Upgrading Your Retail Business to Include an E-Commerce Store

Last Updated: March 22, 2021

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Level: Beginner

Time: 1 Hour to Start

Tools mentioned: WHC, GreenGeeks, Divi, Elementor

Introduction to Creating an E-Commerce Website.

The past year has been tough on Edmonton businesses, and it’s been especially hard for retail. We were forced to say goodbye to some of our favorite places, like Die Pie and Rowena (who fortunately still has an online store, btw) and we’ve been turning online to fulfill more of our shopping needs. 

Since April 2020, retail e-commerce sales have been at an all-time high.

Online shopping has been opening doors while offline doors have been closing.

The good news for business owners is that it’s easy to start selling products online. 

It might be time to rethink the role of your store.

rethink your retail store

You know your customers can buy from you while you sleep, right?

And that your website can take orders around the clock? All you have to do is fill the order as soon as you can.

No more relying on Facebook Marketplace to find a buyer. No more losing sales to the convenience of Amazon.

Besides, did you know that most people look online before purchasing, anyway? It’s true! Not only for product availability, but also warranty information, reviews, lowest price, product specifications and in some cases financing options are some of the most common reasons people find products they like online instead of trekking over to your store. 

 

Here are a few things you should consider when you are starting an e-commerce website (which we would love to build for you! – just send us a message!).

Where is your website going to live?

Every website needs a home and that means hosting!

We usually use Web Hosting Canada or Green Geeks. Both offer good hosting at affordable prices and have data centers in Canada.

Your online store needs to be reliable, fast, and secure. That means fast hosting, with a lot of room.

Invest in quality hosting from the beginning. You’ll be glad you did.

Need help setting up your hosting account? Read our blog on how to create a hosting account.

Create the key pages for your e-commerce website

Pages like Home, About, Shop, Checkout, etc. are usually necessary for an online store. 

In-person, ideally your customer would walk into your store, interact with you in a positive way and buy some stuff. 

So, if you were to get started online without any frills, your customer would land on your website, browse through your products, and then happily checkout

But what if your customer has questions about your shipping policy? Or, what if they want to know what will happen if your item doesn’t work?

Since you aren’t “there” online to assist them, it’s good practice to have a couple of FAQ/Policy pages available to answer common questions for you. 

If your business is more active you might want to add a blog to keep up. 

Also, include any compliance requirements for your industry.

What information do you need to include about your products?

 

Products are discoverable by search. Listing the right information makes it easier for your customers to find your products and answer any pre-purchase questions they might have. So, definitely include a thoughtful writeup for each product.

Organizing your product names, product descriptions, images, etc. early on can help save time once the design process has started. 

Beyond the general product details you can include a full description, tech specs, and even downloadable data sheets to help bridge any gaps in your customers buying process.

LED Lights Canada in Edmonton includes the manufacturer data sheet if it is available for their products. This helps their customers identify whether an item will work for them, without leaving their website.

Organizing Your Online Store

Organizing your content in a useful way means your customer spends less time looking for what they want, and more conversions will be made on your website.

Online stores (just like blogs) are organized by categories (like food) and tags (like pizza, pasta, and garlic bread). 

Give care to organizing your products into useful sections just like a regular store. Customers will be able to sort your products at the click of a mouse.

How will you handle shipping, returns, and exchanges?

Your customers are going to have some shipping-related questions for you, so it’s essential to include your own FAQ section or Policy pages that spell out exactly what your customers should expect when ordering from you. 

Do you ship to other countries or just within Canada? Are there products that you don’t accept returns on? What if a delivery is damaged or missing – how will you put your customers at ease?

Which payment options will you offer?

Most of the world accepts PayPal, so make sure to get set up for that to avoid any delays when you get your online store up and running.

We also recommend Stripe. Some customers just want a quick credit card checkout. Some customers just like having payment options.

Setup Google Analytics For Your Website 

Everything that happens on your website brings data along with it. 

What if you were able to tell which parts of your website people were visiting the most? Or what if you could tell where those visitors are coming from? Wouldn’t those insights help you tailor your marketing efforts?

Add analytics to your online store – eventually you are going to want to know what’s up.

Extras

You can begin selling in your online store pretty much straight out of the box.

But remember that there are a lot of opportunities for store owners to succeed online with e-commerce.

You can use email marketing, social media sharing, gift cards, memberships… and many other tools to improve your online store!

So, when are you going to invest in your e-commerce store?

Building your own online store?

Do it visually using the most popular page builders.

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