Store owners must be feeling the brunt of internet shopping.
Brick-and-mortar stores might not be on their death-bed per se, but they’re experiencing a new paradigm that they either have to adapt to or risk sinking into oblivion.
It’s not so uncommon for you to walk into a shopping mall and not see the huge crowds of shoppers. Things have changed. Shoppers no longer have to make physical shopping trips. Instead, they can remain hunkered down at their homes and order just about anything.
Ecommerce refers to the whole act of buying and selling products or services over the internet. Mostly, people used it to refer to the sale of physical products online, but it actually describes the whole enchilada of commercial transactions so long as it’s facilitated through the internet.
How Ecommerce Started?
Ecommerce has a rich history.
It might not be clear, but its history can be traced back to the 1960s when businesses were conducting electronic transactions facilitated by primitive computer networks.
At the time, businesses were sharing business documents among themselves through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). It’s around the same time that the military also created ARPAnet that they were using to circulate important information during nuclear attacks.
These are the innovations that laid the groundwork for ecommerce. But it was until 1991 that the whole idea of ecommerce became even feasible (when the internet was first opened for commercial use).
However, the idea would first hit the public domain in 1994. It had taken approximately four years for security protocols such as HTTP and DSL to be developed.
The State of Ecommerce Today in Singapore
The ecommerce market in Singapore is growing infinitely.
It’s projected that its revenue will hit $2, 333 million by the end of the year.
Also, with an annual growth rate of 12.1% per year, its projected market volume will hit $3, 687 million by 2024.
The fastest-growing market segment is Food and Personal care, whose market volume now sits at $586 million
The current user penetration rate (the year 2020) is 52.4% and is projected to hit 64.3% by 2024.
|Electronics and Media||$220.1m
|Toys, Hobby, and DIY||$109.4m||$144.5m||$188.7m||$242.2m||$285.7m||$324.1m||$351.4m||$373.3m|
|Furniture and Appliances||$190.2m||$267.0m||$432.6m||$361.3m||$552.8m||$624.6m||$680.8m||$728.5m|
|Food and Personal Care||$304.3m||$366.1m||$432.6m||$585.8m||$654.9m||$813.9m||$902.2m||$996.8m|
Getting Started with Ecommerce Development in Singapore
You don’t just develop an ecommerce website or application. Everything has to be carefully designed and planned for in advance.
Plus, there are numerous steps involved, each of which plays a direct role in the overall success of your projects. These steps consist of requirement analysis, front-end development, backend development, testing, and lastly deployment. Maintenance is also a very critical segment of the process.
We plan to explore each of these steps in the following sections of the post.
Requirement Analysis or Requirement Engineering
This is the first step of the ecommerce design process.
It’s the method that designers use to determined user expectation in connection with the application or software they’re about to develop. It’s loosely referred to as requirement capturing or requirement gathering in the ecommerce field.
It covers all the tasks that go into identifying all the conditions and requirements to be met while designing or improving a new ecommerce product.
It takes into account the possibility of conflicting requirements, product analysis, documentation, validation, and management process.
- What’s Software Requirement?
Software requirements can be defined as the ability that the end-user needs to achieve an objective or solve a problem.
For ecommerce, this requirement isn’t different from any other software development process. All you have to know is that when a user lands on your website or application, all they’re interested in is to purchase your products or services.
Keep in mind that ecommerce applications have a huge scope. At the macro level, you have to consider your business and functional requirements. And at the micro-level, your requirements will vary depending on the nature of the products that you intend to sell.
In the end, it’s all about developing an outstanding ecommerce store that resourcefully addresses the need of the retailer.
Activities Involved in Analysis Requirement
Conceptually, there are four types of activities involved in requirement Analysis:
- Obtaining Requirements: This is where you communicate with your target user to determine what their requirements are. Some people like to refer to it as requirement gathering.
- Analysing Requirements: The second activity would be seeking to resolve whether the affirmed requirements are vague, unclear, conflicting, or inadequate, and afterward resolving all these issues.
- Requirements Modelling: After identifying all these requirements, the next thing you want to do is document them in various forms. There are various ways in which you can document these requirements, including user stories, natural language documents, process specifications, and use cases.
- Review and Retrospective: This is where you review everything and identify all the areas and actions that could do with some improvement.
It takes team effort to pull this off, and a combination of software, hardware, and engineering expertise, not forgetting your skill in dealing with people.
Here’s a list of activities to engage in while conducting a requirement analysis for ecommerce:
- Identify your customers’ need
- Evaluate the feasibility of your system. Is the whole idea viable?
- Perform technical and economic analysis
- Allocate functions to the different elements of your system
- Create system definitions
- Establish a schedule
It’s through requirement analysis that you can ascertain the actual needs of relevant stakeholders. It also simplifies the process of communicating with stakeholders. Instead of using huge chunks of texts, requirement analysis allows you to communicate through flow charts, models, and charts.
In the end, the whole process of gathering all these requirements and analysing everything seeks to make the decision-making process easier.
Frontend Ecommerce Development
The success of your ecommerce store will be determined by so many factors, including your choice of product, pricing policy, delivery quality, shipping services, payment methods, etc.
That’s without mentioning user experience, which plays a key role in determining the overall success of your web project.
It’s simple, your website’s UX must be both smooth and attractive enough to keep your prospect on your site and make it easy for them to convert into customers.
Things to Consider when Designing an Ecommerce Platform
Security should be your utmost priority when designing an ecommerce platform. Shoppers have to feel completely secure when entering their payment details. If your website looks insecure, even if you’re following all the required security measures, the chances are good that many of them will hold back from entering their payments details, especially if you’re new to this industry.
Here are a few ways to communicate trust:
- All the policies you mention on your website must be somewhere visible, where everyone can see. That includes shipping, payment on related policies, return, and everything else.
