Every year, online sales are growing dynamically.
In 2013, there were about 21,000 registered e-stores, in 2019, there were almost 32,000.
Many factors influence this situation. On the one hand, conducting online sales is incomparably less expensive than offline sales, it does not generate such high costs when faced with worse sales period. On the other hand, network gives you a great opportunity to penetrate the market, leaving the “street” that the stationary store stands on and move to customers from every corner of Poland or even abroad.
Online sales strongly anchored in consumer awareness due to the uniqueness of times. The pandemic, which significantly changed our every day lives, has made online shopping an excellent and safe alternative to regular supermarkets. The study “ Omnicommerce. Kupuję wygodnie.” / “Omnicommerce. I buy comfortably” proves that up to 57% of users do their shopping online. Indicating that they are more comfortable, pleasant, safe and fast.
The fact that the trend of moving businesses to the Internet has intensified significantly, should not be surprising. Owners of stationary stores are more often asking themselves the question of how to create an online store from the ground up. Regardless of the current, unusual situation, the idea of moving a regular store to the network might not be a good idea, but a necessary one to be implemented. Statistics clearly show an increased interest in shopping in online stores.
How to create an online store – what can you gain?
By selling clothes, cosmetics, food, etc. in a stationary store, we are condemned, in a sense, to a very limited number of recipients. The restriction results directly from the location. This means that the offline store offer will be used primarily by people living nearby. Of course, we can run a shop in a tourist town, where many people come from different regions. But the principle remains the same. The limitation in this case will result from accommodation. Online space does not have these restrictions.
A properly calibrated and promoted e-store can go with its offer to any resident in every corner of the country, as well as, it can be directed to any place in the world. This way, we primarily gain sales volume. A wide range of opportunities offered by the network means that, based on the foundation of values, such as trust, credibility, quality, communication and transparency, we can build a strong brand with a compact and loyal community that will act as the brand’s ambassador. What does it mean? Online campaigns that are targeted at the right groups of recipients and are regularly, and consistently run, can create a brand that will be recommended and like a snowball effect, will gain new groups of e-customers.
In practice, this is a demanding and time-consuming task. However, effort is a part of any type of business. A stationary store also requires taking daily and regular activities. Therefore, consistency and regularity must be applied to the e-store as well. The tasks are different, but it should be considered a plus. The online store diversifies work, develops other skills, it is a constant opportunity to learn something about new technologies, analysis and implementation of new ideas.
Product file – the basis of every e-commerce
The question of how to create your own online store is one thing, but the second very important thing of each store is to supplement it with a category tree and products. This is a process that can be done in, at least, several ways. If the offer is not wide, you can be tempted to analog substitute of the offer. It is definitely worth giving this idea a critical look. First of all, it is an extremely imperfect way of managing the offer. It should be noted that, it is difficult for any offer to remain unchanged. In every industry, there are smaller or larger changes, the offer is affected by seasonality, producers are withdrawing and introducing new products, trends are changing, etc.
Therefore, the right thing to do is to look for another more perfect solution that will significantly influence the comfort of working in an online environment. The product file is currently, the easiest way to comprehensively manage the online store offer. New products appear in grocery stores almost every day, e-commerce offers with small home appliances usually contain tens of thousands of products, the clothing industry is susceptible to seasonality.
Why the product file is such an important element of running an online store?
In the network, each brand is evaluated and every purchase builds experience in a customer. If the experience is bad, the customer will not only never buy anything again, but also discourage his friends from buying other products. One of the reasons of how bad experiences can be build is for instance, careless display of products, not informative enough or misleading product information and incorrect inventory. Product feed allows you to control all product information on a regular basis, which also allows for efficient communication between the e-store and ad publishers (e.g. Google Ads, marketplace, affiliated networks, Facebook, etc.). This means that it enables effective optimization of campaigns conducted on every channel that products are being promoted on.
Thus, the purpose of the product file is to significantly simplify, but while maintaining efficiency, entering even tens of thousands of items both in the e-store offer and in various sales channels. How does it work? The principle is relatively simple. The product file is a transparent document saved in .csv or .xml format. A table that should literally contain all the components of the product, such as:
• image URL,
• description – both, the proper, meta description and title attribute in separate columns,
• volume / weight,
• technological specification,
• product categories.
If the product file is properly optimized, it can be used to send selected products to appropriate sale channels. The user will be able to find, for example, through an appropriate key phrase, an electric mower, a hair dryer, a mountain bike, etc. Then, adding other, more precise words to these phrases, such as brand or city. However, one must not forget that the product feed must be updated. Some data is particularly sensitive and if they do not correspond to the actual state, it will affect the reception of the brand. What data is it? First of all, inventory. If the online store in its campaigns shows that it has a product in stock, and in fact it is not there, then after placing the order, the user will be very disappointed.
It is also worth knowing, that product files are very often shared by suppliers, wholesalers. This is a great facilitation, thanks to which the store’s offer can be regularly updated.
How to create an online store step by step?
