Many people who want to start their own online business consider an online store an ideal business model. At first sight, setting up and developing our own online store seems to be an easy and pleasant task. Everything you have to do is to simply watch several tutorials on YouTube, download free software, choose your industry, come up with a catchy name for your store and add your products. That’s you all need to get your clients coming and your store to generate huge profit, isn’t it?
Now let’s keep it real.
This extensive guide will offer you vast practical knowledge that (I hope!) will allow you to set up and run your own e-business safely, effectively and in accordance with the law. Enjoy your reading!
Let’s start with formal issues as they are the ones that constitute the core of your business.
The first formal step – registration of your business activity
Registering a business is the first major step to run a successful business activity. Although the law in our country doesn’t pamper the entrepreneurs, each year the process of setting up a business becomes much easier.
Choosing the best form of business will affect almost every aspect of running an online store. That’s why it is good to think the choice through as changing it might be both time and resource consuming, especially if you decide to register a commercial company or partnership.
Running an online store doesn’t require you to register any particular form of business. You can successfully run it as a sole proprietorship, civil law partnership and general partnership, and as a more extensive entity: a limited partnership, limited join-stock partnership, a joint stock company or a limited liability company.
A new type of company, PSA (Prosta Spółka Akcyjna), which stands for a “simple joint stock company”, is planned to be introduced in 2021. This solution will be created mainly for start-ups and companies developing new technologies. PSA offers a number of advantages that provide companies with flexibility, ease of doing business and low entry threshold.
Which form of business is the best to run a store? That depends.
Most often, online store owners choose:
- a sole proprietorship, which is the simplest and the easiest form to run;
- a civil law partnership, which is convenient and equally easy to run;
- a limited liability company, which is a bit more complicated and more expensive, but it provides the greatest protection of private capital.
A sole proprietorship and a civil law partnership can be registered online in a fast and easy manner (when considering the Polish standards). You can also register them at a city or municipality office, obtaining an entry to the Central Registration and Information on Business and registering your business at ZUS (Social Insurance Institution) and, if you wish to be an active VAT payer, at the Tax Office as well.
Registration of a limited liability company is more difficult, takes more time and can be quite stressful. The government is bragging that with S24 system you can register your business within up to 24 hours. The truth is you will only receive a case number within that time.
Apart from drawing up a shareholders’ agreement and obtaining an entry in the National Court Register (KRS), paid PLN 500, you will also have to pay for the entry in the Court and Economic Monitor (PLN 100) and obtaining a NIP (Tax Payer Identification Number) and VAT number (if you want to be an active VAT payer). If you decided to set up a limited liability company, we recommend you to use the S24 system. The online registration of your business will make it easier for you to submit all documents to the National Court Register later on.
What about a non-registered business?
If when running an online store you do not generate a monthly income exceeding 50% of the minimum remuneration, which is currently PLN 1,300 (as of 2020) and you have not conducted a business activity in the last 60 months, you do not have to register your store.
If you meet the conditions specified by the legislator, the non-registered business might turn out to be a great and safe way to test your idea of earning money online.
The second formal step – choosing the form of taxation
The taxation form is another extremely important issue that can determine the profitability of your business.
There are several forms of taxation you can choose from. Usually, the companies that operate online stores choose taxation in line with general principles (on a straight-line basis or in accordance with the tax scale) or a flat-rate taxation (constant amount tax or registered flat-rate tax).
Tax scale and flat-rate tax
General principles of taxation with tax scale is one of the most advantageous options for the businesses which do not exceed the first tax threshold during a year, which is PLN 85,528 (as of 2020). They pay 17% of personal income tax. After the threshold is exceeded, the amount goes up to 32%. The flat-rate tax does not depend on the income and is set at 19%.
If you provide services that are trade-related (i.e. online store), the flat rate tax rate amounts to 3%. The flat rate is a relatively simple form of taxation, but it makes it impossible to settle business costs. That’s why this form of taxation can be unprofitable for larger stores which employ staff and incur considerable expenditure on goods.
Do you want to settle your documents on your own or do you need an accountant?
Have you chosen the taxation form? That’s great! Now it’s time you make a serious decision: do you wish to devote your time and energy to getting knowledge on how you settle your business and keep the records on your own in line with the applicable law or do you hire an accountant?
