The guide to create an effective online store

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You are a shopkeeper, and you want to increase your shop visibility, reach new markets and achieve world domination? You are planning to start selling online?

For all these reasons, you may want to sell your products online. You are determined and motivated? Well, it is a good start! Now several issues have come up:

  • Where to start?

  • How to open an online store?

  • How to get known and boost your SEO?

  • How to attract your visitors and satisfy your buyers?

Don’t worry! We have the solution.

And now you will find the essential steps to create an online store with SiteW.

Create an online store: preliminary issues

Carry out market research for your store

Before creating an online store, first, you must reflect on the feasibility of your web store project.

To that end, several steps like market research to help you define your personas are essential.

Market research consists in analysing the environment of the sector linked to your online store, especially according to the competition and needs. This market research aims at gathering and analysing information to study the different characteristics of a market.

For example, you can survey people with forms or interviews, gather existing information (in the press or resource centre), but especially observe your competitors.

To implement this research and measure your web store potential, first, you must analyse the market in itself; that is to say:

  • its evolution

  • its main players

  • its products and services

  • its competitive offers

After the research, you will know each aspect of your sector, and you will be able to define your typical customer or marketing persona.

Then you will know your potential customers and their expectations about your online store. Your customer relations will be more beautiful!

The conclusions drawn in the light of your research will enable you to test the potential for success of your online store creation project, and eventually adapt it according to the results achieved. You will also have some ideas about the future possible evolution of your web store:

👉 Is it sustainable?

👉 Is there any chance of bankruptcy?

👉 Or, on the contrary, is there a high growth potential in the future?

In short, thanks to your market research, you won’t grope your way forward, but you will anticipate the future of your online store avoiding some risks. It’s an essential step before creating an online store.

It’s essential to take your market trends and the situation in real time into consideration. A website changes over time, and it must be updated regularly for a higher credibility with your public.

The main topical issue of 2020, Covid-19, is a good example. Online stores must adapt to this particular situation. Consumers and stores have adopted new habits such as:

  • payment facilities with different payment methods

  • free services

  • free delivery

  • click & collect, etc.

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Be mindful of the trends of your sector: you must manage to start again and adapt for the smooth progress of your online business.

Where to start for the creation of your online store?

You are ready to start your website creation.

But many issues remain:

  • Where to start?

  • Which software should be used, and how much does it cost (time, money)?

We will explain all of these subjects to you, and we provide the website builder solution.

Why to choose a website builder?

There are many solutions on the market to create your online store.

However, if you are just starting out on the web or if you want a professional result quickly,  website builder will suit you well.

This solution indeed is the easiest to use and will enable you to create an online store without technical knowledge.

Website builders offer an easy solution based on a drag and drop system. All the elements you can potentially add to your online store are ready, optimized and functional. You just need to select and drag them wherever you want on your page.

It especially enables you to add payment blocks, registration forms or product pages in a few minutes.

In most cases, this solution is quite affordable (or even free), and will enable you to save time as everything is ready to be used: you just need to build your page.

Moreover, most website builders offer an active support to ensure the smooth progress of your web project: ask the support your questions that will help you in case of problem.

Our SiteW French solution is a website builder, that is easy to handle, to create your website quickly, easily and affordably.

How much is an online store?

The price for the creation of your online store can vary a lot according to the chosen solution.

In general, pricing for website builder don’t exceed €100 per month. For example, to create your online store on SiteW, prices will vary between €15.99 and €23.99 per month, if you sign up for 2 years.

SiteW packages

This package enables you to launch your small online store with all the necessary functionalities to start:

  • up to 25 products split into 5 categories

  • 2 credit card providers

  • SiteW doesn’t take any sales commissions

Moreover, you enjoy a support in your language and available for you. The expert and professional SiteW team will find all the solutions that suit your needs.

Thus, if you have a tight budget and little time, but you want efficacy: choose a website builder.

How long does online store creation take?

The creation of an online store might be tedious, but, fortunately, the website builder solution enables you to create your website quickly.

The creation will take a short or long time, depending on your project, the blocks you want to add to your website, the number of products in your catalogue, etc. The editor and your online store customization are still intuitive thanks to the drag and drop system. In this way, you will get a professional result quickly.

In general, thanks to this system and following the guide, you can create your online store within a few days.