- Use a simple language that everyone can understand. You don’t need to prove anything by using a stilt or jargon-laden language.
- Make sure your server is secure. You don’t need to be reminded to install an SSL certificate. Failure to do this can be interpreted that sensitive information is not encrypted and there’s a possibility of someone intercepting it and using it for their own malicious gain.
- Have a product review section where your prospect can read what other buyers have to say about your business.
- Make sure your website is professionally designed – no typos, broken links, forgotten dummy texts, 404 errors, and so on.
You only have 50 milliseconds to impress shoppers and make them like your website. The question to ask yourself is, will your shoppers find your website attractive enough. If not, then you have to go back to the drawing board and work on its aesthetic appeal.
Here are a few essential UI tips to observe:
- Be consistent with branding. Follow your standard branding guidelines for your website and across all channels. You’re to do all this to create a strong brand-customer relationship.
- Create a visual hierarchy that works to ensure all critical content is displayed above the fold. You don’t have to use lots of white spaces, when your critical content appears below the fold.
- Don’t over-do the design. Stick with what’s relevant and useful to your customers and ignore the rest. If your text is too graphical, then someone might mistake it for an add. A simple trick is to use high-contrast text and background for clear content.
- Use icons and symbols that are easy to interpret and identify. Steer clear of unfamiliar or unconventional icons and symbols that might actually confuse shoppers. And if you must use them, then be sure to label every single one of them.
- Try to avoid using pop-up windows as they tend to distract shoppers. Shoppers also have a habit of dismissing them before they’ve even had a chance to read them. This makes them unsuitable for displaying important information.
How to Design a Frictionless Ecommerce Website
Navigation is all about making your website easy to move around your website and interacting with the various aspect of it. It refers to a list of all the activities that people can engage in before taking the final action.
The whole process has to be seamless to prevent shoppers from dropping off halfway through the process. Your goal should be to create a frictionless web experience, which is nothing more than having a useful navigation system in place to enhance user experience.
The Key Factors for Easy Navigation in Ecommerce Website Design
Defined Product Categories
The top-level navigation must display a set of categories that your website offers. You have to start by grouping your products into various categories and sub-categories. You’re hereby reminded that each category label must ne a single word that describes a range of products that a shopper can easily go through and understand what’s contained under them.
You have to make it easy for your shopper to find your products. It’s simple: if they can’t find a product they’re looking for, then be sure they won’t be able to buy it. Your search function plays a very critical role in this.
That said, here are a few ways to enhance the capabilities of your search function:
- Make the search bar omnipresent. It should appear across pages, and in all the areas an online shopper might go to look for one.
- It must support all kinds if queries. It must understand semantics and understand what a user is implying regardless of how they frame their search question.
- It must have an auto-complete functionality and a filtering system that allows shoppers to narrow down their searches to a specific item.
In the vast pool that your ecommerce website is, it can be difficult for an online shopper to find a particular product that they’re interested in. You have to figure out how to make it easy for them to narrow down their searches to a specific product or service. The easiest way to go about it is to use multiple filter options, including colour, style, size, type, and so forth.
Quick View Functionality
Quick view reduces the amount of a time an online shopper takes to find the right product to by. It eliminates unnecessary page loads. For instance, instead of showing product page, you can include a link that directs shopper to a full product page, where they can view everything relating to that particular product. This is usually accompanied by a strategically positioned “Add to Cart” or “Save to Wishlist” button.
Shoppers are better lured in by special offers, discounts, and deals. Make sure that all these offers are clearly displayed in the form of a banner or side notes, where your shoppers can easily see.
You don’t have to offer huge amounts of discounts. Regardless of the amounts, discounts still create a psychological illusion of saving money, which works as a great motivation for shoppers to make a purchase.
Designing Your Ecommerce Product Page
After finding the product to buy, the next place your shoppers will navigate to is your product page. It matters because that’s where the purchase occurs. For this, you want to make sure you’re giving it the attention it deserves.
The trick is to design it in a way that evokes the same experience as that of shopping in an actual physical store. Be sure to include a detailed description of the product, lots of images, and any other insightful detail of the product.
Here are the key points to keep in mind when designing a product page:
Use high-quality product images
Since shoppers can’t feel or try out the products they buy, it’s important that you try to use images that paint a clear picture of how the product feels like or operate. Use a white background and try to use a variety of pictures, not just one. If possible, try to upload a video of the product. But most importantly, be consistent with every single one of your images in terms of size, style of shoot, and quality.
Provide all the Relevant Product Details
Think of all the things a potential buyer might be interested to know before placing an order and be sure to list it down. Your product description must showcase all the crucial details about your product – colour, size, dimension, total cost, material used, warranties, and more. Be sure to cover everything and minimise the chances of shoppers bombarding you with more questions.
It’s simple: you have to be persuasive – or better, use psychological tricks to get shoppers to change up their mind and make a purchase. You can use a timer to create a sense of urgency by displaying the amount of time left before your offer expires. These techniques might appear too try-hard, but it’s actually effective to get the bulk of your site visitors to convert.
Show Related or Recommended Products
Displaying similar products is a good way to get your shoppers to make one more purchase. Not only will this trigger shoppers to make impulse purchases, it will also assist them in finding the right product.
Design a Shopping Cart
Your shopping cart is the final place where shoppers make the decision to buy. It’s where they review their pick and weigh their decisions to make sure it’s the right one. The main function of a shopping cart is to make your shoppers checkout, therefore, have to make it more user-friendly, while also encouraging them to make further purchases.
Here are a few key points on how to design an effective shopping cart:
- Use a clear CTA: i.e. “Checkout” You also have to make sure the CTA is visible, visible, and has plenty of space for one to click. Even more important is for you to keep everything both simple and straightforward.
- You also have to ensure there’s enough response sent to the buyer when they add an item to their cart. For instance, you can use graphics to show the item was successfully added to their cart.
