5 Things to Keep in Mind for Building an eCommerce Website

It seems like you have finally decided to push the pedal on creating your eCommerce website.

Look no further, as you have arrived at the right destination.

Whenever you’re about to begin a large project, it’s good to gather all your ducks in a row before you start. Building an eCommerce site constitutes a lot of moving pieces. Thus, one needs to consider a variety of factors before jumping in head first.

From user engagement to site performance – It is one thing to design a simple website, but developing an eCommerce site comes with its series of challenges.

Firstly, eCommerce websites are built not just to inform and showcase your brand online; they are primarily built for customers to shop. Hence, designers need to ensure that the site is easy to use and intuitive to make sales.

Without sales, the whole website will lose its purpose.

So, before you begin, consider reading this article thoroughly as it can serve as a holy grail to bring your ecommerce product dreams to reality.

1. Select an ecommerce or web hosting platform

If you are a small or medium-sized enterprise and aren’t looking for a customized platform – Then to save time and money, select a popular ecommerce platform.

I recommend Shopify, Magento, OpenCart or BigCommerce.

MUST READ: Best eCommerce Platform for Small Business – 2019

Most developers are quite familiar with these, making it easy to integrate WordPress plugin, payment processing, etc. The platforms also come with a range of customizations.

Additionally, these ecommerce platforms come at a reasonable price.

2. Reverse Engineer Successful eCommerce Websites

One of the most ingenious ways to create an ecommerce website or product that generate leads, drives traffic, and converts visitors is to reverse engineer what is already working for the other ecommerce sites. Learning from those who are already excelling in the domain is a sure shot way to ensure that you create a functional platform which is lucrative for your business.

But, how can you do that?

To understand what your competitor is utilizing, you can go to Ahrefs (or other competitor analysis tools such as SpyFu, Similar Web, or SEMrush) and type in your own website’s URL or that of your competitors’.

Once you do that, try finding out how they’re getting their traffic, what keywords they’re ranking for, what keywords they’re bidding on, etc.

3. Open source or SaaS – Choose wisely

Depending on a variety of factors – such as your company’s current and future needs, as well as budgetary and other constraints – you’ll have a significant decision to make as you dive into the world of eCommerce:

Should you use an open-source or a SaaS platform to house your online store?

If you don’t require a much-customized online store and want to instead focus your energy & time on running and scaling your venture instead of managing technology – you’ll be more content with a SaaS platform. It will save you considerable time and money while allowing you to focus on achieving your business objectives.

If you have the pockets to hire a developer, and want a highly customized shopping experience, then open-source will be a viable bet for you.

4. Finding the Right Tech Partner

Choosing the right tech partner is a critical step to ensure your product succeeds, especially if you are from a non-technical background.

eCommerce can get tricky at times. Some problems arise which could only be handled by experienced developers, thus you must hire a partner who has an experience of working in this domain.

Going for a jack of all trades isn’t really a good idea here. Also, solely hiring a developer won’t suffice. You will require an eCommerce domain expert to fulfill your requirements.

Owing to the fact that ecommerce is a massive entity in itself; it would be foolish to hire someone on the basis of their work in other domains. A developer who is good with designing ride-hailing or dating apps won’t necessarily be good in developing ecommerce applications.

Check out our award-winning ecommerce application right here.

5. Clear and Easy Navigations

Make sure you have clear and easy-to-follow navigation at every step of the purchase. If a user doesn’t find the product or services they were looking for, they aren’t going to spend long looking for them on your website. After all, they have plenty of options to choose from.

Aim at retaining the user by providing them with a clean and clutter-free experience.

Keep in mind the following pointers and you’ll be good to go:

• Match Your Design with Your Products

Keeping your design coherent with what you’re selling will complete the overall feel and look of your site. While designing, make sure that everything from text, images, color schemes, perfectly aligns with your website.

For instance, If your website is selling toys, your design should look fun and colorful.

And if your website is trading gadgets, the theme of your design should look modern and techy.

For instance, this e-commerce website which buys and sells Captain America merchandise uses a design that matches their products perfectly.

• Proper Product Showcase and Descriptions

The purpose of your ecommerce site should be to sell products; thus it is essential to highlight your products on your website. When showcasing items, always ensure that you’re using high-quality images that will grab user’s attention. The larger the images, the better. By showing good quality pictures, your customers will visualize how well the product looks in real.

For better usability, choose a layout that emphasizes your product on every page. Don’t give them a hard time finding the page for “Accessories” or “Shoes” if they’ve already looked or clicked on a similar product.

• Easy Checkout Proces

Besides from allowing transactions to be swift and anonymous, an eCommerce site should also make it as compelling as possible for consumers to check out their items. The more straightforward this process, the more motivation your customers will have to make a repeat purchase. So don’t create too many pages for checkout.

Try to create a single-page process while not being too overwhelming for consumers.

• Payment Options

I’ve observed several eCommerce sites that deny users to pay with Paypal or with other kinds of payment aside from Visa or Master card. Now with the introduction of a Unified Payment Interface, you need to ensure that you provide ample payment solutions in order to cater to a wide range of shoppers. By considering your consumer’s payment preference, you can increase their motivation to shop thereby boosting your sales in the long run.

5 Security Tips for your eCommerce Website

eCommerce has been flourishing for a decade now. The yearly growth this domain has witnessed is staggering to even put in words. However, commerce over the internet involves its ambiguities.

Since its nascent stage, the ecommerce domain has been marred with security contingencies.

eCommerce security involves a set of protocols that safely guide eCommerce transactions.

Regardless of scale, all types of eCommerce websites are victims of security contingencies. What makes eCommerce such an appealing target for cybercriminals is the volume and sensitivity of the data they deal with. Millions of customers share their banking information, personal details, and other critical data when they register to use.

Even giants like Target and eBay have fallen prey to these attacks. So, what should you do differently to ensure impeccable security for your ecommerce website or business when even tech biggies are struggling with it?

In this article, we’ll discuss in length – 5 Security Measures for Your eCommerce Website/Business.

