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Running an E-commerce Website in 2014

Running an E-commerce Website in 2014

It is becoming increasingly convenient to shop online. The simple fact that people are now using their mobile phones to shop online is proof enough. While commuting home from work, they use the Wi-Fi networks in the subway, for instance, so that they can order the things they need. They pay for them using their PayPal account (or some other online payment account), and when they get home, the things they need are waiting for them.

Retail is evolving and traditional shopping is expected to be a thing of the past in a not-that-distant future. Even clothes, the things you need to try on before purchasing, can be ordered online, since most companies that do this have a well-established system by which you can check whether or not what you are purchasing will fit your body.

Bearing this in mind, one has to agree that if you want to sell something, be it a product or a service, you have to have a website. Period! Without it, you will soon be lost in the sea of competition and you will find yourself facing bankruptcy issues. Here are the major points to consider to set up and run a successful e-commerce website in 2014.

Getting started: Design

Web design image

    The starting point of every website is its design. It can be extremely challenging to establish that. 2013 website design trends indicate a minimalistic approach. If you go for a flashy design that is filled with images, links, loads of pages, videos and so on, chances are that your visitors will get confused and they will simply close your site’s tab and move on to something else.

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    Your homepage is what matters most. It should feature your logo, one great big high-definition image (or a slider with HD imaging) that represents what you do, your basic info written in a cool and easily readable font, some contact info in the footer and that’s it. The header of your site should have links that lead to your other pages. You see, if your homepage looks simple and concrete, when your viewers see it, they will want to learn more and they will stay on your site. You can check out some pretty cool designs here.

    Your products page is another very important page and this one has to be well organized as well. You should have categories and the products should be listed in those categories. Each product has to have an image (sometimes several images), a description and a price. When it comes to pricing, you should make sure that you use a secure online payment method. To read more about this topic, follow this link.

    When it comes to shipping, make sure that you provide your readers with valuable shipping information. They have to be informed about that. Also, use a stable and valid shipping company. Try to find someone who has been in the business for a long time and who knows his or her job well. A lot of packages get damaged while shipping and that is something you will want to avoid.

    Make sure that you don’t forget to add a contact page so that your customers can ask for more information, and even more importantly, do not forget to answer their questions as soon as you can. The first rule of retail is that the customer is always right.

    Moving on: Functionality

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    Functionality image

      The next item on the agenda is functionality. Let us presume that you have a cool-looking website and that you are happy with it. That site will be worth nothing if it is not functional, fast loading and well programmed. It will also be unusable if it is not responsive. As mentioned above, more and more people are switching from their PCs and laptops to mobile phones and tablets for online activity. Your website has to be accessible via these devices as well. Also, with the launch of the new iPhone’s retina display, you have to ensure that your site is, as they say, retina-ready. So, your web designers and developers have to be well informed, they have to follow the newest trends and they have to be ready for everything.

      A website’s functionality is a pretty grand topic and there is a lot of talk about it on the net. To get you started, here are some useful articles that might help ease the process.

      Your Domain

      internet browser

        Registering a domain can be quite a pickle, as they say. You see, the net is full of websites – millions upon millions of them. The chance that someone registered the exact domain name you were looking for is high. This can be quite a problem since, frankly speaking, your domain name is very important. It should be relevant, original and related to your business. If you already have a name in mind, you should check and see whether or not it is already taken. Some experts suggest that if it is, you should consider going as far as changing the name of your firm, so that it corresponds with an available domain name.

        You should check out this link, where you will find the top sites for registering a domain in 2013. Dwell on this for some time and make the right decision.

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        Hosting

        When all the things above are done right, it is time to find appropriate hosting. For start, here’s a low-cost hosting guide for those who are looking for a cheap and reliable hosting service for their e-commerce website.

        Generally speaking, there are two types of hosting – shared and dedicated hosting. Here is the difference between the two:

        1. Shared hosting features one great big server computer that functions as a host for several websites.
        2. Dedicated hosting features one great big server computer that functions as a host for just one website.

        Logically, the second option is the thing to go for. It will be more expensive, of course, but if you go for shared hosting, chances are that a lot of things will go wrong. These machines tend to get overloaded and this can have a very bad result. You can even end up losing a lot of clients. As the owner of an e-commerce website, you will probably have a lot of resources there (images, videos, loads of text, etc.), which will make it difficult for a shared hosting server to function. So, if you have just one server that is dedicated for your site and your site only, you can be sure that things will run smoothly and you won’t have to worry at all.

        Promotion

        Now, that you have your site up and running, it is time to let people know that your site is out there. After all, what good is website if no one visits it? This is where search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and social media marketing (SMM) come into play. The goal of these practices is to make your site recognized by Google and other search engines, so that people can find it and visit it.

        You have to be aware that this is a process that takes time. For instance, amongst other things, you will have to write various articles related to your business and you have to post them on various relevant blogs, which will bring traffic to your site. Furthermore, you will have to register your company on various social media platforms (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc.) and you will have to provide your readers or followers with relevant, up-to-date content at all times. So, apart from taking a long time initially, this process never stops – the more you grow, the more things you will need to do.

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        Promotion social media image

          Also, you should not only promote your site online, but offline as well. Make sure that you have a link to your site printed on any and all promotional material you have at your disposal.

          This is yet another very popular topic on the net – meaning that a lot of people posted a lot of relevant articles recently.

          Let’s wrap it up

          As you can see, running an e-commerce website is no walk in the park, but if you do everything as outlined above, your efforts will be worth it. The retail industry is changing and people are realizing that they have the world in their pocket: they just take their phone out and presto – everything is there. Who knows what e-commerce will represent in 20 years or so, given the fact that it was a “fairytale” 20 or 30 years ago? It is up to you to follow the trends! Good luck!

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          Ivan Dimitrijevic

          SEO Consultant

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          Published on September 17, 2018

          How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

          How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

          Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

          With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

          So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

          1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

          It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

          You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

          So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

          2. When you want something big, wait

          Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

          It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

          We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

          A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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          So, you get the itch.

          You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

          Here’s where you have to take a step back.

          Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

          Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

          It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

          The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

          3. Live smaller than you can afford

          You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

          You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

          That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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          Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

          Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

          The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

          But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

          4. Practice smart grocery shopping

          Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

          But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

          Create a grocery budget

          Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

          Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

          I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

          Make a list… and never deviate

          Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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          You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

          These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

          Eat before going grocery shopping

          It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

          If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

          After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

          Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

          However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

          This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

          5. Cancel your gym membership

          Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

          The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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          Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

          I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

          Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

          Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

          For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

          Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

          There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

          It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

          I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

          Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

          The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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