I recommend that you look for a good accounting office, which deals with the tax office on your behalf. This way you will be able to focus on setting up and scaling up your business and will be sure (not 100% sure, but sure enough) that your business is settled properly.
Registration for insurance purposes with ZUS (Social Insurance Institution)
When you set up your business, you are obliged to pay compulsory contributions to the Social Insurance Institution. The applicable contributions are:
- social contributions: PLN 884.65;
- health contributions: PLN 362.34,
- labour fund: PLN 74.25.
The total amount of the full contributions to the Social Security institution amounts to PLN 1321.24 in its basic form. You can also voluntarily pay the following contributions:
- sickness insurance contributions: 2.45% (PLN 76.84 in 2020);
- pension contributions: 19.52% (PLN 152.26 in 2020);
- disability pension contributions: 8% (PLN 62.40 in 2020);
You can also take advantage of so-called start relief if you set up a business for the first time or you apply for the relief after 60 months from the day it was closed down or suspended. Then the small contributions to the Social Insurance Institution will cost you only PLN 590.03 per month (or PLN 609.14 with the sickness insurance contribution).
When considering a limited liability company, the situation is slightly different. If you are the only shareholder of the company, you have to pay the contributions to the Social Insurance Institution the same as in the case of a sole proprietorship or a civil law partnership. You will be exempt from this privilege if there are at least two partners in the company. The amount of the contributions to the Social Security Institutions are the same as in the case of a sole proprietorship.
Obligation to keep sales records with fiscal cash register
According to the law, an entrepreneur who sales products or services for individuals who don’t run a business activity as well as flat-rate farmers is obliged to keep a record of sales with a cash register.
However, this requirement is subject to many exemptions.
When don’t you have to have a fiscal cash register and issue receipts? *
- If your annual turnover did not exceed PLN 20,000.
- If the delivery of the goods is made by post or courier and the payment for the goods is made by postal or bank transfer, and it is clear from the records and proofs of payment what action has been taken and for whose benefit.
The exemption from having a cash register when running an online store does not apply to mail-order sales of perfumes, household appliances, telecommunication and photographic equipment and parts and accessories for motor vehicles (except motorcycles).
What about the receipts? Do you have to give them to customers?
A fiscal receipt must be handed over to the buyer at the time of payment for the goods or a service. For prepaid transactions, a receipt can be sent electronically (by e-mail) or can be added to the package.
As a rule, your obligation to provide the buyer with a fiscal receipt arises on the date of delivery, if the buyer had paid for the goods or services earlier or on the date of receipt of an advance payment.
Phew! The maze of company registration is now behind us. It’s time to develop decent terms and conditions of your future online store which are in line with the applicable law. It is also necessary to develop a return policy, a complaints policy, a guarantee policy, a cookies policy and a GDPR document. And this is just the tip of the legal iceberg!
The first legal step: preparation of the terms and conditions of your store
Should you just copy the terms and conditions of any online store? Would that be enough? Unfortunately, that’s not so easy – if you decide to do so, this might lead to a number of problems that could include not only the unlawful appropriation of intellectual property of another entity, but it might turn out the terms and conditions you copied don’t relate to your business model, industry of the form of your business.
The terms and conditions of your store are the most important document as they replace an agreement you enter with your customers. Moreover, they also allow you to easily meet the information obligations required by art. 12 of the Act on Consumer Rights.
Elements of good terms and conditions of an online store
The recitals of the terms and conditions should specify the full name of the store the terms and conditions apply to, along with the domain and identification data of the entity that owns the store. The recitals should also contain the date of the publication of the terms and conditions. It’s also a good idea to include preferred forms of contact.
Defining the terms included in the terms and conditions make the document more precise and leaves no room for misinterpretation of the provisions. It’s worth to define the most crucial terms such as the consumer, the buyer, the store, the terms and conditions, and the seller.
The terms and conditions provisions should specify the information referring to what the terms and conditions describe, what is the purpose of the store, whether the prices of the products are gross or net and in what currency they are given.
Moreover, it is also a good idea to include information about the technical requirements for using the store on desktop and mobile devices. Don’t forget to specify the types of products sold in the store: whether they are digital, physical, used or new.
A precise definition of how to place an order will reduce understatements and will provide customers with specific instructions on how to place an order in your store. Think which step of placing an order will also mean entering into an agreement. It is crucial from the perspective of possible technical errors or lack of goods that occur when a customer places an order.
