To start off, lets be clear on who this guide is for. It is written for new, home-based, and other upcoming retailers in India, who want to start an ecommerce website quickly, on a budget. So if you fall under this category, you are in luck! You are going to get a clear overview on how to get going, without worrying about the hassles which come with technology and software. So you can fully focus all your efforts on sales, sales and even more sales!
Since you are reading this guide, you already know that the ecommerce industry is at a very high growth phase in India. Companies like Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Jabong etc are pulling in a high volume of sales, and global giants like Amazon are being very aggressive in the market. Plus, with another few hundreds of millions of Indians who are expected to become online shoppers in the next few years, this is the right time for you to start off.
1. Choose your ecommerce platform:
Gone are the days when retailers were forced to hire a web services company to design and develop an efficient ecommerce website with all the standard features. As technology has progressed, you now have access to ‘hosted ecommerce platforms’ which are an easy and low-cost way for you to get started. They take full charge of your software requirements, and provide various ‘do-it-yourself’ tools for design and marketing, in exchange for a relatively small monthly fee.
This way your upfront costs are lower, and you save a lot of time and energy to get your store up and running.
Here is what you get:
- Custom Domain Name - Get your own unique online identity.
- Online Store Builder - Create the ecommerce website just the way you want it.
- Design Templates – Choose and fully customize to suit your brand image.
- Software Maintenance - No hassles. All taken care of for you.
- App Store - Add fantastic extensions to your store.
- Mobile Responsive - Adjusts itself to fit all screen sizes.
- Marketing Features - Access to various in-built marketing tools.
- Admin Dashboard - Makes it easy to manage all aspects of your store.
- Product Management - Easy to add, edit, and organize your products.
- Order Management - A real-time dashboard for order fulfillment.
- Payment Gateway - Integration with the leading Indian payment gateways.
- Logistics Support - Integration with leading Indian courier companies.
- Security - A reliable and secure shopping cart with SSL encryption.
- Customer Support - Quick and helpful support staff.
Shopify is one of the most popular hosted ecommerce platforms worldwide. They power thousands of ecommerce stores and are becoming more and more popular everyday. Having recently entered the Indian market, by setting up a full-fledged customer support team along with special promotions for Indian customers, they are the top choice in India today. They provide a solid admin dashboard, along with some fantastic design templates, plus a very comprehensive App store.
Try Shopify for Free
Zepo is a fast-growing Indian ecommerce platform. They have a good amount of design themes to choose from, many partnerships with leading payment gateways and shipping providers in India, plus a good list of available apps to integrate with your store. One big advantage which Zepo has over Shopify, is that you will have the ability to charge your customers extra for Cash on Delivery orders. So if that is important for your business, Zepo is the right choice for you.
Try Zepo for Free
2. Quick tips on creating an effective store:
Now that you have had a look at the platforms, you can see that there is a lot of flexibility to build your store. But just adding your products and descriptions is not enough to make your store as effective as it can be. You need to make it a sales machine! There are many things you can do to convert more of your visitors into loyal repeat customers. Here are some easy tips for you to follow while building your store:
Design and Usability:
- Take your time to choose a great design theme. Keep in mind that it is relatively simple to customize it to your brand, and they are available on the platform itself. For Shopify, you can also look on external sites as well, such as ThemeForest.
- Make sure it is ‘Responsive’, which means the design would adjust itself based on the size of the screen. So it is great for customers who visit your ecommerce website using mobiles and tablets.
- Dark text on a light background works best for online reading.
- People don’t generally read web pages, they just scan. Make sure that different sections of your content pages are highlighted clearly, and use bullet points where appropriate.
- The color of the ‘Add to Cart’ button should be in contrast to the colors of your website. The extra attention will help.
- Bigger ‘Add to cart’ buttons tend to work better.
- Websites look different in different internet browsers. Make sure you test them in IE, Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
- You homepage should give an overview of your entire store, and also give special emphasis on specific products you are promoting at the time.
