If you've been on social media or the internet and seen the coolest products advertised to you that you've never heard of before, those ads are likely tied back to an e-commerce platform. Launching an online storefront is easier than ever, which also means that bringing your new product idea to market is also easier than ever.
With a plethora of helpful plugins and tools at your disposal, there are more revenue streams than just online ads available to you if you set up a website properly. With some effective paid marketing, you can instantly start making sales on your very own e-commerce site with little effort.
All that said, creating an e-commerce website is a fairly daunting task if you've never done it before. There's the domain name, the site design, the back-end code, the content, the storefront, the back-end sales platform, managing shipping, customer service... the list goes on.
As creating your own e-commerce site has grown in popularity, so have the tools that make the process fairly easy.
How to get started
The best way to get started with creating your own e-commerce site is by deciding on the domain name and the hosting platform. Finding a website name is as much creativity as it is just getting lucky with a domain name that's available and makes sense for your site. Sites like Bluehost are some of the easiest places to start this search. They let you start with low priced monthly plans so that setting up the site doesn't require a significant up-front financial investment.
They also integrate with some of the top e-commerce tools already, so you only have to go to one place to get the entire e-commerce site up and running.
Running and launching your own e-commerce site is hard enough as it is. That means you'll want to find ways to remove as much hassle from the actual setup and running of the site as possible so that you can spend more time creating and curating products. After all, the goal is to generate revenue through the sale of products. That doesn't happen with ease if you're spending all of your free time worrying about whether to host the site on the cloud or purchase your own server, among other things.
A good place to start for hosting your content, even e-commerce, is WordPress, as it provides an easy streamlined back-end that can work for the beginner and even be used all the way up to expert as its appearance is completely customizable through themes. With WordPress hosting, you can quickly integrate a platform like Woocommerce to run the back-end of your storefront.
Growing the site with SEO and advertising
After you launch a website, you're going to have to concern yourself with getting traffic to it. After all, people have to see your products and site before they ever think about buying products. There are two ways you can do this, actively or passively.
The active route involves generating traffic via social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit. All of these sites can be great ways to get viewers to your eCommerce site. However, they require some level of insight into the algorithms of what makes posts popular, and this also requires time and active persistence. If you have the time and want to put in the effort, developing communities on social channels for your website is a great way to build awareness and traffic.
On the other hand, you can also take the paid ads route. The best thing about digital advertising is that it doesn't have a huge learning curve, and it involves a pay-as-you-go policy, which means you can run ads with $5 or $500. For e-commerce sites, you can setup catalogs of your products to dynamically retarget on sites like Facebook. By integrating various site's pixels – lines of code that track people's actions – you can utilize the data these pixels capture for your ads.
For example, if someone browses your site and is looking at a brown shirt, a white clutch, and a black mug, you can set-up your Facebook ads in a way that the next time that person logs into Facebook, they see an ad that has all of those products in it, recommending that they come back and make the purchase.
Digital ads through retargeting are some of the most effective ways to grow your e-commerce revenue. If a purchase costs you $5 in ad spend, but it makes you $7, then the advertising spend ultimately pays for itself.
The other way of generating traffic for your site is to take a more passive approach. That falls into the lap of search engine optimization, or SEO. This is essentially the practice of optimizing your site content for being more visible organically in searches across the web, like on Google or Bing.
SEO does take some initial work and setup, but for the most part, after the initial effort (if done correctly), it's just a waiting game of letting the search algorithms pick up your site content. One thing you will want to pay attention to on this front is bounce rates, traffic, and optimizing your product pages. If you put in the initial effort for SEO, when someone searches for a stylish brown shirt, Google might naturally think that they want to find your site that has a section for brown shirts.
At the end of the day, working on SEO for your e-commerce site is an effective way to let Google send traffic your way, getting you sales without any active work.
The final step in the process for all of this is finding a way to generate a little bit of revenue for your site. First, you'll want to implement ads on your site, which can easily be done by integrating Google Adsense. By implementing a few lines of code, ads can start appearing on your site. The cool thing about WordPress or tools like Bluehost is that there are often plugins to make this as easy as possible, even if you have no technical knowledge.
Another way to generate revenue is through product sales. This is going to be a little more complex since you'll actually have to deal with the exchange of money between the consumer and yourself, but again, there are plenty of modern tools to make this as easy as possible. Tools like Woocommerce take the pain out of integrating e-commerce into your site.
There are a ton of integrated e-commerce platforms that handle the entire back-end payment for your site. You don't have to concern yourself with setting up a secure payment portal or making sure transactions happen smoothly; rather, you just have to worry about getting potential buyers to your site and making it look pretty.
With so many tools available, creating, launching, managing, and monetizing a website now no longer takes a team of people. Rather it can be done over the course of a well planned out weekend with a little bit of creativity and drive.