- Don’t redirect the user immediately to the cart. Instead, use a mini-widget to keep them on your product listing page. Remember to also provide a link that directs them to the full cart page after they’re done shopping around.
- Display essential details about your product, especially size and colour. The customer will want to confirm everything before completing the purchase process.
- The shopping cart must be easy to edit, with no hidden cost. Be sure to include all taxes and shipping charges to prevent some of the shoppers from abandoning the cart.
Considerations When Hiring a Web Designer
Big companies still hire web designers, and that’s because web designers are more focused on offering customized web designing services. Where you have an option to pull out a canned theme and use it on your website, an experienced web designer will evaluate your business and its needs, and use the information gathered to create a website that’s been specifically designed according to your business needs.
That way, you can be sure there isn’t any other company using the same theme, colour palette, or the same feature designs as you.
What Exactly Do Web Designers Do?
The only constant in the internet world is that everything keeps on changing. There’s a continuous paradigm in almost everything, and web designing is NOT an exception.
For this reason, web design agencies in Singapore are striving to expand and adapt to new technologies, where instead of solely focusing on web development, they have to get involved with a long host of other tasks and services that stretch far beyond the scope of their title.
For instance, should you decide to go ahead and hire a web designing agency at this point, here’s a list of services you can expect from them:
Design your Website from Scratch or from a Canned Theme
Hiring a web designing agency in Singapore isn’t the same as it was in the past. Where a web designer had NO option but to pull everything from scratch, a modern web designer will only be modifying a pre-made theme or template. Meaning, your cost for developing a website will be much lower but the site created will be falling short in terms of originality and uniqueness.
Work on Branding
Back in the early days of the internet, all that your business needed for its online operations was a stunning website. But things appear to have tremendously changed. It’s for this reason that web development agencies are so focused on branding your business as well. So expect the agency you’re about to hire to also work on your colour schemes, typography, logo, and so much more.
Some agencies will also encourage you to handle every single one of these branding elements at a go so you can develop a more cohesive approach in marketing your business.
SEO and Promotion
Modern web designing has greatly advanced to also include certain forms of online marketing such as SEO and PPC. So, you can expect the web designing agency you hire to also provide online marketing services and a series of other promotional activities you may find useful.
Web Hosting Management, Security, and Updates
Modern web designers will be charging an ongoing service fee for keeping your site safe, updated, and more secure. Mostly, this may mean updating the content management software they’re using or managing your emails if not addressing all the issues that may arise during the course of running your business website.
A Fully Managed System
Some web designers offer a fully-managed web solution encompassing all of your online presence or a specific campaign. Meaning, they’ll design your entire website, starting from the site’s graphics all the way to running a serious online campaign and working on your landing page and conversion rate.
They’ll also be analysing your campaigns and making necessary adjustments to your overall marketing strategies to win you even more customers and ramp up your sales and profits.
As you can see, web designers are still in business. The only difference is that their scope of work has significantly changed from what it was to encapsulate a series of side tasks that stand vital to maintaining a strong online presence.
At this point, you must be wondering if it’s really necessary to hire a custom web designer for your Singapore business. With the option of leveraging site builders to cut on cost and everything else, what are some of the reasons that may push you to still want to consider hiring a custom web designer?
What is a Custom Web Design?
Custom in web designing means designed from scratch — that is, designed with your business and instructions in mind.
Of course, there exists a series of basic framework principles that ought to be followed for your site’s visitors to instinctively figure out how to navigate your site — but at the core, custom web designing is basically aimed at offering your site an entirely unique look that perfectly matches your brand.
Your site is also custom-made when the framework, back-end interface, navigation, and any other vital aspect of the site is flexible enough to be changed to match your brand.
So, agencies offering custom web designing services in Singapore usually work with a design team that will be blending their knowledge of visually-appealing and optimally-performing designs with the business goals you’ve set for yourself to offer you a more strategic and totally unique web presence.
Only a few of the web agencies in Singapore have the experience and technical expertise to deliver a custom-made website that’s up to snuff. Also, taking the custom route could be interpreted to mean taking everything into your own hands. A checklist could come in handy when presented with such a task because at the end of the day you’re NOT interested in working with an agency that will be experimenting with your project.
Custom Web Designing Checklist
Before you can go ahead and hire a web designing agency to help you out with your project, here’s a point list of checks to cross off:
- Hire an Established Brand
Singapore is swamped up with self-proclaimed web designing experts that consider themselves jacks of all trades. However, as you’re soon to find out, web designing is so overarching to be perfectly handled by a single man.
It’s for this reason that you might want to make sure that you’re working with a company that operates with a team of different web designing talents, each of which will be handling different aspects of your web designing needs.
- Insist on an Experienced Web Designing Company
For how long has the company you’re about to hire been in the designing business? Check their portfolio. How far back does it date?
A company that’s been in the business long enough will have an easy time acing your project compared to a company that’s still struggling to lay down its foundation.
- The Company’s Authenticity
Don’t fall for every word the company says about itself. For all we know, they could be lying to win you over.
If the company promises to build you a custom website, then it’s important to make sure they won’t be baiting-and-switching you with a template website that they’ve managed to run through a few rushed tweaks.
One way you can tell if the company is authentic enough to deliver on its promise is to look into their consultation procedure. Does the company make any effort to consult you to the specific details of what it is that you want or wish to accomplish as a company before rushing to start your project
Another approach would be to ask the company for their past work. Tell them to walk you through a list of custom websites that they made in the past. You can go through the list and dig around to confirm the verisimilitude of their statement, and where you suspect the company lied to you, next them.
- Learn About the CMS program that the company uses
Ask the company to give you a tour of their CMS program for you to familiarize yourself with it before you can go ahead and hire them. This is particularly the case where the company has its own CMS software. You want to learn about the CMS features and some of the tools you’ll be using in the future before deciding to hire them.
