Considerations for a Brand while Building an eCommerce Website

Blog, eCommerce

In the early 2000’s, digital presence for a brand meant a website acting like a digital brochure giving the customer a glimpse of what the brand stands for. It would mostly be a static website that would showcase but not sell. However, over the last decade, not having a website is not even an option. In fact, brands today increasingly leverage their websites to drive sales.

A brand looking to sell online has a couple of options – sell from an existing marketplace or sell it from your own website. Let’s explore why a brand would want to sell from their own website. While there can be many, there are broadly 3 reasons that stand out

  1. Freedom to showcase the brand in any way you desire – there are no rules of any marketplace that bound you in your representation of your brand
  2. You own the data of people coming to your website and transacting; you can enrich your understanding of the customer using this data and further target them along their journey
  3. You do not need to pay a referral fee or a commission to the marketplaces for the sale made on the website.

At the same time, there is a flipside of running your own website. Again, there are 3 reasons that stand out

  1. The biggest and the most pressing issue is driving traffic to your website and for that you need to spend marketing dollars.
  2. You are completely responsible for the online experience of the customer from UI/UX, browsing and selecting products till the completion of transaction. This requires investment in building a robust backend to support all such activities.
  3. The operational activities of picking, packing the product to logistics, returns, refunds, all need to be handled by you

For each of the challenges, there are experts to help you navigate through the online journey for your brand. Below, you will understand the different aspects that you need to take care of for launching and running a branded e-commerce website.

Choose the Right Ecommerce Platform

The first decision you need to make is on which e-commerce platform you will build your website on. Some of the prominent platforms to build your e-commerce website are Shopify, Wix, Woocommerce, Magento, and Bigcommerce. These platforms are compared on some of the important parameters to help you make an informed decision.

Shopify is rich with features and apps that will solve almost any need of an average e-commerce brand. Everything from the shopping cart, payment, shipping, and marketing tool integrations are built in.

Similar to Shopify, Woocommerce also offers a wide range of features and apps and is much more customizable than Shopify.

Magento is more complex to set up but is extremely powerful. It is generally used at the enterprise level and is more complex to set up and use.

Bigcommerce is a good balance between features and flexibility. Whereas Wix is extremely easy to set up with its drag-and-drop builder. However, a lot of features offered by other platforms are missing in Wix.

Overall, the easiest to use is Shopify for both initial setup and use followed by Wix. Woocommerce and Magento are more complex to set up but are much more flexible. Shopify has 24/7 support while woocommerce and Magento offer support only during business hours. Wix and Bigcommerce only offer email support.

In terms of cost, Woocommerce is free but you need to pay for hosting and other expenses. Wix plan starts from $17 per month, Shopify is at $29 per month, Bigcommerce is at $29.95  per month while Magento starts at $225 per month.

In addition to the direct costs associated with the platform itself, you need to consider your overall budget and your own technical capability to build the website. You have 2 options to build a website – find a really good developer or do it yourself. If you need to build a basic e-commerce website on a budget, then doing it yourselves might make more sense. This will dictate your choice of platform. If you have time and money on your side and need a host of features specific to your store, you should get a professional to set it up for you.

Select a Domain

If you are a new brand, you need to choose a brand name that helps your customers find your website easily when they search. It should also resonate with the products you wish to sell or the brand story. You should avoid websites that do not end with “.com” or “.in” (if you are in India). You need to have a short domain name ideally less than 13 characters. Avoid having numbers or special characters in your domain name. It makes it difficult for customers to remember your domain. Misspelling words might look good when you are building a store but a lot of times it confuses the customers. Always try to use one of the searched keywords in the domain name. This will help in search ranking. Always register with reputed domain registrars such as GoDaddy to avoid your website being stolen or hijacked.

Select a Hosting Provider

There are a variety of hosting providers you can choose from based on their reliability, scalability and costs. First and foremost, you want a reliable hosting provider that can ensure that your digital store is always open for your customers. Therefore, the most important KPI of a hosting provider is a great uptime record.

In addition, you need to check for scalability of storage space, bandwidth, and the cost of hosting. As the website grows, you add more products; more products means more images resulting in more  storage space. Further as the website becomes more popular, it should be able to handle a large traffic – this is where bandwidth comes in handy. You need a hosting partner that can offer scale as you scale your operations with lots of flexibility and at a reasonable cost.

Design a User-Friendly Website

There are many aspects within designing a user friendly website – making it mobile friendly comes right at the top. More than 70% of online traffic comes from mobiles. If the website is difficult to see on mobile, you will definitely miss out on a large share of such customers.

Best websites are responsive. They automatically adjust their layout to fit the screen size of the device. This ensures customers get a great experience regardless of their device. Having a responsive website also helps improve SEO rankings. Google prefers mobile-friendly websites.

The website layout should be easy to navigate. A menu bar with links to access different parts of the website makes the customer journey fast. The layout of the website should also be visually appealing. High-quality photos and videos will help break up text and make the website appealing. The copy of the website should be clear and concise. Before building page copy, identify the keywords that you are targeting.

All the pages should have a clear call to action telling customers what you want them to do such as “Shop Now” or “Sign up for newsletter”. Also, integrate social media icons so that customers can share products and services with friends.

Always offer a secure and well-known checkout process. The payment security icons near the payment gateway help bolster confidence. Adding 24/7 live chat through chatbots and email assistance will go a long way in building trust.

