Tips for a successful Online Store

Planning before launching an Online Store.

Address your online business just like how you would plan any other business . When strategizing your business plan consider how your business works and how you’re going to build and update your website. You also have to think about how you’ll take payment.

The quickest way to manage everything is to start with off the shelf packages like Zencart for example. Shopping cart packages are well proven and will save you the trouble of testing a custom built package. Off the shelf packages are also cheaper and easily extend able with common extra requirements.

Sometimes you could have a idea so unique and may require full control over all aspects and features. In cases like theses a customised solutions may be the way to go.

What about the design of the site? How important is that?

When the product range is over priced or poor it seldom leads to high conversion, but if the price range is good and the product is good other aspects like site design comes into play. The design and layout of the website can really affect how many sales you make.

The website design is not just the product pages But, the end-to-end experience that you offer your customers from search to selection to checkout. The combination of these will heavily influence how people perceive your business.

People are more familiar with and adept at shopping on the web. Many know exactly what they want, so you don’t get much time to win them over. Your website is just like a real shop, where potential buyers will browse your products and purchase if the process is simple.

“To make the process as easy as possible, most off-the-shelf ecommerce packages come with a range of designs that provide simple and logical product categories. People are more comfortable using sites they feel familiar with, so use an intuitive design which follows the conventions of other online shops.”

What can you do to encourage people to buy from a site?

“Along with a well designed shopping section of your website, you need to ensure that the checkout process is as user friendly and simple as possible. You want to minimise hassle for the buyers to help increase conversion, turning browsers into buyers.

“A good example can be seen with PayPal’s Express Checkout. It lets customers move from checkout to completion in just three clicks. Buyer use data stored with PayPal to complete the purchase quickly and securely, avoiding the hassle and security risk of entering repetitive personal and financial information.”

What’s the best way to promote an ecommerce website?

“There is no single ‘best way’. You should use a range of methods to drive traffic to your site.You can use paid advertising on search engines (called pay per click) to get people to your site. Many off-the-shelf ecommerce packages will be designed to rank well in Google.

“There are lots of online directories and market places where people might be interested in your products. These are high-traffic sites which can push interested buyers your way.

“If you’re buying an ecommerce package, check to see if it allows you to submit your products to shopping comparison or marketplace sites. This can give your traffic a boost and save you a lot of effort.”

Be a real person.

Doing business online can sometimes feel a little cold, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Allow your customers to “see you”. Put a picture of you in your profile + write a heartfelt about page + tell your story. Allow your customers to easily identify with you, the person, not the shop, but actually I real skin + bones + heart pumping human being. Tip: The more your customers can identify with you, the more likely they will buy from you.

Brand + brand + brand.

It must be the communications major in me or all that marketing jargon I learned in college, but the point is I’m a strong believer in the power of branding. Everything you do must support your brand + big idea + story: your logo + business cards + blog + boutique + craft booths + tags + note cards + packaging + bags + anything + everything that your potential customers see must be branded. Your clients should be able to see + feel + smell + hear your brand from a mile away. Tip: branding is very very powerful. Use it! It will be your biggest ally!

Take yourself seriously

Get yourself an office space + buy the best supplies you can + hire a professional to help you do what you can’t + seek help + open an online shop. Don’t wait for your big break. Don’t wait for anyone to approve of your less than common career path. Don’t wait until Oprah invites you on her show to take yourself seriously. Give it all you’ve got! Turn off the “I’ll do that when I’m rich” mentality. Tip: take yourself seriously + have the gut to make the important decisions your business needs to grow.