What to consider when opening an online shop: a guide for beginners

You already have a business, produce your own products and now wanted to take the step of selling your products online?

We would like to support you with this guide.

Choose your future system wisely

Choose a system that is

  • is well established,
  • is well supported,
  • has a good community or many solution partners behind it
  • offers good APIs to your existing IT
  • already has many years of experience with the target group
  • works technically on its future viability
  • and with which appealing shops can be created.
  • to be continued…

Be distinctive

If you make your own products, you have plenty of scope to showcase your brand. Use images, videos and 360° views in the visual area where appropriate. Inform your B2C and B2B customers separately and in a way that is appropriate for the target group. Good shop systems offer you many possibilities to divide several target groups.

If you are a retailer, chances are you are using product feeds including descriptions and photos provided by the manufacturer. This is not a good idea. Your content will basically be the same as hundreds of other online shops buying from the same supplier.

At the very least, rewrite all product descriptions and give them your own touch; ideally, take your own product images. If you’re retaking product images anyway, take some from every angle. The more impressions your customer gets of the product, the more likely they are to buy. Videos are also a good idea. 

Watch your competition

This is not only true for e-commerce, but for any website. Search for a keyword in which you want to establish yourself and compare the results. If the sites are poorly designed and outdated, you have a good chance of succeeding in that niche. You should still consider how you can be better if someone else enters this field.

If they are beautifully designed and obviously doing well, you should think long and hard about whether you can really compete with them. What can you offer that the others can’t already? What are your unique selling points?

You need to offer more than just selling

The choice of online shopping options is so vast that customers can literally shop anywhere in the world. If you don’t want to compete on price, your website needs to be more than just a shop. Established brands already have a customer base that trusts them and turns to them first for everything. They can charge a price premium.

As a manufacturer, you can offer much more information and services to your customers in a way that is appropriate for your target group. Ask your power users what they expect. 

As a new seller, you are unknown in the market. Focus on your strengths. Use your unique product knowledge and skills to offer more than just a shop. Write quality blog posts on the topic, link to your own product pages and establish yourself as an expert. Share your knowledge and participate in forums, themed communities and question and answer pages around the products don’t just try to sell things. 

Pay special attention to SEO

Unlike bloggers who write unique content on a daily basis and are ranked well by Google’s algorithm accordingly, e-commerce texts are more prone to SEO problems. Many online shops are finding themselves in the drop zone more often after the last few years of Google algorithm changes. How can you get around this?

Product descriptions are often short. This results in the actual content of the page being low and classified as “inadequate” by search engines. The more meaningful text you use in the descriptions as text the better. Think about whether you can include product benefits, a short description, a long description, possible combinations or alternatives.

Furthermore, customer-generated content such as reviews, testimonials and images can help you ensure that your product pages are unique and positively rated.

Product variations such as size or colour can create unique URLs with duplicate content. Products in multiple categories also create duplicate URLs. These should all canonically link back to the main product page.

Product categories often span multiple pages and thousands of products – ensure that all items are indexed with the correct use of rel=next and rel=prev tags.