- Is the site optimized for search engines?
A good custom website should be engineered with the search engines in mind. You want to make sure that the site will be complementing your SEO efforts rather than thwarting them.
- CMS Update
There’s nothing wrong with the company using an existing CMS platform such as WordPress or Joomla to run your website. As a matter of fact, there are cogent reasons you’d want to consider this option.
But one thing you want to be sure about is whether the company will be helping you update the software.
Custom Web Designing from an Expert Point of View
There’s more to custom web designing than modern web designing principles and the fundamentals of both UI and UX. There’s also more to it than the visual appeal — for all we know, good custom-made web design has to have a purpose. It’s also crucial that it defines your business to the finer details.
In other words, someone should be able to associate the website with your business by just looking at it. It’s for this reason that you’d also want to make sure that the web designer you hire perfectly understands online marketing very well.
Often, most of these aspects will be lacking in the pre-made and DIY themes you’re likely to find plastered all over the net.
With many builders such as WIX targeting small businesses, it’s important to realize that none of these platforms is designed to also help you with marketing your business. Meaning you’ll have to spend the bulk of your money and time trying to market your website on your own, and which may prove to be extremely costly and less effective in the long run.
This is why choosing the custom web designing package is the best decision you can ever make for your business at this point in time.
What to Look for When Hiring an Ecommerce Website Designer
One of the most challenging parts about starting your own e-commerce website is finding the right web designer. There are a lot of Singapore web design companies to choose from so this can be a daunting task. In many cases, this is the first impression that people will have of your business, so your website needs to be well-designed. So how should you go about choosing your Singapore website design company? As professionals in the web design industry ourselves, here are a few things that you need to be on the lookout for.
If you are an expert in your industry, then you already have a pretty good idea of what you are selling as well as how you would like to present your products to the customers. And this means that no one will know your business better than you do. This is why it’s important to work with a company that actually listens. This ensures that they know which of your ideas need to be put into action.
They Have Ideas
Sure, the company you work with should listen to what your goals and objectives are. However, they should also be able to present a few of their ideas to you as well. You may be an expert in your field, but they should also be experts in the field of design, which means that their input will be valuable to you. If the company only agrees with everything that you say and agrees to create an exact replica of what you have described then you should continue your search. The best designers bring their own ideas to the table.
A great Singapore web design agency is equipped with a marketing team. Yes, your e-commerce website should be eye-catching. However, the best designers work with a team that knows which elements will take it to the next level.
If you would like to get the most out of your web design, then your agency must keep the content management system in mind. Why is this? Well, it will make it easier for you to make the changes needed. If your CMS is not intuitive, then you will have to call the developer in order to make updates to your site. The best agencies are always familiar with the best content management systems.
Responsive Design Focused
Responsive design is not a trend that is going away any time soon. It’s here to stay. So, you need to be on the lookout for a website design company that is well-versed in responsive design. Try to avoid companies that suggest that you have a separate mobile site. In some cases, a separate mobile website may have certain advantages, but responsive design is generally the better solution. As people start to spend more and more time on their mobile phones and tablets it’s important that you make sure that your business is optimised for each device. The best designers know how to make this happen.
If you want to know the depth of the company’s experience, then you need to take a look at the work that they have done for past clients. However, you should never trust screenshots. You need to see the websites that they have created live and in action. So look through their portfolio. Take the time to visit the sites that they have designed. If you can’t find anything you like then they may not be a good fit for your company.
The web is a very fast-paced space. However, you should still focus on building relationships with companies that are well-established and have been around for quite some time. This is especially the case when it comes to website design firms. New web design companies pop every year. And just as many of these types of companies will close down within the same year. The more experience a company has had, the more they have had to adapt to the changing climates online which means they have staying power. They are most likely to be around the next year.
Believe it or not, web designers must know more than how to make a website look nice. They must also know how to create a website that will actually convert. This means that they need to know how to create the proper navigation, layout, and calls to action. Conversion is more than looks. It also requires the use of data and proven techniques when creating a site.
There are many Singapore business owners who assume that if a web company specialises in one industry, then it’s a great asset. While this may be great in certain instances, it may also be a sign that the company will create a cookie-cutter e-commerce website, because it’s the only type of site that they know how to create. So try to choose a company that has worked with a diverse group of clients from a diverse group of industries. This way, you can be assured that they will offer you a website that is unique and capable of reaching a larger audience. Remember, the goal is to stand out from your competition, not blend in with them.
National and Local
Whether your Singapore company is local or national, you need to work with a company that is familiar with both. That’s because a company that only works with local businesses may not be able to produce mass success. The more audience the designer is familiar with, the better chances you have of actually reaching your business goals. Your designer needs to be able to think in both big and small terms.
If you want to ensure that people are immediately drawn to your website, then it’s very important that it look up-to-date. And this means that the company you work with should be familiar with all of the latest, modern trends. Customers tend to trust websites that feature a modern look. For instance, at present, your designer should be familiar with flat design, parallax scrolling,, responsive, as well as dozens of other elements and styles. This isn’t to say that the designer should be focused on fads. However, there should definitely be a balance between what is new and what has been proven to produce results.
Affordable But Not Cheap
Many Singapore e-commerce website owners make the mistake of thinking that the less they have to pay for their website the better. Unfortunately, they don’t realise that their website is one of the most crucial parts of their business. This is not an area in which you can afford to cut any corners. When a web developer tells you that they will build a custom website for $2000, what they are really telling you is that they will drag and drop your logo and text into a $99 WordPress theme that thousands of other sites use.
If you want a website that actually works for your business, then you’re going to have to be willing to invest in it. After all, a well-designed website will result in high returns. A poorly designed website will result in stagnancy.
Building an E-Commerce Website in Singapore
When considering the design of your site, you need to look at some of the best e-commerce sites in Singapore and other countries in the Asia Pacific region. We will now look at how you can build your e-commerce website in Singapore. What’s more, these seven steps do not require you to have special technical knowledge or experience.