However, there is no question of publishing your website and then dropping it. Once your store is online, you will have to:

  • promote it

  • optimize your catalogue

  • work on your website SEO

  • update your collections regularly

The creation of an online store is pretty quick, but requires regular work over time.

With a comprehensive creation solution, you enjoy expert and custom support to easily anchor your online store over time.

Create an online store

As you will have understood, creating your online store with a website builder suits the new shopkeepers of the Web well.

Despite everything, an online store is not on permanent autopilot, and you must follow some steps to get a fully satisfactory result.

Now we will detail these 6 steps.

Create your online store in 6 steps with SiteW

These 6 steps are essential to build an optimized and successful online store.

Of course, you must start by… 🥁

1- Creating your account for your online store

Before creating your store with SiteW or elsewhere, you will need to choose a domain name. Domain name is the equivalent of your postal address on the Internet, and your customers identify and find you thanks to it. Your visitors will remember your brand name more easily.

Choose it carefully according to your business, easy to spell and remember.

Then sign up on SiteW, and enjoy a special offer for online store creation. Moreover, all of our paid packages include a free domain name.

SiteW sign up

Remember to enter an email address you visit regularly, so the SiteW team gets in touch with you if necessary.

Within a few minutes, you already have your account and domain name.

It is time to move on to the next step: your online store template.

2- Choosing your template

In general, all website builders of the market ask you to make a first choice during the creation of your store.

You will choose your template, the visual identity for your website. You will make a choice between:

👉 A predefined template for your online store according to your business or the suggested colours you like.

👉 Starting from scratch, that is to say starting from a blank page and building your own design by yourself.

Once the template of your online store is chosen, you will get to the editor.

Just a minute: is it possible to transform a SiteW website I already have into a store?

To transform your simple website into an online store, you just need to drag the Store block from the Content panel to one of your pages.

SiteW editor

Once your online store is added to one of your website pages, you will be able to customize the style of your online store.

You will have a set of configurations at your disposal to customize your Store block as you pleased. To that end, click on “Choose a style” in the Design tab.

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For a unique and brand-new design, you can also add a background image to your online store!

If you have chosen a template during the creation of your online store, you will be able to customize it according to your graphic charter.

You will indeed be able to edit:

  • your store main colours

  • your titles and product pages fonts

  • the style of the clickable buttons and their texts

  • the layout of the articles and elements

  • the look of illustrations, graphisms and pictures, etc.

The design of your future online store suits you very well? Let’s move on to the next step: content.

It is time to add content to your online store.

To that end, you must create the different pages of your online store: homepage, page contact, product pages, etc.

And now we will see all aspects of your products and their presentation, that is to say:

  • writing your product pages

  • setting your selling prices

  • adjusting delivery and costs, etc.

First, you must create new fields to add your products.

Finally, your online store will have a true catalogue and start attracting customers.

It is easy to add your products: you just need to click on +.

Your new insert to add your product is already created. It is quick, isn’t it?

This is just the beginning, then you must add the details of your product. It is clear there are many details you must think about:

  • The title

Choose a short title: ideally, it must have 12 characters.

Online store

It will be possible to detail in the description.

Moreover, talking about the description…

  • The description and image

A text editor enables you to enter a comprehensive description of the product.

SiteW text editor

During this step you will add one or several high resolution photos that show the product from different perspectives. You can display up to 4 pictures or pack shot of your product. When the visitors click on one of the thumbnails on your website, the image will be displayed in full screen.

Pricing for online store

Finally, you can set the price in euro as its default. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you want another currency!

  • The stocks

If payments are enabled, you can configure the maximum number of products a customer can buy.

Online store how to proceed

It also enables you to manage logistics and the stocks of your products. Even if you have a small business, you can immediately inform customers of your limited stocks.

  • The options

You can also configure options for your product.

Store options

Here are examples of options: sizes “S; M; L; XL” or colours with additional cost “White; Blue +0.5; Green +1; Red +2”. A drop-down menu will enable your visitors to choose one of these options before adding the product to their cart.

  • The categories

Choose which categories this product belongs to. For example, “shoes” and “man”.

It makes browsing easier, and enables you to add keywords as well as improves users and Google’s understanding.

How to create a web store

  • The private information and tags

As its name suggests, you are the only one who can see this information that enables you to organize your stocks and sendings.

Creating an online store easily

You can fill in the reference, notes or additional information about the product.