Firstly, let us understand some of the most distinguished and common threats that hamper merchants from doing business effectively –

  • Online Security
    There is a wide range of ecommerce security threats out there that hamper trade over the internet. The primary motive behind all these security threats is to exploit the victim in terms of money. These include credit card frauds, malware, phishing attacks, hacking, spams, etc.
  • System Reliability
    System reliability comprises three major types of issues

    • The Internet service provider (ISP) server could crash
    • The online payment system could show errors
    • The ecommerce plugin could have bugs
  • Privacy Issues
    We can’t even quantify how many product catalogs, user IDs, personal information, and financial information like credit card details a typical eCommerce site stores. That’s what makes eCommerce sites of almost any magnitude, so attractive and appealing to hackers and fraudsters to exploit. A customers’ personal data could be compromised and used for spamming, identity theft and unsolicited marketing. Therefore, privacy issues are one of the most pressing problems for e-commerce businesses.
  • Payment Frauds
    No matter how good your online security measures are, sometimes it is tough to avoid payment frauds. Notorious elements could get access to details of your credit cards by impersonating as financial institutions.
  • Intellectual Property Issues
    Others could copy your product descriptions, product images, copyright logos, even music, and even videos and use it for their purposes. Intellectual property violations are pretty eminent as they could easily be made.

Having learned about the major threats, now let’s dig into how you can prevent your site or your business from these imminent anomalies that hover around this realm,

1. Get SSL Certified

Ideally, every site needs to have SSL by default. Generally, SSL certificates are used to protect data transfer, credit card transactions,  and login information. In a recent development, SSL certifications are also being deployed on social media sites to enable secure browsing.

What are SSL certificates?

SSL Certificates are records of data which digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. When deployed on a server, SSL activates the padlock and HTTPS protocol and activates secure connections from a web server to a browser.

SSL Certificates bind together:

  • A domain name, server name or hostname.
  • An organizational identity (i.e., company name) and location.

The primary reason why the utilization of SSL is increasing is that they keep sensitive information sent across the Internet encrypted so that only the intended recipient can access it. This is critical because the information one sends over the Internet is conceded from computer to the other to get to its destination. If any computer in the network is compromised, the server would be able to see your username, passwords and even sensitive information like credit card numbers if it is not encrypted with an SSL certificate.

When an SSL certificate is used, the information becomes unreadable to everyone except for the server you are transferring the information to. This approach safeguards it from potential threats and notorious elements.

How does it work?

  1. A user attempts to connect to a website (i.e., a web server) via a web browser. This connection needs to be secured with SSL.
  2. The web browser requests the identity of the web server.
  3. The web server sends a copy of its SSL certificate.
  4. The browser verifies the received SSL certificate. If verified it sends a message to the web server.
  5. The web server acknowledges by sending over an acknowledgment.
  6. The session is started, and encrypted data is shared

2. Become PCI compliant

In a study, it was found that nearly 90% of security breaches impact small businesses.

PCI Compliance stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). The PCI DSS is a security standard for organizations that handle branded credit cards from the major card schemes.

The standard came into practice in 2006 and has gained wide popularity worldwide to prevent credit card frauds and to increase controls around cardholder data.

PCI compliance applies to corporations of any size that accepts card payment. So, is your ecommerce PCI compliant?

There are plenty of reasons to become PCI compliant as this could increasingly secure your online transactions considerably.

Small businesses often feel plagued in their capabilities to adjust their processes accordingly to become PCI compliant. Hence, if you want your business to become PCI compliant you need to remember, PCI compliance is attained through a collaborative effort amongst teams, including working with payment processors that ensure PCI compliance, accepting EMV chip cards and even securing your business’s IT infrastructure, networks, and payment processes.

PCI compliance can be intimidating and complicated for e-commerce business owners to decipher and implement, but they’re a set of precautions designed to minimize your risk and protect your customers.

Getting PCI compliant can be a daunting task, especially for small business owners. Thus your PCI compliance checklist should include the following:

  • Use a firewall for payment card data and public network, and keep the firewall updated.
  • Do not store the cardholder’s data. If your business needs to store cardholders’ data, make sure you use strong encryption. Several platforms provide extensions to shift the storage of cardholder data. For instance, you can deploy Magento’s extension BrainTree to switch the storage of the cardholder data.
  • Use encryption to safeguard all transmissions of cardholder data over any public network.
  • You need to ensure that your card processing systems have a vendor-supplied security patch installed.
  • Limit access to cardholder data to as few people as possible.
  • Regularly test your security systems and network environment.
  • Establish an effective and efficient security policy and make sure that all personnel are aware of it.

3. Choose the correct eCommerce Platform

It is an extremely critical business process to employ an efficient ecommerce platform for your business. It is vital, especially for small business, to be extremely vigilant while selecting the correct ecommerce platform for your business.

With sleuths of ecommerce platforms being available at throwaway prices, selecting the appropriate platform becomes a daunting task, considering that switching isn’t an appropriate option. Hence, a tonne of planning must go into ensuring that you have selected the best platform.

Our recommendations:

  • We recommend you to employ a platform which is based on Object-Oriented Programming and includes built-in security protocols.
  • In case, if you opt for WordPress as your platform, select a good WordPress security plugin that will help add an extra layer of protection to your website.
  • Also, set up a bot mitigation solution as it isn’t provided by default.

Have a look at the table below, and you’ll get a brief idea on which platform could be leveraged for your business.

For an in-depth understanding of the best and most suitable ecommerce platforms for your business, do read our detailed article on, “Best eCommerce Platforms in 2019.

4. Do I really need security auditing?

YES, YOU DO!

I can’t press on this enough to make people understand the importance of security auditing. Even if you are a small business with relatively lesser transactions and money flowing through your website,

YOU DO NEED SECURITY AUDITING.

Frequent security checkups and audits are highly recommended for sustaining and reinforcing your ecommerce website’s safety. Audits not just help in weeding out potential threats that may have found their way onto your portal, but also eliminates data of past transactions.

Just like casinos; online portals which have round-the-clock cash flow are marred with new security contingencies every other day. Security audits thus become quite necessary to ensure their client’s information is safeguarded efficiently and effectively.

An ecommerce business is granted a certificate and a mark after its security audit. Even consumers can differentiate these security audited websites through the individual marks they embody.