- Use graphic banners on the homepage since it livens up your store. Make regular updates to the homepage, so that your site looks active. When repeat visitors see the same banners month after month, it gives a bad impression.
- Your phone number can be prominent and visible on your website. Customers feel comfortable knowing they can contact you immediately, and might want to use it before buying for the first time.
- Enable customer reviews. Ask your customers for reviews after they make a purchase. These are very helpful when your future visitors are about to make a decision.
- Clearly display pricing, shipping info, and return policies.
- To reduce customer anxiety, always mention how long they have to wait for the delivery of their product, and how soon you can answer their support query.
- Include ‘Trust Badges’ on the footer. Images which represent credit cards, net banking, SSL security, etc.
- Pictures are definitely worth a thousand words when it come to ecommerce. Your product photos need to be prominent and look good, since they are a replacement for the normal touch and feel which customers get offline.
- Show 360 degree views of your products, and use multiple photos to show different parts of the products.
- If the product has multiple colour options, show the full names of the colors with relevant images.
- It is better if atleast one of your product photos are showcased ‘in person’. You can show the product being used by someone, or even in relation to other items. It makes this clearer for your visitors.
- You could also consider making product videos. This will really help customers get a better idea of your product.
- Think like a customer while writing product descriptions. Use words which they would use themselves, not the words you would use with your suppliers.
- Give as much product information as you can. Focus on the benefits of using your product. First, tell them how it will make their life better, and only then mention the material, fabric, dimensions, etc.
- It is always better if your product descriptions are unique, and not copied from another site, since the search engines will then give your website more preference when ranking you.
- Your visitors should be able to sort through products listings, by the cost, popularity, newness etc.
- Make your products easy to find. Place an item in multiple categories if you feel necessary.
- Cross-sell your products with each other. Offer your customers items which make sense together. For eg: suggest a pair of jeans to someone looking at a t-shirt. You will need to keep experimenting and testing to find the best combinations for your market.
- Play with categories. The standard option is to have basic categories, like for e.g. if it is an apparel store: ‘Shirts, Trousers, Jackets, Underwear, etc’. But you can also have categories which are based around a theme or a particular style, for e.g.: ’Beach Wear, Diwali, Sunday Dressing, etc.’, where you can add complementing shirts, trousers, etc together. This way you can suggest new products to your customers.
3. How to make it extra awesome!
Now that you have setup your store in its standard form, its time to add some amazing apps and use some professional services to make your store even better. All the apps mentioned below can be used with both, Shopify and Zepo. All of them come highly recommended, and have free versions with which you can start off.
Setup a Facebook store. This is where your customers are, so it makes sense for you to be there as well. Your fans and visitors will be able to view, share and purchase your products from right within Facebook. This feature can be activated from within the Admin panels of the ecommerce platforms itself.
You will most likely need help with certain tasks like graphic design, writing content, data entry, etc, for which you could try sites such as Freelancer. They have thousands of freelancers from all over the world who are looking for regular work, and they make it easy and quick for you to find reliable people to work with. Just post a few quick job requirements to see how the system works.
Click here to visit Freelancer
It is well known that almost no visitor is going to buy from you on the first visit to the store. It is for this reason, that you need to make every effort to stay in touch with them after they leave. Collecting the email addresses of your visitors is vital, and Mailchimp is one of the best email services you can use, and they have a great do-it-yourself interface.
Click here to visit Mailchimp
AddShoppers gives you a ton of different integrations to choose from to make your store a lot more socially engaging. Track your social media ROI, upgrade your sharing buttons, have customers share their purchases and refer their friends, setup social rewards, social logins, and more! It has a free version which you can start off with, but the Pro version is recommended since all features are then unlocked, which gives you super benefits.
Click here to visit AddShoppers
The best way to give customer support, is by answering them as soon as they have a question. Zopim is a neat and simple live chat widget which you can add to your store. Just like a real shop, you can now talk to your customers in real-time. The free version is great to start with.
Click here to visit Zopim
So there you have it! We have reached the end of this guide. Follow the tips to setup your store and it is sure to be a hit with your visitors. Hope you found it useful!