E-commerce is a profitable yet risky business due to increasing cyber-attacks. Here are 5 essential steps needed to set up a secure and well-managed e-commerce website.
Our shopping habits are changing rapidly. Over the last 10 years, customers have moved online in their droves and e-commerce is coming to play an increasingly important role in the retail world.
A visit to any previously-bustling high street or shopping mall shows just how much shopping has changed and many experts predict e-commerce will soon equal – if not surpass – traditional brick-and-mortar sales.
If your business isn’t already online, there’s no time like the present to lay the foundations for the increasingly online retail world of the future. Here are a few tips for getting your business set up as an e-commerce provider and transferring previous face-to-face clients into digital sales.
First up, you’re going to need a domain name that relates to your business, so check online with naming wholesalers and pick your web address. You should also make sure you have a digital record of your inventory (even an Excel document will do) – but you must have a digital version of the stock you hold.
Next, you’ll need to decide whether to engage the services of a specialized web design company or try and set up your site yourself. Depending on the size of your company and the amount of stock you hold, you would probably be best best-advised to hire the skills of an expert.
There are now multiple cheap e-commerce analytics solutions available online these days but, unless you have a background in programming or e-commerce design, an expert will do a much quicker job of successfully setting up your site.
Decide on your e-commerce platform
All businesses are different and while there is a huge range of e-commerce-in-a-box solutions available, it’s quite likely there will be one particularly suited to your range of products or services. Again, if you hire a professional developer, they will help you decide which software suits your company best. Otherwise, check online for advice and customer feedback sites like Trustpilot.
Build your site
As you might have already realized, hiring the services of a specialized e-commerce development company is going to greatly simplify the process of transferring your business online. If you use an expert, the process of designing and building your site will be part and parcel of the provided service.
If not, you’re going to have to decide on a suitable website template and start populating it with your product inventory. You could consider using off-the-shelf website builders like Wix or Squarespace – or, for more flexibility, you might also want to look at WordPress (although you should be aware each of these options will benefit from having at least some level of experience in building/developing websites).
If you’re selling online (which, after all, is the ultimate aim), you’re going to inevitably deal with sensitive customer details like email addresses and credit card numbers. The costs of cybercrime are expected to exceed $1 trillion this year and the risks of potentially exposing your customers’ private information cannot be over-estimated – both in terms of reputation and finances.
If you intend to hold any level of client details on record, you must employ the necessary security measures for both your internal and external networks (including your website) to protect both you and your customers.
Locally, you will need to employ a Firewall and other security measures to prevent malicious attacks – and you’ll also need to do the same on your website too. Again, partnering with an e-commerce expert will remove the stress and worry of dealing with client information, allowing you to get on with the all-important business of selling.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Most internet journeys start with a search – normally for a product, service, or brand – so it’s vitally important your site rates highly with search engines. In particular, Google generates just over 92% of all internet search-based traffic, so concentrate your efforts on rating high in its results. A web design company will be able to advise you on the best tactics to attain first-page results.