There are 4 significant factors on which the security audit of business is evaluated, namely:

  • Data security
  • Performance
  • Engagement
  • Navigation
  • Product
  • Payment
  • Fulfillment
  • Service

5. Is your Customer even Human?

These bad boys are the single-handedly the most significant contributors to eCommerce website frauds.

Everyone wants more traffic for their ecommerce site. However, it is necessary to ensure that all this traffic is legitimate and comes from a verified buyer. What you might suppose as legitimate traffic on your website could actually be malicious bots deployed by hackers and even your competitors to scrape your product prices and even steal your entire customer data, vendor data and product catalogs, that too within a matter of a few seconds.

For protecting your business against the threats of bad bots creeping into your website, you can employ a series of effective steps,

STEP 1: Detecting and Analyzing legitimate bot traffic is the first step. Bot detection platforms should be able to make out human traffic from non-human traffic. Non-human traffic patterns could be detected by employing logical puzzles and security questions on pages that involve cash flow.

STEP 2: Once you are finished implementing STEP 1, and bot traffic have been identified, the next step involves classifying the type of traffic. Bot traffic could either be from a known source – like that of search engine bots which should be allowed to pass through, and the other could be from a source malicious source, whose intent may not be clear – this shouldn’t be allowed to pass through.

STEP 3: The third and final step involves controlling the malicious bot traffic, which would depend on the intent of the bot. For example,

  • If the bot is eyeing for vulnerabilities or trying to commit frauds like shopping cart stuffing, the software should deny access and return a false 404 “page not found” to the bot.
  • For a DoS attack (denial of service), your bot mitigation and management solution should simply divert the traffic.

Fortunately, there are also some pretty effective bot detection platforms that you could leverage at a reasonable price for your eCommerce site, namely,

  • Infisecure
    InfiSecure offers real-time and user behavior based bot detection technology to identify bad bots. Their tools block web scraping bots in real time before they access your ecommerce website, thus preventing customers from fraudulent orders, data theft, price scraping, and variation tracking.
  • ShieldSquare
    ShieldSquare utilizes a non-intrusive API-based approach to analyses and detects malicious activity on your ecommerce site, thus blocking bots in real-time without impacting the real users already browsing through your product catalog.
  • Data Dome 
    Being employed by some of the significant fortune 500 companies, Data Dome employs an AI-empowered bot management solution to counter frauds like user data theft, price scraping, etc.
  • Global Dots
    Global Dots is an extraordinarily efficient and effective platform to ensure security from bad bots. They use Behavioral Fingerprinting to analyze dynamic profiles of real customers to identify click frauds, content and price scraping.

Concluding View

Many pillars go into holding-up the dome of eCommerce security.

Data privacy being a major concern for every internet-based enterprise right now, it is extremely important, now more than ever to safeguard customer’s data to maintain the dwindling trust with eCommerce-based companies. With the revelation of Cambridge Analytica Scandal consumers have become unsure of commerce over the internet.

Whether you are just starting out, or have a small business in a place or a major enterprise – Doesn’t matter. These measures need to function like clockwork to ensure impeccable security for your website. One would also need to keep yourself and your team updated with the latest advancements in Cybersecurity.

Stringent security measures must be put in place to protect your company from threats, or risk jeopardizing revenue and customer trust.

After all, It is a tricky domain to be in, but,

What is Software Testing? Terminologies | Importance | Types

Software Testing is not as easy as it is often presumed to be! One needs to possess a knack for analytical and logical thinking to formulate different test-case scenarios and present an appropriate solution accordingly.

It’s very important to understand what Software Testing actually is as there are lots of misconceptions surrounding this domain. Testing is all about out-of-the-box thinking and verifying, validating, investigating & exploring the product.

Benjamin Franklin once stated, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”Testing is an easier job for those who don’t comprehend the significance of good quality.

Stay tuned to our series of blogs on Software Testing where I will be covering each aspect, FROM SCRATCH! Nothing would be left out!

So, if you wish to venture into this domain, stay tuned as these articles can serve as a holy grail for you.

In our first blog on Testing, we will be covering the following points,

  • Introduction to Software Testing
  • Significance of Testing
  • Common Terminologies used in Software Testing
  • Types
  • Concluding View

What is Software Testing?

As per ISTQB definition,
Software Testing is the process of verifying and validating whether a software application or product meets the business and technical requirements that guide its design and development. In simpler terms, it is the process of executing a program or application with the intent of finding defects in it.

Software Testing is performed to check whether the outcome matches the expected result and also to ensure that the developed product has minimal anomalies. It includes the execution of different test cases over different functionalities. A tester, often referred to as a Quality Analyst, needs to ensure that the developed product meets the client’s requirements.

Software testing can be carried out manually or by using automated tools.

Note: ISTQB or The International Software Testing Qualifications Board is a software testing qualification certification.

Importance of Software Testing

“Quality is not an accident, it’s an intelligent effort “

– John Ruskin

You cannot understate the significance of testing if you wish to deliver a quality product to your customers.

Creating a good quality product which is bug-free, delivers great user experience and runs seamlessly across multiple channels requires the product to undergo through a rigorous testing process. The right kind of testing guarantees that your product is seamless and delivers on the expectations of the client.

Testing is also essential to enrich User Experience. This is because a badly tested product will have bugs and other contingencies which will consequently hamper in providing a seamless UX.

Now, developing this lucrative and seamless product requires the tester to review the product on several parameters, like,

  • Accessibility
  • Compatibility
  • Efficiency
  • Functionality
  • Scalability
  • Performance
  • Reliable
  • Usability
The objective of testing isn’t limited to discovering bugs or to advance programming. It is to minimize hazard by proactively detecting and dispensing issues which could sway the customers from efficiently utilizing the product.

TERMINOLOGIES

  • Test Plan
  • Test Scenarios
  • Test Cases
  • Priority
  • Severity
  • Verification
  • Validation
  • SDLC & STLC

1. Test Plan

As per ISTQB definition,
A test plan is a document outlining the scope, approach, resources, and schedule of the intended test activities. It identifies amongst others, the test items, the features to be tested, tasks, person assigned to each task, the test environment, test design techniques, entry and exit criteria as well as contingency planning.

