Building a new business from nothing can be such a daunting project. And there’s so much conflicting information, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed. I started my fashion online store, eight years ago and have learnt so much along the way (mostly through mistakes!).

So if you’re thinking of building your dream online biz, here’s my top 10 tips to get you started.

Learn about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Whether you outsource this or do a course, it’s essential that you understand how vital SEO is to attracting organic traffic to your site. And when done properly, it can increase sales exponentially over time. But remember it’s a long-tail strategy so don’t expect results overnight.

Do thorough keyword research

The foundation of a successful SEO strategy is a thorough keyword research plan. You need to know which keywords are relevant to your target audience and which ones are best to rank for in search results. There’s an array of free and paid tools that can assist. But this is a specialised field, so seeking expert advice is probably the best plan if you’re a beginner.

Create a simple menu

Visitors to your website need to know instantly if they’re in the right place. And navigation is hugely important. Make sure your main product categories are listed on your home page menu. And don’t complicate things. All Important pages (especially sales pages) should be easy to find and only one or two clicks away.

Make sure your website is as fast as possible

From the user experience, today’s online shoppers expect a website to be fast and efficient. And if it doesn’t meet expectations, prospective customers may give up and move on: forever. According to the Search Engine Journal, speed is now a ranking factor for Google search results. So it’s more important than ever to get this right. Moz has some basics on how to improve website speed.

Use relevant content for your target audience

Everything on your website should be designed with your target market in mind. The imagery should appeal to your typical customer. The messaging and language needs to be clear and concise. What problems are you solving for your customers? How are you making their lives easier or better? Make sure this is clearly communicated on the home page and throughout your copy and look and feel of your site.

Set up a checkout process that’s quick and painless

When customers are ready to buy, the procedure needs to be fast and simple. Ensure the call-to-action buttons around your cart and checkout process are clear and click through to the right pages. If there’s issues in your checkout process, you may lose prospective customers who may never come back.

Add customer reviews

Independently-verified customer reviews will add credibility to your business, especially if you’re a new player. Set up an automated system where emails are automatically sent post-purchase. And once received, comments and star ratings should be easily updated to the reviews and home page on your website. Product and website reviews add a positive reference point for your brand, giving new and repeat customers the confidence to buy.

Monitor your stock levels

Cash flow management is super essential to running a successful business. And overstocking is a common problem that ties up funds unnecessarily. So keep a close eye on what products are moving and which ones have stalled. Do you need a promotion, sale or special offer to clear out old stock? Is your pricing right? Is your stock selling fast enough? Managing stock and cash flow is always a difficult balancing act, but this can make or break your business if you don’t get it right.

Automate your accounting

No matter how small your business is, you need to be across your numbers. Engage an accountant early in the process for expert advice. And set up an accounting system like Xero or MYOB right from the start. This will save you so much time and help manage your money, monitor income and expenses, reconcile your accounts and lots more.

Use social media

Channels like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are invaluable to communicating with prospective customers. And there’s lots of new features on socials where you can tag products that link directly to your website for purchases to be made. This provides a simple, seamless shopping experience for prospective customers to buy from your online store.

Starting your eCommerce business can be exciting and very rewarding. But many new businesses fail in the first 12 months of operation.

Avoid this heartache, by ensuring you consider the foundational elements like SEO and keyword research. Create a beautiful website that showcases both your products and your brand, while targeting your key market perfectly. Make the checkout process simple so your customers can seamlessly buy when they’re ready. And automate where you can with your accounting and administration. While customer reviews will add credibility to your brand to help alleviate new customer hesitation and post-purchase anxiety.

There are so many facets to starting a new venture. But from my experience, following these top 10 tips will give you an excellent grounding to creating a fantastic eCommerce business that’s ready to succeed.