Most business owners are aware that there is a lot of money to made selling products online, but getting started can be tricky. Successful ecommerce is more than just picking a catchy domain name and shipping products to customers. For business owners who don't know what they're doing when they first start, it can takes months of trial and error to get things rolling. Here are four tips to help launch an ecommerce site with the engine at full throttle.

  1. Build the Website and Product Database with SEO in Mind
    SEO is important for every kind of website and ecommerce portals are no different. Though the percentage will vary from site to site, in most cases, the majority of a site's traffic will come from a search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo. A good place to start is to make sure that all of the main pages of the site are geared toward a particular keyword or phrase and that the URL structure is SEO friendly. A key place to improve the SEO of a site at launch is to make sure all the initial product listings have keywords in the descriptions, make sure the product images have alt tags, and an automatically updated site map. Since many sites go years before making all of these kinds of SEO changes, having them done before the launch of the site will help a site start off with a strong foundation for SEO as the site grows.
  2. Use Simple, Effective Onsite Search and Filtering
    Getting customers to find a website is a significant challenge, but getting them to the right product for them is an even hard, and more important challenge. The larger the product catalog for a business, the more important it becomes to find a way to simplify the search process for consumers. The best way to do this is by having easy-to-use filtering and onsite search features. According to the Acquity Group's 2013 State of B2B Procurement Study 71% of buyers would purchase more from a website if the process to browse and purchase were easier and more convenient. And the importance of a strong filtering system was discussed in a previous article. Some specific improvements marketers should consider include: creating descriptive category and subcategory names; including advance search options to let users fine tune their results, have a display feature that suggests items based on what the customer has added to their carts.
  3. Take Advantage of Social Media
    In the fourth quarter of 2014, one third of the referral traffic to websites came from social media sites. Marketers should take advantage of social media to boost the amount of traffic, and vicariously, the number of people who buy items from the site. There are several that social media can be used to improve an ecommerce website launch. For example, a business owner can use social media to spread word about the launch of the site or opening specials to target consumers who are likely to act on the information. Another tactic business owners should consider is linking their products to social media for reviews. Reviews from social media help online retailers in multiple ways. First, consumers are often convinced by testimonials from others when considering what products to buy. Second, people trust reviews from social media because they are more sure that the review is coming from a real person.
  4. Find Customers with PPC Advertising
    Like with social media, PPC advertising can help a launching ecommerce site find customers at a time when few have heard of the site. PPC ads have the advantage of being highly targeted and able to reach customers who are on sites with interests similar to those served by the ecommerce site. Ads for a clothing retailer can be shown on fashion websites or in search results for a particular item type. It's possible to run a successful ecommerce site without ads, but it's much easier at the start of a site if paid advertising is used. It's like opening a brick-and-mortar store. You can open a store and not put up any signs or advertisement, but why would you?

Launching an ecommerce site can be the beginning of great things for a company. By using internet marketing wisely, a business owner can reduce the amount of time it takes to get a site moving at optimal speed. Using the above tips will help business owners hit the ground running with they launch their online retail store.

For more web design tips, read this article on SEO tips.