ECommerce was one of the stars of the year 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and social confinement measures to slow it down. For thousands of companies and small businesses, the creation of an eCommerce store ceased to be an option to become an essential and unavoidable necessity. Jorge Zuñiga Blanco, a successful entrepreneur and eCommerce expert from Costa Rica, provides the steps necessary to launch a new eCommerce operation.
The opening of an eCommerce store is not only about mounting the technical part, because there is much more behind the scenes. The maintenance and expansion of an eCommerce site are also key because eCommerce is undergoing an almost permanent transformation. Says Zuñiga, “If you start from scratch, or almost, it is advisable to review basic concepts of eCommerce and the questions that people who start to set up their online store have asked themselves at some point.”
There are some key phrases to know before getting started. Niche is the sector or market to which the eCommerce store will be directed. It can be a small micro-niche or a mega-niche, depending on the breadth of the target audience. The Strategic Plan is the roadmap that includes the steps to be taken, the guidelines to follow and the possible contingencies of an eCommerce site. Hosting is the space of a third party to host your eCommerce. Name and domain should be the same and, if possible, with the domain .com, but it is not essential. CMS is platform to use to set up the alternative store to the custom creation from scratch of your eCommerce. Payment gateway is how you will receive money from your eCommerce customers.
The choice of model will depend on the needs and peculiarities of your store, but keep it in mind before you start creating. The biggest challenge facing an online store that is born from scratch is to attract visitors. Asserts Zuñiga, “It is essential to get ahead and consider how the strategy will be to generate traffic to the store. Some possible traffic sources include SEO, Google AdWords, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Referrals and other sources, such as content marketing, Twitter Ads and influencer marketing. It is impossible to anticipate where and in what percentage users will arrive on your website, but it does calculate how many resources you are going to dedicate to each source of traffic, especially at the beginning.”
When you’re ready to get started, you have to choose the right hosting service, a decision that seems trivial but that, badly taken, can give you many problems. There are plenty of very affordable options in price, so discard free hosting. Do not even consider it because you end up paying it very dearly.
Next, choose a CMS (Content Management System) for your eCommerce store. This translated into normal language means that it is the program with which you are going to manage your virtual store. The best known for eCommerce is WordPress, which can be converted into anything thanks to plugins. Of the three it is the simplest and most economical to use. Prestashop is another. It is better than WordPress if you are going to install a store with many products, but it has a slightly larger learning curve. Magento is the most complex to use and is only recommended for users with a lot of experience.
A store with many products and dozens of categories can become an impossible maze for a potential buyer to navigate. And even if you had fewer products and categories, the visitor is not going to spend enough time in your store to go around rummaging through different options. “You make life easier for the potential buyer with a professional internal search engine,” says Zuñiga. “Let the customer arrive, type what they are looking for, and find all the related options in seconds.”
With these components in place, it is possible to get the eCommerce site up and running. Of course, there are more pieces that have to be filled in in order to become successful, but understanding the basics will get every entrepreneur rolling.