When it comes to ecommerce, there are many good and evils you have to go through to find the perfect solution for you. Unfortunately, the best way to get to that solution is to test every individual piece and find the best one.
Most of us don't have the time to test these elements, so here are three of the most important pieces an online retailer can focus on in order to have a successful start with their ecommerce website.
1. Ecommerce Platform You Can Trust
The main thing you need to decide is which ecommerce platform you can trust. There are various platforms you can get, many of which are free, open source and affordable. WooCommerce, Magento and Shopify top my list, here's why:
The most obvious ecommerce recommendation would be WooCommerce because of it's integration with WordPress, the most widely used CMS. WooCommerce installs as a WordPress plugin and since many websites are already powered by WordPress, it goes hand in hand.
WooCommerce has many pros and few cons. For majority of businesses, this will be a great platform. One of the few downsides of WooCommerce is that it's difficult to take manual or phone orders. I've had to work with clients and developers in the past to create a custom solution, but those solutions generally tend to come out clunky and are tough to maintain.
So if you need a lot of unique functionality, I would suggest you first look into it to make sure there's an extension or easy fix for that.
The second platform is Magento. It is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms in the world and it was designed to be a cart software. Having said that, it does lack some useful features such as blogs, however, that can be added with extensions.
Magento is perfect for HUGE stores. The stores that have thousands of products, which are updated by a feed from your vendor are a good fit with Magento.
Overall, Magento is robust in its ecommerce capabilities, however, that comes with a few downsides. The most important one which is performance. Unless you have a Magento expert to optimize your store, you may eventually run into performance issues that could cause your website to be slow or unstable.
The final ecommerce platform I can recommend is Shopify. It is different from WooCommerce and Magento in that it is a hosted software. That means you do not need your own hosting or worry about installing software. It is already installed and setup, you just add your products and preferences and you're good to go!
When you use Shopify, you'll be amazed by how smooth and intuitive its user interface is. Everything seems to be there and is easy to setup.
The major downside with Shopify is that because it is a hosted solution, you are limited by how much you can customize it. Yes, you can create completely custom themes for it, but if you're looking for some custom functionality, you'll probably be out of luck unless you can find a Shopify app that accomplishes that.
2. Get Your Tracking in Order
The next piece of the ecommerce puzzle is to get your tracking in order. How can you tell which parts of your marketing campaign are effective if you do not have good and accurate tracking? The answer, you can't.
The 3 primary tracking components are:
-Phone Call Tracking
This is an obvious one. All you need to do is register a Google Analytics account and insert the code into your website. This will give you a lot of valuable data right away such as total users that see your website, where they came from, and how long they stayed on your website.
Conversion tracking refers to tracking your leads or sales. This is usually done by creating a goal in Google Analytics that tracks that specific conversion page.
If you're getting paid traffic from AdWords, Bing Ads, or Facebook, you should also insert the conversion code they give you on that conversion page. This in turn will report back to their system so you have additional reporting for how many of the clicked users converted into a customer.
Phone Call Tracking
Tracking is all fine and dandy until the person picks up the phone and calls you. For many years, businesses just accepted the fact that every customer that called was a random one, or they had to ask awkward and annoying questions such as how the person heard of them and so on.
With phone call tracking such as CallRail, you get that data automatically. You'll know where they came from and what keywords they used to search for you.
3. Mobile Optimized Website Design
The final piece of the ecommerce puzzle is a mobile optimized website.
It's no secret that Google has released an update to their algorithm that would punish websites that were not mobile friendly. If you're trying to sell products, you should be selling them to mobile users, because those are the majority of internet users now.
Thankfully most of the WooCommerce, Magento, or Shopify themes you buy these days will be responsive and will have a good mobile experience. But if your website does not have a good mobile experience, then it is time to hire a Web designer to fix your website up and give your mobile users what they want.
Haris Bacic leads the creative and SEO strategy at AdFicient, a PPC company that specializes in pay per click management, search engine optimization, split testing, and analytics. If you enjoyed this article, you can follow him on twitter @HarisBacic.