Starting an Online Store
So you’re in the process of starting an online store. You’ve identified the product niche you wish to promote and sell. Established your relationships with the necessary vendors for supply, chosen a platform that best fits your business plan for profit margins, and purchased your domain name.
You’re now ready to build your ecommerce website. You may have asked yourself where do I begin? There are a few important things to consider. What type of design look are you going for? What type of navigation would be best for your store? What does a successful online store look like? Before you begin spending hundreds or thousands of dollars, let us help by giving you a few simple ideas.
A smooth Design is the very first thing that needs to be considered. What do I mean when I say smooth? You do not want your website to mimic rush hour traffic by having congestion everywhere. Remember, when someone comes across your new store, the ‘First Impression” they have when they see it usually sticks with them! People shop with their eyes. That “First Impression” sets the tone and sets expectations on what they can expect as they traverse your store. Make that first impression count!
Make sure each product listed can be easily viewed, with an accompanying concise description of the product. The more work your customers have to do to search for a product that they are interested in, the more likely they are to leave your store and visit the competition, which causes you to lose that sale. Also, make sure your policies (Shipping, Returns, etc.) are easily located. My personal rule is, “If the site is unorganized, so is the company.” The more user friendly your site is, the better.
I cannot stress how important something as simple as a Search bar is. If I go onto your site looking to order medical gloves, and have to scroll through 50 products to find them, chances are I will become frustrated with the search process and consider other options. Allowing your customer to simply search the one item they’re looking for doesn’t just benefit them, it benefits you as well. After all, this is an item that they came looking for. It is highly probable that you will now close that sale. Another great practice would be to add item numbers that can be searched on via your stores search function. This gets the customer directly to their product in a fast easy to find manner, almost guaranteeing a sale.
We now live in the world of Social Media. While I believe social presence is very important for most businesses, I don’t like the idea of forcing customers to “Log in with Facebook” or “Create and Account.” in order to shop from any store. Leave this as an option, while offering a “Guest Checkout.” From a consumer point of view, anytime I am forced to create an account or log in using my Facebook credentials, I almost immediately back out. In my mind, it relates to junk mail, advertising. You should also be mindful that not everyone is computer savvy or have social sites. Don’t indirectly force your customers away. Add “Guest Checkout” and all bases will be covered.
Finally, make sure you and your site are Trustworthy! I cannot tell you how often I have been asked, “Is your site Secure?” Customers not only want to do business with a person that is trustworthy, they also want to make sure they can trust the site itself. You can accomplish this in a few different ways. One thing I always recommend is posting reviews (both the good and not so good) on your site. Anyone who is willing to show me the good, the bad, and the ugly gets my vote. Just make sure that the good outweighs the not so good.
In addition, as stated above, have a page dedicated to you policies and procedures. Include the history of the company. Believe it or not, people want to know about you, they want to know who they are doing business with. Always be sure to have a contact page. I NEVER do business with a merchant that I have no way of contacting. As for site security, prominently display you security certificate . This will usually satisfy your customer’s concerns. Follow these simple steps, and you should be well on your way to developing a great online presence.