E-Commerce websites are a challenge. There is so much interaction between the user and the site. All of this interaction, including payments, user accounts, shipping, automated emails and much more has to be managed. It has to run all on it’s own, leaving the webmaster to run their business.
The client was a real pleasure to work for, they appreciated the challenges. But at the same time they knew what they wanted.
Domain Name & Hosting
The Domain Name was simple. The company name was available at just €12 so we went with that. This process can sometimes be more complicated; the name may be taken or prohibitively expensive. Sometimes it can be a difficult decision because the company name is too long or a client wishes to have the service they provide in the URL.
We include the Domain Name, registration and between 2, 6 and 9 months of hosting (depending on the package chosen by the client) with our web design packages. After the specified period the client can choose to move the website the their own hosting plan or continue to have us manage it for them.
“WooCommerce is an open-source e-commerce plugin for WordPress. It is designed for small to large-sized online merchants using WordPress. Launched on September 27, 2011,the plugin quickly became popular for its simplicity to install and customize and free base product.”
Drop-Shipping in a Nutshell
You design a product. Your drop-shipping supplier then manufactures that product each time it is ordered and delivers it direct to the customer. You never see any of your stock (unless you order samples of course).
Stripe & PayPal are what is known as Payment Gateways. They handle your customers payment method and details. This isn’t something you want to be doing even if you could. Imagine it like this… There is a small piece of their software on your website that when clicked processes their card details .(in the case of PayPal the customer is directed their payment portal and then returned to your website) This software then informs both the customer and your website that the transaction was successful and the order can be processed.
Website Design Process
In many way the most important phrase of the process is the design phase. It is the time at which we interact with the client most often to uncover a sense of what they want to achieve.
In this case it was done over the space of a week, with numerous phone calls, emails and two face to face meetings. If you get it right at this point everyone’s life is easier in the long run.
We work we with a Content Management System or CMS called WordPress, so that decision has already been made. To begin with the client would only be selling T-shirts via a Drop-Shipping Provider named Printful. Because of how smooth the integration is the decision was then made to use WooCommerce, PayPal and Stripe Payments.
All 4 of the above services act as WordPress plugins; a plugin adds extra functionality to a CMS. On the left here is a short description of what each of these functions are. And below are some useful links to learn more about how this process works.
Learn about WooCommerce & why you should it over other solutions...
How to Integrate Printful with WooCommerce...
How to Set-up Stripe as a Payment Gateway on your WooCommerce Website...
We can't do everything...
At this point in the process it’s vital that we have some products to sell, every Online Store needs stock. We can’t do that, it’s up to the client.
Printful makes life extremely easy in this respect. The process of designing the T-shirts generates all the information that ends up being displayed on the website; product images, colours, sizes, prices… everything. This was my first experience of Printful, we design websites, we don’t don’t make T-shirts. But I have to say I was impressed by them.
These are the product images generated by the Printful software. The designs are created by the staff at Response .? and uploaded to Printful. Then Printful synchronizes with the WooCommerce software generating a product available for sale through your Online store. Clever stuff right?
Click here to head over to the Response .? website and take a look for yourself.
The Visual Web Design of Response .? Clothing Co.
When you install WooCommerce on your website it creates a number of pages automatically; vital pages like your checkout, cart and customer account pages. It also creates a shop page (WordPress does not have any of this functionality as standard). Every time you create a new product this is the first place it shows up.
There are two option for your shop page. It can replace the home page or it can be a separate page linked to from the home page. The are many factors to take into account when deciding this, but if you have one main business goal (in this case selling T-shirts) then it makes sense to use the shop page as your home page. If you have a number of business goals; selling products and providing services or you sell multiple different types of products then you may require a text based front page to explain this to your customers. Each case is different.
The structure and navigation of this Online Store is s follows;
E-Commerce Home Page
Traditionally the most important page of any website. In most cases the highest volume of traffic. These days your Home Page isn’t always your biggest asset. We recommend that you use it to target searches for your business name, not a product or service you provide. It captures the traffic generated by your offline advertising.
In this case the Online Store is selling only one type of product, although in a number of different categories, we’ll get the those shortly.
This Home Page is a “Showcase.” At the top, a product search and navigation menu, give visitors what they expect to see. Next, featured T-shirt collection, in this case “The Irish Phrasebook Collection” the range of Irish Language T-shirts in conjunction with Seachtain na Gaeilge (Irish Language Week).
We have a right sidebar on a number of the transnational pages, including this one. At the top of this we have USP information (unique selling point). The company ships all their T-shirts for free and when you buy 2 or more you get 20% off. Further down there are search and filter options.
The main body of the content contains T-shirts, from all categories. These can be ordered by the client in any way. They can choose to have new items at the top, best selling items or sale items. This is something to be experimented with over time.
Above is the main menu. It can be tempting to fill this up with everything you have. But keeping it simple is always the best play. Home, that’s a must, visitors should always have a way back there, no matter what page they are on. There are, next to this the 4 main T-shirt Collections, that’s it. At a later stage a drop down could the added listed as “More Collections” as the business grows.
You’ve all visited an Online Store; eBay, Amazon or even Tesco. They break down their items into categories; electrical, home an garden, fruit and veg. On the right here is a category page from Response .? Clothing Co. The Irish Phrasebook Collection.
This has 2 benefits. First it makes the customer happy. They find it much easier to navigate their way around the store and find what they want. Imagine your local supermarket without the isles and signs. It would be very difficult to find what you were looking for, especially if you had never been there before.
Second, SEO. We’ll look at targeting search terms in more detail shortly, but for now try and think of how many people search for the word “T-shirt.” A lot right? Now, how many websites are trying to get noticed in Google when somebody types “T-shirts.” Again, it’s a lot. Product Category pages target search terms with lower competition eg. “Guitar Player T-shirts” or “Big Bang Theory T-shirts.” It’s all about using your Online Store website to target as many search terms as possible.
