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Analysis / Ecommerce

E-Commerce: How To Avoid Stumbling Blocks And Start Your Online Shop Successfully

Online Shopping

Before setting up an online shop, business people need to ask themselves some key questions at the outset. Is the shop a side job or is it my main business? What products do I want to sell to whom? Who are my competitors and how do I differentiate myself? And, last but not least: how are people discovering my business? In addition, the shop’s domain name must be simple, unique and suitable for the industry, as well as the product range.  

Moreover, retailers have to take the overall financial investment into account. Besides money for the starting stock and storage, they should plan with some budget for marketing measures and financial reserves for the first months.

Choose A Suitable Technical Setup

Finding the right solution is dependent on what kind of shop a merchant wants to start, his technical knowledge and what resources are available to him.

  • For e-commerce newbies without previous knowledge there are simple do-it-yourself packages to integrate a shop seamlessly into your website. These cost-effective all-round packages contain the web hosting, a domain, sample texts and designs as well as 24/7 support.
  • For small and medium-sized companies, founders and the self-employed who need a powerful but easy to handle and customisable shop, maintained rental shops (software-as-a-service solutions) are recommended. These e-shop packages include, among other features, sufficient web space, important payment and shipping methods, professional design templates and demo-shops as well as the integration of online marketplaces.
  • For users with experience in building a website, shared hosting or managed solutions such as WooCommerce as a managed WordPress plug-in are a suitable option. With managed solutions, the provider ensures optimal loading speed, failure protection and customer support, and takes care of the most important security and core updates.
  • Open source solutions such as Magento or PrestaShop are highly customisable and suitable for professional e-shops designed for growth. However, they require programming knowledge and corresponding technical equipment. For these complex shop software solutions, a cloud infrastructure provides a high-performance environment that can “grow” with the shop and cushion seasonal or campaign-related visitor growth. Scalable web hosting packages are also suitable – different performance levels allow the user to flexibly adapt the performance of the web site according to his needs.

Get Found Online & Make Website Visitors Buyers

People looking for a product or service usually ask a search engine. In order to improve the search engine ranking, SEO measures and – especially at the beginning – targeted search engine advertising (SEA) is highly recommended. Some hosting providers offer tools that support shop owners with the planning and execution of SEO and SEA. Social media also helps with “word-of-mouth”. Share and like buttons for Facebook can be integrated in most e-shops, enabling customers to recommend the products to their friends.

User friendliness is extremely important, too: fast loading times, a selection of payment methods, an intuitive navigation as well as good product pictures and descriptions reduce the bounce rates and increase the conversion rate. It is also essential that the online shop is responsive. Tip: Ask friends or relatives to test the user friendliness of the e-shop.

The security of a shop also affects customer’s purchasing decisions. Payment options are a very good example, as customers expect secure, uncomplicated payment processing as well as different payment methods to choose from. Sensitive customer data should be encrypted to avoid data theft and phishing attacks. In addition, terms and conditions also need to be on the shop site as well as an imprint, a data protection declaration and contact details. Customer ratings displayed on the shop site further push the trustworthiness of an online shop as potential customers increasingly rely on the experience of other buyers.

More Time For Core Business

A positive shopping experience ensures satisfied customers, which will in turn result in sales. Online retailers must therefore create an offer that transforms web site visitors into buyers. In addition, they have to choose a technical solution that meets the merchant’s requirements and, at the same time, consumes as little as possible from the retailer’s time budget. For choosing the hosting solution, you need to make sure that the partner offers as much as possible from a single source so that the shop owners can concentrate on their core business.

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Patrick Schaudel is Vice President Product Management eBusiness at 1&1. With years of experience within the IT and software industry, Patrick is considered an expert in e-commerce and online marketing. At 1&1, he is responsible for the international product management in Online Marketing and Business Applications. Before joining 1&1, Patrick worked as a direct marketing specialist as well as a product and marketing manager for a digital media group. His career began in a large creative agency.