It is a good practice to include information that when an order is placed, the customer and the seller conclude a sale agreement.
Delivery and payment terms
This part of your terms and conditions should contain the forms of delivery and payment available in your store. Instead of providing and updating the payment forms and suppliers each time, you can direct your customer to a subpage where you provide and update all integrations of the store.
Specify the delivery and payment terms here as well and indicate the cost and possible time of the delivery along with the entity that will deliver the order.
A section concerning the order processing should include a detailed description of what completing an order looks like, when it starts, what the process is. It should also include information on possible forms on contact between the customer and the seller during the whole process.
Withdrawal from the agreement
It is extremely important to include the provisions referring to the withdrawal from the agreement. According to consumer rights, every customer has the right to withdraw from a remote agreement. If you fail to inform your customers about this right, they might withdraw from the agreement even after one year from the date of receiving their order. Moreover, this right cannot be modified to the detriment of the consumer.
That is why it is worth to include appropriate statutory wording of the consumer rights and inform the customer about the right, terms, process and consequences of withdrawal from the agreement.
It is also a good idea to provide information that the customer covers the cost of the return shipment.
Make the customer aware that in this situation he or she CANNOT withdraw from the agreement. You can just copy and paste the provision of art. 38 of the Consumer Rights Act.
Liability for defects
As a seller, you have to bear the whole liability for defects. Your liability is governed by the seller’s warranty and you have to include that information in the terms and conditions.
In the complaint section, describe the responsibilities of both seller and the person filing a complaint and specify the rules for reporting a complaint.
Add a clause stating that as a seller you are not liable for any loss in property or health caused by improper use of the product.
The rules for filing a complaint should include the term and place of lodging the complaint, the content of the complaint, the term within the complaint should be accepted and the way it should be considered.
It is also crucial to provide information on the customer’s opportunity to appeal against the decision concerning the complaint.
Final provisions should include information concerning the nature of the terms and conditions, the day they become effective as well as the procedures to be followed when amending their content.
- a personal data administrator;
- the purpose of personal data processing;
- the voluntary provision of personal data;
- means of protection of personal data processing;
- rights of the customers, whose personal data are processed;
- means and purposes of using cookies;
- browsers abilities to manage cookies.
Moreover, keep in mind that it is one thing to draw up privacy and cookies policy. Another thing is a more demanding task.
- You have to design the process of collecting consents from your customers to process their data,
- identifying and segmenting customer group according to their consents,
- entering into data processing agreements,
- and developing internal documentation concerning personal data protection.
That’s a lot, isn’t it? But there’s still the GDPR you have to consider.
The third legal step: developing a personal data protection policy (GDPR)
The GDPR… we tend to think it’s a complicated document, closely observed by everyone who runs an online store.
But fear makes things look twice as bad as they are. A good look at a personal data protection policy will dispel your doubts and fears and allow you to draw up a reliable personal data policy.
What about the penalties under the GDPR? Should you be afraid of them?
Well, yes and no. The financial penalties under the GDPR might amount to up to EUR 20 mln or 4% of the annual turnover in the year preceding the year in which the penalty was imposed. It sounds serious, but many people forget that the GDPR includes a provision stating that the penalties must be proportionate to the entrepreneur’s misconduct. Therefore, you, as a micro or small entrepreneur, do not have to fear such huge penalties. Unless you deliberately and severely upset the Personal Data Protection Office.
According to the GDPR, you have to include:
- consent to personal data processing;
- documentation concerning personal data protection;
- recommendations concerning means of personal data protection;
- instructions on how to manage IT systems;
- a register of authorised persons;
- a personal data processing agreement;
- a record of personal data protection incidents.
The fourth legal step: verification of legal obligations
We have covered the majority of legal obligations. Now we should audit whether your legal obligations have been implemented.
Keep in might that you must comply with the provisions of the Civil Code, consumer rights, and the act on the provision of services by electronic means and telecommunications law.
Before you launch your online store, check if:
- you have designed a purchasing process in line with the Civil Code;
- you have ensured the visibility of the information about the GDPR, cookies and privacy;
- you have allowed the users to mark separate checkboxes referring to their consents;
- you have developed precise terms and conditions of your store;
- you have designed the entire process of collecting consents to the personal data processing;
- you have implemented means of personal data protection;
- you have designed internal documentation concerning personal data protection.
