Creating and launching a new e-commerce site is a great challenge , increasingly indispensable for commercial companies. Today, more than ever, consumers are inclined to buy online and in a short time the volume of sales that companies develop online will equal or exceed that obtained in physical stores.

The opportunities that web users have when they decide to buy products directly via e-commerce are numerous: an unlimited choice of products, detailed information on the characteristics of the products, a great ease in comparing different products in order to identify the most satisfactory one, the the possibility of always finding the most advantageous price, the convenience of receiving the product directly at home.

In this context, companies that continue to sell exclusively in brick-and-mortar stores will face increasingly fierce competition from commercial businesses that have started selling online . For these traditional commercial enterprises, the way to remain competitive is not to transform all sales activities into an e-commerce, but to complement online sales in physical stores as well .

Cases of entrepreneurs who decide to launch directly into online sales, without relying on a physical store, are increasingly frequent. In this case very often the problem is the lack of experience in managing commercial activities as well as poor preparation in relationship sales and marketing. Selling online also implies having specific commercial skills of a traditional type : what changes in e-commerce is the channel with which one relates to customers and the method of delivery of the goods. The rest, on the whole, is very similar to traditional trade.

Commercial companies that want to start an e-commerce, however, cannot do it rashly. It is necessary to enter this new world with caution and wisdom, and above all with a well-defined and long-range strategic plan.

The most typical mistake that companies making their online presence make is to take care of only the technological aspects, leaving out the marketing ones . It is mistakenly thought that it is enough to have a well-functioning site to open a new market. In reality the site is like a showcase: through marketing actions you have to induce customers to look at it and decide to enter the store and then you will have to make sure that they do not leave without having bought something. What is true for physical stores is also true for e-commerce: to obtain results in terms of good turnover, solid marketing planning is needed, which must be clear before the launch of the online site .

Know the target of the e-commerce site

When starting an e-commerce the first question to ask – even before assigning the creation of the site to a web agency – is: who is most likely to buy the products or services?

The first thing to do is to study what the company’s target audience is. Talking to young people is in fact different from communicating with very adult people; customers who can buy a luxury product have different needs from those of those who buy mass products; the female audience looks for different contents from the male one; and so on. Identifying your audience allows you to focus on the style of the site, the most effective channels and ways of marketing communication and the content to be produced .

Define your buyer persona , that is the identikit of your typical customer, to identify their characteristics and preferences, even before starting to create the e-commerce site . The aesthetics of the site itself could be influenced by the type of customer you intend to reach. For example, a site where you sell children’s products will have a different look and feel from a site where gardening items or DIY tools are offered.

Create the e-commerce site with the most established technologies

Today there are numerous technologies available to create an e-commerce site. Alongside the more accredited and consolidated ones, however, there are also many other technological platforms that do not have the same quality. Often these are solutions developed on their own by some web agencies, which have also developed systems of value, but which in any case cannot compete with those that are now more established and widespread all over the world.

Some of the best technologies to create an e-commerce site are Magento , Shopify , Prestashop , WooCommerce (for WordPress) . They are preferable to all the others because they are the ones that have greater diffusion in Italy, so it is easier to find developers and agencies that manage them. If you feel bad with the team that developed your site you can easily replace it with another team even more skilled and more in line with your needs. Furthermore, these are the systems that offer the greatest amount of plugins and expansions to improve their performance and functionality and interface them with other technologies in order to make their use easier.

To these platforms you can add Wix for entry level e-commerce sites , but it must be said that it is currently a system still extremely limited and rigid, so if you plan to expand your business in perspective you will probably need to switch to another platform. Our suggestion is to start immediately with something more structured, for example WooCommerce or Prestashop, which have great versatility and allow you to manage e-commerce well from very small (up to 50 products for sale) to medium (up to several hundreds of products). For larger catalogs, it is better to think immediately of Shopify or Magento.

In some cases it may be necessary to create particular customizations of the site technology , for example interfacing with warehouse management software or with external CRMs. In this case, one or more developers can be recruited who have a thorough knowledge of how the original platform works and modify its native code in order to meet the specific implementation needs. In other cases, a truly experienced developer can start from an existing plugin and modify it appropriately to achieve the desired results. In other cases, there are extensions already available that allow e-commerce software to communicate with the main business management programs.

In general, before entrusting the work of creating the e-commerce site, you must make sure that the team of developers is really up to the task . If the site is badly created, no online business goals can be achieved .

One last suggestion: many agencies ask for a deposit and it is correct to give it (usually, however, it should not exceed 30% of the total amount requested). But when it comes to the balance, make sure this only happens after the site has been delivered and debugged , that is, you have verified – or had it verified – that everything is working correctly.

In this case, if you are unable to debug yourself, it can be a good investment to appoint an expert from outside the agency to objectively carry out the final check. With a hundred euros or a little more in addition to the cost of the site, you will have the certainty of not seeing a site delivered to you which, when it is active, will present a number of defects that will make your work difficult or compromise it completely, forcing you to spend a lot more money to repair it or even to redo it from scratch, also wasting a lot of time stolen from your business.

We at Communication Village are available to perform debugging of this kind: contact us and tell us what you need.

Angelo Raguso
Author: Angelo Raguso

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