The reason why ecommerce web development services are in high demand is quite simple. Nowadays, people shop for almost all types of products online. While it’s convenient for customers and allows companies to reach a wider audience, this digitalization leads to high competition. The best way to set your shop apart from the rivals is to make an outstanding facade for it — a website. In the article, we’ll explore how it’s done and what aspects the process involves.
Why web development matters for ecommerce
Web development is a major aspect of ecommerce since it allows customers to easily browse pages, pick desired items, and make purchases. Often, the website is the first impression a prospective customer has of a brand. While it is feasible to run an ecom business solely on Amazon or Shopify platforms, a brand’s own website takes things to the next level and helps with the following:
- Reaching a wider audience. A well-designed website attracts visitors and keeps them engaged. A properly set website can reach the top places in search results and make your store more discoverable for buyers.
- Improving sales. Although wider reach does not automatically mean more purchases, a good website helps with the latter too. It makes the customer journey easier and leads to a higher conversion rate (visits resulted in check-outs).
- Maintaining flexibility and scalability. A separate website means you are not constricted creatively and technically by the limits of digital marketplaces. Not only this allows perfection in displaying and presenting products but also makes scaling easier during business growth.
- Gaining customer insights. An ecommerce website collects data and performs analytics that helps understand audience demographics and preferences, as well as pinpoint the aspects requiring improvement. The best thing is that you can completely customize what information should be monitored and measured.
Out-of-box or custom solution
When it comes to web development, a company is faced with two main options: use a ready-made SaaS solution or build it from scratch. Both approaches have their ups and downs. While out-of-box solutions are less expensive and can be set up two times faster than a custom website (in 2–3 months), they demonstrate lower conversion rates: 0.05-4% compared to 3-22% for custom websites. A custom solution can be not only fine-tuned to your particular products and audience, but also makes it possible to implement future updates such as external integrations, new features, and design, faster.
Ultimately, the decision on whether to use a ready-made or custom solution should be based on the company’s specifics. An out-of-box solution is enough for digital commerce stores in their initial prods or sellers of unique products that have a small average check and purchase volume. On the other hand, a custom solution is the best choice for established brands, stores with large traffic, and companies facing increased competition. Also, in light of the ongoing mobile-first trend, it pays off to consider developing a mobile app to provide the best possible shopping experience and enhance communication with customers.
Aspects to consider when developing an ecommerce website
Ecommerce website functionality depends on the type of store and what products it sells but there are some features essential for any ecom platform.
Great user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design is a must-have to attract shoppers. Here, functionality comes hand in hand with visual appearance. An easily located search bar, convenient filters, intuitive navigation, and a visual style that reflects the brand’s identity and values are necessary elements of good UI/UX design.
The key thing is to adapt all design solutions to the ultimate goal of leading a website’s visitor to a successful checkout. For example, when Surf worked on an app for a beauty store chain, the team strived to provide all the necessary information on products while retaining the overall appearance according to the brand’s design guidelines and website, as well as making sure that nothing distracts a user from making their choice and adding a product to the cart.
Content marketing is unthinkable without search engine optimization (SEO), which increases the visibility of a company’s products in search results, attracting new customers to the website. It is an important part of website development and includes using keywords in product descriptions and proper page configuration, which can significantly boost lead generation and sales of an ecommerce business.
Smooth checkout experience
Being the key user scenario for a web shop, the checkout process should be as intuitive and smooth as possible. Otherwise, a lengthy and confusing process can hamper sales even for a brand that offers products or services at a price-quality ratio superior to competitors. While checkout as a guest is not the preferred option for a company (it doesn’t allow building long-term relationships with a buyer), it is a necessary one to implement, as well as Google and Facebook integrations for quick sign-up, and one-click checkout option for customers who already have accounts with necessary details and saved payment methods.
A content management system (CMS) is a necessary element of an online store for creating, publishing, and keeping content updated, without tasking developers with changing the website’s code every time.
For a platform that deals with sensitive payment data, cyber protection is always a top priority. Best practices for ecommerce websites include sending encrypted data over the web with TLS (transport layer security) and SSL (secure sockets layers), as well as HTTPS encryption.
Solid mobile experience
Customers spend an increasing share of their shopping time while on their phones. For a digital commerce website, it is paramount to have an interface and content adapted for mobile devices so that people can get the same shopping experience on phones as on devices with larger screens.
While a mobile-optimized web shop is a valuable step towards raising sales and attracting customers, a dedicated mobile app with all features of a website can contribute to even better results. Sometimes, as in the case of an app for an online book shop created by Surf, a mobile version can become the one that initially comes out with new updates that are later transferred to the web-based store.
6 steps for developing a custom ecommerce website
Creating an ecom website is a complex process that involves much more than the coding itself. In this part of the article, we’ll take a look at the main prods that custom ecommerce website development entails.
1. Business analysis
The development of an ecommerce platform starts with a plan designed by the project manager together with business analysts. The plan should outline the website’s concept, goals, structure, and approaches for promoting and presenting products. All of this should be based on a thorough analysis of competitors, target audiences, and customer preferences.
2. UX/UI design
This prod of development involves the creation of a sitemap, layouts, and visual look of the pages, including product listings, reviews, checkout, wishlist, and customer account. In the end, you should have a prototype of the website and an accurate understanding of every use case scenario.
3. Select appropriate technology
Finally, it’s time for the essential prod of programming the website’s front-end and back-end. During this prod, web developers create every element and operational logic according to the website’s specifications. It also involves integrating third-party plugins and APIs for payments and other operations, as well as a CMS system for easy content management.
5. QA and testing
This prod is focused on ensuring that every element of the website works properly and the project is optimized for quick loading and comfortable navigation from various devices. In Surf’s practice, the testing goes parallel with the development process, with QA specialists getting involved early on to ensure there are no issues with the project’s specifications.
6. Release, promotion, and maintenance
Once created and thoroughly tested, a website goes live and is ready to attract customers and generate sales. Also, if the website has been developed by a development studio, it is usually t handed to an in-house team for maintenance and regular updating of its content.
Summing things up
An ecommerce website is a powerful tool that can help you boost your business’s success and generate leads, increase traffic, sales, and revenue. However, its effectiveness and return on investment are determined by multiple factors, from business analysis to QA assessment. Here, choosing a development partner with the necessary expertise and commitment is key to success.