Start with a Strategy
To ensure the success of your online venture, you should start with a reasonable and sound strategy. Your e-commerce website in Singapore needs to be just right for your business to get a firm footing. The e-commerce sector is different from working from a brick and mortar store, and this makes it essential to anticipate the needs and challenges of the business.
For example, you must figure out how you will handle the shipping logistics if you will be selling physical products. On the other hand, if you are selling digital products such as software, you must consider your bandwidth needs and delivery options.
Ensure that you list what you will be selling, the delivery options, as well as any foreseeable payment or time limitations. More so, think about everything you need for your business and how they will affect your bottom line.
Ensure that you do your homework and envision everything that you will need to make your e-commerce website in Singapore a success.
Choose a Domain and Platform for Your Website
There are two options when choosing a domain, either a sub-domain or a custom domain. If you plan to develop and extend your brand or sell a variety of products, a custom domain is the best option.
Some of the reasons why you should invest in a custom domain are:
- SEO benefits
- A professional email linked to your domain
- A recognisable brand that belongs to you, for example, “mystore.com.sg.”
When picking a platform, you need to pick one that can easily integrate with your existing site. There is a variety of website builder platforms you can use to set up your e-commerce website in Singapore, including WordPress, Shopify, Wix, BigCommerce, and more.
These platforms allow you to build an e-commerce website in Singapore from scratch in a few steps. You preferred platform should allow you to make easy customisations after creating the website.
Decide on Product Pricing and Set up a Payment Structure
Whether you are a new or existing business, e-commerce in Singapore has different factors affecting the pricing of products. These factors include:
- Cost of materials per item
- Website hosting and maintenance
- Percentage per sale deductions and fees from payment processing companies
You also need to consider how customers will pay for the products as well as how you will receive the payments. In many cases, e-commerce websites accept payments via credit card, PayPal, which are all third-party payment processing platforms.
However, you need to consider the following when choosing a platform for your e-commerce website in Singapore:
- Have they integrated SSL?
- Do they have a secure payment handling protocol?
- Can they accept payments from anywhere in the world?
- Do they have WordPress e-commerce integration?
Design Your Store and Products
Other than the products page on your e-commerce website, you will need to include other pages such as an About Us and Contact us page. These pages will come in handy when potential and existing customers want to get in touch with you.
Moreover, you should also consider diversifying your content by including videos, text, animations, and images. The following elements will ensure your online store stands out from the crowd.
- Store name
- Images with real people, preferably your staff
- Payment logos and trust marks
More so, you need to select a theme that represents your brand and allows you to display your products without looking cluttered. Create product categories that are logical for your buyers, and invest in learning as much as possible about your ideal customer and design your e-commerce website in Singapore with their preferences in mind.
Asking for feedback is one of the ways of knowing what customers want, and site heat maps will help you see which parts are the most popular. With that said, you could also hire an agency to do e-commerce website design in Singapore for you.
When it comes to product design on your website, follow this procedure:
- Give your product a name and description
- Set a price and the quantities available for sale
- Get a professional photographer to take images of your products
- Upload the photos of your products, as well as an audio or video preview
One mistake most e-commerce entrepreneurs is that they rush through the product design process. Great product descriptions and high-quality images will convert web visitors into customers.
Create a Great Checkout Experience
The average online shopping cart abandonment rate is a little over 67%, and it is one of the greatest challenging many e-commerce entrepreneurs in Singapore today. With that said, you can avoid shopping cart abandonment by:
- Offer free shipping if possible
- Be clear about the shipping costs upfront
- Allow customers to buy multiple items at once
- Optimise your checkout for mobile users
- Send cart abandonment emails when a buyer leaves without completing the purchase
Reducing the number of steps, it takes buyers to complete a purchase will significantly improve your conversion rates. Test your checkout process by asking your staff, friends, and family to place a dummy purchase and give honest opinions.
Market Your E-Commerce Business
With your site up and running, the next step is to promote and market your website and products. The aim is to increase traffic, conversions, and sales. Unfortunately, many online vendors choose to sell from top e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Etsy, but they struggle due to high fees, among other limitations.
You will need to ensure that your marketing plan is targeting the right customer to ensure that you are getting qualified leads. Most e-commerce platforms in Singapore offer different marketing options such as:
- SEO (search engine optimisation)
- Free integration with AWeber, MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, and more for email marketing
- Adding existing customers to your mailing lists
- Linking your website with your social media accounts
- Enabling one-click social sharing
- Option to create discounts, coupons, to drive sales from return customers
On top of this, you should create a blog or an e-book that shows your mastery in your industry. This will go a long way in establishing trust and credibility in your e-commerce website in Singapore.
Analyse Data and Practice SEO
The only way of measuring the success of your e-commerce website in Singapore is by analysing the data. Most of the e-commerce platforms have an independent analytics tool, and they also incorporate Google Analytics.
Such a tool allows you to gain deeper insight into how your e-commerce SEO and marketing tactics are performing. By analysing the data, you will know how to improve your website and product pages to increase traffic, conversions, and sales.
Other than Google Analytics, you can also use these e-commerce tools to collect and analyse data.
Choosing a Platform for Your E-Commerce Website
The modern digital space is awash with platforms you can use to create your ecommerce website. Each of them has something unique to offer, but the buck stops with you. The platforms are otherwise known as content management systems (CMS). You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to the available features, the ability to customise the storefront, and ease of use. Let us look at the popular ecommerce platforms in Singapore and how they are set up.
This is arguably the most preferred CMS platform given that as much as 26% of all the websites on the internet today are created using WordPress. The reason for this is because it is easy to use, flexible, and its modular and plugin-based architecture makes it easy to customise.