A more extensive guide on how to write the terms and conditions of an online store can be found on prakreacja.pl.
All is set? Now it’s time to build your future online store.
We have already covered the formalities and legal issues. It’s time for what camels like best. This is going to be the most pleasant stage of creating an online store. However, keep in mind that you have to be careful here, too! It’s easy to make a serious mistake that will later affect your whole business.
The first IT step: choosing a domain
A good domain is a basis for success. Although the choice of the right domain seems trivial, it might have various effects, both positive and negative. Regardless of your business profile, your domain should be consistent with the name of your store. It should also be smart, trustworthy and encouraging your customers to visit the store.
If you want to run an online store with cat food, and you will choose a domain such as cat32food.org, you probably won’t be very successful on the market. Your customers won’t consider it trustworthy and the domain surely won’t inspire them to click on the link. Domains that would be better in this situation would look like that: catfood.com or even catbelly.net.
When choosing your store domain, you have two options: either you pick a generic domain or a brand one.
The name of a generic domain consists of the keywords popular in your industry. Foodforcat.com might be an example of such a domain. The domain of this type describes your business perfectly and will make it easier for you to position your store. On the other hand, a brand domain might be a better idea when you want to make your brand more popular. However, keep in mind that building a brand is a hard, long and multi-stage process. LovelyFatty.com is an example of a brand domain.
Several tips on how to choose a domain name:
- avoid diacritical marks;
- focus on simplicity and minimalism;
- make sure your domain is easy to remember;
- reduce the risk of customers making a mistake in your domain.
What domain extension will be best?
.com, .pl, or .pro? Which domain extension is best? That depends.
You can choose from regional extensions (.waw, .beskidy.pl, lublin.pl), national extensions (.pl, .cz., .de), functional extensions (.edu, .org, .biz) and premium ones (.dev, .it, .bike, .guru). There is a huge number of options, but your choice should depend on your target market and the type of business you wish to conduct. If you plan to open an online store with bicycle parts, it’d be a good idea to buy a .bike domain extension. On the other hand, if you wish to sell self-development courses and workshops, you could choose .guru.
How do you register a domain?
This is pretty simple. All you have to do is type your domain name in our domain search engine and choose an available extension. That’s easy, isn’t it?
The second IT step: choosing hosting or a server when you run a larger store or handle increased traffic
While choosing a domain is mainly a purely semantic issue, the choice of hosting is a purely technical matter and it can affect whether your online store will operate quickly, effectively and whether it can handle the traffic.
Your hosting (or dedicated server) must be sufficiently efficient. Otherwise, you won’t use the whole potential of your business.
When verifying its parameters, you should focus primarily on the available capacity, monthly transfer limit, price and additional features that will often make your life easier. It’s good if you also verify the number of available domains, email accounts and databases included in the package.
Choose hosting, if you want to set up a simple store
Hosting is the most affordable option if you wish to set up a small website and an online store. You will have to follow some restrictions related to your hosting capacity, transfer you can use in a month or the available number of email accounts.
Choose a dedicated server, if you want to set up a big store with a lot of traffic
A dedicated server guarantees the greatest freedom and efficiency in server management. You have your own physical hardware resources, which will ensure the highest level of security and full server performance just for you and your needs.
You can use this server any way you like. If you have an idea of what to use it for, our support team will gladly help you with everything you dream of.
Take a look at this article as well: What kind of traffic can my server handle?
The third IT step: choosing an SSL certificate (free or commercial)
“This website is not secure” — I bet you don’t want your customers to see this message.
An SSL certificate is a standard now, which is necessary if you wish to operate online. Certificates validate websites, domains and their owners and ensure that the HTTP connection is encrypted, securing communication and data sent between the server and the user. Moreover, SSL certificates speed up site loading, protect personal data and improve site positioning and UX.
The answer is simple: you will ensure the greatest possible security for your store and its customers.
A commercial SSL certificate for your online store. Which one should you choose?
Certificates are divided into 3 groups according to their scope of security and authentication:
- DV certificates: validate only the domain name;
- OV certificates: validate the domain name and its owner data;
- EV certificates: validate the domain name together with full data of its owner. During the authentication process, the applicant must send a company agreement for the service provider.
