How to Set Up an Online Store in Australia?
Statista projects that the Australian e-commerce revenue will hit $21,224 million in 2019. This revenue is predicted to show a yearly growth rate of 6.2% to reach $26,993 million in 2023. User penetration is estimated at 80.8% in 2019 and will reach 89.2% in 2023. Australians buy a range of products online including hardware and tools, fashion, entertainment tools, and home appliances. Online spending in the country is dominated by consumers between the ages of 35 to 44.
Most of the online buyers in Australia trust domestic sellers, which provides opportunities for local e-commerce stores. Online spending has been reflecting a rise every year making online retailing the future of commerce. Australia’s Eastern states exhibit the largest amount of online spending. An e-commerce business should research on the states that project the most online expenditure and focus on them. Most Australians shop on their phones so your site should be optimized for mobile.
Choose the Right Platform
Choosing a platform is essential to the success of your online store. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to e-commerce avenues as each has its own appeal depending on your budget and objectives. The aim is therefore to seek the solution that fits your business. An e-commerce platform generally has several business features like a shopping cart, a display page for products, checkout, and payment gateway.
An online shop needs customers and building a customer base is challenging. You can opt to leverage on the followers you have on your social media sites in which case the platform that you choose should allow the integration of other applications. This feature comes in handy when you want to add some functionalities in your site which are not available on the platform of your choice.
You can also browse through the online sites of your competitors. Note down all the functional features you may add to your own store. This exercise will also help you brainstorm on unique functionalities. Running an e-commerce store can prove costly. A large business stands to reap the maximum benefits of premium features. A smaller company, on the other hand, can thrive just as well with a cheaper option. The sale of digital products, for example, can easily be done through simple platforms.
The development of the WooCommerce plugin in 2011 revolutionized the way WordPress sites could sell. The plugin was designed to work with WordPress specifically, ranked as the most popular blogging platform in the world. It preserves the major core functions of WordPress sites and adds eCommerce customization, capability, and configuration. About 2.3 million websites employ the use of the plugin.
WooCommerce is a free and open source, and you can add extensions to it to further improve usability. One of these add-ons is the WooCommerce subscription, ideal for recurring payments and the management of subscriptions. One popular appeal of WooCommerce is its flexibility. You can use it to sell anything like subscriptions, appointments, digital items, and physical goods. The plugin has powerful analytics, and you can integrate external analytics using extensions. It has more than 100 payment gateways that you easily integrate with your website.
Find a Reliable Web Hosting Company
The online retail industry is populated by various hosting solutions. An online marketplace has its own branding identity, and it offers convenience selling for third-party sellers. Amazon and eBay are excellent examples of this scenario. Self-hosted solutions are ideal for people with a substantial amount of resources and want to invest in branding. Your choice of a hosting provider should not only cater to your current needs, but it should also accommodate growth as your business scales. E-commerce hosting is not created equal, and you should evaluate the small print. Some of the factors to look out for are:
- Performance – Your hosting solution should keep up with customer traffic and orders in the present and as your store grows. Site speed is vital. It would be undesirable to have your site crash if several customers log in. Customers are not also known for their patience which is why your site needs to load in the shortest time possible. You should look out for the CPU allocation and dedicated storage of your plan.
- Security – You are better off with a plan that includes Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certifications. The more advanced HTTPS offers more airtight security than HTTP. An e-commerce site requires various informational details from customers including names, addresses, and credit card details. Security is therefore paramount so that your customers feel confident when browsing through your store.
- Reliable Database – Customers prefer not to waste time by browsing through all the pages in an e-commerce store. Instead, they use the search bar to filter out their preferences. Your database stores your product information making user selection easier. You will ideally be aware of the product files prior to choosing a solution, but businesses tend to scale quickly than expected. A scalable bandwidth would be one of the features to look out for.
- Uptime – A website’s uptime denotes the period when it is up and running. While all sites require high uptimes, it is more critical for e-commerce stores. Any downtime can directly affect a website’s sales and also affect user satisfaction. The ideal web hosting provider will offer 24/7 monitoring for the operations of your website. Company support should be available and accessible to deal with arising concerns.
- Price – A startup would generally be drawn to affordable packages. Shared hosting is commonly the cheapest offering as it can cost as little as $3 per month. Premium features will cost you and these features are often the ones that your site needs the most. It will be helpful to isolate the most important features for your online store and evaluate the web hosting solutions.
Most Australian bloggers and web administrators gravitate towards the quality hosting provided by WP Hosting. WP Hosting has three packages optimized for performance. The Startup, Business, and Corporate plans all offer access to the Australian Data Centre and provide always-running DDoS protection. Although you can host a website on this platform, the provider’s features work seamlessly with WordPress platforms. The developers and engineers of the firm have made it their business to understand WordPress to the core which means that all features are fashioned to make your site perform at its best.
