An ultimate eCommerce marketplace checklist
1. Craft a viable marketing strategy
It might sound like a no-brainer, but the first thing on our eСommerce launch checklist is devising a solid marketing strategy. Fair enough, since it doesn’t matter how high-performing eCommerce stores are from the technical side, and how exciting your business idea is unless you make some major noise about your platform. This is simple — people won’t visit your site and won’t convert into customers if they don't know that it exists. Here are some tried-and-true ways to promote your eCommerce business:
- advertising on social networking sites — Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Twitter (the choice of platforms should depend on your target audience — it would be unwise to advertise B2B services on TikTok and makeup on LinkedIn)
- taking part in niche workshops and conferences (this is a sure-fire way to connect with your potential partners and customers)
- organizing live events
- collaborating with bloggers and celebrities
- SMM (launch pages on social media where you will post useful content to attract subscribers and later convert them into customers)
- SEO (attract your potential customers organically — by creating content that aligns with popular search queries)
2. Stick to mobile-first approach
Number two on our eCommerce website launch checklist is mobile-first approach. The mobile-first approach is exactly as its name suggests — it means that the product is designed from the mobile end and is further expanded into a web version. For the most efficient eCommerce technology platforms, the mobile-first approach is the method today's developers use most. If you want to check your website or app for mobile friendliness, you can use the Google Mobile Friendly Test for a generic report. Another great tool to test how your eCommerce website looks on each specific device is BrowserStack.
3. Focus on design
You might have already heard that as an online vendor, you have less than five seconds to make your visitor stay. What we mean is that design is another vital point on our eСommerce checklist — this is the first point of contact between your store and your potential customer. And you should know well that first impressions matter. So how can you make sure your website design is a pleasure to deal with? Here are some tips:
- Remember that simple is always better — if your pages are jam-packed with banner ads, pop-ups, and abound with popping colors, the visitor can easily get distracted from closing a sale, so keep your design clear and clean.
- If you strive to create a design that can help establish a strong connection with your audience, here’s a simple recipe: put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Think of what ecommerce experience your potential buyer expects, for example, navigation options.
- You should be especially careful with your platform’s color scheme — different colors can trigger different emotions and actions from people, so it would be wise to select colors that can help you meet your business objectives. For instance, yellow is associated with warmth, blue — with trust and strength, green — with growth and health, etc.
- Ensure your pages contain only high-quality images — a poor primary product image is a sure way to increase your bounce rates instead of conversions. On the flip side, investing in professional images of all your products will help you build confidence and trust in your brand and drive whopping conversions.
- Make your content scannable — most website visitors only read around 20% of the text, they simply scan it for key information. For this, split your content in easy-to-scan blocks, keep your paragraphs short, apply bolding to the most significant information, and use bulleted lists.
- Make sure that your product categories and pages are easy to navigate and include product filters.
- Together with your marketplace app development team, elaborate on a clean and easy-to-navigate checkout page design. Give your customers the choice to register or to check out as a guest and make everything ultimately clear: what information you need to process the purchase, available shipping methods, etc. When the purchase is complete, make sure you send your customers to a confirmation page so that they have peace of mind that everything went through.
4. Elaborate on standard pages
Besides listing pages, your eCommerce store should also include other standard pages: Home page, About page, Contact page, FAQ page, Terms of service, Privacy, and Shipping, return and refund page. Let’s take a closer look at each:
- Home page. Without any doubt, this is the most important page on your website. It should tell visitors about your business and highlight your unique value proposition. The Home page should include links to category and product pages and can also feature the most popular products.
- About page. The About page should tell your visitors about the people behind your platform, your brand story and values.
- Contact page. Put your phone number, email, and physical address (if any) on the Contact page. You can also add links to your social media pages.
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page. An FAQ page will help you avoid answering the same questions repeatedly and deliver better customer experiences.
- Terms of service. The Terms of service page should cover your legal base, and tell your visitors what’s included, and what’s not in your services.
- Shipping, return and refund. The Shipping, return, and refund page is vital for building trust with your potential customers.