This is where the magic happens. You have your website visitors through one, two, maybe three pages and they like what they see. Now it’s time to seal the deal. Every question your customers might have should be answered here. “Can I get that T-shirt in red?””Do you have my size?””How long will it take or my T-shirt to arrive?”
It can be tough putting the text together. We do help with this but it depends on the product. If it is a very technical or specialized product we will need to be given the info.
Colours and sizes are vital, right at the top of the page, along with product images. Every web page that sells a product should have the most important information at the top, the second next and so on.
Response .? make a donation to charity from every T-shirt, there is a lot of information about that. At the bottom of the page are related products (these are automatically shown by WooCommerce and are taken from the same category main product.
Cart & Checkout Pages
Your customer is almost at the end of their journey through your website. And they’ve had a happy time. They have some items in their shopping cart… don’t blow it now!!
Everything on this page must be clear, simple and easy to understand. This is where the customer can enter a code to get 20% if they buy 2 or more T-shirts.
Analytics will be important for the Cart page. I’ll cover this in more detail shortly but I would expect to see a proportion of visitors (those with only 1 item in their cart) returning to shop pages to add another item. These actions can be specified and viewed in Google Analytics.
And finally, the checkout page. The 2 plugins we discussed earlier, Stripe and PayPal, do their work here. If you set them up correctly then it should look a bit like this one on the right.
E-Commerce Analytics & Search Engine Optimization
The things you do at the start will help you out so much in the future, as a website grows. It’s better to get it right rather than having to fix mistakes. When you choose a Website Plan with Online Trade Marketing we do all the essential registrations and integrations for you. Let’s take a look at them one at a time.
Every website, from the day they launch (preferably before, to get things configured correctly) should sign up with Google Analytics. We do this for you. Google Analytics is completely free, they provide it to all website owners. It tracks and records very visit to your website, what they do when they get there how they leave and everything in between. If you want to know the 3rd page that people from Canada visit most on a Wednesday afternoon then Google Analytics has the answer.
We integrate Google Analytics with your website correctly and create a basic dashboard to display all your key metrics. If you decide to sign up for an extended Management & SEO Plan with us you will also receive a detailed monthly Analytics Report.
Google Search Console, another free Google product is a goldmine of info about your site. It's more about the relationship between your site and Google, than it is about your site visitors. As we do with Analytics, we set all this up for you.
What's the difference between Analytics and Search Console? - I'll let Angela Petteys at Moz take this one...
“GA is more about who is visiting your site—how many visitors you’re getting, how they’re getting to your site, how much time they’re spending on your site, and where your visitors are coming from (geographically-speaking). Google Search Console, in contrast, is geared more toward more internal information—who is linking to you, if there is malware or other problems on your site, and which keyword queries your site is appearing for in search results.”
Google My Business
There are not many agencies that would include this in there Online Store set-up but we believe it adds enough value to make it worthwhile. This only applies if you have a bricks 'n mortar location (a shop customer can visit and buy your products) as well as a website. It's how businesses gain visibility in local search results and needs to be configured correctly for best results.
SEO for this website is unlike any other I have encountered before. Imagine for a second that you were an inventor (and maybe you are). Your latest invention or anything like it has never been seen before…
How do you optimize a web page for a search terms with zero traffic?
For the product pages you have to ignore traffic numbers. And optimize for the future. At the same time concentrate on category/T-shirt collection pages. These have terms within them that there is traffic for; “guitar player t-shirts” “irish language t-shirts “big bang theory t-shirts.” My remit here was to do the basics. Keywords in URL, Title tag, Meta Description, Image Alt. tags etc. Link Building is one of, if not the most important building block of SEO. It wasn’t part of this package, but we’ll deal with it in another portfolio.
It's impossible for me to talk about how we optimize our websites here at Online Trade Marketing without talking about Yoast. Instead of making a list of all the things you need to do to get your Online Store, or service website, or any website noticed by the search engines we use Yoast. It's free, and it's amazing.
Digital Marketing Strategy for E-Commerce
The promotion of Response .? Clothing Co. wasn’t exactly part of our remit. They had the idea that “Socially Responsible T-shirts” would have a lot of organic pull. Working with the charity sector would amplify their twitter and Facebook posts, I agreed with this. I would like to work with the company again on their SEO and email marketing. This is what I would do.
The nature of the business, Drop-Shipping, charity partnership etc. lends it’s to fast, as it happens, marketing. 2-3 times per day, 300 word posts relating to topical Irish and international news stories. A T-shirt can be designed to match, or an existing T-shirt promoted along with it. The team would need to be nimble, but it could be done.
I not a huge fan of the term Influencer or how a majority of them operate their “business.” But, this does not mean that using Instagram is off the table when you work with Online Trade Marketing. Finding, and maintaining a list of relevant hash-tags, identifying key accounts for a T-shirt Collection niche and building a loyal following could make Instagram an battleground for Response .?
I spoke about email marketing at great length with this client but their commitment to trusting organic search and social channels first was very strong. A decision I really respect.
But, email marketing is such is an easy win. Everyone should have some kind of email strategy.
.Of course you want everyone who comes to your website to make a purchase but building an email list is also important. Mailchimp take care of all of this for you. Forms on your website, in all the right places and an opt in at the end of the checkout. With this list you can start a weekly newsletter and inform previous visitors to your website, especially those who already made a purchase, of new products and special offers.
Of course, every client and every website is different. But I hope this write up has given you an idea of what is involved, what is achievable and how Online Trade Marketing can bring your vision of an Online Store to life.