Finally, you can fill in tags for the search engine, so your products be well ranked.

Once the fields are filled, click on the “Save & Publish” button. Then you can update, delete and duplicate the product by clicking on it from the list of products.

You can create as many products as wanted, but don’t forget to be still organized and divide them into categories, so Internet users can easily find what they are looking for. These pages must be clear, so the buyer doesn’t feel lost during their purchase. The price must be clearly displayed, and the information must be understandable.

Create an online store

4- Configuring payment settings and options

You are ready to configure your store and its different options.

One of these options is the display of the stocks of your online store.

By clicking on the “Stocks” button in the blue left panel, you can enable automatic stock management and then define the minimum number of products for which the number of remaining articles of your online store is displayed. It is displayed in this form: “Only X product(s) left”.

Your visitors who are attracted by one or several products will have an urge to buy more rapidly and seize the opportunity.

Then in the blue left panel, you will be able to configure your online store with different buttons:

  • payment methods (PayGreen, PayZen, Stripe, etc.)

  • shipping costs

  • cart options

  • discounts

  • billing

  • stocks

  • categories

Finally, you will be able to enable or disable the different options: auto-size, anti-download, auto-scroll, search field, stock status.

Displaying a strikethrough price on an online store is also a good way to increase your sales, as it enables to highlight your sales and special offers conspicuously and immediately. In this way, your customers will seize the opportunity to buy this beautiful product with a 50% off.

Finally, you can create custom calls to action thanks to the Widget/Button block to boost sales by drawing the consumer’s attention.

Creating a web store

5- Ensuring the security of your online store

What could be worse than not felling safe when we are surfing a website?

In order to gain the public’s confidence, it is important to ensure the security of your online store. Private data and financial transactions circulate on your online store and must be protected.

To that end, use an HTTPS domain name to secure your website.

Our offers enable you to create your online store without worrying about its security as it is included in the package. First, check that your website is secure to also rank higher on Google as Google will tend to better rank secure websites for the public.

6- Creating your professional email address

Made it! You have created your online store.

Now it is time to deal with the way your visitors will get in touch with you.

To that end, what could be better than creating a professional email address?

Our packages enable you to create from 3 to 10 email addresses for your online store to be organized and ready to help your customers.

In your Contact page, you will just need to redirect the possible questions from customer service to your professional email address, and you will be ready to meet all your customers’ expectations.

Tips to make a difference with your online store

There is stiff competition on the market and there are more and more online stores. Therefore, how to stand out to get higher traffic on your website?

Online store creation

Tip n°1: Google’s SEO

You want to create an online store, and for you, SEO is like a Grail.

Google natural SEO enables as many Internet users as possible to get to your online store, and buy your products at the same time.

However, if you have already heard about SEO, you know that the keywords of a website play a key role, but contrary to a blog, there are fewer keywords on an online store…

Therefore, how to optimize your online store to be more visible?

At SiteW, all pages of the online store are saved in the sitemap.xml file, so search engines can add all these pages to their search results easily and rapidly. When you edit your Premium and Pro website, we inform the main search engines automatically, so they visit your website again and update their results.

In plain English: the technical aspect is ensured.

But this is not the only job to be done. SEO is a regular and fiddly job you must optimize. To that end, follow these steps:

  • Use title and description tags

Choose the title of your online store pages as it will be shown in search results. This title will also be shown in the tabs of the browser, so users and Google can clearly identify the topic of your website.

Moreover, describing your pages enables you to put keywords. You can enter the descriptive text displayed in Google search results for your online store pages. To that end, be concise. One or two lines are enough. You can also add all keywords linked to your page to the provided field to boost your online store SEO.

On SiteW, you will find all these fields for meta tags directly in the editor.

  • Write the product pages of your online store properly

Warning: pay attention to your product pages.

The more details your customers have, the more comforted they will be and capable of buying. Moreover, when you have created your online store, your objective is to improve your visibility and write texts with well-thought keywords for example.

Qualitative page products enable to eliminate brakes on buying and boost your online store SEO.

Remember that users are used to the immersive shopping experience on the Web, and they no longer need to go to a physical store. Therefore, implement all the possible textual and visual strategies to enable the future customer to know exactly what they will buy.

  • Create your custom URLs

Custom URLs are the best thing for your website SEO.

Naming each page of your online store individually is very interesting for your visibility. It will enable you to add keywords to try to reach the first pages of search engines.

