Over the last ten years, e-commerce websites have steadily grown in popularity. Business owners know that selling their products online opens them up to greater sales potential. In fact, online sales jumped up nearly 15% last year across the board – this is only going to increase in the future too. However, finding the right e-commerce website provider requires research and knowledge. This helpful guide will tell you how to choose the right e-commerce website provider for your small or medium business.
Don’t sacrifice the things you need for a cheaper price
It may sound obvious, but the first thing you need to consider when searching for an e-commerce website provider is the price. There are some website companies out there that claim they can design an e-commerce website for cheap. But how good will that site actually be? Will it be secure enough? Will it give you the flexibility and functionality you need? How easy is it to add products to? The best thing you can do when choosing an e-commerce website design company is to do your research. There’s no point in sacrificing the things you will need just for a cheaper price.
Find an e-commerce website designer that will build a safe, secure and easy to use website without destroying your budget. In many cases, it might be worth an initial larger outlay to get the website you need to avoid potential problems or difficulties in the future. After all, an easy to use and correctly functioning e-commerce website is sure to generate you more sales and customers in the long term compared to a cheaply made site.
Does the website provider give you tools and plugins to help run the site effectively?
Well designed and developed e-commerce websites have plenty of tools and plugins to help you run your business effectively. Does the website provider you’re looking at do the same? If not, it’s worth finding one that does. There are a variety of plugins and tools that you can use to help you run your business online. These can range from e-mail marketing campaigns and tools to rewards progammes and SEO tools.
Your business needs will be a hugely determining factor in which plugins and tools will be necessary for your e-commerce website. So make sure the website design company you use regularly utilises these tools and plugins in any e-commerce websites they design and build.
Will the website be search engine optimised?
If your e-commerce website isn’t effectively search engine optimised, it’s not going to generate you as much traffic as it should. Put it this way; you want your customers to find you when they’re searching for products like yours. A professional web design company will ensure that once your e-commerce site has gone live, it has been given relevant and optimised content that’s aimed at generating high search engine positions. This will mean that individual product pages are given relevant text content and category pages have distinct and easy to spot links and navigation potential.
While there are a few basic SEO tricks that can also be added to an e-commerce site, such as the ability to add a blog or the option for customers to leave reviews, there are also more technical aspects that must be included. For example, you must make sure that your web designer incorporates everything from sitemaps and Schema markups to correct pagination and canonical tags into your e-commerce website.
Make sure the website is mobile-friendly and responsive
The chances are that you’re reading this article on your mobile phone or tablet. Even if you’re not, the majority of internet users are now browsing on their phones and tablets more than their desktop computer. In fact, nearly 60% of searches are now done on mobile devices. This makes it even more important than ever before to have a website that display correctly on all devices.
Quite simply, your e-commerce website must be ‘responsive’. This means that it must be adaptable to fit any size or shape screen and any device on which it’s being viewed. This includes mobile devices, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. If your web design company won’t build a responsive e-commerce website, find one that will. It’s an absolute must. Internet users visiting a website that isn’t responsive are likely to find slow loading pages and a difficult to use site when visited on a mobile device. So make sure your visitors are getting the very best user experience; and that can only come from a responsive e-commerce website.
Do they offer reliable hosting and ongoing care and support?
Unlike a physical store, an e-commerce website is open for business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Therefore, any downtime caused by server outages, essentially means your shop is closed for business and you’re losing out on potential custom. Having reliable hosting and dedicated servers for your e-commerce website is vitally important. The less time your website is unavailable to users the better. Make sure the company you use to design your e-commerce website uses reliable and proven servers.
In the unlikely event that your website does suffer downtime due to server outages, you need to know that it will be brought back live as soon as possible. Does the website provider you’re planning to use offer ongoing customer support? Are you able to contact them whenever you need to? How can you reach them? If they offer ongoing support, that includes getting things back up and running ASAP, you’re onto a winner.
Your e-commerce website must be secure
We’ve all been there; we visit a website and leave instantly because we don’t trust. Well if a customer visits your e-commerce site and doesn’t trust it, they’ll do the same too. It’s incredibly important to make sure that your e-commerce website is as secure and trusted as possible.
One of the best ways you can do this is to make sure that your website has an SSL certificate. When installed on a web server, this certificate will allow secure connections from the server to a browser. This is primarily used to secure credit card transactions and data transfers, which is why it’s so important to have one on any e-commerce site. What an SSL certificate will also do is activate the ‘https:’ protocol, which will tell Google and users that the site is trusted and secure.
Therefore, ensure that the web design company you’re planning to use is experienced in applying SSL certificates.
Is the web design company flexible?
Hopefully, as time goes on, your business will grow and flourish. Likewise your e-commerce website. But it’s important to know that the web design company you choose will work alongside you and cater for any needs you may have. You must therefore choose a web design company that will move forward with your business.
If you don’t need certain features or storage at the beginning, then make it known. But similarly, as you expand and need more storage to keep up with demand, make sure the website is able to scale up too. Choose a web design company that will design a website that scales to your business but then won’t charge you extortionate fees for future improvements.
This helpful guide should now give you everything you need to make an informed decision about which e-commerce website company to go with. After all, it’s your business so you need to know it’s best placed to succeed!
While there are many web design companies to choose from these days, why not hire trusted professionals that know how to design successful e-commerce websites that work on any device, attract customers and ensure strong sales enquiries? At the Smart Domain Group, we have been designing e-commerce websites for just shy of two decades. We use the latest technology to ensure safe, secure, engaging and attractive websites for all our customers. Call our expert team today on 01634 810600 to discuss your e-commerce needs and receive a free, no obligation quotation.
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