Are you considering setting up an ecommerce store online, but not sure where to start? We’ll walk you through the benefits of having an online store, how to plan and build your store, and tips specifically for ecommerce stores in South Africa.
By the end of this article, you’ll be well on your way to launching your own successful ecommerce store.
What are the benefits of an ecommerce store?
- Increased Reach: Accessible to anyone with an internet connection and not just in 1 location.
- 24/7 Availability: Customers can shop at their convenience, not just during your business hours.
- Lower Overheads: You don’t need to pay for rent, utilities, and other expenses associated with brick-and-mortar.
- Data Insights: An ecommerce store online provides valuable data insights that can help you understand your customers’ behaviour, preferences, and purchase patterns, which can inform your marketing strategies and business decisions.
- Competitive Advantage: Having an ecommerce store online gives you a competitive advantage over businesses that only have a physical store because you can reach more customers and provide a more convenient shopping experience.
Planning Your Ecommerce Store
- Defining your ecommerce goals
- Determining your budget
- Designing your website
- Researching the competition
- SEO, SEO SEO!
Choosing a Platform
You’ll also need to choose a platform for your store. If you’re building a website from scratch, this is the time to decide whether to use WordPress or another content management system (CMS). Ask your web designer for recommendations on what’s best for your needs.
If you’re using Shopify or WooCommerce (the most popular ecommerce platforms), then they will provide all the necessary tools for setting up an online shop.
Building Your Ecommerce Store
Once the bones of the website are structured, you’re almost ready to launch your ecommerce store.
- Designing Your Layout: Before you can add any products or pricing, you need to design the layout of your online store. Depending on the theme you or your web designer have chosen, there are usually numerous templates to choose from. WordPress comes with plenty of ecommerce-ready themes to speed things up. It’s important to know now that good themes have to be paid for. WordPress and WooCommerce are available for free, but you must pay for a good theme and certain plugins.
- Adding Products: Once you have chosen your template and added some basic information such as contact info, it’s time for the fun stuff–adding products! We created a WooCommerce product upload guide which you can refer to here on our blog.
- Set up your payment gateway. PayFast is a common payment gate to use for ecommerce in South Africa. There is an available free plugin to download and install for easy integration. Don’t forget you need a PayFast account beforehand!
Marketing Your Ecommerce Store
Once your store is up and running, it’s time to market your product. The first step is focusing on search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines like Google use algorithms to rank websites based on their relevance for specific keywords or phrases; if yours ranks highly enough on these lists, people will find it when they search for terms related to your products. SEO is what helps get your new website discoverable and optimized for search engines
Next, you can create an email list so that you can stay in contact with potential customers. This will also allow you to send out promotional offers or discounts from time to time, which can help increase sales.
Growing Your Ecommerce Store
Once you have an ecommerce store up and running, there are a few things you can do to help it grow.
- Add new features: If your customers are asking for something that isn’t already on the site, consider adding it! This could be anything from a wish list feature to free shipping on orders over a certain amount.
- Expand into new markets: As your business grows, so will your customer base. If there are other cities/countries where people are interested in buying your products, consider expanding into those markets as well!
- Add links to your social platforms: The great thing about website is you can add direct links to your existing platforms and vice-versa. Make sure you add social media icons and share buttons to your website for customers to click. This opens up a new door of content discovery and helps establish your brand.
Tips for Ecommerce Store Owners in South Africa
If you’re an ecommerce store owner in South Africa, there are a few things to keep in mind. The key is understanding your local market. You need to know what kinds of products people want and how they shop for them, so that you can tailor your offerings accordingly. Set up a Google My Business profile and focus on local SEO.
If you don’t have an SEO strategy going, we’ve got you covered. We do SEO for ecommerce websites and general websites. Let us do the boring work for you so you can focus on your products and sales.
We’ve covered the basics of setting up an ecommerce store online in South Africa. You should now have a good idea of what it takes to get started, as well as some final tips for getting your site ready for launch.
We hope this has been helpful! Reach out to us for all your ecommerce web design and SEO needs. Our box is always open!