So, you want to build an e-commerce platform. Why not? It’s one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. In 2022 e-commerce is expected to grow to 6.54 trillion US dollars. Building an e-commerce platform in 2021 is one of the best decisions you can make for your business. However, how do you go about planning and executing a successful e-commerce website development project? What are the steps you would need to take to build an e-commerce platform?
Pick A Project Management Strategy
One of the key steps of e-commerce website development is picking a project management methodology. This helps your team stay on track and gives you a clear route to your final product. A popular methodology for e-commerce projects and web development is Kanban.
Kanban is a highly visual project management methodology that helps teams optimise their workflow. Kanban splits tasks into “To Do”, “Doing” and “Done”. The great thing about this methodology is that you will have clear visual cues on what’s being worked on and what comes next.
With the right project management methodology, your team won't get bogged down with tasks and you can stay on budget when building an online store. At Laracle, we work with our clients to develop their plan and help them develop their e-commerce projects. We deliver quickly and on time, every time.
As with all aspects of web design and development, market research will help you figure out how to structure your e-commerce platform. It gives you insights into what your competitors are doing and about your customers. Some of the factors you could look at are:
What keywords will work best on your website
Who are your potential customers?
Where are they located?
What can your e-commerce platform do for your customers that your competitors’ can’t?
Buy Your Domain Name And Choose A Host
Getting the right domain name and site host is a crucial phase of e-commerce website development. The same way a brick and mortar store would need a sign out front that catches pedestrians’ eyes, your domain name needs to pull clients in. It needs to be catchy and descriptive so your customers can easily remember it.
Once you’ve identified a domain name, you need to select a hosting provider. For our brick and mortar store, this would be the building it’s in. So you need a host that can accommodate your e-commerce platform. When choosing the host for your site, look for:
Security: Your hosting plan needs to have SSL enabled to ensure that information such as credit card details and shipping information shared on your e-commerce platform is secure.
Performance: Your host needs to be able to keep up with the traffic on your store. It also needs to have the ability to handle the growth of your e-commerce platform.
Database Performance: The database handles all the information for your product pages, product images and pricing data. When customers search your website they need to be able to find the right information. Your plan will need a database that is high performing and that can accommodate all the files you plan on uploading.
The Administrative Interface: While this has nothing to do with your customers’ experience, it has everything to do with yours. The control panel allows you to see everything that's going on with your site, view errors and log files and address any issue that comes up. You should pick a host that has a cPanel interface. cPanel is intuitive, well laid out, simple to learn and use.
- Automatic Data Backups: Your hosting plan needs to include backups of your e-commerce platform to protect crucial store data.
Pick Your Features
The features of your e-commerce platform will determine how your customers will interact with your website and how you will control your online store. That’s why part of your e-commerce website development needs to include identifying them. Think about what you want to achieve. These goals will help you determine the features you will add to your store. Some features that your website might need include:
Automatic inventory and stock checking
Customer account creation
Promotion and discount code tools
Integration with social media platforms
Pick A Shipping Provider
Your e-commerce store will be pointless if your customers can't receive what they bought. Except for stores that sell online services or virtual items, all stores need a shipping partner. Your choice of shipping provider will affect your future sales and the growth of your platform.
Look at it this way, no one will come back to your store if their order arrives late and in terrible condition. Your shipping provider needs to be accountable, cost-efficient and reach the geographic area you plan to sell to. A good idea is to go with leading courier companies around the world such as DHL, FedEx or DPD.
Pick A Payment Gateway
Your payment gateway acts as the interface between your e-commerce platform and your customers’ preferred payment methods such as bank transfers, mobile money wallets, debit/credit cards or online wallets such as PayPal.
You must take into account the service cost, whether they have fraud security and the security of payments made. Also, take into account if the payment gateway is available in your area of operation. You can’t have a payment provider that only works in Australia if the bulk of your clients are from the UK.
When Laracle develops e-commerce platforms we ensure that they can handle safe and secure online payments via hundreds of payment processors.
Your e-commerce platform needs to be user friendly, well organised as well as represent your brand appropriately. As you design the user experience for your customers, put yourself in their shoes. Ask questions such as:
Is the colour palette inviting?
What layout is easiest to navigate?
Is it easy to search for products?
Is it easy to get from the product page to the cart and finally to check out?
Are the products organised in a way that makes sense?
Does the client feel safe sharing their address and payment information on it?
Is the website responsive and does it work across all devices?
You want your customers to stay and continue browsing even after they've made their first purchase. A good UX can result in a lower bounce rate and more sales. Adding user-generated reviews can help convince customers to make a purchase. If you add “related items” or “frequently bought together” customers might make additional purchases. The user experience is a key part of website development and isn’t something you can afford to ignore.
Implement and Test
Once you’ve created your platform, you need to test it to make sure that it actually works. The first stage of the testing process is identifying the end-to-end process of your platform. Always focus on what you need to be tested as opposed to how to test.
Some of the aspects of your website that need testing are things such as usability, security, performance, database integrity and transaction integrity.
It’s not enough to just build your platform; you need to draw customers to your store so you can make sales. Not having a digital marketing campaign in mind when you're building your e-commerce platform can ruin your store. Here are some tips on drawing customers to your store:
Search Engine Optimisation
SEO will help your website show up at the top of Google and other search engine results.
By using the right keywords, creating compelling product descriptions and using high-quality product images, your website can rank higher. A higher rank in the search results means more traffic and more conversions.
Social Media Marketing
Social media can be the prime sales channel for your e-commerce platform. Most people have integrated social media into their everyday lives and spend hours on these websites every day. Make sure that your e-commerce platform integrates with popular social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram. Companies that utilise social media have reported increases in sales and revenue.
It might look hard, but with proper planning you can start a highly successful digital marketplace. When we’re hired to do e-commerce website development we take all these factors and more into account. Our agency will make your company our priority. We build bespoke platforms and web applications tailored to our client’s specific needs. Since we use modern technology and frameworks such as Laravel, Vue.js and React alongside traditional frameworks such as CSS and HTML, we can add any feature you dream up.
Are You Looking For A Developer?
Take the weight off your shoulders when it comes to the website design and development process; reach out for a quotation today. Our team will get to know you, listen to your goals and design a perfectly tailored platform. We’ll be in touch throughout the entire design process and once we’re done, we’ll give you a tutorial on using your new platform.
Have your e-commerce platform built and designed by leading experts who have worked for clients including Holland & Barrett, Pepsico, Dogs Trust and The SSE Arena. We are always available via phone, email or in-person at our Stratford-upon-Avon office.