Simply put – A test plan defines the strategy to be used to test an application and elucidates the objective, resources used and the information about the test environment. It is a blueprint which summarizes how the testing activities will proceed for any project.

2. Test Scenarios vs Test Cases

A Test Case mentions the detailed inputs, execution conditions, steps to reproduce, test data, the actual & expected results. Different test cases are designed and noted-down during the Test Case Development phase of STLC which the testers later refer to, to check the application performance.

Test cases can be broadly classified into Functional & Non-functional or Positive & Negative.

People often get confused amongst – Test Scenarios and Test Cases. Here is a simple example to quickly comprehend the difference between the two,

  • Test Case 1: Check results on entering valid User Id & valid Password
  • Test Case 2: Check results on entering Invalid User ID & valid Password
  • Test Case 3: Check results on entering valid User ID & Invalid Password
  • Test Case 4: Check results on entering Invalid User ID & Invalid Password
  • Test Case 5: Check response when fields are Empty & Login Button is pressed.

Test Scenario is to Test the login functionality whereas Test Cases that are included in this Test Scenario are,

3. Priority vs Severity

Priority specifies the level of urgency under which the bug needs to get resolved. Whereas severity illustrates how critical the bug is, it basically describes the magnitude of impact if the bug is not resolved. There are different levels of priority and severity, which are depicted in the image below,

4. Verification v/s Validation:

Verification is a static routine involving checking documents, structure, code, and program. It incorporates activities involved in creating fantastic programming, including, assessment, structure investigation, and detail examination. It is a moderate target process.

Validation is assessing the last item to check whether the product meets the clients’ desires and prerequisites. It is a dynamic tool of approving and testing the real item.

It’s essential for a tester to possess a clear understanding of the process followed to develop the product in their organization. Similar to SDLC, a proper process is followed to perform software testing which is called STLC or Software Testing Life Cycle. Let’s catch some more details about these processes.

SDLC vs STLC

  • SDLC
    Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) explains the journey of Software Development. According to Wikipedia, SDLC is a process followed for software development. It consists of a detailed strategy outlining how to develop, maintain, replace, alter and enhance a specific software.
  • STLC
    STLC illustrates a systematic and well-planned testing process which includes different stages to make the testing process quick, effective and accountable. Unlike SDLC, STLC – software testing life cycle identifies how test cases will be implemented and how the testing would be conducted successfully.

Now Let’s a brief look at the different phases of SDLC and STLC:

It’s important that a tester must have knowledge of the process followed to develop any product in any IT company. This process is named as SDLC – software development life cycle. Add on to this, a proper process is followed to perform software testing i.e STLC – software testing life cycle. Let’s catch some more details about these processes.

A tester has to perform numerous types of testing in his career. Let’s take a sneak peek at the different types of software testing out there,

Functional Testing

Functional testing is a type of software testing where the system is tested against some functional requirements.

  • Unit Testing
    Unit testing consists of the testing of individual modules or components. Its objective is to test each unit of the software, validate whether the functionality implemented is stable or not and most importantly it should work as per the design & requirement.It’s the first and foremost step to perform Software testing and is generally carried out by software developers themselves. Unit Testing builds confidence in changing or maintaining the codes. Reusability of code also increases.
  • Integration Testing
    Integration Testing is the second step of software testing, where individual modules are combined & integrated modules are tested. It started after completion of Unit Testing. The objective is to test the defects to discover while integrating any modules. This type of testing verifies the functionality, performance, and reliability between the integrated modules.
  • System Testing
    System testing is the testing of complete and integrated software. It ensures that the developed product meets the specific requirements.System Testing involves the examination of completely integrated applications incorporating outer peripherals to check how modules interact with each other and with the framework, all in all.
  • Sanity Testing
    Sanity testing is carried out to quickly evaluate and determine whether functionalities are working as expected or not. Sanity Testing is also referred to as surface-level-testing.Sanity testing is a type of Software Testing performed after receiving a software build, with minor changes in code, or functionalities, to learn that the bugs have been fixed and no further issues are acquainted due with these progressions.The objective is “not” to verify the new functionality thoroughly but to determine that the developer has applied some rationality (sanity) while developing the software.
  • Smoke Testing
    Smoke Testing is performed to discover that the critical functionalities of the program are working fine. The motto of this testing is to check the “stability” of the framework and execute “before” any detailed functional or regression tests are executed on the application.
  • Interface Testing
    An interface is a medium between two different software systems, whereas interface Testing is a software testing type which verifies whether the correspondence between two distinctive programming frameworks is done accurately.
  • Regression Testing
    Regression testing is the type of testing in which QA verifies whether changes made in the old functionality still works with the newly implemented changes.
  • Beta/Acceptance Testing:
    Beta or User Acceptance testing is carried out by “real users” of the developed product in “real environment.” A Beta version of the application is released for a limited number of users to gather feedback on product quality.Beta testing decreases item disappointment hazards and provides an expanded nature of the product through client approval.It is the final test before delivery product to the clients. Direct criticism from clients is a noteworthy preferred standpoint of Beta Testing. This testing serves to tests the item in the client’s environment.
Non-functional testing types,
  • Performance Testing
    Performance testing is defined as the type of testing where we ensure proper functionality of our application under a heavy workload.
  • Load Testing
    Load testing is a sub-classification of Performance Testing. During load testing, we evaluate the behavior of our application when N number of users simultaneously access it.
  • Stress Testing
    The objective of stress testing is to analyze the response of the system following a failure. In this type of testing system should give an error message if it is operating under dire conditions. This type of testing tries to break the system by testing with overwhelming data or resources.
  • Volume Testing
    Volume testing is a sort of Software Testing in which the product is subjected to an enormous volume of information. This testing is carried out to test system performance by expanding the amount of data in the database.
  • Security Testing
    Security Testing ensures that our applications are free from any vulnerabilities, dangers, risks that could cause a major misfortune. It additionally helps in identifying all conceivable security issues in the system and assist users in fixing these issues through coding.
  • Compatibility Testing
    Compatibility Testing is a sort of Software testing to check whether your product is fit for running on multiple hardware, different OS, Applications and mobile gadgets. It’s a type of Non-functional testing.
  • Recovery Testing
    Recovery testing is the process of testing how well an application can recoup from accidents, hardware failures, and other comparable issues. This testing is the constrained disappointment of the product in an assortment of approaches to confirm that recovery is appropriately performed.
  • Usability Testing
    Usability testing ensures – Usefulness, Discoverability, Accessibility, Usability, and Desirability.The objective is to see how clients interact with your product and to improve the item dependent on the outcomes. The main focus of a Usability test is to improve a design.
  • Compliance Testing :
    Compliance testing also referred to as conformance testing, regulation testing, standards testing, is a sort of testing to decide the consistency of a framework. Most importantly it is the nonfunctional testing procedure which is done to approve, regardless of whether the framework created satisfies the association’s recommended guidelines or not. Determining that the development and maintenance process meets the endorsed procedure.
  • Localization Testing
    Localization testing is a software testing strategy, where the product is checked to guarantee that it carries on as indicated by the nearby culture or settings.