However, you need a domain host that is compatible with WordPress such as Dreamhost, SiteGround, BlueHost, and Flywheel. There are two methods that you can use to set up your WordPress platform; click and install, and manual configuration. For the click and install method, your domain host must meet particular requirements in that they should support MariaDB v10.0+ or MySQL v5.6+, PHP 7, as well as HTTPS.
The other option is to download WordPress onto your server and manually configure it. However, this is best left for advanced users with programming experience in order to carry out this method. It requires that you use an FTP client, manage a server, set up a database among other things. However, there are many YouTube video tutorials, as well as an extensive tutorial by WordPress on how to go about the configuration process.
Irrespective of the method you choose, you will end up with a bare website, but you can bring it to life with plugins. WooCommerce is one of the most popular ecommerce plugins and it gives users complete control of the storefront, and best of all, it is highly customisable. Statistics show that 30% of the online vendors using WordPress, they have the WooCommerce plugin.
Setting up your e-commerce website using WordPress will require effort and time, but the results are worth it. However, it gives you complete control over your e-commerce store and website design.
This is the ultimate e-commerce website design platform. All you need is to set up a Shopify account, then choose from the collection of e-commerce storefront themes, select your preferred monthly plan, and upload product images to your store.
Other than this, you can add apps to improve the functionality of your e-commerce website. This includes inventory management, expense reports, customer care handling, shipping, order tracking, and so much more. There are over 1,500 apps on the Shopify App Store, and you will surely find an app for everything that you will need to customise your e-commerce website.
With Wix, you can have a working website up and running in less than 20 minutes. It takes out the hassle of coding with its ‘WYSIWYG’ editing interface, which stands for ‘What You See Is What You Get.’ Many e-commerce champions in Singapore prefer Wix for its drag-and-drop tools, assorted collection of Apps and design templates. These extend the functionality of your e-commerce website design and adding them is easy and straightforward.
Unlike WordPress, all you need is to create an account on Wix.com, and start customising your website with the available templates and apps. They have a vast collection of elegantly designed e-commerce templates that are also optimised for mobile.
With apps, you can automate everything from order tracking to organising for the shipping logistics. Wix is an all-in-one package in that it provides domain registration and hosting. This makes it perfect for beginner online vendors, or people opening another ecommerce store.
This website builder claim to fame is their elegantly designed templates and a design-oriented interface. Squarespace uses Blocks on its intuitive drag-and-drop interface to add content to a website, ranging from images, texts, video, audio, and so much more. It is highly flexible in that it has features that make it image editing easier while manipulating, colours, block dimensions, fonts, and so much more.
The website templates have a responsive and minimalistic design to them as well as image-centric storefronts and accessible to people using different devices.
Squarespace also has detailed tutorials on how to create an e-commerce website available in both video and audio formats. You will learn everything from the basics of design, how to set up an e-commerce site, connecting to a domain, hosting, and so much more. Like Wix, Squarespace offers domain registration and affordable hosting packages.
You can try the free versions of more than one of the above platforms to see which one meets your preferences. After this, the real work starts; that of designing the e-commerce website.
Magento is highly scalable, besides packing lots of customisation features.
It’s also flexible and has a lot of integration capabilities. It goes without mentioning that some well-known brands such as P&G, Nike, and Cisco were designed using Magento.
It’s a popular ecommerce platform, wide used because one) it’s in the cloud two) it’s super-fast, and three, has a lot of additional features, including automatic upsell, automatic trigger-based email campaign, and so on.
It’s also packed with high-end features such as SEO grinding, discounts, recurring payments, membership subscription, unlimited products, adjusting content, and so much more.
- A robust ecommerce system with lots of features that can enhance the capability of your ecommerce store
- Enables One-click selling
- Strong SEO scope
- Highly customisable and scalable
- Flexible when choosing where to host your ecommerce store
- A large community with lots of users to engage or ask for advise in you get stuck
- Virtually no support
- Can easily be slowed down
- Requires one to have development skills
- Your ecommerce store will need ample memory and space to perform well
You can build a secure web application using this powerful content management system. It’s a great platform for building a robust ecommerce system that will see to it that your brand grows rapidly.
- Ideal for creating well-advanced ecommerce stores
- You have the support of a large dedicated community
- More emphasis on security
- A bit complex compared to the other CMS options
- Rampant performance issues
- Requires more time and effort to set up
If you’re looking for a platform with unlimited functional benefits, large file size compatibility, and lots of customizing features, then look no further than SharePoint storefront.
It’s a feature-rich ecommerce solution with the only downside being it’s a bit too complex for any DIY attempt.
- Highly customisable
- Can seamlessly integrate with lots of other systems
- Can integrate with Office 365
- Extensive functionality
- Search is difficult
- Hard to maintain or manage
- Poor social elements
- Microsoft warns against code-level customisation
Here’s your chance to develop a scalable ecommerce platform in real-time. React Commerce stands out because it’s a bit advance and way above cooking-cutter platforms.
It’s super-flexible, coupled with a modular architecture that adjusts faster to ever-changing customer behaviour. There’s literally no limit as to how creative you can get with this ecommerce platform.
- Compatible with Android and iOS
- Real-time ecommerce platform, with immediate updates
- Simple content management system
- It’s a relatively new platform that’s still developing
- Fewer plugins
Things You Must Know About SEO When Designing Your E-Commerce Shop in Singapore
Understand Search Rankings
The objective of Search Engine Optimisation is to give your site better rankings, which in turn drives more traffic. According to various studies, 91 per cent of traffic goes to the first page. This is why it is a cut throat competition for websites to get first page ranking. This gives you more visibility, reach and leads to more sales.
Use Relevant Keywords
When coming up with keywords, you need to use the words that most people use when searching for products or services. SEO is primarily based on the use of keywords. E-commerce websites need to create content that optimise these keywords. While keywords are integral in SEO, they need to be placed right for them to benefit you. You need to be careful not to overstuff keywords or use them in an unnatural manner. Keywords should be placed strategically in the title and Meta descriptions and then spread out in the content body.
