Did you know that in 2022, e-commerce sales accounted for more than 21% of retail sales internationally?! In fact, this figure will only continue to grow with a predicted reach of 24.5% by 2025. Stats like these suggest that (if you’re not there already) you may want to seriously consider taking your retail business online. This is a relatively manageable transition with website-building platforms which are easily accessible and simple to use. So what are the key steps required to take your retail business online today?

Step 1: Find your e-commerce niche

The first step is to have a very clear understanding of what you are selling and who you are selling to. Having a niche is really key in the online space as you never want to be everything to everyone. Once you have a clear sense of your targets you can then hone in on your marketing strategy and reduce these costs. 

Step 2: Buy a domain

The next important step is to purchase a domain name. Select your name, ensure it doesn’t exist and fits your niche concept, and then register it. This can be done by visiting a domain registrar, selecting your choice according to availability and then entering your payment info. 

Step 3: Select the right platform

There are many website builders that will help you create your website from scratch. Some favourites include Shopify and WooCommerce. Once you have decided which one you want to work on, you can then link your domain name to the store and begin setting it up.

Step 4: Pick and customise your theme

Decide on a theme which works well with your store’s needs, brand and goals. There will be many design templates to choose from. There are some important ideas you need to keep in mind here: You need one that displays your product well, provides a good user experience and makes sense from a navigation point of view. Once you have activated your theme you can then customise it to reflect your brand in all its glory. This would include changing the logo, colours, footer, header, images, navigation menu and more. 

Step 5: Import your product

This simply refers to adding merchandise to your site by uploading clean, high-quality images to your system. Each image needs to be uploaded individually with its unique tags, descriptions, pricing, reviews, related products and category info. This is essential as the customer needs to be able to find the content easily. Once this is complete you can then publish the product and take it live. 

Step 6: Create a checkout funnel

You need to ensure that people can easily buy products in your store- this is called a “checkout funnel” and consists of a shopping cart, checkout page and confirmation page. Your shopping cart is where customers can hold all their items that they are interested in buying. This should be user-friendly so they can add or delete items as required. Your checkout page is where the customer will find payment options and secure gateways. The confirmation page lets the customer know the final status of their order and whether the transaction was successful. 

Step 7: Build key pages

Ensure that your online store is populated with important information pages including ‘About Us’, ‘Shipping’, ‘Returns’, ‘FAQs’ and ‘Contact Us’. These pages will contain essential information about your store and will promote confidence in the shopper who wants to know where their money is going. 

Step 8: Include a blog

A blog is a great way to attract new visitors and convert them into leads. Blogs also give your site better visibility and ranking on various search engines. The regular content will also solve key challenges your target market is facing and you will begin to establish yourself as a proactive thought leader in your field, ready to meet your customer’s needs. 

Step 9: Install add-ons

Now that your site is up and running, you can consider including add-ons. These are applications that will extend your website’s functionality. Most web builder platforms offer this flexibility and you can easily add them on as and when you require them. This may include CRM management tools, AI, after sales follow-ups, newsletters and more. 

The bottom line

E-commerce is a natural progression for any bricks and mortar retailer, so it is well worth investing in this vastly growing space. Rest assured that taking your store online isn’t nearly as daunting as it seems and by following these 9 consecutive steps, you will be well on your way to building your retail business. To understand how we can fund your e-commerce business growth in the next 48 hours, contact Merchant Capital today. 

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