10 Proven Strategies to Market Startups on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is more than just a social networking site that serves to connect job aspirants with employers or fosters strategic business partnerships.

In fact, LinkedIn is widely used across the globe to seek employment. It is home to several recruiters. But it’s a whole lot more than that.

With over 450 million professionals available on this network, it’s also an impactful marketing tool. LinkedIn connects individuals and adds tremendous value for startups looking to establish a firm foothold in a competitive industry.

So, let’s learn all about the 10 proven strategies for marketing startups on LinkedIn and the benefit of tapping this network for strategic corporate partnerships.

Right from Apple’s Tim Cook to Microsoft’s Bill Gates, everyone is on LinkedIn. So, if you seek to increase brand awareness, find leads and create connections to meet business goals, LinkedIn is your go-to marketing platform.

LinkedIn can also be used for advertising and marketing, given its massive popularity among businesses both big and small.

The social media channel is, therefore, great for B2B networking and gaining website traffic. You even get to follow industry leaders and get great ideas. But why is LinkedIn great for marketing startups? Besides the obvious benefits, there are many not-so-obvious benefits which we will now discuss.

Why Market Startups On LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is seen as an impressive tool for many marketers. Before diving deeper into the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of this, let’s see what the numbers have to say:

Decoding the Deciding Digits!

  • LinkedIn remains the largest professional networking site across the globe, with more than 450 million users from 200+ nations.
  • New users join LinkedIn at a rate of 2 per second.
  • More than 39 million students and fresh graduates comprise the site’s most rapidly growing demographic.
  • Millions of executives from the top Fortune500 companies can also be found here.
  • Corporate talent solutions offered by this professional networking site are used by 94 of the top Fortune 100 companies.
  • More than 1.5 million publishers use LinkedIn as a social media platform for sending content.

Media & Marketing

For successful marketing, it is crucial to know the importance of media for raising brand awareness, besides proper brand positioning in the market. A startup has limited resources, but infinite needs and requirements, when it comes to marketing online. Even the most quality products will remain unsold if you do not know how to market them effectively.

Hiring a PR agency can’t get you the type of media exposure LinkedIn offers. LinkedIn is the best, most cost-effective solution. Consider that over 94.2% of the journalists use this website.

The Power of Partnerships

Business growth is stimulated by fostering partnerships. Partners can refer clients to one another and leverage the capabilities they have for a win-win outcome. Partnerships can provide a marketing boost as well. LinkedIn is perfect for finding startup marketing strategies to help your business grow.

Finding Clients

LinkedIn is excellent for finding customers for your business, too. A startup on the first step of its journey needs to examine how offerings are presented to customers. The very idea behind marketing is to foster brand recall and recognition. Persuasive marketing can make a difference to consumers, and, ultimately, your business profits.

Proven LinkedIn Marketing Strategies for Startups

#1 Let Businesses Know Your Status Update

For startups, nothing can be more daunting than marketing. If you’re worried about how to market your business, LinkedIn status updates can inspire confidence. All you need to do is be regular. Make sure your status updates contain relevant content.

#2 Craft Meaningful Marketing Posts

Publish posts on your profile using LinkedIn. It can establish you as a market authority. Sharing views and meaningful opinions through LinkedIn marketing posts serve as a perfect launching pad for your startup.

#3 Use LinkedIn Presentations

LinkedIn also allows posting of PPT presentations or even videos, thereby enhancing the attention span of followers.

#4 Receive Endorsements

Don’t want your startup to blend in? Then stand out with endorsements from connections. Remember that recommendations have the power to enhance your startup’s profile online and build credibility, as well as brand authenticity.

#5 Showcase Publications

Publications are highlighted using active links on LinkedIn. That way, others can view the publication, whether it is an article, a blog, a research report, a white paper or even an e-book. Showcase all your marketing collateral such as online brochures and visual storylines using publishing options available to you.

#6 Make Informed Choices With LinkedIn Groups

For startups joining the grind, generating a buzz can be really hard. So, how do you make it easier? One way to do this is to opt for LinkedIn Groups and have a finger on the market’s pulse. Create groups on LinkedIn and sustain viewer interest, along with business development and growth.

#7 Create a Company Page

This is, in fact, one of the first steps you need to take on LinkedIn for marketing your startup. Company pages serve as one-stop destinations for every fact you seek to highlight about your startup. Join associations and groups using company pages and highlight what’s so special about your startup.

#8 Build a Brand

When you sign up on startup, the web address creates a random collection of letters. You can customize web addresses and link it to the name of your company. Don’t underestimate the power of branding through innovative URLs. Shakespeare once asked, “What’s in a name?”. Well, there’s plenty, if you are a startup!

#9 Establish Your Authority

Become a recognized expert by putting up eye-catching, meaningful posts and participating in group discussions. Setting your startup apart from the average business is all about embracing innovation and establishing a stellar reputation online. To quote American motivational speaker, Eric Thomas:  shooting for excellence is the only way to make sure you never settle for mediocrity!. Startups need to be phenomenal, not average!

