Business Tips

How to Build an E-Commerce Website

By Alicia Soulier | 

Do you want to improve your online presence? Have you considered starting an online store for your retail product? We’re here to bring you the top seven tips for outstanding e-commerce and website design.

1. Using high-quality images.

People want to know about you, and they want to know about where they’re going to sit when they come into your beautiful location. It’s very important to invest in good photography so you can showcase how special your place is. Quality content is a great place to start, as it usually takes the most time to execute. Set a date for a photo shoot so that the photographer can shoot the location indoor and outdoor. Then get your staff to bring in clients so that you can create those perfect behind the scenes shots. Remember to think about the consumer who is looking at these photos, try to think about what they would want to see and when they are looking at these images. We as an industry tend to push for editorial or high fashion looks, but that can push away from your ideal customer. So make sure you think about your customer when you are setting up these shots and have fun doing it. For headshots with your team, make sure you try to do individual shots. We can’t keep all of our staff forever, so if you have too many group shots where the whole team is together, it can become difficult to keep up with when there is turnover.

2. Do your research.

It’s important to take some time to see what is already working in other businesses. Try to find other salons or other industry-specific accounts that have e-commerce and websites that you admire. Create a list of things that you like and dislike so that you can put it into a roadmap of how you’re going to build out your e-commerce website. Think of where the buttons are placed, think about the optimization and ways in which these sites engage with you as a consumer, and how you can ultimately use that in your way. Once you found your top sites you’re now ready to figure out which website builder are you going to use. There are many website builders to use, and it’s important to find one that fits your specific needs. Some of the ones that we tend to push towards our Shopify, Squarespace, and Wicks. It’s really important to make sure that your website is user friendly so you can edit it even though you’re not a website developer yourself. Platforms that allow you to access a blog, update images, and offer marketing plug-ins can make life very easy for a salon owner. After you have established how you want your site to look and what platform you want to use… you’re almost ready to build.

3. Branding, branding, branding.

This is the moment where you can make customers understand what it feels like to walk into the doors of your salon and get an idea of what personality is behind your company. Never underestimate the power of a good brand and your voice and how you want to represent yourself digitally. Identifying what colors attach to your perfect ideal customer and culture/atmosphere is a must in making an outstanding website. Think like the consumer and how they feel when they go to your website currently. Do they feel the same as when they walk into your salon and locations? How can you tie them all together so that it truly tells a story? With your brand, make clear guidelines from fonts, textures, imagery, colors so that whether it’s you or another stylist and/or a freelancer that is working on your site, they can create content and keep the foundation that you have set with your brand. Make that brand scream out so people just want to talk about it and share.

4. Keep it simple

Nothing is more overwhelming than coming to a website and getting popped up with banners and coupons and colors. This type of distraction could result in high bounce rates. In the words of Coco Chanel, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” This is relevant for websites too. If we think about it in this context, when you think you are done designing, try to strip it back so it’s easy to read and doesn’t distract the consumer from getting into what they need from your site to buy the things you’re trying to sell. We tend to be very good storytellers but try to keep the story short by creating clear, simple messaging. If the consumer is coming online to buy things, there is a chance they don’t care as much about the company – so make sure in areas where they are purchasing it would be no different than walking down the isles or looking at shelves in your salon. It’s important to think about how the customer is treated in your facility and how you can identify that online. So by keeping it simple and only asking minimal things to keep the consumer engaged enough to buy is exactly what needs to happen to have the most optimal success in e-commerce.

5. Think like a consumer

You have likely noticed the trend by now in the tips above how important it is to think like your consumer. What are their interests? How can I create a clear path to what they are wanting? How do I identify their needs fast and efficiently without overwhelming them? Are there products that require more education? If so, maybe put them in an education area so that if a consumer wanted more knowledge before purchasing, they can go there. Being able to understand consumer behavior is sometimes the most challenging but equally the most rewarding when you can tap into it. Don’t be afraid to ask your existing consumers their thoughts and how they would like to visit your site. Building with a consumer-first mindset is a key ingredient in success when it comes to e-commerce sites.

6. Be consistent with your inventory.

Nothing is worse than when you go to buy something, pay for it and later get an email that it wasn’t in stock and you have to wait for the product. Less is more in the situation… I highly suggest that by creating fewer products that are ‘top sellers’ that don’t require a ton of education is your best bet in starting an e-commerce website for salons. Create an opportunity where customers can buy packages or “bundles” that would work for their hair type. A simple kit is a great way to drive people to your website and purchase all in one allowing you to increase your retail per transaction values (ex. curly hair kit). Product shots already exist so don’t waste your time shooting them yourself unless it is part of your brand. Most brands provide stock images so that you can easily add them to your e-commerce store. You can also use a platform like Canva that makes it easy for you to create custom imagery with products for your website.

7. Create a review or testimonial area

Consumers love to see how a product is working for people that they can easily relate to. Having a clear area where there’s a value proposition that consumers are saying how much they love your site and exactly what they did with those products create an easier path for people to purchase those products. On each product create a review area that allows consumers to review them. This is going to help increase the chances of selling that particular product and or kit/bundle. Any information is good information, so don’t be afraid of the three stars out there, or even two stars… This is just going to make a more realistic approach to the product that you are selling and it’ll give them a more positive experience for shopping on your website. So when people see that other people are super excited about a particular product, they’ll be more likely to engage in purchasing as well. Everyone loves to hear a good review so that they can make a better decision and if it’s the right thing to purchase or not.

So in conclusion, organize your store so it’s clear and consumers know exactly where they need to go, as well as making sure your branding screams so loud that people cannot wait to tell everybody about this amazing opportunity to buy your salon products online. You are ready to start building your dream e-commerce site and build a new revenue stream while you sleep. Cheers! Happy website building, and may the smallest amount of clicks bring you the biggest amount of profits.

Alicia Soulier

Alicia Soulier is the founder and CEO of SalonScale Technology Inc. With over 16 years of experience in the beauty industry she has earned the titles of Contessa and Mirror Award winner and has proven herself as a well sought out hairstylist and educator.