For small and medium-sized online stores I recommend the OV certificate — e.g. POSITIVESSL, which not only will ensure a high level of data protection, but it will also make sure that the website is safe and that you comply with all legal requirements regarding personal data processing.
The fourth IT step: choosing a CMS for creating an online store
A CMS (Content Management System) is software that allows you to manage the structure of your online store along with its entire content. Choosing the right CMS is extremely important as it will affect whether it is easy to manage the store and what the scope of its functionality is.
These are the solutions that you can implement it in your store: Magento, PrestaShop, Woocommerce. If you are lazy, you can use the ready-made solutions offered in the SaaS model.
Currently, Magento is one of the most extensive content management systems. It’s open-source with powerful configuration possibilities.
If you decide to choose this solution, it’s good to have basic programming knowledge. Even though Magento is huge and provides a great number of features.
Don’t forget about the high costs of implementing and maintaining the system. Using Magento for your online store is going to be expensive. That’s why this environment is recommended mainly for launching huge online stores.
PrestaShop is another highly popular CMS, which will be ideal for small and medium-sized online stores. It’s a free system whose current market share amounts to over 25%. The environment provides a huge number of plug-ins, modules and extensions that allow you to adjust the functionality and structure of your online store to your own needs or the specifics of the industry you operate in.
WooCommerce is a powerful online store management plug-in that is fully integrated with WordPress. It’s another extremely popular and free e-commerce tool (it’s the second most popular tool in Poland), which makes it possible to set up small and medium-sized online stores.
Similarly to WordPress, WooCommerce offers a huge variety of paid and free plug-ins, an extensive repository. It is also relatively simple to use and configure. If you are at the beginning of your e-commerce adventure, WooCommerce can be an ideal solution.
Store in the SaaS model
SaaS (Software as a Service) model is one of the easiest and fastest solutions. It includes purchasing access to the shop software offered in the cloud. And that’s it. In other words, you get access to a pre-configured CMS from an external provider in exchange for your subscription.
Although this might be the most convenient solution, I strongly advise you against it. Shortcuts aren’t worth taking and can lead you astray, especially in online business.
Stores offered in the SaaS model provide very limited functionality and configuration possibilities. Moreover, if you choose this model, you won’t have full control over the store and its content.
The fifth IT step: drawing up a policy for updating the software of your online store
You have chosen, installed and configured your CMS. What next? The implemented software will not be up-to-date forever. The functioning of your store on outdated software might lead to data theft, cyber-attacks, failures and downtime. Not to mention the lower optimization and lack of compatibility with the latest systems or devices.
At this stage, you must think how you are going to plan and execute your policy concerning updating your online store software. All the CMS mentioned above offered regular updates of their software (apart from some SaaS services).
Similarly to the majority of modules and plus-ings. Their developers also provide appropriate technical support, provide patches and optimise their software. It is extremely important that you update your PHP versions regularly.
Ideally, you should update the software as soon as the latest version is available. Plan your updates to take place when the traffic in your store is not high — usually late at night.
The sixth IT step: implementing security policies
The next step should consist in developing security policies and processes which refer to taking care of your customers’ data at every stage of interaction with your store. The steps include:
- the registration process in your store;
- the process of logging into an account;
- the ordering process.
As part of your implemented security policy, you should also periodically check the correct functioning of all components of the online store used by your customers.
Cyclically check whether the following function correctly:
- the registration system;
- the purchasing process;
- the mailing system;
- the forms on the website;
- the product search engine;
- the discount system.
The seventh IT step: choosing a mailing system
E-mail is usually the only way you communicate with your customers. Make sure it works perfectly.
When creating e-mail accounts and planning your e-mail marketing, you will have to choose between a local mail server or using external systems.
A properly configured mail system will allow you to send transactional emails that will inform your customers about the status of their order, password changes or other relevant aspects.
While it is a good idea to use a local mail server for the direct communication with your customers, it is worth choosing an external, functional and convenient solution for email marketing or creating a system for transactional notifications.
MailerLite or FreshMail, which are popular and easy to use, are among such email marketing systems.
The eighth IT step: deciding about for how long your online store might be unavailable, and selecting the right SLA for your website and server
Sometimes, even the best online stores that run on the fastest and most reliable dedicated servers or hosting need a break. This involves maintenance work, server or website failures or resource migration. That’s why you should determine the time for which your store might be unavailable to your customers at the very beginning and choose the right SLA for your website and server on this basis.