Moreover, URL is the first thing a user sees and remembers to find your online store again. In this way, you will have better SEO, be more visible, and your future customers will better understand your vision.

A website builder like SiteW offers you a domain name right from your subscription, and you can create custom URLs quickly from the Pages tab of the editor.

  • Update your content

Don’t forget the content of your online store after publishing it. A website is constantly developing, and must be updated regularly according to your news and stocks.

In this way, you will show users and Google that your online store is alive, brings new and reliable information and its security is checked.

Web store with SiteW

Tip n°2: The web design and the user experience of your store

On all websites and especially online stores, user experience is essential.

Potential customers won’t take time seeing your offer if the website is unattractive and badly indicated and optimized.

In this way, you must bank on design and user experience, so customers and Google like your online store.

To that end, you must follow several points:

  • Create a menu and a browsing system

As a customer, when you get to a website, first, you are looking for the product or category that interests you.

Menu and browsing indeed are essential in customer experience. They are like panels showing what you will find in the different shelves in a huge supermarket.

The search tool makes the browsing of your customer among your products easier. The visitor just need to enter their keywords in the provided field to find the desired products in your online store easily. It’s useful if you have many references!

A disorganized website where users don’t find what they are looking for, or which design is unpleasant for browsing will be disagreeable for them.

In this way, users will leave your website before they have properly seen your offers.

From the Pages tab on SiteW, you can create a menu and change the name of its categories easily.

Moreover, a search bar to search a product is in the Content panel. It’s totally customizable, and you can add it wherever to your page.

Quick online store

  • Optimize buying process

From the choice of product to the online payment, the path should rather be fast for users. Users order online for reasons of rapidity in comparison with buying in a physical store. Then, if your buying process is too long, users will give up and abandon their cart.

Put yourself in a user’s place, so the paths to your products be clear, easy and make the user wants to buy. A well-organized and well-structured website is essential for a good browsing!

To that end, don’t hesitate to ask close potential buyers to test your buying process, and take your inspiration from the influential online stores to be more fluent.

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Moreover, don’t hesitate to have a look at your statistics to see where buyers stop in the buying process. Is it during payment, cart validation or the use of a promo code?

Then you will be able to identify the weaknesses of your online store clearly, and correct them quickly.

  • Make your online store responsive

A responsive online store is an essential aspect.

Don’t worry! If you have already created your online store with SiteW ignoring the meaning of the word, don’t panic as your online store is already responsive. Responsive design enables you to enjoy quality design and user experience on each screen: desktop, mobile and tablet.

Nowadays, with 60% of the consumers on the Web who buy from a mobile, responsive design is even more important and essential.

Responsive design store

Tip n°3: Create a community

Now you know (almost) everything about the creation of your online store. We mention the errors to be avoided, so you are ready to start creating!

Finally, the last tip but not least: creating a community about your products to retain your customers.

The current consumers just don’t buy a product. They like discovering a brand, sharing its values, and feeling close to the creators of the online store.

This explains the success of many stores without physical store as well as any contact between sales consultants and customers like Back market for example.

To create a community, think about these following points:

  • The importance of social networks

Once you have created your store, you need time before your store ranks high on Google. You need time. That’s why it’s important to communicate on the opening of your online store, so it enjoys visibility and traffic.

To that end, think about implementing an effective strategy on social networks, by embedding your social networks thanks to the SiteW’s Social block: users can follow you and share your store in a few clicks.

Store community

Moreover, users like when brands are active on social networks. Try to feed your accounts on a regular basis, involving your community.

  • Add a Contact tab

Contact is essential, especially online.

It’s inevitable to leave contact details to be contacted: for a question, a service or a nice message! (It makes you feel good, isn’t it?)

Think about adding a contact form which is easy to access to your website. You just need to drag the provided block on your page, and your form is ready.

Store form

Moreover, think about your professional email address, a switchboard or a live chat. By using several means of contact, you ensure the customers who have difficulties or who want to convey a special message will be able to contact you with the mean they prefer.

Create an online store

As well as being motivated, now you know everything you need to create an online store and stand out from your competitors thanks to a terrific SEO.

Now  you just need to get into online business and stay on track!

Anaïs Sautarel
Translator at SiteW. She is fluent in French, English, and Spanish.

Last update: May 28, 2021

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