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How To Build An Online Shop

How To Build An Online Shop

One subject I am often asked about is how to build an online shop or how to build a successful e-commerce website. My answers are always the same, follow these 5 steps.

  1. Keep it simple and then simplify it again.
  2. Build in good SEO from the start and get social.
  3. Think about your product descriptions, photos and videos.
  4. Research your competitor prices.
  5. Give extra value and freebies.

1. Keep Your Ecommerce Website Simple

More and more internet users are becoming more and more impatient.  If you make the process of buying from your online shop long winded and unnecessarily complicated you will put people off using your e-commerce website and they will go elsewhere. We are all the same, even people like me that work online every day, if I go onto a website that makes the process of buying complicated I will click off and buy somewhere else. Added to this if you make it difficult for people to find a particular product, or if you show inadequate images or poor descriptions again you will send your website visitors straight to your competitor’s websites instead.

So a few simple rules in keeping it simple.

  • Present your products in a clear uncluttered way.
  • Make sure your site has a built in search tool (and make sure it works!).
  • Ensure there is an ‘add to cart’ button clearly visible on each product.
  • Ensure there is a ‘checkout’ button clearly visible on each page.
  • Explain delivery options, locations, prices and time scales clearly.
  • Don’t hide any charges that get added at checkout such as VAT or delivery.
  • Don’t make people fill in pages and pages of forms when it’s not necessary.
  • Offer return visitors a log in account to save repeating their details if they come back.
  • Make your contact details visible and easy to find.
  • Make the checkout process quick and simple.

From experience I have found that the most user friendly online shops are those that let you buy within 3 clicks, so that would be first click to add to cart, second click to go to checkout, third click to pay. Bob’s your uncle and Fanny’s your aunt. Simples!

2. Build In Good SEO from The Start.

What is the point of an online shop that no one ever finds? Answer: there is no point, you will be buggered from the start if your site is not search engine friendly and search engine optimised.

There are lots of good website designers, but good design alone is not enough unless you are going to throw thousands of pounds into TV advertising, pay per clicks etc., which for many start up business’s is just not an option. So it is important that good SEO is built into the site from the start, we will work with you on this to ensure you get results right from the outset.

Remember SEO is an on-going process, so be prepared to work with your website designer to ensure results are maintained. SEO is an on-going relationship and if managed properly you will get good consistent SEO results.

Embrace the social networks, although for some social networks are nothing more than a necessary evil, embrace them anyway. I cannot begin to tell you how powerful facebook and twitter can be if used properly, I’m happy to talk any of these over with you in a lot more detail but one simple tip, when you tweet or post on facebook about a product on your ecommerce website make sure you include a link to that product.

3. Think About Your Product Descriptions and Photographs.

This is so important no matter what kind of product you are selling online whether it’s an event ticket, an item of clothing, a food item or a vehicle. You need to give the potential buyer the experience of holding that product in their hand through your description, use of video or through product images.

  • Describe the product in detail, what is it, how does it work, what does it look like, feel like, smell like, taste like, how is it made, what is it made of, what sizes and colours are available, what are its unique selling points, how big is it, what kind of maintenance does it need, how is it delivered etc. etc., the list is endless and will depend on the product you are selling. The rule of thumb is, if you were the buyer would you buy it based on the information you have presented to your potential customers.
  • Don’t fill the page with too much text, this can be as annoying as not enough information, so give all of the main points in your abbreviated text and offer PDF downloads or tabs for more information.
  • Use good photographs, small grainy photographs just will not do, use good quality images taken from several different angles and if possible make good use of video, people are far more likely to watch a video than they are to read a paragraph of text.

4. Research Your Competitor Prices.

This one is simple, do a search on Google for your chosen key words, phrases, products, brands etc. and see what prices your competitors are selling at, if you cannot compete with a range of your products against your competitors there is not a lot of point going any further unless you have some unique value added options that blow the competition out of the water.

5. Give Extra Value and Freebies.

People love a bargain; most people love a freebie even more.

So give something away free, this does not mean it has to cost you the earth, here are a few examples.

  • FREE gift wrapping option
  • FREE delivery over a certain amount
  • FREE telephone support
  • FREE notification of upgrades
  • FREE monthly newsletter

If people think they are getting a bargain or some extra value they are far more likely to buy from you rather than your competitors and people love to see the word FREE in your product descriptions.

For full details on our e-commerce website design and SEO services please visit our main website at

Thank you for taking the time to read this article.