Create a Business Plan
Like any other business, you must have a plan if you want to run an e-commerce site. Without a plan, you lack direction. And without direction, it's impossible to create a strategy or know when you're off-track. Give the same thought to your business concept/plan as you would if you were starting a brick-and-mortar operation. This includes following the laws of incorporation and filing in your state.
If creating a business plan seems difficult, get an MBA online. This will help you in two ways. It provides you with the business knowledge you need to run a successful e-commerce site and builds your professional network. Should you find yourself requiring additional funds or investment in the future, you'll be better positioned to obtain them.
Establish a Website
You can't have an e-commerce platform without a website. Hire it out; create your own with a site like WordPress and an e-commerce plug-in; or code your own from scratch. Depending on what you're selling and the needs of your business, a WordPress site will probably suffice. There's no need to take on the added cost of creating something that already exists. There are many WordPress themes designed for e-commerce.
Design for User Experience
No one will buy from a website that's hard to understand, difficult to navigate, and slow to load. Even Google factors in site load time as part of its search algorithm so make sure your site loads quickly.
A responsive design will also keep shoppers happy regardless of what device they're on. According to a recent Google study, 65 percent of online shopping starts on a smartphone. If your website doesn't have a responsive design, you're losing customers.
A smooth checkout experience is also essential. Be up front about shipping costs as it's the number-one reason shoppers abandon their online carts. Ask only for the information you need to process the sale. This means clean, easy-to-understand pages; minimal amounts of clicks to check-out; and no unnecessary distractions. Allow for guest check-outs instead of forcing customers to register on your site.
Use Social Proof on Your Products Page
Social proof and reviews are necessities on an e-commerce site. They drive sales by increasing confidence and creating trust in you and your products. Encourage customers to tell their friends about their purchases and ask for product reviews if you don't find them occurring organically. Reviews and social posts drive traffic, increase time on page, and expose you to a new audience.
Invest in Marketing
Social shares are one way to improve your reach, but additional marketing is required as well. Highlighting new products, working on your SEO, and providing product demonstrations, how-to content, and "also boughts" (suggestions for customers based on the item they're viewing) will increase your audience and sales.