optimisation as Google love fresh content.

Information pages

Comprehensive information pages for your site which give your customers the information they need to make a purchase.  This will increase conversion rate and decrease customer service queries and returns.  Information to include:

  • Content details
  • Terms and conditions
  • About the seller
  • Delivery and returns.

Search Engine Optimisation

When creating content for your website, make sure to write compelling content for each page that includes your keywords.

Keyword Research

Research the keywords you wish to target for your site.  Keyword research and content creation is covered in chapter 4.

Google Search console

By registering your website will Google search console and submitting a sitemap, you can quickly get your site indexed and potentially included in Google natural search. The search console will also give information on the natural search performance of a site over time.

Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing webmaster tools is a similar tool to Google Search Console except for the much smaller Bing search engine.

Google My Business

Google my business is Google local business solution.  By adding your business to Google My business your business will attract more local search traffic and

Link building

Links are an important part of building search engine authority.  The following are easy sources of links for startups:

  • Supplier websites
  • Local directories
  • Press release websites (free and paid)

Social Media

Social media is the best way to connect with your customers and reassure them that you are a reputable business.  It is also a source of free traffic and promotion. 

Facebook

Setting up a Facebook page is obligatory for all businesses.  Many customers will contact businesses through their pages so ensure it is checked regularly.  Integrate a product feed from your website into the Facebook business centre and use this to create a Facebook shop.

Twitter

Twitter is a popular platform, but not as retailer friendly as Facebook and Instagram.  Due to it high profile it is worth creating an account and regularly updating it.

Instagram

Instagram is an especially important platform for fashion and homeware brands. As it is owned by Facebook it can be managed from the same interface as your Facebook account. Set up an Instagram business account and launch an Instagram shop to highlight your products.

Pinterest

Pinterest shops are a reliable source of website traffic and can be created automatically via a product feed from your website platform.

Cross-posting

Social media platforms should be set up to cross-post where possible.  For example, you can post links to blog posts on your social media platforms and Tweet your Instagram posts.

Paid search

Google Paid search generates traffic quickly and smart bidding programmes like Google smart shopping take all the pain out of the setup.

Google Merchant Centre

To appear in Google shopping, a seller must submit a feed to the Google Merchant centre.  Once a feed has been accepted, the seller can create Shopping Ads.  They will also be eligible for free traffic from Google Shopping.

Google Shopping Ads

Google shopping ‘Smart’ ads are easy to set up and manage. They only require a feed from the merchant centre and the seller to set their ROAS goal.

Email Marketing

Email marketing helps sellers retain customers, so it is never too soon to start building a list.  Tools such as Klaviyo and Mailchimp are easy to use email platforms. 

The most successful email campaign is abandoned cart, which encourages customers to return to the website and complete their purchase.