There are many ways that lead us to opening our own online store. The online space allows you to make a very conscious decision that can lead to the best solutions. The e-commerce market is currently well developed and thanks to that we can choose the optimal way to open an online store. In that case, how to create an online store from scratch, what solution can we choose:
- SaaS platform (Software as a Service) – choosing this solution comes down to choosing one of the suppliers of ready-made software for running an online store. The advantage of this solution is the speed of opening an e-store. All you have to do is choose the right subscription (those can start from couple hundred zlotys a month) and decide on one of the templates offered by the platform, which can be more or less personalized. Depending on the selected package, we can also have more or less possible functions that can influence the comfort of work and may also increase the attractiveness of the online store.
- Interactive agency – establishing cooperation with the agency opens up a lot of various possibilities when it comes to designing even the smallest detail of an online store. It is a more expensive solution, but also allows you to create a unique and very effective project.
- “Open source” platforms – this is the answer to the question of how to create an online store “for free”. Quotation marks are there for a reason. Despite the fact that, platforms such as Presashop, Megento or WordPress with their WooCommerc are free, we have to be aware of some costs (server, domain, maybe content development). Admittedly, open platforms give us almost unlimited possibilities in terms of function, design, usability optimization, etc. however, you need to have sufficient and advanced knowledge for such online store to be able to work properly. It should be taken into account that even any integration with the carrier, online payments, mailing system, blog, social media will have to be carried out on your own. It is also worth mentioning that free templates are not very original and either you should buy a template or work hard on the free one, which requires at least knowledge of CSS.
How to design a store website?
Whether we decide on cooperation with the interactive agency or SaaS solution, it is worth being familiar with the ergonomics that an online store should present. There are relatively many elements that make up an effective online storefront. What makes up on the final e-store design:
- functionality – is a set of functions that the e-store is equipped with. It is obvious that online payments must be available in the store, but this feature must be also properly designed. What matters is transparency, convenience and simplicity of the entire process,
- technology – a modern online store must display perfectly on any medium. This means that it should be built either in RWD (responsive web design) technology, which makes the website automatically adapt to any medium, or like in mobile first, the technology that is gaining recognition. The latter option means that the store is primarily designed for mobile devices, which results from the fact that currently more purchases are generated just by smartphones or tablets,
- usability – every website and store must be easy to use and intuitive. There should not be a situation where the user does not know where to click, how to go to this or that subpage. The store should smoothly guide the Internet user so that he can freely “travel” thorough the page and become familiar with the offer.
- trust markers – this is a fairly important element that can be seen immediately after entering the site, it will be embedded lower in properly designed modules and on the product card. What are trust markers? These are, primarily, customer reviews or product reviews, you can also use your own icons such as “proven product”, “100 positive reviews”, “over 100,000 completed orders”, etc. There are also tags that can be bought after verification (e.g. trusted shops). The task of tags is to build trust, increase the credibility factor,
- visual identification – the whole should evoke positive reactions, which is why thoughtful visual identification, such as the logotype, colors, CTA buttons, etc. is so important. The whole must be coherent and aesthetic.
- connection with social media – currently it is one of the basic elements of the website. An online store should also work on a strong brand in social media, which is why placing relevant widgets or buttons on the e-store website is so important.
- product card – it is one of the most important spaces in every e-commerce. It is the product card that often decides whether a purchase will take place. All necessary information about the offer should be included – description, weight, color, photo, application, usage, as well as legible buttons. Everything depends on the product profile.
How to promote online business?
On the one hand, promotion on the Internet is described very well, but on the other, the knowledge of theory itself will collide with the practice. Without experience, running any online campaigns will not give us much and it can even harm different aspects of the business (usually budget, the risk of damage to the image is also considerable). There is another aspect of running campaigns online, they are very diverse, time consuming and require constant monitoring, analysis and optimization. What types of activities can an online store undertake:
- Google Ads – a text ad in Google search engine. This is a very popular and effective form of promoting products and the entire store online. The campaigns are made into the phrases that e-customers enter into the search engine when searching for a given product. The biggest advantage of this is the unlimited optimization options and immediate presence in search results.
- Facebook Ads – a very precise tool that is based on information written by the users on the portal
- content marketing – a broad term that covers all types of content that a store can generate. From product descriptions, through articles on your own blog, video content, posts on social networks, etc. It all comes down to brand promotion through various types of content. This solution enables stronger presence in the minds of consumers.
- Positioning – SEO activities have to lead to the point where a given product from the store’s offer, after entering the appropriate phrases, for example “ceramic electric kettle” will be visible in the top 10 search results on Google,
- social media – Facebook and YouTube preside over this segment of brand promotion, but portals such as Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter are also very popular. The choice of this or that portal, should be dictated by the type of industry that the store is collided with.
affiliated networks – cooperation with networks allows you to reach to hundreds of publishers who will promote the store’s offer in exchange for a small commission from sales if the customer reaches the e-store through the publisher’s website. To start cooperation you will need a product file that can be send to the network.
- marketplace – shopping arcades that display the offers of various stores. They collect products from various offers on one page. After clicking on a given product, the user is transferred directly to the online store website. The store is obliged to pay the commission if the user has reached the store through the marketplace,
- blogosphere + influencer marketing – this type of promotion fits into all content marketing, but works on slightly different rules. Here the content does not come directly from the activities carried out for the store, but from the owners of blogs or popular profiles on social media. The store is gaining a recognizable brand ambassador as well as external links.