#10 Supercharge Sales

If one is into sales, targeting prospective clients using LinkedIn is the key. If one has an active profile on LinkedIn, common connections with the prospect can help your startup to build a solid sales pipeline. LinkedIn is presently is known for users who are professionals skilled at building companies and creating economic opportunities.

LinkedIn helps startup marketers to understand how to make a connection with audiences, without spending a single penny. Not all marketing is paid.

Every connection you built on LinkedIn does not require a marketing budget, yet it can help in spreading the word about products. By sharing content about products and industries, gaining attention is easier.

Connections are an asset on LinkedIn for startups looking to market their products, services and, ultimately, their brand.

How to Promote the LinkedIn Company Page

Setting up company pages that rock, for your startup, are not exactly rocket science. While company pages are easy to set up, they come with an added bonus: Followers!

You can gain followers and stay updated about products. By following your company page, prospects can signal their interest in your startup’s products and services.

Additionally, company pages have features such as Analytics, which enable you to learn about followers. Further, Sponsored Updates help to promote posts that strike a chord with followers and lead to wider audiences appreciating not just your post, but also your startup. Showcase Pages is a company page feature to create highly focused pages for products or target market segments.

LinkedIn company page best practices necessitate being unique and original. Don’t go for a tag-line that resembles a big brand, or you’ll land in bigger trouble (namely patent laws). Instead, highlight what’s so unique about your startup and why you are so special.

LinkedIn automatically catalogs your company posts into relevant channels. This offers a chance to access millions of users for different topics, niches and segments. Even with a LinkedIn member account, the momentum you can build with a startup LinkedIn company page is simply incredible.

After all, you do want prospects and users to discover your startup, learn about job openings and establish your brand in the market, don’t you?

Shine the Spotlight On Your Startup Brand!

An extension of the Company Page is the Showcase Page on LinkedIn. These pages specifically spotlight the brand, business unit or initiative. Creating pages for different aspects of the brand with messages and audience segments is vital. Further, special content can also be targeted at audiences with a potential for offering solid returns on investment.

Still not convinced? Then consider that companies like Microsoft, HP, Cisco and Adobe use this LinkedIn feature! LinkedIn is not just about making connections, it is also about leveraging your network. If you can highlight content that proves you are a trusted expert in the field, you can gain authority in the market. LinkedIn is about promoting your startup by building a sense of community. You can even connect with mentors who can help you to market your startup. LinkedIn is one of the most valuable, priceless tools to leverage, representing a goldmine of opportunities startup marketers can bank on.

Framing the Perfect Startup profile

Showcase why your startup is a valuable addition to the industry in the profile and first line description itself. You don’t get another chance to make an awesome first impression!

Putting Up a Your Company Logo

Your company photo or logo should look friendly and approachable. Never underestimate the power of compelling visuals to communicate a strong marketing message.

Mind the Title Too!

As results pages, mobile and small screens highlight only the first line of a profile, you need to be clear about what you want potential clients to take away from the first line. Make it count. Don’t use meaningless words or vague themes. Focus on a professional, positive, driven, hardworking and professional approach in your profile.

Boost the Banner!

There’s a massive space on LinkedIn to showcase what your company does in the banner area. Use this space, because every bit of strong graphics and compelling imagery can be worth a 1000 words.

Making the Connection

The best relationships are those where you have something in common. For startups, it’s the zeal to do something different, the passion that defines your venture. To quote political leader Winston Churchill: we all make a living by what is received. We make a life by what we give! Nurture your company page to create value for potential clients and you’ll face an avalanche of leads in record time. Featuring a campaign line or brand mission could be just the competitive differentiator you need to stand out.

Always plan a schedule of updates that generate interest and help your audience. Think of LinkedIn as an advertising platform and your startup as the discussion and lead generation hotspot. It’s not just a direct sales channel, but an avenue for establishing your thought leadership! LinkedIn posts work best with:

  • Descriptive captions or headers: This helps readers to understand what the post is about.
  • Eye-catching graphics: This serves to make your company page the best and unique from the rest!
  • Hashtags: These boost the visibility of your content online.
  • Bonus Tips: Use emojis, bullet points, color themes and even add RSS feeds to your content inbox.

Concluding Thoughts

So, there you have it. LinkedIn is a powerful platform for marketing your startup, through its broad array of tools and equally impressive reach. LinkedIn is networking at its best without any pressures. The only thing worse than failing is not starting at all. Give this network the time, and effort you offer other social media channels and the returns will be simply awesome.

The startup culture is so inspiring because it is built on networking, community, innovation and transformation – all that characterizes LinkedIn, too. It’s as Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn says: Maintain a culture of transformation and stay true to your values. It’s not just about your startup, but about the entire industry. Let potential customers know you mean business, and leverage LinkedIn to inspire and innovate throughout your startup’s growth journey.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Shopify

Undoubtedly, Shopify is an excellent eCommerce platform for businesses that are looking to build an online store.

Being an outstanding platform doesn’t mean it is ideal for every business use case. There are certain limitations that platforms like Shopify have which must be considered before finalizing on the most appropriate one.

There is a constant debate amongst eCommerce enthusiasts regarding which platform is the best-suited for any business.

These lines suit the occasion the best,

What works for me may not work for you,
and what works for you may not work for me,
So, let’s mind our own business (literally!).

Now, let’s have a look at some advantages and disadvantages of Shopify. We will also be covering what business use-case should opt for hosted platforms like Shopify.

NOTE: This review is unbiased and is based upon evaluating several parameters to present our readers with valuable information regarding its primary advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s dig in…

Pros

1. Simplicity

One doesn’t need to worry about a damn thing if one employs Shopify.

The primary goal of any business owner is to increase sales without being bogged down by technology and other administrative tasks. Businesses generally avoid wasting their valuable time on handling technology when they can focus on making sales and acquiring clients.

Thus, the significant advantage which Shopify provides for such businesses is overall assistance in managing the store’s technological requirements. Shopify also provides a clean and crystal clear interface.

Let’s take an example of a popular functionality of Shopify,

Shopify has a “Buy button” functionality which let users use Shopify as a ‘Point of Sale (POS)’ or ‘Inventory’ option. This allows customers to simply click to buy your products across multiple social platforms online like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, WordPress, and Tumblr.

