By Kye-Suk Jang/ Entrepreneur ME - Image Credit: Shutterstock
Studies indicate that by 2020, the e-commerce business in the Middle East is expected to grow to US$13.4 billion. With such heavy influx of profits in this sector, launching an e-commerce enterprise within the expedient boundaries of GCC would be a smart decision. The following guidelines will help you get started with your website:
1. Choose a product and develop a business plan The most basic question that needs to be addressed is what product you will be selling online. Since there are a lot of international and national e-retail sites fighting for competitive advantage, it is imperative to select niche products for selective demography or catch hold of trends early. A strong base will be established if people associate your e-commerce website with a viable line of goods. Similarly, an effective business plan would include strategies for financing, marketing and advertising.
2. Setting up the e-commerce website It is important to have found manufacturers before you set up your website, because it is easier to get manufacturers on board with a prospect of website launch, rather than having an empty website with no products to display. An e-commerce platform needs to take care of the entire range of products, the different categories, as well as the checkout and payment processes.
There are many such platforms available online, most of which have very similar functionalities and features. The two most prominently used are:
- Shopify has starting rates of $14 per month. It has catered to thousands of upcoming ecommerce brands setup websites by handling all responsibilities, ranging from hosting to online payment processing. They also provide a wide range of aesthetically pleasing templates and apps.
- OpenCart is a powerful platform available for free. It utilizes open-source architecture which means that hosting and website security will need to be designed manually. If you want a quick and easy launch, go with Shopify. If you are looking into customizing the technicalities of the website, opt for OpenCart.
In addition to these, an e-commerce website would also require a domain name for their brand, server for hosting, and SSL certificate to facilitate secure online payments. BlueHost is a popular choice for reasonable web-hosting services and registering domain names.
3. Adding engaging content and SEO tools Impressive online content ensures that a substantial crowd reaching your website gets converted to customers. The message spread across the website has to be persuasive, and it should boost brand awareness. Each piece of information should have a definitive goal and should be able to engage the visitors. There is a ton of advice for digital entrepreneurs offered by websites such as Neilpatel.com or Dailywritingtips.com.
Effective SEO tools enable your e-commerce website to rank higher in search results. To use these tools smartly, you need to identify the keywords to your homepage along with a list of keywords your competitors are using for their websites. You may take help of tools such as Screaming Frog to quickly find errors in your website. You also need to make sure that your website doesn’t load too slowly (anything more than three seconds is considered slow). You can also hire individual consultants like Hashtag17 to help you get a custom solution for your website. In addition to these, you also need to look into detail parameters pertaining to site structure, internal linking, mobile version of the website, customer review, and social media integration.