Read this if you’re planning to launch an eCommerce website for your business

Launching an eCommerce website for your brand can be a daunting task. There are many factors to consider, from choosing the right platform to ensuring you have the right payment options and courier partner. Here are 8 essentials to consider when planning a new eCommerce website for your business.

1. Your Brand Positioning

Brand positioning is about clearly communicating what makes your business unique and why people should buy from you.

This is achieved through:

  1. Visual style – your logo, your brand colour palette, your brand fonts, the sorts of images you use.
  2. Brand words – the words your brand uses and its tone of voice.
  3. Defining the exact qualities and/or features that make your brand distinctive, by asking the question: What makes our brand unique?

Brand positioning can be as complicated or as simple as you want it to be.

Big retailers have multiple-page brand style guidelines that define their brand. Small businesses don’t need to go into nearly as much detail; but it’s still essential to get clear on what makes your brand distinctive. This helps you stand out amidst all the other online retailers out there. It’s also an important element of conversion rate optimisation.

2. Who will be using your website?

Planning a successful website begins with thinking about the various types of people who will be using your website. Your job (or your web designer’s job) is to make sure your users’ experience is simple, easy, and intuitive.

Why is this vital to your success? Because intuitive, easy-to-use websites convert more visitors into customers, which means more sales for your business.

3. Payment gateways and payment options

Payment gateways facilitate safe, secure and encrypted online payments on your eCommerce website. Using a payment gateway means customers’ sensitive data, such as credit card information, is handled by the payment gateway, and not stored anywhere on your website.

For South African businesses, I recommend using the following payment gateways:

PayFast – 


PayFast is a trusted South African payment gateway. They allow your customers to pay instantly online by credit/debit card; Instant EFT; Zapper and SnapScan.

Take a look at their fee structure here – https://www.payfast.co.za/fees

Fees can be negotiated, especially as your eCommerce business grows.

Yoco – 


Yoco offers a simple + fast online checkout that allows customers to pay online using their credit/debit cards.

Take a look at their fee structure here (online transaction rates applies to eCommerce websites) – https://www.yoco.co.za/za/transaction-fees/

Fees can be negotiated, especially as your eCommerce business grows.

PayJustNow – 


A new and innovative payment gateway that allows customers to pay for their purchase over 3 monthly installments at 0% interest. PayJustNow is the credit provider, and thus takes full responsibility for the payments. Merchants are paid upfront as soon as the order is placed – you do not need to wait the 3 months to receive payment.

Many of my clients have seen great success with this form of payment, especially in our current economic climate.

Watch this video to see how it works: https://www.youtube.com/embed/y8dZ–0DEv4

I believe that % transaction fees are 5%, but please get in touch directly with PayJustNow for an updated price.

Should you use multiple payment gateways on your store?

Yes! Most big online retailers use multiple payment gateways and offer multiple payment options. Plus, if one payment gateway is experiencing technical issues (which unfortunately happens sometimes – especially with load-shedding in South Africa), customers can checkout using a different payment gateway.

4. Choosing a courier service

Choosing a suitable courier company to work with is important. After all, customer satisfaction is closely linked to how quickly and efficiently their parcel arrives. Offering a fast and efficient delivery service builds customer loyalty.

Here are some of the leading courier services in South Africa:

Fastway – https://www.fastway.co.za/

The Courier Guy – https://www.thecourierguy.co.za/

Dawnwing – http://www.dawnwing.co.za/

Courier It – https://www.courierit.co.za/

Collivery – https://collivery.net/

Pargo (not a traditional courier service, but a great option for customers who want to collect their orders) – https://pargo.co.za/

All of these companies offer different fee and rate structures. According to the eCommerce communities I follow, Fastway and Collivery currently offer the cheapest rates.

uAfrica – An innovative fulfillment service for South African online retailers.

UAfrica is a fulfillment service for businesses that want to automate their shipping processes.

How it works: 

1. You sign up to uAfrica (https://www.uafrica.com/plans-and-subscriptions)

2. You (or your web developer) connect your website to uAfrica.

3. When a customer places an order, you (the retailer) sign in to uAfrica and assign the order to one of uAfrica’s courier partners (https://www.uafrica.com/all-about-the-couriers). Orders and all customer information are automatically pulled through to uAfrica from your eCommerce website.

4. The courier collects the parcel and the customer is automatically sent shipping updates with a tracking number (keeping the customer updated is an important way to provide a good customer experience).

5. Shipping rate strategy

One of the biggest reasons potential shoppers abandon their shopping carts before checking out is because of unexpected and above-average shipping costs.

My advice is to keep shipping rates as simple and competitive as possible. 

  • Offer a standard flat rate for shipping across South Africa.
  • Offer a free delivery rate on orders above a certain amount (this helps to bump up order values).
  • For high value, luxury products, consider offering free delivery on all orders.

If necessary, calculate a % of delivery costs into your product pricing in order to keep flat rates as low as possible.

6. The importance of photography

Your website needs high-quality photos that show your products in the best way. Imagery is what sells your products.

Invest in professional photography or learn how to take your own high-quality photos by doing an online course or finding tutorials on YouTube. Smartphones these days are capable of taking amazing photos – you just need to know a bit about composition and lighting, which can be learned online for free.

7. Choosing the right platform for your website

When selecting a website platform for your eCommerce website, there are several factors to consider such as cost, ease of use, performance, merchant support, scalability and security.

Some of the top website platforms include WordPress/WooCommerce, Squarespace, Wix, Magento and Shopify. I work only with WordPress (great for customisability) and Shopify.

My service includes helping you identify the right platform for your unique business needs. You can read about why I love Shopify here.

8. Your Marketing Plan

Build it and they will come doesn’t apply to eCommerce websites, or any website for that matter. When planning for your eCommerce website it’s important to think about how you will market it.

Some entrepreneurs, especially those starting out, don’t have the budget to work with a marketing agency or freelancer, so begin by doing it all themselves. If this sounds like you, then I suggest that you invest in some digital marketing training, particularly Google Shopping ads and Facebook + Instagram ads.

Advertising does help you grow faster, but it’s not essential. I have start-up clients doing 50k months a year or so after launching who built up their businesses over a year through consistent social media marketing + email marketing + brand collaborations (influencer marketing and PR), without spending much on paid advertising. Now they are at the point of scaling and can invest in paid advertising.

Next Steps

Feeling overwhelmed, frustrated or uncertain about how to plan a successful new website for your business? My holistic service gently and expertly guides you through each stage of the website creating journey, from planning to launch and beyond.

Learn more about my Shopify eCommerce website service here. Or book a discovery call with me here.

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Planning Checklist

Planning an online shop for your business can at times feel confusing, overwhelming and frustrating. This guide lists each of the elements you need to gather and consider. Use it as a reference before working with a web designer or agency.
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