What Is an Online Store?
The Economics define online retailing as an electronic platform that provides venue for seller and shoppers to meet and conduct business remotely (The Alibaba Phenomenon, 2013). It is a form of ecommerce that uses the Internet and web browser as a medium of transaction. Today, because of online shops, customers can buy goods and even contract services online using their mobile phones, tablet, netbooks, and desktop computers using these platforms.
Online shopping has become convenient because it removes the hassles of going to physical shopping centers – the long queues, travel time, and long hauls of products from the store to your residence. And of course, there is traffic jam and the frustrations that go with it. Finding products is also very easy in an online shopping site. These web pages are equipped with search box that allows users to narrow down queries limiting to specific models, brands, sizes, colors, price range, etc. The products selected by buyers are virtually put inside a shopping cart. The products are then scheduled for delivery after payment and could arrive to the end user depending on their geographical locations. Ecommerce essentially has two platforms: the Business to Customer (B2C) category where the exchange of goods and services is between business and customers and the Business to Business (B2B) category, which is the exchange of goods and services between businesses.
Tech in Asia Report in 2015 shows that the online shopping/retailing business in Asia-Pacific Region has tremendously generated over 433 billion in US dollars in 2012 alone. This figure represents its international sale amounting to over 30% growth in geographic market share. This sudden growth is $69 billion away from the growth posted in the United States with aggregated revenue of only $364.66 billion. The report also reported that the same region has increased by another 30% the following year (2013) making Asia-Pacific region become the holder of more than 33% ecommerce sales globally. In 2014 alone, Alibaba Group, which is based in China, has processed US$9.3 billion worth of online transaction during the Singles Day.
Basic Business Structure of Online Stores
In everything, planning is very important. Much more important when things involve financial investment, a business plan is the most important requirement before starting anything. A good business plan should lay-out important considerations like marketing, advertising, and financing of business. In big ventures where you need loans from financial institutions like banks, a business plan is needed for the consideration for financial assistance or loans. A good Business plan should establish a clear goal.
When starting your online store, the following are important considerations: what are you going to sell to your online store? Do you have a particular target market cohort? What is your setup with the suppliers? What are your payment methods? And how many workers do you need to run your business? Because you are going to set-up an online shop or retail store, how are you going to boost your web presence? To what extent are you going to need the service an SEO specialist?
The business plan is intended to frame the general categories of the merchandise you want to put online, but you have to come up with a detailed catalogue of the products you intend to sell. Your consideration may include brands, sizes, colors, and quality among other features. You should also consider where to source these products and how are you going to arrange the setup for distribution, freight cost, and shipping schedules from your product suppliers to your customers.
When you are only starting to launch a site online for electronic shopping, it is a must that you should establish a credible size inventory for your products. You need an inventory whether you have a physical site or only a storefront for your online shopping store. Unplanned inventory could lose you money because too much surplus or unmet orders are opportunities gone. In planning your inventory, you must consider your storage. In many instances, your affiliate companies can store items for you in their warehouse waiting to be shipped when orders are executed. They may charge some reasonable amount for the space, but considering the maintenance cost of maintaining your own warehouse for your online store is not cheap, this is a good alternative.
In your site hosting, you have an option to buy a domain name and set-up the site yourself. But this will cost you extra time in familiarizing to the technicalities of setting up an ecommerce site. But you have an option to use some user-friendly popular ready-made software for ecommerce. You can use platforms like Shopify and Bigcommerce that provide easy to follow instructions and basic tools you need to build your website from scratch.
When you are done with the technical setup of the website, you have to choose a design for the webpage. This will include choosing the product categories, headers or front page, themes, and among others. You will also need to decide details for sections like About Us or any page that will provide information about your company to help build credibility and to attract customers to your site.
One important consideration in an ecommerce enterprise is the security. Users are always wary of fraudulent transactions especially when it involves money. Because it is an online store, you have to set up a system for shopping cart where customer can pay for the items they pick from your store. It is advisable that you use the shopping cart software that is hosted by credible suppliers. Self hosting this feature may drive away prospective clients because of security reasons.
The official launch of your business is like a birthday party. On this “birthday,” be sure that you will invite enough guests to attend to the “party.” You should work hard and get ready your site. Tidying loss ends, checking graphics, links, conducting mock ups or beta testing, and all other necessary preparations of the site for the launching. You can use social media tools so that you can be sure that the launch is successful. After launching, you will need to continue the momentum to establish your base and gather more loyal customer.
When everything is going smooth and running, you ought not to relax and wait for money to pour in from your online venture. You have to maintain your business. Maintenance work includes keeping up your inventory, acquisition of new products while eliminating some. Most importantly, ensure the provision of continued customer service to make sure that buyers will keep coming back. Maintenance work includes keeping your site from bugs and other technical aspects of operation to keep your operation smooth while ensuring excellent user experience. Do not sit back and relax yet because you will also need to attend to marketing strategies to keep your site afloat. To ensure the continued success of your business, you can employ marketing promotions like emails, paid ads, flyers, and among others. An SEO agency could give bulk of these services.
The Importance of Search Engine Optimization to Online Shopping Platforms
Unlike search engine optimization (SEO) for regular websites, SEO for online shopping stores or ecommerce pages needs a very skilled consultant who is keen in usability, social media communication and marketing, user experience, psychology, web design and development, copywriting, conversion rate optimization, analytics, and economics. A background in retail business and its commerce is also needed when you want to hire a top notch SEO for your online shopping platform. These qualifications may seem too much to munch, but a review of the best SEO agencies can help you decide which one to hire.
An SEO consultant running a successful SEO campaign must be aware that his strategies must change to adapt to the evolving algorithms of search engines. Since from time to time, your site code may change in the process of fixing bugs and other technical problems, a regular check or analysis would be proper to set everything in sync with your set goals in a particular timeframe. Monitoring is easy but executing strategies to address issues is another story. Identifying and fixing problem immediately is very essential. Problems in indexing and content duplication needs prompt action because if left uncheck, it can greatly affect rank standing with search engines.
Search engine optimization consultants probably know that SEO tools like Moz that are used to identify issues and problems are heaven sent. These tools also offer solutions. A combination of similar tools like Moz and others software could yield good results. Each recognized SEO tools has its own unique mechanisms to address different issues. Using them hand in hand optimizes results. To have a good grasp of these tools, you can check sites that offer reviews of SEO agencies.
Lastly, but probably one of the most important things to consider is the integration of your ecommerce enterprise in the mobile phones. Bringing your site to the helm of mobile computing is highly encouraged. Looking at the current trend in the development of modern information and technology, the mobile phone industry obviously leads the race. There are data that show that ecommerce platforms can double or triple their customer conversion rate if they are available on mobile phones. Failing to consider this trend is a sure way to lose money.
Find out users review of the best SEO companies at CrowdReviews.com to find SEO consultants that will fit your need for your ecommerce page optimization.
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