Create Quality Content
Content is still king and one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site. To improve and retain your rankings, you need to ensure that you create fresh, informative, engaging, and shareable content. Search engines are constantly updating content. Duplicate content will, therefore, hurt your rankings.
While most of the content should be based on the products or services you do, you can also come with content based on fun facts, current trends, and other entertaining topics. Quality content helps you to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
It is important to note that the content you need to create also includes product descriptions. This is often overlooked. Most websites just stick with the product description given by the manufacturer. This is often very rigid and lacks personality. You can find creative ways of writing product descriptions. Adding a little humour to your content is also catchy and one of the ways to retain customers. This will also give you an edge over your competitors.
SEO has the potential to take your business to the next level. However, it cannot be pursued as a hit and run project. It must be integrated into your marketing efforts. Content needs to be regularly refreshed to keep your audience engaged.
Make use of Links
Linking to authority websites is another way to build traffic to your site. Linking goes hand in hand with the content that you are creating. If you write engaging content, other websites will also want to link to your website. To get people to link to your website, you must also extend the courtesy.
Link building needs to be done in a smart way. The best strategy is to use strong anchor words. These should be words that prompt readers to click on the links. Your social media pages should also include links that direct clients to the website.
Shipping and Order Fulfilment for Your Singapore E-commerce Website
For most online vendors with a Singapore e-commerce website, the journey to success is long and tedious. It takes more than sending out emails, tweaking your store to meet the client demands, and approving images.
One of the greatest hurdles, however, is shipping and order fulfillment. If you are new to the e-commerce industry, it might feel like you are handing over a crucial business operation to a stranger. With that said, it is necessary that you put in a lot of thought and planning in creating a proper shipping and order fulfillment strategy.
Since order fulfilment and shipping can be confusing, we have in prepared an overview of all the things that you need to know. Read on to the end for tips on how to go about shipping and how to choose the right shipping carrier, which is a process that represents a significant business expense. The tips will greatly help to ensure that your online store in Singapore is working optimally.
Shipping and Order Fulfilment 101
Like all business operations, shipping and order fulfilment requires that you have in place a robust strategy that will be the basis of all your shipping and order fulfilment practices. As you get acquainted with the processes, you can always come back and tinker with them to suit your Singapore e-commerce website shipping operations.
Here are the key steps and decisions that you should consider when creating a shipping and order fulfilment strategy.
Shipping Methods and Rates
When it comes to getting the product to the customer, you can decide to offer free or flat-rate shipping, or you can pass the shopping costs on to your customers. You can, however, choose to absorb some of the shipping costs instead of passing it all to the customer, but this requires strategy.
Free shipping is one of the proven ways of reducing the chances of shopping cart abandonment. However, to make free shipping work for you, consider the following options:
- Offer a discount code to specific customers for free shipping
- Increase your product prices to cover the shipping costs (the customer pays)
- Pay the shipping costs from your profits
- Increase the price of the product to cover the partial shipping costs (both you and the customer pays)
There is nothing like free shipping, but you can use the above strategies to minimise the cost of shipping on your part. More so, you can offer free shipping on a minimum order amount. While you are the one paying for the shipping, this strategy will help increase the amount of inventory you move on your Singapore e-commerce website, and you will have bigger margins that can settle the shipping costs.
Charge Real-Time Carrier Rates
Most e-commerce platforms will allow you to generate shipping options based on live pricing from various carriers. By charging real-time carrier rates, your customers can choose their preferred carriers and pay for the service they want from them.
Charging a Flat Rate
To gain your customers’ approval with flat rate shipping, you need to be sure that you do not undercharge or overcharge them. This shipping method will work when you have a line of standard items that have a similar weight and size.
How to Calculate Shipping Costs
Shipping rates are based on a variety of factors, and they include
- Origin country
- Package weight
- Package size
- Destination country
There are additional charges in the form of insurance and package tracking. Unlike other services, it is difficult to compare the rates from different couriers, and you need to use their shipping calculators and make the best decision. The shipping rate calculator is available for free on the carrier’s website.
- Analyse the Numbers
Shipping represents a major business expense, and you need to track your profit margins to avoid losing money. Before settling on a shipping strategy, you need to do your research and analyse how much it costs to get the product to the customer.
Consider the following factors when calculating the ideal cost of your product that will help cover your shipping expenses
- Price of the product
- Shipping costs
- Custom duty
- Credit card fee
- The product’s profit margin
You will need to include customs duty fees if you handle them for your customers. Otherwise, these things will help you in calculating the total selling price of your products.
- Product Weight
To best streamline the shipping process, it is necessary that you include the weight of the product in the product description. This will help you get an actual figure of all the shipping costs, which you can pass on to the customer.
Carefully Select the Shipping Packages
There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to choosing the right packaging for your products. During the early stages of the e-commerce industry, packaging was seen as a way of safely shipping products bought online.
However, in the Singapore e-commerce industry people believe that shipping, packaging, and presentation of the product as being crucial to the online shopping experience. This means that you need to compete by delivering value and experience with your Singapore e-commerce website, and not just the products.
You will need “out of the box” ideas to ensure that your packaging delivers value in a sector where brown boxes and sealed factory bags are seen as the standard shipping packages. Today, some of the successful e-commerce websites know the importance of using creative packaging to deliver a fantastic unboxing experience for their customers.
Source your Packaging
There are various types of packaging right from boxes to padded and unpadded envelopes, poly mailers, and more.
Poly mailers, for example, are a perfect way of shipping products that do not require padding, such as clothing, beddings, cushions, and more. They are lightweight, and they significantly reduce your shipping costs. More so, they can accommodate different weights and volumes depending on the order.