Set Up your Online Store
If you already have hosting, chances are that you have selected a domain name. The next step is setting up your WordPress site in addition to WooCommerce. This process is outlined below:
Install WordPress- WordPress has a free software platform available to potential website owners. WP Hosting, like most of the other hosting providers in the market, provides one-click WordPress installation. This option will typically be present in the host’s user panel. The final step of the process will reveal a blank WordPress website which goes by your domain name. This blank site can now be turned into a functional e-commerce website.
Integrate WooCommerce Plugin- Navigate to the dashboard on your WordPress to the Plugin option and further to the Add New selection. Type WooCommerce on the search bar and opt for the choice by WooThemes. Command the “Install Now” option next to the plugin after which you will click on “Activate.” You can proceed to configure the plugin which has four basic pages namely shop, cart, checkout, and my account. The locale setup is one of the primary settings for your site. You will choose your locality as well as the currency you intend to choose. The installation also includes the units to be used as measurements and dimensions for your products.
Configure your Online Shop
Your online shop will need several functionalities to function optimally including:
- Shipping and Tax – Depending on your products, you will need to activate features for shipping and sales tax. Physical items, unlike digital products, need shipping. The setup page allows a basic shopping solution where you can enter rates for both local and global shipping. You may require sales tax depending on your jurisdiction which is why you should consult your local tax authority or a certified accountant. WooCommerce provides a tax module which estimates the tax rates based on the location of your store.
- Check out – You can configure the customer checkout and coupon application. WooCommerce allows administrators to create coupons on their sites. The customer will see the option on the checkout page. You can also command the plugin to calculate coupon discounts sequentially in a situation where more multiple coupons are used for a singular purchase. Another option is the guest checkout which if activated allows customers to complete sales even if they have not created an account. The terms and Conditions page is optional. You can draft your own guidelines in the contents section and customers will be prompted to read and tick before checkout.
- Payment Options – WooCommerce allows numerous payment getaways depending on what your preferences are. The default options are PayPal, BACS, Cash on Delivery, and Check Payments. The BACS solution enables the store owner to configure Direct Bank Transfer where you will fill out account details. PayPal is the most popular option, and it requires several requirements from your hosting provider. You can opt to have two payment gateways as one can encounter downtime. Other payment getaways include Amazon Pay, Square, Stripe, and Authorize.net.
Upload Products & Optimize for Search Engines
For your website to be operational, you will need products in your database. Navigate to your dashboard then to Products. The editing page will include:
- Product Name
- Product Description – This field is sufficiently large to accommodate as much information as you require. You can use not only text but also images, headings, videos, and columns.
- Central Data Section – This section divides your products into categories like physical, virtual, or downloadable. You additionally get tabs for a range of parameters for your products. Linked products is a great tab for upselling where customers see the products that other customers with similar interests purchased. Another useful tab is “Attributes” where you can set alternative colors for fashion items. You can set the dimensions, weight, and cost of shipping with the “Shipping” tab and also manage stock with “Inventory.”
- Short Description – This is the summarized version of the product description which gets displayed to customers.
- Product Categories – This option groups similar offerings together and it works like the usual WordPress categories.
- Product Tags – This is an additional option for the organization of your products.
Once your products are displayed on your website, it is time to employ several optimization strategies to increase the visibility of your site. WooCommerce is SEO friendly although it does not have many SEO features. Always use product descriptions which should be sprinkled with relevant keywords. The descriptions should further be engaging. Using manufacturing descriptions is easy, but search engines are not always accurate when selecting which text is the original.
You should also optimize page titles. Category pages might be used for broad terms but aim to be as specific as possible with product pages. For additional optimization, enable breadcrumbs on your website. These links are displayed at the top of product pages to help customers navigate to previous and landing pages. Search engines use breadcrumbs to determine the structure of your site and how it will be displayed on search results. Clean and simple navigation not only attracts visitors but search engines as well. There are numerous SEO plugins which work seamlessly with WooCommerce.
Advertise Your Website and Generate Revenue
Take advantage of social media platforms to advertise your site. These avenues include Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. The success on any of these websites will depend on what you are selling. You can opt to target niche social media platforms which are centered around a common interest. For efficiency, you can schedule your content with applications. Most social media sites offer promotional packages which vary with different budget ranges.
Running a promotion is one of the popular ways of driving sales. In addition to giving out coupons, you can host a contest on your website with the help of plugins. Giveaways boost customer interest and improve brand visibility. Another sales tactic is the use of newsletters which informs customers of product releases and special promotions.
Up-sell and cross-sell offers are quite profitable if they are used well. Cross-selling features bundled products that are commonly used together. When up-selling, offer a higher quantity of a product at a discounted price.
The future of retail is online. If you have been planning for an e-commerce site, now is the time to get it up and running. Customers are continually attracted by the convenience of online shopping. Most people assume that launching an e-commerce store is difficult due to the many features involved like checkout, shipping, tax, payments, and return policies. Platforms like WooCommerce and WordPress have however simplified this process tremendously.