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The COVID-19 pandemic, and the work-from-home and social distancing trends that came with it have fundamentally altered the high streets and brick and mortar retail.
Two years down the line, even as trade and commerce recovers, there is seemingly no return to the status quo, especially for mom and pop corner stores, and other small scale physical establishments.
The survival of such businesses rest entirely on how well they adapt to the new economy, as ecommerce continues to eat into the share of the pie.
Fortunately, there has never been a better time to transition to the ecommerce marketplace. With intuitive, drag and drop CMS solutions, innumerable themes, plugins, and integrations, all it takes is 1 hour of effort to get your ecommerce presence up and running.
1. Define Goals & Vision
eCommerce holds substantial, and far reaching potential for businesses across industries, audiences, and niches. The first step in this regard, however, starts with clearly defining the broader goals and visions for your business, and this includes having a clear pathway in terms of what you plan on selling, to whom, where, and how you plan on fulfilling orders, apart from the overall value proposition.
There is a lot that can be done with an online presence, and the sheer range of options can often paralyze owners with indecisiveness if they don’t have a clear heading. Having a sound picture of what your site is likely to offer, how it will look, and the overall customer experience will save plenty of time in terms of trial and errors, and get you up and running fairly quickly.
2. Choose Your CMS
A CMS or content management system is essentially the central nervous system of an ecommerce operation, covering the frontend, the checkout system, payments, order tracking and more, along with the backend management system, comprising product management, SEO, page structures, communications, and more.
There are a wide range of options when it comes to CMS solutions, each with unique functionalities, and themes, templates, extensions and integrations. Choosing the right CMS solution is absolutely crucial because moving or transitioning is quite laborious, and the lack of certain essential plugins can handicap the operation, and leave it disadvantaged against competitors.
CMS systems are undergoing substantial innovations, especially in recent months, the most recent trend being headless CMS solutions, which still remains at its infancy, but is a promising prospect.
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3. Name, Branding & Domain
If you have an existing, already well known brand as a corner store, it makes great sense to keep the same while expanding into ecommerce. However, for a fresh start, it is absolutely essential to pick a brandable, and catchy name that stands out against the hordes of competitors within your niche.
This is easier said than done, considering that there also needs to be domain names available for any brand, or name you chose.
The name, like the CMS cannot be changed often, and as such requires extensive thought and brainstorming to arrive at something that stands out.
Once the name and domain are finalized, the other essential elements of branding, such as a logo, uniform color schemes, and a broader brand style guide comes into consideration, which, however, can be worked on overtime, after launching the site.
4. Find A Reliable & Affordable Web Hosting
While there is no shortage of web hosting service providers, finding a reliable, and reputed one that also offers affordable plans isn’t easy. Even most seasoned bloggers and webmasters don’t give much consideration to web hosting services, but in reality, the hosting service you choose has a big impact on the long-term prospects and authority of your site, especially pertaining to SEO.
If you’re sticking with the lower priced shared hosting plans, your site will be hosted with numerous other sites, and their reputations, spam scores, and other metrics can weigh negatively on your own site.
Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable hosts on the market that are well regarded by search engines, and it makes great sense to use them as domain hosts as well as for websites.
5. Search Engine Optimization
Search engine traffic is often the lifeblood of ecommerce websites, and before you start populating your website with content, products, and information, it is essential to take a quick gander of what you are up against.
This essentially comes under competitor analysis or keyword research, wherein you dig into the keywords that your competitors are ranked for, and hunt for opportunities that have less competition, giving you a better chance of ranking for them.
Once you are well aware of the keywords that you want to target, you can then start adding products, keywords, and content, with the hopes of ranking for them over time. Following this, you can start building backlinks, social signals, and more to increase the authority of your site, resulting in higher rankings in the SERPs.
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The carnage and upheaval on the high streets in recent years could very well be a blessing in disguise for many shop owners and retailers, especially for those who manage to adapt to the circumstances.
A successful ecommerce presence stands to fundamentally enhance reach, and grow sales many times over, without any substantial investments or increase in the overheads, making it the logical next frontier for even small and medium sized businesses.