What is SLA?
SLA (Service Level Agreement) is an agreement on the guaranteed level of services. In other words, it is a guarantee of reliability of a given IT infrastructure or service, depending on the subject matter of the agreement.
AWS provides 3 types of SLA level and compensation given by the service provider when the services are available for a shorter time than provided for in the agreement. More information can be found here: What is a high server or website availability?
The ninth IT step: choosing an online payment system
Payment gateways are an absolute must-have in every online store. The more options of payments for an order you provide, the better. It will surely make your customers feel more convenient when shopping, which in turn will translate into better effectiveness of your e-business.
What payment gateways should you choose and on what basis?
When selecting a payment system, you should pay attention to several aspects. The commission is only one important step. First of all, adjust your payment gateway to the specifics of your target customer group which will use the gateway for their payments in your store.
If you want to offer your products to a younger customer, think about providing them with Google Pay, Apple Pay, Stripe or Amazon Pay. A slightly older customer still prefer fast bank transfers or Blik.
Your choice of the payment gateway should also depend on:
- the activation fee;
- the number of free withdrawals from the account per month;
- the commission;
- the types of supported cards;
- the availability of mobile payments (PayU, Blik, SkyCash, mPay, Apple Pay, etc.);
- the possibility of instalment payments;
- the availability of plug-ins and interactions offered by the gateway provider;
- the commission charged for the transaction;
- the time your funds are transferred to your account.
The most popular online payment providers are: PayU, Tpay, Przelewy24, Dotpay and Stripe.
The tenth IT step: integration with couriers and shipping systems
The next necessary integration is the integration of the online store with shipping systems and courier companies. The more automated the shipping process, the less work for you. You will appreciate this automation especially when your store gets bigger and you have to handle several dozens of orders every day.
How to choose a courier and determine your delivery prices?
When selecting a courier company which will handle the logistics of your store, you should specify:
- the declared number of orders per month;
- the dimensions and size of the packages;
- the type of products you send;
- the time of picking up the packages.
When verifying the offers of couriers, pay special attention to the returns and complaints policy. If you wish to integrate a courier company with your store, consider the following offers: DHL, DPD, UPS, FedEX, Poczta Polska, Paczka w Ruchu, Paczkomaty InPost.
Using brokers which aggregate orders from many entities, and therefore can offer you better shipping prices, is also an interesting solution. Taniewysylanie.pl or znajdzkuriera.pl are examples of such brokers.
Design and UX
With increasing competition, growing demands of digital consumers and being used to convenient and smart solutions, we have to keep in mind we need good design and even better UX (User Experience).
Sometimes, it is the design and user experience that are the key factor in the purchasing process. That’s why you have to use an attractive and modern graphic design of your store, which is also intuitive for your customers.
The first design and UX step: simplifying the shopping system
The simpler the shopping system, the better. It includes all steps that a customer has to perform from the time he or she opens the website to completing the order. Difficulties and lack of intuitiveness at any stage of the process may lead to leaving the shopping cart and losing the customer. Bear in mind that modern e-customer is impatient. Don’t give him or her reasons to go to your competition.
Here are some tips to help you simplify your shopping system:
- Minimize the number of fields necessary to register a user account.
- Design the registration and login process so that it doesn’t distract your customer for the purchase.
- Be precise and inform your customers about the individual steps of the purchase, making it easier for them to navigate the process. Don’t forget to inform the customer which step will lead to entering into a sale agreement.
- Keep your texts short and clear and don’t leave room for excessive interpretation.
- Describe the icons – not everyone interprets an icon in the same way.
- Make it easier for your customers to understand how functions work by using helpful and appropriate descriptions.
- Use buttons that clearly indicate what will happen when you click on them.
- Use graphic elements to complement the text.
- Make sure you use correct formatting: e.g. headers, listings and possibly short paragraphs.
- Include contextual help at each stage of the order.
- Don’t use any distractions and limit the number of pop-ups and bright ads that would distract your customers from the purchase.
- Use intuitive and possibly simple navigation in the form breadcrumbs and a clear menu (e.g. a popular drop-down menu).
- Create an extensive search engine equipped with filters and categories that will help the customers find the products they are interested in.
