Olga Okhrimenko is a Project Manager at Magecom web-development company. She’s crazy about e-commerce, human and computer interaction, and Hello Kitty. Passionate about traveling and good content writing.
If you decided to build an e-commerce website then most probably you already know what products you are going to sell and even got an idea about the visual design of your site. However, real life is more serious than just picking a theme and loading products on the site. We are going to help you make a plan of things to take care of while you are working on moving your business online. Some of them are not obvious, some are not easy to decide on, but if you want the fruit you need to climb the tree, so let’s go.
Define Your Target Audience And Market
It’s impossible to satisfy everybody’s needs. If you want to build an online store for everybody — you are building a store for nobody. Your store, just like your products, is targeted to a specific group of people. If you know what they are, how they behave, what they like and what they hate you can craft a unique experience and meet their expectations (if you do your research right). In return, you will gain not only profit but loyal customers. This is not easy to do but it’s one of the essentials to focus on.
Plan Information Architecture
Magento platform makes it easy to set up several stores with different products/languages/currencies and run it all with one backend thanks to its Website – Store – Store View concept. If you want to localize your store and provide different currencies then you will need to set up one website and several store views. If you want to have several independent stores with their own domain names, catalogs and customers then you will need to set up several websites (in Magento terminology, of course), and still you will be able to run them all under one administration panel.
Once you are clear with the multi-store option you have to structure your catalog. The more products you sell the trickier it will be. If you have a fashion store then your catalog can look something like this:
If you have some very trendy products that go in one of the subcategories it might make sense to convert that subcategory into a category. It will sit in the main navigation and be more visible both to your customer and to search engines.
Magento works with any type of products: simple, configurable, bundled, grouped, virtual or downloadable. Think carefully what type suits you most. If you sell products that come in different colors and sizes then it might be good to use configurable products: they are harder to manage but they will give you a lot of flexibility both with inventory management and onsite presentation.
An image is worth a thousand words, and more so when it comes to e-commerce world where customers can touch things to check their quality. Make sure to prepare good photographs and detailed descriptions. Some successful sites also offer product videos. While there are quite many extensions for Magento to feature videos in product galleries first understand if you are able to produce those videos and whether you’ve got a budget, for that, too.
Finally, don’t forget about inventory management. A couple of hundreds of products is not difficult to add and update manually, but if your catalog features thousands then some good import tool will be helpful.
This is a very important part because your success depends on the experience you design for your customers. There are two ways: you can go with a ready Magento theme or you can create your own unique design. Even if you buy a premium theme there is no guarantee that your competitor won’t use it too. Creating a unique design will be much, much more expensive, especially if your designer fully understands your business and implement good UX practices. Anyway, you can always start with a theme, see how it turns around and improve the look and feel later.
Keep in mind that your store should look good on different mobile devices. Nowadays it goes without saying but reminding in just in case won’t hurt — the percentage of people shopping from their mobiles is growing every year. Besides, Google ranks responsive websites higher.
Payments And Shipping
Payment and shipping options very much depend on the type of your business. If you are a retail company then you most probably will need to look at PayPal or Authorize.net payment methods which are integrated with Magento out of the box. They are trusted and easy to configure. Another secure payment method is Amazon Payments — it allows to pay on your site using Amazon account. This method is not integrated with Magento by default but there are a few free modules for that purpose at Magento Connect.
If you want to offer other payment methods then they most probably have some integration modules with Magento too. Even if the module doesn’t exist you can hire a developer to create it because most of the payment gateways offer their APIs.
There are quite a few shipping methods built in Magento: DHL, UPS, USPS, FedEx. They allow to fetch and calculate real-time shipping cost on your site. You can also use your own calculation rates with Table Rates shipping option, as well as Flat Rate or Free Shipping.
Content Pages And Blog
Content is very important for SEO and brand promotion. Magento doesn’t have a very advanced CMS management but it’s quite enough for regular pages like About Us, Terms, Shipping Policy, etc. If you want to have a blog then you will either need an extension or an integration with WordPress. Don’t forget to develop a content plan for your promotion
This was just a tip of the iceberg as there are more things to consider and take care of. In this article, you can read about planning a Magento store in more details.
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