5. Define your platfrom’s functionality
It goes without saying that eCommerce products' features will dramatically vary depending on the niche and business model. However, many successful platforms have plenty of common functionality:
- product/service feed, which allows visitors to look for a product or service, use search filters (price, product characteristics, user ratings, etc.)
- registration — make sure you provide a fast and easy on-boarding process, for instance, by offering users multiple ways to confirm their identity: email, mobile phone, or social media.
- payment gateways — offer your customers various payment methods. Direct bank transfer, card payments, and payment systems are the most widely-used payment options.
- user profile — ensure your users will have personal pages with browsing history, purchase records, delivery details, and bookmarked products.
6. Secure a smooth shopping cart experience
Next on our eCommerce checklist is the shopping cart — a page where your potential customers review their selected items and make their final purchasing decision. Your aim is to create an effective shopping cart that can lead your shoppers to checkout. Let’s see how you can achieve this:
- include all product details to help users remember why they wanted to have the selected items.
- craft a clear, engaging CTA
- make sure your shopping cart is easy to edit, for instance, remove goods or change their quantity
- incorporate a mini cart widget to let your shoppers add items to their cart without leaving the current page.
7. Choose server side rendering (SSR) when using single page applications (SPA)
For small to medium businesses, single-page applications (SPA) are the choice for the best technology platforms. The primary reasons why developers prefer single-page applications are quick deployment and super simple structure. User-wise, they will just see content faster. While SEO is crucial for eCommerce, businesses need to use SSR if they want to have good rankings. Usually, it's a more complex and costlier solution, but it is a way more flexible in the future. You can test how your SPA is rendering for Google crawler using the TechnicalSEO tool.
8. Set up CDN properly
This, without any doubt, is one of the most important items on our eCommerce store checklist. Most of the top eCommerce technology solutions utilize a CDN. A CDN, or content delivery network, refers to a group of geographically distributed servers across the globe that work conjointly to provide fast delivery of internet content. Many large sites such as eBay, Rakuten, Wallmark, and Amazon use CDNs to handle web traffic. Properly configured, a CDN helps to protect websites against malicious attacks such as DDOS or distributed denial of service attacks.
Using a CDN will speed up the delivery of your content, which is important in a global marketplace. You want to be sure that if you are hosting in New York and your customer is viewing in Japan, that the page is loading just as quickly in any location. Typically, the CDN setup is very quick, can be performed in a day or by replacing A-records in your domain settings. All the rest will be handled by the DNS provider. We recommend considering Cloudflare, Amazon CloudFront or Fastly, which are the top providers.
9. Optimize your technical SEO
How to build an eCommerce website from scratch without considering technical SEO? It's not an option. If you want your site to rank competitively against other sites, focusing on website and application optimization is key to being competitive. If your site is properly optimized from the very beginning, you can expect your eCommerce technology platform to outperform competitors in every area, including traffic, speed, conversion rates, and, most importantly, the return on your investment.
There are numerous free tools to help you with optimization:
- Server requests caching where possible (Think Redis)
- Website pages caching where possible using internal or external tools (CDN)
- Compressed images of proper size (AWS Lambda can be used to convert images)
- Image lazy-loading
Here’s a couple of tools you can use for measuring: GTMetrix
10. Set up Google Analytics, Tag Manager, and Search Console Orchestration
Analytics is an essential component for building the best strategy for your eCommerce business since it allows you to collect and analyze data on your customers. Google Analytics is the top tool in your toolbox to modify strategies, increase conversion rates, and view customer behaviors.
Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager is an effortless way to track page views. Tracking page views can give clues as to at what point a consumer abandons their cart, providing insights on how you can get the customer back.
Google Search Console
Another robust instrument for obtaining technical insights from Google, the Google Search Console provides you with the tools and reports you need to make your site stand out. With the ability to fix errors and quickly spot user problems, your site will get the attention it deserves and rank high in your market.
11. Use visual analytics tools
The key to improving your return from your eCommerce platform is to understand the behavior of your visitors, users, or customers. Learning what items capture shoppers' attention will give you a better understanding of which products to place in areas with lower response to help drive sales.
