The 10 most important questions of the online store structure

02.09.2020
by Meike Müller
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Starting out in the world of e-commerce is not always easy and poses many questions. From the domain to the design, as an online store operator you need to prepare a good roadmap in advance in order to keep up with the competition and offer your future customers the best possible shopping experience. In this article, we try to answer the 10 most important questions of online store creation and provide you with a guide to help you build or optimize your online store. If you need further help and information about creating an online store, we at EXWE are here for you.

What to expect
  1. Where should I even start?
  2. Which store system should I use?
  3. How do I structure my store?
  4. How do I design my online store?
  5. What content is important for my store?
  6. Which payment methods should I offer?
  7. What do I need to consider for the delivery options?
  8. Do I really need to worry so much about SEO?
  9. What else do I need to consider?
  10. Step by step to your online shop
  11. FAQ: Questions and answers about creating an online store
    1. How much does it cost to have an online store created?
    2. Who can create an online store for me?
    3. How much capital do I need for an online store?
    4. Is it possible to create an online store for free?
    5. Which store system is the best?
    6. What is the difference between an online store and a website?
    7. What is a store system?

Reading time 5 min

1. WHERE SHOULD I EVEN START?

The most important thing is the server, which offers the performance and data security you need. A database with your range of goods and services should either already exist or be created. You also need a domain with a suitable name. A suitable store system is crucial for the later development of the online store and should therefore be well thought out.

2. WHICH STORE SYSTEM SHOULD I USE?

There are now many providers of store systems - it is important to differentiate between rented online stores and open source stores. Companies such as Strato, Jimdo, WiX and others offer you a functional store system with which you can create and design your online store using a modular system. You don't need any programming experience and don't have to worry about hosting - the provider takes care of this. However, the disadvantages here are the low flexibility due to the technical limits and design options set by the provider, as well as the dependence on the software provider.

The option of open source can be implemented using store systems such as Shopware, Magento etc.. Here you create your online store yourself or have it created by a professional. This option requires good programming skills or sufficient start-up capital to hire a professional. However, there are some funding programmes for digitalization that can help you with this. The biggest advantage of this solution is the unlimited technical possibilities you have when designing and setting up your store.

3. HOW DO I STRUCTURE MY STORE?

A good structure impresses at first glance and makes your store easy for your customers to use. It is therefore important to work out main categories and subdivide them into subcategories. We recommend that you use a maximum of 5 main categories and 10 subcategories (per main category) and that the names of the categories and hierarchy are decisive for the later user-friendliness.

You also need to plan a good structure for your articles. Organize your articles into the previously created main and sub-categories, give them precise product titles and complete the whole thing with a short description. Ideally, each item should have 3 item images and attributes for variant items in other sizes or colors. Make sure there are high-quality photos of your items - this will help you achieve a higher conversion rate and satisfied customers. Also important:

  • Is your logo in the right place?
  • Does your online store have a search function?
  • Is it clear where the shopping cart is located?

4. HOW DO I DESIGN MY ONLINE STORE?

A well-designed online store is the be-all and end-all and has a significant influence on your customers' purchasing decisions. In addition to the presentation of goods, you should design your online store in a representative and clear way. Your corporate identity should be reflected in your store - including logo, fixed font and high-quality graphics and photos. Your layout should be as clean and clear as possible so that your customers can find their way around quickly and don't leave the site in frustration before completing their purchase. To optimize your online store, you should not ignore UX design and usability design. You can find out how you can increase your conversion rate with the right use of UX design in our blog post.

5. WHAT CONTENT IS IMPORTANT FOR MY STORE?

The first click of many new customers is often on information about the company. Is the retailer reputable? What professional qualifications does the provider have? Valid address details and contact options such as telephone number and email address are particularly important here. The legally required information such as terms and conditions, legal notice and privacy policy are essential for your online store. The following list includes the most important points:

6. WHICH PAYMENT METHODS SHOULD I OFFER ?

Complicated payment processes and cumbersome shipping data entry are the final stumbling blocks in your sales process. Your customers accept what they know and what is proven and secure. In addition to standard payment methods such as prepayment, invoice and cash on delivery, you should consider integrating PayPal (with PayPalPlus), Amazon Pay or Klarna to offer your customers the best possible online shopping experience.

7. WHAT DO I NEED TO CONSIDER WITH THE DELIVERY OPTIONS?

Reliability is also important here - for you and your customer. Proven carriers such as DHL, Hermes, DPD and UPS should be known and selected after prior comparison. Also important: Is your customer's billing location also the delivery location? How fast is the delivery? Is shipment tracking available? How much does shipping cost for your products and what options are available (standard, express, etc.)? When is delivery of the product free of shipping costs? You should consider these points carefully before you have an online store created and go online.

8. HOW CAN I IDENTIFY AND ADDRESS MY TARGET GROUP?

When you create your online store, you probably already have a rough idea of what your target group looks like. Analytically collected data helps you to address your target group even more efficiently. Addressing your customers in a targeted manner helps you to sell more products in the long term. By linking your social media channels, you offer your customers the opportunity to communicate with you directly and quickly via live chat. The following tools have proven themselves through many years of experience and can also make your life easier here:

9. DO I REALLY NEED TO WORRY ABOUT SEO?

First of all - you don't have to be an SEO professional to create an online store. However, you should not neglect this important point and at least get to grips with the basics of search engine optimization. SEO is extremely important to promote your store - especially at the beginning, where the budget for advertising costs (e.g. via GoogleAds) is not available and most traffic is generated via search engines. A useful SEO tool is Seobility. The free tool bundles all the most important SEO functions in one place and gives you helpful tips for optimizing your online store.

10. WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO CONSIDER?

There are many tips and tricks in the area of online store creation. Finally, we have three areas that you should not ignore:

  1. Returns management: Returns can quickly become expensive, so you should think in advance about how you will accept and refund them and what will happen to a returned product.
  2. Competition: Find out about your competition. Who are your direct competitors? What do they offer? You can only improve through direct comparison.
  3. Bookkeeping: Your online store's bookkeeping should be meticulous and clear from the outset. Accounting tools such as lexoffice or Fastbill are inexpensive alternatives that allow you to carry out your accounting digitally and easily.

11. step by step to your online shop

To give you a better overview of how you can quickly set up your own online store, we have listed each individual step of the online store creation process.

Technical foundation: First take care of the technical details such as server, database and domain.

Store system: The next step is the store system. What requirements do you have and can the store system meet them? There is now a large selection of store systems, so you are sure to find one that meets your requirements.

Structure and functions: Now you should make a plan about the structure and layout of your store. You can also consider which functions will be necessary.

Design: Once you have thought about the structure and all the functions, it makes sense to plan everything design-related. Which colors and fonts do you want to use and which visual elements suit your brand?

Content: What story do you want to tell? Now think about how you want to proceed with the textual content of your site. You also need to think about how your products should be presented in the text.

Payment methods & shipping: These details are of course also important for a functioning online store. Select the payment and shipping service providers that should be available in your store.

Performance and control: You have now clarified all design and content issues. Now you can check your store again extensively for content and functional errors and should also check the loading times, etc. etc.

Go-live: In the final step, your store can finally go online! However, the work is not yet done. The last step involves the following optimizations.

Subsequent optimizations: After the go-live, you can continue to take care of updates and search engine optimization. After all, your products should also be found online. You can also use marketing tools to reach your target group.

FAQ: Questions and answers about creating an online store

If you still have questions after our ten most important questions, we hope that we can cover a few more topics in the following FAQ. Otherwise, we are of course always available by phone to answer your individual questions about creating an online store.

  • What does it cost to have an online store created?

    This is probably the most popular question about creating an online store. However, the question cannot be answered without knowing the scope of the online shop project. A small and very simple online store can certainly be created for as little as 4,000 euros. The more extensive and individual the store becomes, the more expensive the project will be. There are no upper financial limits. For a store with individual functions, you should therefore plan on spending at least 20,000 to 30,000 euros. Depending on the scope, it can also be over 50,000 euros. We would be happy to provide you with a customized quote for your online store. You can contact us via our contact form or by phone.

  • Who can create an online store for me?

    Depending on what requirements you have for an online store, you can create it yourself using modular systems or have a store created by an online store agency. You don't need any programming knowledge to create an online store from modular systems or modules. Of course, you don't have as many customization options there either. With an online store agency, you can implement every individual function and every design wish.

  • How much capital do you need for an online store?

    As mentioned above, this depends entirely on your own ideas regarding the online store. A small online store with basic functions can be implemented with a small amount of capital. You will need more capital for any extra requirements. Depending on what you decide on, a few thousand euros may be enough. However, the range can also go up to several tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. As soon as you have an overview of which functions and design are important to you, you can request a non-binding quote from EXWE. This will give you a transparent insight into the costs of your online store.

  • Is it possible to create an online store for free?

    There is actually no option that allows you to create and maintain an online store completely free of charge. Some store systems or modular systems offer the option of using an open source version or a free trial version for a certain period of time. This means that you will still incur costs, either later or during hosting. However, these are manageable depending on the scope of your store. The more you want your store to be able to do and the more individualized the functions should be, the higher the costs will be.

  • Which store system is the best?

    There are many different store systems that you can use to create your own online store. Which store system is the best always depends on what you want from your online store. The Shopware store system is always a good option for us. With Shopware, we have already been able to create a large number of different online stores for customers from a wide variety of industries and with a wide variety of ideas.

  • What is the difference between an online store and a website?

    A website is usually a platform that primarily shares information with the world. Companies have websites to tell something about their history and their services. It also contains contact details such as address, telephone number and e-mail address. The online store can contain all of this and add yet another function. Customers can buy products or services offered by the company directly from an online store. There is a shopping cart and the option to pay using various payment methods in order to have the desired product sent to them. Security and the encryption of personal data play a very important role in an online store.

  • What is a store system?

    A store system, also known as an e-commerce platform, is a software solution that enables companies to sell their products or services online. It is a digital platform on which companies can present their goods, handle transactions and process customer orders. There are many different store systems on the market, from simple solutions for small businesses to complex platforms for large companies. Some well-known store systems are Shopify, Shopware, Magento, BigCommerce and many more, which we have listed in our article on store systems, so if you're interested, take a look.

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Meike
Meike
from 02.09.2020

Hello, my name is Meike. I take care of the EXWE back office and am responsible for our social media channels. All of our articles are meant to make your life easier and help you make decisions. Nevertheless, it can happen that something remains unclear, so: If you have questions about this article you can easily reach me at +49 231 93149827.

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