The second design and UX step: adjusting the store to mobile devices
Currently, up to 69% of online purchases are made on mobile devices. If your online store isn’t adapter to the size of the screens, processors and RAM, you risk losing half your potential customers.
Don’t forget to adapt the layout and structure of your store to your online customers. While you can use fancy animations, big product pictures and an extensive structure of the store on the desktop version, smartphones would require better loading speed of the e-shop content, easy operation and functionality.
When adjusting the store layout, pay special attention to:
- The amount of the displayed content and its formatting: keep the content to an optimal minimum, use short paragraphs and a slightly larger font.
- Don’t use too many numbers of images and keep their size and resolution appropriate.
- Partially cover up unnecessary graphical features.
- Eliminate all unnecessary animations that delay the loading time of the website.
- Use so-called lazy loading.
- Replace links with clickable buttons.
- Reduce or completely eliminate pop-ups.
It is particularly important for mobile customers to have as simple forms as possible, a short shopping cart and a small number of activities you have to perform to browse the offer, put the products in the shopping cart and complete the order.
Content and SEO
What’s the saying? “If you’re not on Google, you don’t exist”? At the stage of planning your online store, you should already focus on the right planning and optimization of your content in line with the art of SEO. Creating content and positioning online stores is a tedious, complex and multi-stage process, and the activities might remind cleaning the Augean stable. However, don’t put it off, since a high position in the SERP of a search engine is the best possible channel of customer acquisition.
The first content step: appropriate content structure
Create appropriate links to your products and categories that include the name of the given product.
When creating a structure of links to your products and categories, it’s worth remembering to use the name of the product in the link. Not only will it improve UX and make it easier for your customers to navigate the store, but it will also improve the positioning of product subpages in the search engine.
Presented products should include large, high-quality pictures.
Most customers buy with their eyes. A good product card has to include pictures of the right quality and resolution. Don’t forget to optimise their size so that they can be viewed on mobile devices.
Use concise, clear and specific information on the product card.
No one likes beating around the bush, especially not customers of online stores. Be precise when describing your products and offer information in a clear and transparent manner. Provide product specification, determine its purpose, composition or method of manufacture.
The description should include a language of benefits and storytelling. Involve your customers emotionally. Remember that product description is the only seller in your store. If you don’t feel confident in writing your own content, use the services of a good copywriter.
The second content step: build your brand, loyalty and trust; create content
One of the most effective ways to acquire customers is creating various kinds of content: articles, guides, sponsored posts on external portals (by building a link profile additionally). There are many ways to write good content, and the choice and means of your activities should depend mostly on what your customers look for.
Don’t underestimate the power of social proof. This phenomenon that affects consumers (and the society, in general) by supporting sales and marketing with opinions and reviews of other consumers, sponsored articles written by experts and important figures in the industry or by using influence marketing.
If you operate in a slightly more difficult sector, not all your customers might know how to use, install or configure your products. Create a clear and easy-to-follow guide. By educating your target group of customers you will gain their trust and loyalty, which will directly translate into higher sales.
The more links to your store there are online, the better. Not only will external integrations allow you to build a solid database of links leading to your website, which will have a positive impact on SEO, but they will also enable you to create a recognizable and reliable brand.
The first and the last step of integration: integrate, integrate, integrate!
What external integrations are worth considering when doing business in e-commerce? There are quite a few. Let’s focus on the most important and popular ones.
- Google Merchant Center – it allows you to display and advertise your products directly in the Google search engine. Being included in GMC is an extra kick for your store’s SEO.
- Product price comparison sites – external platforms which can be a great channel to attract cost-efficient customers. Not only will your store be included in the comparison site, but its positioning will also be better. The most popular price comparison websites are, e.g.: Ceneo.pl, Nokaut.pl, Skapiec.pl.
- Opinion websites – platforms that aggregate opinions are also (similarly to price comparison websites) an additional channel of customer acquisition and a way to obtain strong external links. Additionally, good opinions on a such website will make your store more reliable and will allow you to promote your products more effectively. Among such websites, you could find opineo.pl and trustedshops.pl.
- Social media – integration with social networking sites is usually carried out with plugins which allow users to share, like and add comments. And more. These integrations will enable your customers to register and log in to the store with their Facebook or Google account. You will also integrate your product offer with Facebook Marketplace or automate your social media marketing.
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