You could also consider other types of packaging such as ValueMailers, eSupplyStore, and Fast-Pack. In a majority of the cases, the shipping cost depends on the weight and size of the package. This makes it necessary to keep your packages as small as possible. With that said, you can get free packaging materials from DHL, UPS, USPS, or invest in branded packaging.
What You Need For Successful Shipping and Order Fulfilment
After selecting the proper shipping method, rates and choosing the appropriate shipping packaging, you will need to look at a few other things that will make the shipping process better. You need to consider getting insurance and tracking services, custom declaration forms, tariffs, taxes, and duties.
Tracking and Insurance Services
These services will increase the security of the product during shipping. Most couriers will offer insurance and tracking services at a relatively affordable fee. You can rest easy knowing that you will get paid if your product gets lost or is damaged during the shipping process.
It is advisable that you buy insurance for big-ticket items just in case they get damaged or lost. Recent developments have made it necessary for carrier’s to include insurance and tracking costs in the shipping fee. It is therefore necessary that you should consider insurance and tracking services when comparing the shipping rates from different carriers.
Customs Declaration Forms
If your Singapore e-commerce website is attracting foreign customers, then you need to fill the proper customs documentation. You can get them at the local shipping retail location or the post office.
The forms tell the customs officials what is in the package, whether it is a merchandise or gift, and how much it costs. You should fill in the forms with honesty to avoid problems such as the package being held up in customs.
Declare Duties, Taxes, and Tariffs
Import or customs duty fees are charged once the package reaches the destination country and the recipient of the package must pay these charges. However, most people are oblivious to this fact, and they end up feeling duped.
When drafting the shipping policy for your Singapore e-commerce website, you need to consider the additional customs fees that are payable in the destination country. You should indicate the information about the additional charge in your shipping as well as the terms and conditions policies.
Open A Business Account with Your Shipping Carrier
After getting the appropriate shipping carrier for your Singapore e-commerce website, you should set up a business account. When compared to personal accounts, business accounts offer a variety of services.
Depending on your preferred carrier, you can get better expense tracking, discounts, online tools to help streamline your shipping activities and more. You will need to put all of these things into consideration before you start the shipping process.
Labelling Your Package
After figuring out your packaging, product presentation, carrier, and the associated costs, you need to determine how to label your packages correctly. Most beginning Singapore e-commerce website owners start by writing the recipient and return addresses by hand on the packaging. As easy as this might seem, it is time-consuming and not scalable as your business grows.
If you are using Shopify as your Singapore e-commerce website platform, then you should use Shopify shipping to print and pay for multiple shipping labels. The process is easy and straightforward and here is how it works
- Select all the orders that are ready for shipping from your orders list
- Preview each shipment and adjust or fill in any missing details such as the carrier, shipping service and package
- Buy all the shipping labels in one click then print them in a single PDF document
The PDF document can be printed on regular paper using a standard printer. However, you can save more time by investing in a thermal label printer to print the labels directly on self-stick labels.
Using a Fulfilment Warehouse
It might be difficult to find an appropriate place to store the entire inventory displayed on your Singapore e-commerce website, and this is where you can take advantage of a fulfilment warehouse. It can also help you automate the shipping process.
You will have to integrated the warehouse into your shopping cart, and once a customer makes an order, the fulfilment warehouse will automatically get the order. They will then pick the item, pack it, and ship it to the recipient’s address.
Using a fulfilment warehouse has several benefits including
- Since fulfilment warehouses are usually integrated with some of the best shipping and logistics companies; you get easier access to a variety of shipping options
- You can store a bulk of your inventory close to your customers, and this reduces the delivery time
- Fulfilment warehouses ship large orders for multiple online vendors; you are sure to get cheaper shipping rates
As good as this might sound, fulfilment warehouses are not for every e-commerce business, and it has its share of disadvantages including
- Although you will get better shipping rates, there are associated costs that you have to pay such as ‘picking and packing costs,’ warehouse storage fees, among others
- Few fulfilment warehouses have the branding experience that will deliver value during the unboxing of the product. If you have an out of the box packaging idea, it is difficult finding a fulfilment warehouse that is dedicated to your brand presentation
How to Pick the Right Shipping Carrier for your Singapore E-commerce Website
Now that you have what it takes to create a sustainable shipping strategy let us now shift focus and look at the things you should consider when choosing a shipping carrier.
While cheap pricing is a deal breaker for many online vendors looking for a shipping carrier, you need to consider the reputation of the shipping carrier. The customer might get a damaged product or worst case scenario; the product gets lost.
To avert this, do a thorough background check and establish what type of reputation they have in the market.
- Types of Products
When reviewing different shipping carriers, you need to consider the size and shape of your products against the offered services. During the research process, you may find that some specific policies or restrictions make them not suitable for the type of products you have on your Singapore e-commerce website.
If your Singapore e-commerce website serves both local and foreign customers, then you need a carrier that will handle both domestic and international shipping.
Other things to consider when searching for a shipping carrier include
- Insurance and Tracking services
- Live rates
Having an e-commerce website in Singapore is crucial for business success in the modern era. When it comes to e-commerce website design, you need to consider a lot of things, but the above points will point you in the right direction. Some of the best e-commerce sites in Singapore have followed the procedures above to increase website traffic, qualify leads and increase sales.
However, to achieve success with your e-commerce website in Singapore, you need to fine-tune your marketing plan as well as the design to suit the changing demographics.
And this is why it’s so important that you work with the right agency. This may not be easy to do, but once you have found someone who is right for your business it will make your job much easier.
MediaOne is best known for creating the most functional and user-friendly e-commerce websites in Singapore. Our team is conversant with the latest web development trends and will use their expertise to ensure that the final website is a true reflection of your brand.
Contact us for professional e-commerce website design in Singapore. Our support staff will be on hand to give you a free and non-obligatory quote as well as book an appointment with our experts.