Add Products

Once you have your e-commerce store ready, you need to add products and categorise them so that customers can find them easily.

Always put clear and concise product titles and product descriptions. Add relevant keywords through the listing. This will also help in the search ranking of products and drive high-intent traffic. Putting products into categories and subcategories helps customers easily navigate. Always use high-quality images and videos to display products and features. In addition, usage of lifestyle images to show the product in use and videos to explain product features helps conversion.

Products with different colours and sizes need variants. Building variants gives more choices to the customer and improves the conversation. Pricing and inventory for each variant need to be set up separately. Pricing can also be set up for bulk purchases and free shipping offers. Pricing tools can be set up to help stay competitive.

Manage Inventory

 While the setup of products on the frontend is important for the customer, the inventory management system is the backbone of the business. Always choose an inventory management system based on the features and scale required.

Enter the product details, website mapping, and inventory levels into the system. The system will help track stock levels and prevent stockouts. Also set up ‘days of cover’ and ‘reorder points’ for products to ensure that you are stocked with optimum inventory at all times – neither too much nor out of stock. Identify inventory levels that require action and systemize the same. Inventory management systems also generate reports to help track sales, profits, and inventory levels.

Integrate the Payment Gateway

A payment gateway is critical for success in online retailing. Popular payment gateways include Razorpay, CCAvenue, PayU, and Cash Free in India. The payment gateway needs to offer payment through credit cards, debit cards, Net banking, and UPI. Cash on Delivery (COD) is an important mode of payment in India and is responsible for a large share of sales online. COD should be added to drive growth and address a larger segment of the population. One could also accept payments through bank transfers.

Payment gateways allow you to accept payments online and charge a commission. They encrypt customer data and process payments securely. The checkout process needs to be easy and convenient. Try to minimise the details required on the payment page. Use autofills to fill up the parts that can be. Clear concise language and quick checkout help convert customers faster.

The variety of payment methods should be informed to customers upfront. Having a variety of payment options is an advantage that you should use on your website, social media, and marketing materials.

Choose the payment gateways based on the compatibility with your online store. Also, check for compatibility with international payments and payment settlement cycles. Commission charges of each of the payment gateways and transaction success rates might be other metrics to consider before you finalise the payment gateway.

Optimise website for performance

After building the website we need to optimise it for speed and performance. A content delivery network (CDN) will help deliver a website quickly by caching it in servers. Also if the images are large, it can slow down the website. Reduce the size of your images before uploading them on a website.

Minifying codes will also help remove whitespace and comments and improve speed. You can use plugins such as Autoptimize to minify your website. A caching plugin can help improve website speed. The plugin stores the static content on the browser making the website load faster. Also, like our laptops, our website needs regular updates for security and speed.

Test Your Ecommerce Store

Now that you have your website ready with products and prices ready to go live, we need to do pre-launch testing. Try the website in different web browsers and device combinations. Make sure the website functions properly across desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobiles. Also, check separately for Apple products as that segment represents high-value customers.

Ensure that your checkout process works by making a couple of dummy orders. Further get your shipping and return policies reviewed with an expert to ensure that you have covered all scenarios. The policy must be easy to use. You can also use policy generators such as to generate templates.

Share the website with friends and family and ask them to do website testing and ask for feedback to improve. Set up website analytics tools such as Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics to track website performance.

Optimise the website for SEO

Optimising your website for SEO improves customer readability and drives high-intent traffic. Including relevant keywords throughout the title, meta descriptions, headers, and body copy. You can also optimise images and videos for SEO through alt texts and titles of images.

Create internal linkages to relevant pages of the website. This helps search engines understand the structure of site and page relations. You can also use structured data markup to help search engines understand the meaning of content and display it prominently. You also need to build an informative, engaging, and relevant content strategy. The content needs to engage the target audience. Publish new content regularly to improve search rankings.

Launch Your Ecommerce Store

If you are an offline brand with an existing fan following, you need to plan for the pre-launch buzz. Target social media with some exciting content about your website store launch. This can include behind-the-scenes photos, sneak peeks at new products, contests, or giveaways. Keep the subscribers updated and build excitement and anticipation. Run pre-launch campaigns to offer discounts or other incentives for pre-orders. This helps build a sense of urgency and excitement. You can also reach out to bloggers or influencers to gauge interest in writing about your website launch.

Set clear goals for marketing in terms of leads, traffic to the website, or sales. Identify the affinity of the target audience to different channels. Identify cohorts across social media, paid advertising, email marketing, and SEO. Prioritise the audience cohort-channel combination to focus your marketing efforts. Track the results of each of the marketing campaigns to identify what’s working and what’s not. This will help improve campaigns over time.

The content strategy for the blog needs to be focused on the needs of the customer. Understand the interests and pain points of the customer. Set goals for the content strategy to achieve – build traffic, generate leads, or build brand awareness. You will need to plan the content topics to write about based on your objectives. The blogs will need to contain keywords that are highly searched, fit intent and have low difficulty in ranking the articles. Create a content calendar to stay organised and promote the content on social media and other channels.

Run paid advertising based on your ideal cohorts and existing customer profiles to drive high Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). Email marketing is a good tool to keep the audience engaged. Provide regular updates about blog posts, products, and sale events. You can also partner with other businesses which offer complimentary products and services to cross-sell.

A well run, own brand website can be a great competitive advantage arising from invaluable consumer insight and profitable operations.


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