You’ve identified a gap in the market or at least an area that you believe could be improved? Your product offering is defined. You have established the ‘perfect’ brand name, which has taken an age to decide on. You are starting to make your mark as a make or break eCommerce startup.
Setting out as an eCommerce startup in 2020 is exciting, scary, daunting and everything in between. It’s a fast paced industry which makes it the most digitally dynamic and intriguing, however it can also make it the most challenging too. That’s why we’ve put together our shortlist of top tips for a startup daring to enter the wonderful world of eCommerce.
1. Choose a CMS that Suits Your eCommerce Startup
Think carefully about your business model and research which content management system suits your requirements. You’ll want a platform that is flexible and scalable for your eCommerce startup business. Based on our experience we would recommend exploring the following eCommerce platforms as a starting point:
WooCommerce – Free and flexible for small to medium businesses, with opportunity to seamlessly integrate product into additional content on the website i.e. Blogs
Shopify – Out the box online store with all the features and functionality for large store growth, with the addition of in-built hosting
Magento – A robust, enterprise platform with huge growth opportunities, also easy management of a number of stores within one admin i.e. products easily shared across a number of domains
2. Take Advantage of Google’s Free Tools
Google has a variety of FREE, valuable tools which webmasters should always take advantage of.
Setting up a Google Analytics account is a must, to obtain detailed insights into the source of your traffic and how users behave on your website.
Also Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) often gets overlooked. We’d always recommend setting up an account to gather more insights into your website’s presence and health in search engines.
Finally gather all your data from these sources and display them in a neat Google Data Studio report. Create your bespoke report which will provide you and other stakeholders with a snapshot review of your key performance indicators.
Starting July 1, 2019, mobile-first indexing is enabled by default for all new websites.
3. Mobile First
A message from Google:
“Starting July 1, 2019, mobile-first indexing is enabled by default for all new websites.
Mobile-first indexing means Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. Historically, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query. Since the majority of users now access Google Search with a mobile device, Googlebot primarily crawls and indexes pages with the smartphone agent going forward.”
What does this mean for webmaster’s and in particular eCommerce startups? Ensure your website experience on mobile is an absolute priority over other devices. Still ensure you are following best practises on other devices, especially when it comes to SEO, however make mobile your No.1!
4. Need for Speed
Users are becoming far more impatient, especially when using mobile devices. Not only are slow websites providing a poor user experience, it’s also a contributing factor to your website’s overall SEO.
Be mindful of the hosting package you choose, which could be limiting your website performance. Also many CMS can become sluggish when a large number of plugins, extensions, apps are installed to improve its functionality. Be particular about which extensions you choose to add and keep both extensions and your core platforms versions updated, for performance and security purposes.
Consider using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) such as Cloudflare, it improves performance and also adds an extra layer of security, but best of all it’s free which is music to the ears of any eCommerce startup.
We would recommend testing your website’s speed and performance using the Pingdom Speed Test.
5. Product Videos for eCommerce Startups
Videos are potentially the most effective way of demonstrating a product and its benefits to your visitors. Adding videos to product pages is still massively under utilised and this can give you an edge in a competitive market place. Product videos have been proven to have an incredible ability to increase conversions by allowing people to better understand your product and providing them with further context. On average website visitors are +64% more likely to buy a product on an online retail site after watching a video, which is huge.
In addition Google loves a video! Google displays a mix of search results from images, products, maps, news and other mediums including importantly video! Having a product video gives you an extra chance of ranking, especially if none of your competitors are using videos in their stores for products. Google loves a video so much that research shows that it will favour and prioritise site pages with video content (ideally hosting with YouTube) granting you a better chance of ranking your product in search results.
Regular blogging (creating quality content) and engaging with other industry influencers should be a key to your online strategy this year.
5. Google Shopping
Product listing ads (PLA) are the tempting adverts that we see displayed at the top of search results or within the shopping tab, when searching to buy on Google.
PLAs have been available for many years now, however, Google is continuing to put a huge amount of focus on this form of advertising in an attempt to compete with Amazon and other marketplaces. Have you noticed how much real estate shopping ads have on search results pages when you are searching for a product?
PLAs give advertisers the ability to include additional rich data such as images, prices, reviews etc. For any eCommerce startup, whether your products are bespoke or available across other merchants, don’t miss out on the opportunity to display your shop front in Google’s search results.
5. Semantic SEO (Schema Structured Data)
Essentially, structured data is Google’s way of using logic to find meaning from the keywords and websites in its index.
You may have heard the terms structured data or schema mark-up before and you might be tempted to overlook Schema Structured Markup because at first glance it looks technical and perhaps a little scary, don’t!
Schema structured markup is vital for any company, it enables you to talk to search engines in their own language telling them who you are and what you do. Not only will this potentially help you rank higher in search results but when properly implemented it can enhance your appearance in SERPs. When Google understands entities on a deeper level, it serves better results to searchers. Items like rich cards, rich snippets and the knowledge graph appear on SERPs after gathering information from structured data.
As an example with structured reviews Google can show recipes with the most five star ratings at the top of their results.
Over 50% of Fortune 500 companies do not yet use it. In a competitive ecommerce market-place implementing Schema Structured Data can give you the edge on your competitors.
The good thing is you don’t need to be a developer to implement it, though we would recommend engaging ones services. Many good WordPress and Shopify themes have basic Schema Structure Data built in. In addition plugins such as Yoast SEO (WordPress) can also structure your data.
We mentioned earlier taking advantage of Google’s free tools and it’s no exception in this case. If you don’t have access to your website’s code, or a third party plugin or theme that can assist you then Google Data Highlighter is an alternative option. Though it will only work on Google, other search engines such as Bing do not pick this up. In addition you will be limited to the types of properties you can mark up. If you’re familiar with Google’s Tag manager you can also use this to mark up your website content. Finally Google has a great testing tool to check your Schema Structured Data.
Inspired by these tips? Whether you’re an existing business with the potential to build eCommerce into your model or you have an exciting new eCommerce startup idea that you’re ready to launch online, then why not get in touch. We can assist you in everything from branding to development of your store, digital marketing strategies to the execution of activity. Take a look at our case studies to discover how we are helping business in this fast paced, ever changing industry.