How to build a modern e-commerce platform - the key questions to start with
If you are seeking to grow your e-commerce shop, there are three basic matters which you need to pay attention to. Even if you have the best product or service, SEO performance, scalability and personalization will be the key to your success.
Why does the SEO-friendliness of your e-store matter?
If you want to be found online, you need to show up in Google Search results. And that is where SEO-friendliness comes in. Many e-commerce platforms make things easier by providing built-in SEO tools, such as tagging, categorizing, or reviewing texts to make sure they’re optimized in terms of SEO requirements.
Here are some things to consider, if you want to increase the SEO-friendliness of your website:
- Conduct or order SEO research of your competition, the keywords they’re using, and their Google Search rankings. Find out other industry site’s rankings as well – for example, if your e-store sells dog food, check the best performing sites that discuss animals and their habits. Find out the most popular keywords that are actually searched by customers. Determine your SEO strategy based on all of these findings, not your intuition only.
- Do not forget about proper product descriptions. Most SEO guidelines suggest that they should be over 300 words and include adequate keywords, headlines, and internal linking.
- Optimize your site’s performance not only in terms of SEO but also speed. This is a factor important both for customers that want to take a look at your store and Google’s robots who will not categorize all of your pages if the task takes too long to complete.
Scalability? What is it for?
In the beginning, when your e-business is not that big yet, it’s easy to overlook the benefits of a scalable e-commerce environment. But as time goes by, at some point you will be preparing for your first sale ever. You set aside the advertising budget and are ready for other marketing activities.
But… are you sure that your servers can handle the rapid surge of incoming customers? Many global e-retailers have made the mistake of underappreciating the shoppers, including Amazon which has lost about $1M per minute due to technical issues that have been occurring for an hour during the peak of Prime Day. Can you afford to lose that much during Black Friday or Holiday sales?
How to make sure that the e-store is scalable?
- Check-in with the hosting’s and e-commerce platform’s customer service. Ask them about the standard procedures in case of a higher/unusual volume of traffic. Are they confident that it will be possible to handle it? Will it require some adjustments in settings? Ask about techniques such as load balancing or lazy loading. Be very specific in your requirements and keep everything on paper (in e-mails), just in case.
- Do not release every marketing activity at the same time. If you want to do a major promo, start with little steps, i.e. a smaller social media ad campaign. It allows you to see the impact of the advertising, as well as the behavior of your website and the ways it handles higher traffic volumes.
- Make sure that you’re able to adjust the website to your e-store’s needs on the go. Scalability is not only about servers’ activity during peak hours. It also involves being able to connect other systems, as your e-store continues to grow. If you will ever find yourself in need of a CMS, CRM, or fulfillment system, you need to be sure about the ability to integrate them quickly.
Personalization is the king
Imagine you live in a home with a garden. Right now, it is really warm and you just wish you would have bought some sort of larger umbrella that would allow you to stay outside and not get burnt from all the sun. And in the very same moment, when you’re mindlessly scrolling through the e-commerce site, it suddenly shows you a nice garden set that would fit really nicely to your needs.
Accident? A stroke of luck? No, this is called personalization. 9 in 10 consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide personalized offers and recommendations.
What kind of features can be enriched with personalization?
The most common example of such activity is featuring boxes on the website which suggest other products based on what you’re viewing. Example recommendations can include:
- Other products that were viewed by visitors who were interested in the garden set that you’re viewing right now
- Other products that were purchased by the visitors who also viewed this particular product
- Other recently viewed products
- Top sellers or products from categories you’ve recently viewed
If you use data analytics to extract more information about the visitor, you can also provide him with other smart recommendations around:
- Last search results
- User behavior
- Geo-location targeting
- Some stores stick to showing recommended products based on such data, others decide to personalize the homepage or mailing as well.