Hotjar and Mouseflow are both top-of-the-line heatmap site analysis tools. Both eCommerce technology solutions offer free versions, however, some advanced features could incur a monthly service fee.
Compare the top features for both tools to determine what meets your needs the most. Also, make sure you compare support and hardware options.
12. Leverage A/B testing
The next point on our ultimate marketplace checklist is A/B testing. As part of your eCommerce technology solution, you will find that you can evaluate your users or shoppers with A/B testing, also known as split testing, to determine the impact or effectiveness of a specific product presentation. These tests help identify which presentation methods are better. A/B testing can be performed using Google Optimize (now part of big Google’s Marketing Platform), VWO or Optimizely, free tools for site optimization. If you’re new here — Hubspot’s Complete A/B Testing Kit will help you kick off your first A/B testing.
13. Gather and organize feedback from customers and visitors
Our eCommerce checklist would be incomplete without mentioning user feedback. Any type of eCommerce technology platform looking to succeed in today's competitive marketplace should be focused on collecting and acting on customer feedback. The direct customer feedback can provide you with valuable insights into your future customer-based decisions.
When a satisfied customer gives positive feedback, the ability to repurpose the user-generated text into product reviews or social media posts is one of the most powerful marketing strategies. Some great tools for measuring customer satisfaction include Mopinion, and bigger Feedier, and our favorite Intercom.
eCommerce CRMs can also help businesses track customer data, including their purchase history, browsing habits, and contact information. This data is invaluable when it comes to improving customer experience and increasing sales.
14. Make the most of e-mail marketing
This point on our eСommerce website checklist is more about the time when your platform is all set up and running, but still, you need to start thinking about email marketing early if you want to be successful. Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to foster and maintain a strong relationship with your customers. There are some different types of marketing emails:
- Welcome emails. These emails are sent to customers who have just joined your email list, from a sign-up form or from setting up an account while placing an order. They help demonstrate your appreciation, making customers feel valued.
- Survey emails. These emails ask customers for feedback about their shopping experience.
- Card abandonment emails. These are sent when a customer initiates purchase-related actions, however, clicks off of your site. They can gently remind your customer about the abandoned cart or offer less expensive alternative products.
- Order confirmation emails. These emails keep customers in the loop about the state of their order.
- Replenishment emails. Replenishment emails remind customers who have previously purchased a consumable product to buy it again if they are running low.
- Promotional offer emails. These tell your subscribers about your discounts, holiday offers, etc.
- Re-engagement emails. These emails are aimed at re-engaging customers who haven’t purchased from your store for some time.
15. Think of AR
As an innovative software development company, we couldn’t miss AR when compiling our ultimate eСommerce checklist. Augmented Reality, or AR, is one of the top new shopping features that has a huge potential to drive more customers. AR brings an interactive experience that simulates a real-world environment. Objects residing in the real world are expanded upon by computer-generated perceptual data. Depending on the type of platform, this could include multiple sensory modalities such as visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory, and olfactory.
16. Embrace voice search
Conversational commerce is one of the next big things to come to eCommerce technology platforms. The use of voice search through smart home technologies is on the rise. Online users are becoming more comfortable using digital voice assistants. These users initiate voice search functions on mobile devices, in stores, and through televisions every day. Shopping will become more accessible through these platforms as the customer base continues to grow.
17. Make sure your website is secure
While security is crucial for any website, it’s imperative for eCommerce sites since they involve people entering their sensitive payment data. You might want to get a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate and include an address verification system (AVS) and credit card verification value (CVV) in your checkout process.
18. Double-check whether your site is PCI compliant
You might also want to ensure that your eCommerce store complies with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Otherwise, you may not be able to accept some payment cards and will face fines in case of a data breach. The thing is that major credit card companies demand that organizations accepting their cards follow this standard, which is meant to secure your customers’ credit card information.
19. Consider starting with an MVP
The final point on our eСommerce site checklist suggests creating an MVP. Building an MVP is the best way to test if your eCommerce platform is ready to go live and effectively address consumer needs. How does it work? You find your early adopters and satisfy their demands with one or two key features. Based on their feedback, you can enhance your product by adding new features or removing ones that don’t drive value.