This sort of functionality would take-up a lot of time for self-hosted platforms to implement, whereas it is readily available in Shopify.

2. Customer Service

Customer service can be touted as one of the primary reasons that customers love Shopify. When you opt for building and running your store all by yourself (with something like WordPress and WooCommerce) you don’t have anyone to turn to when things go awry. The developers charge a bomb in consultation charges, and online forums are often unresponsive.

Shopify has an enormous database of FAQs, email & chat support, along with phone support, most importantly with a knowledgeable rep on the other side.

When you are focused on running your eCommerce store – this safety-net of continually having someone at your back with answers is worth the Shopify subscription price alone. So on this point, Shopify especially shines.

3. Security

One of the significant challenges of running an online store is that you have two requirements from your host – Firstly, you need it to be screaming fast, and secondly, super secure, if you are processing credit cards.

Several studies conducted over time shows that a customer will wait utmost 4 seconds for a site to load before leaving. Basically, for every 1/10th that a customer expects for your page to load is a second that they might instead leave and go to your competition.

An efficient all-in-one solution like Shopify streamlines the security and compliance side of the business and covers a whole range of issues like hackers, compliance, caching – which often comes up with hosting an online store. Shopify pays bounties to Cybersecurity experts to hack-proof their systems.

There are a variety of factors that go into website speed, and Shopify can handle speed & security efficiently and effectively. They provide 100% SSL, keep their sites fast, and at the same time integrate with payment providers well so that one always get paid, and customers are never waiting for the page to load.

4. Many choices for storefront themes

Among Shopify main advantage are the beautiful storefront themes they provide. They can design your website to look elegant and professional, which helps in retaining customers. They boast a wide range of design templates for almost every business needs like Jewelry & Accessories, Tech, Art & Photography, Food & Beverage, Furniture and so much more. Each theme is carefully designed catering to the desired audience.

You have the option to filter them and choose whether they are mobile-only or responsive as well as use free or paid themes.

5. The App Store

Shopify comes packed with a ton of built-in features. However, every business has different requirements which cannot possibly be accommodated at once. Addressing this anomaly – Shopify took a page from Google and Apple by starting its ‘Own App Store.’

Apart from their core features, businesses can now download hyper-specialized apps which plugs-in to your Shopify platform and provide you with the desired feature. This makes the platform light-weight and at the same time provides the required features which cater to your specific business needs.

Shopify, by default provides the platform with a list of core features, additionally it enables developers to offer specialized products that plugin seamlessly with Shopify platform.

Some of these apps are paid while most of them are free. Let’s have a look at some of the best Shopify apps which can help in increasing sales.

a. OptinMaster

  • OptinMaster can be touted as one of the best Shopify apps out there. It is an instant way for businesses to generate leads and increase sales. Optin has proven to instantly increase sales of business like Cosmetic Capital by 300%.
  • Price:Starts at $49/month
  • Features:
  1. Targeted promotions (like free shipping banners, sales, etc) to visitors based on device, referral source, onsite behavior, and location.
  2. Integrations with your popular email marketing, CMS, and CRM platforms.
  3. Reducing cart abandonment by gathering email-ids or showing an offer just before visitors leave website.
  4. Retargeting campaigns to improve conversions with onsite retargeting

b. Referral Candy

  • Referral Candy is a top-notch network marketing application available on the Shopify app store. It gives customers incentives to refer to their friends. There are multiple options of reward selection, which can be availed in any form.
  • Their system includes automatic reward delivery, referral reminders, and dashboard where one can track referrals.
  • Price:$49/month
  • Features:
  1. Automatic reward delivery
  2. Referral reminders
  3. Referral tracking
  4. Lifetime referral incentive

c. Plug in SEO

  • This app is our pick for one of the best free Shopify apps because it helps you find, troubleshoot, and fix SEO (Search Engine Optimization) issues, so you drive more web traffic to your eCommerce store.
  • This free application automatically looks for issues with page titles, Meta description, focus key phrase, speed, structure, and more. It also includes code snippets which you can use to fix any problems yourself.
  • There is a pro version which cost $20/month and provides additional features like structured data support, bulk editing, and multilingual SEO.
  • Price: Free
  • Features:
  1. Meta description assistance
  2. Meta tags assistance
  3. Most used keyword identifier

d. Printful

  • Printful provides on-demand designs for merchandise such as T-Shirts, bags, mugs and a variety of other products. They possess in-house designers who can help create products for you. In this way, you don’t need to warehouse your own product and can simply appoint Printful to do it for you.
  • Printful directly takes orders from your store ships them out. There is absolutely no hassle of managing inventory or print-shipping labels.
  • Price: Varies depending on the product to sell
  • Features:
  1. On-demand product creation
  2. Inventory management

e. Chimpify

  • Chimpify is an all-in-one marketing platform for businesses of all sizes. It helps users to design websites, call-to-action and landing pages. Chimpify also provides statistics of the evaluated data.
  • Not all retailers need or even require email marketing for their business, but some can’t possibly go without it. It’s not a core feature of Shopify – but Chimpify integrates itself seamlessly with Shopify to provide all the above services.
  • With such setup in place – one doesn’t have to be bothered about finding developers every time if you want a specific feature. Some sort of application may probably be in the App Store, which is a lot cheaper and works exactly as advertised.
  • Over the past few years, the app store has turned into one of Shopify’s “hallmark features” that puts them way ahead of their direct competition.
  • It is not even fathomable for other platforms to pull this off correctly, but Shopify does it so efficiently and effectively. They have a business development team that works explicitly on developing new apps and bringing new developers to solve problems. Their App Store is a huge pro for the organization with different needs.

Cons:

1. SEO

eCommerce platforms majorly acquire customers through online search results.

For Example, Amazon gets 2.25 Billion Search Results online, and if you are a beginner in this domain SEO becomes even more critical.

The significant advantages of SEO for an eCommerce website are listed below,

  • To drive traffic to your site
  • A cost-efficient way to increase sales
  • To improve your customer base
  • Increase revenue
  • SEO gives recurring buyers
  • Builds brand identity

Understanding the buyer’s persona for your particular business use-case is immensely important for converting a lead to a customer.  A user would generally follow a designated pattern of writing to search for any product online.

Let us suppose James wants to purchase a mobile phone. For doing that he’ll likely search for details like product price, reviews of the product, reselling price, brand value, etc. So his expected query could look like,

  • Product Name + Price
  • Product Name + Reviews
  • Product Name + Features

Google usually takes three days to update your schema. So, if your schema is set at $100, and your product is priced at $70. You’ll likely lose customers because people generally click on the lowest price amongst options.

Thus, it is critical that your schema updates in real-time ai.end the changes in price are exhibited as soon as modifications are made.

My customer, James, was losing $1000/day due to bad SEO!

James owns an eCommerce website where he sells electronics. He gets 2000 inquiries in a day with an average order size of $100. James wasn’t even aware that he was losing $1500/day because of bad schema. His schema took 3 days to update during which he lost 30 customers costing approximately $1500. Customers deviated to a cheaper option witnessing higher price at James website.  

Are you making the same mistake?

I am sure you would visit the website quoting the lowest price. After all, a good deal is like money right in your pocket.

2. Poor CMS

Content marketing is an excellent medium for marketing for eCommerce stores. You can not only grow your brand and educate your customers, but also boost organic traffic and increase social shares.

The Content Management System (or CMS) of Shopify doesn’t let business owners publish rich content like blogs or vlogs. Although it possesses its own blogging platform – it is not the greatest, especially if you are used to WordPress. It may get the job done but it definitely needs to be improved upon. Besides, exporting blog posts is not a pleasant experience on Shopify.

The blog layouts in Shopify are quite limited, so if you want to do something unique, you’d have to set it up on another blogging platform like Tumblr, and then run it on blog.yoursite.com.

This can be a hindrance for the business owners who want to promote their products through content.

A good CMS is therefore critical to ensure effective marketing for your eCommerce website especially if content is your go-to marketing strategy.

3. Scalability – Not future ready

eCommerce solutions like Shopify and BigCommerce are perfect for small businesses considering their modest expectations in terms of sales and profits.

An online shop built on Shopify will witness scalability issues in the long run. As soon as your customer volume and transactions start increasing with time – You will need to switch to better solutions, as Shopify might not be able to cater to your expectations. Most of the hosted solutions including Shopify cannot efficiently handle eCommerce stores with millions of customers and a wide range of products.

While growing an online store requires scaling many metrics and areas including handling traffic – Many other parameters break down very quickly when you use a system like Shopify. The underlying architecture is simply not equipped to handle these use cases, and most importantly the plugins built for it are significantly worse. Besides, you will likely hit a brick wall at some point where you will require a complete revamping due to these inherent limitations.

Let’s take a perfect example of two products A, and B.

They both have almost similar specifications. They get featured on TechCrunch as the best product ever made. Thankfully, the team was expecting something like this, and they kept an inventory of 100,000 of both product A and B. They seem to be doing pretty well and by selling 20,000 units/day. Everything seems to be working like a fairytale.

Unfortunately, they are about to run in some major issue.

  • Some customers start requesting switching product A for B.
  • The accountants are unable to work as they aren’t equipped with a cost of sales or even a profitability chart.
  • Due to mismanagement, the warehouse team starts making mistakes by shipping by sending orders to the wrong customers. Some customers receive both A & B and some none!

How can Shopify resolve these issues?

The answer is NO. Shopify isn’t equipped with any built-in functionality to address such issues. Not even third party integrations can solve the purpose, and they eventually hang.

If Shopify breaks down even in such trivial use-case with just 2 products – There is no possible way where it would be able to scale up when your business grows to accumulate millions of users and thousands of daily transactions.

These restrictions in terms of design and code change are bound to surface.

Thus, to avoid the frustration and keep future expansion in mind, entrepreneurs generally choose to keep control in their hands by investing in custom solutions.

Hence, for someone who is looking to build a big ecommerce brand, partnering with experienced ecommerce developers and working on a custom ecommerce solution is the right strategic decision.

4. Product Search and Filtering

Shopify search mechanism isn’t as efficient as it should be. In fact, a majority of users operating on Shopify platform aren’t content with the search solution that comes with out-of-the-box version of Shopify.

Let’s understand this problem better with an example,

When you search for a “sneakers’, you will get back a listing of “Sneakers”; what you don’t get is the option to further narrow down your search e.g. the ability to narrow your search to only red sneakers. Besides, if you tried filtering down to red sneakers you’d be filtering across all products and not just sneakers.

Additionally, Shopify’s out-of-the-box version provides only basic search functionalities that does very little to assist the user. For instance, if you type the name of a product incorrectly, there are no results and no corrections, plus there are no suggestions whilst typing, which might otherwise avoid this scenario.

Even as simple as Men > Accessories > Bracelets level can’t be built within Shopify.

This is one of the major hindrances which Shopify users face with the platform. It is essential for online stores to organize their products in systematic hierarchy for SEO purposes, and Shopify’s inability to solve this anomaly efficiently is a major setback.

Wrapping Up

Shopify can be undoubtedly deemed as one of the biggest and most successful eCommerce platforms out there. And rightly so, it has successfully been able to build customer trust in short time. But that doesn’t mean it is right for businesses of every magnitude. There are a few flaws which may mar business owners not opt for this platform. However that doesn’t deem Shopify as an inefficient platform. It is one of the best platforms out there for small and medium-sized business owners looking to start out in the eCommerce marketplace.

It all boils down to the fact of what you are expecting out of this platform as no eCommerce solutions is perfect.

Engineerbabu helps in creating custom as well as hosted eCommerce solutions for businesses of any size. We can serve as the middle ground for organizations looking to start in the ecommerce domain or ones who are looking forward to expanding their offerings. Why we say this is because we’ve efficiently helped our customers scale up their eCommerce website to handle millions of users. Take a look at our case study of our eCommerce customer “Ondoor,” who now have expanded their offerings to cover 70 cities across India.

We can achieve this for you as well! Give us a call, and we’d love to guide you on this journey.