Ecommerce is the most popular business trend in our futuristic society. As most modern cities are Internet equipped. And how to set up an online store is such a simple process. To send payments anywhere in the world via Internet connection. Along with these technologies hundreds of thousands of new digital web stores have risen. Which sell both physical and digital products to one global marketplace.
Business means trade, and trade means transaction. For Internet buyer, what they really care about is probably the security. As there are overwhelming fraud issues happening all around the world nowadays. So setting up web store is not like your regular blog. It requires careful planning and guided installation with hardened security in mind.
Keep in mind that ecommerce is all about transactions. Not just related to money matters. But you’d also be dealing with some seriously confidential data. Such as client contact details, credit card numbers etc. Services such as PayPal, Moneybookers etc. can offer you a secure channel in this matter. Plus you get loads of other advantages alike fraud detection, payment security for both buyer and seller, ability to use credit cards, send invoices etc. to name a few.
Try remembering the reason that made you think of starting-up such an online store. That becomes your first pointer to identify what you can sell. Or you may already be running a local store. Based on your experience you’d know what the market demands. What kind of products to sell etc.
Here is the ultimate guide to how to set up an online store:
Have A Unique Idea
It’s unbelievably competitive to how to set up an online store. Being creative and selling something that people didn’t even know they needed should be your starting point. What can you craft, your skills and what products do people secretly want.
It can be something as simple as a shop with only pink home furniture and decorations, or your own product. Browse Pinterest, Instagram, and see what’s new. And what gets a lot of good buzz and see what you can do with that.
Having a unique idea for your store sets you apart. It helps you stand out in the crowd in this ever growing competition. Choose an idea which appeals customers interest and would get you going on sales.
Improve Ecommerce Site Navigation
You want to have a stress free navigation. Allowing visitors to easily find what they’re looking for. Because if they can’t find it, they can’t buy it. Add a ‘What’s new’ category. Your returning customers will want to see your latest collection. They don’t want to browse the old stuff while searching for new products.
Including a ‘New products’ tab in your main navigation will tempt new visitors to stay on your site. With just a few clicks the customers find exactly what they want. Useful and time effective. Having a ‘Recently viewed’ feature will give the user options. Using the back button, navigate to that category again or check the browsing history.
Use drop-down menus. However, you have to be absolutely sure that your website won’t have to face the dreaded hover tunnels issues. When you have to follow a certain path. So the menu won’t close. A great strategy is to make the menu open on click, thus ensuring that all your customers can navigate easily.
Start A Blog
To build an online store you must start a blog. When you blog you can increase the number of visitors and more leads per month. These are huge numbers that can bring in a lot of extra revenue. Publish often. Ideally, you would have around 3-4 new articles published each week. But not everyone has that much free time, so start slow.
You can come up with at least one article a week, right? If possible, you can consider drafting 5-7 posts and schedule them so you don’t have to deal with blogging for the next 5-7 weeks. Make sure the articles are short and have pictures related. This strategy works best in niches relying heavily on design and visual cues.
Personal experiences/opinions so your customers get to know you/your business, products you recommend. Tips from your niche, contests, about your store’s history. All this will get you on the right way to blog about.
Develop An SEO Strategy
Optimize the product page while you create online store. This means using keywords. But not to the extent where you end up overstuffing your content. Use friendly URLs. Make the most of user generated content. It provides fresh and unique content for search engines. Add social media plugins and allow users to quickly review the products they just bought.
Avoid duplicate content. Archives, tags, incorrect pagination and even basic products filtering generate duplicate content and drag your site down. Writing unique product description instead of using the one provided by the manufacturer is the smart way to go.
Keep pages with out of stock items. Don’t delete these pages, especially if you rank high with theM. Instead, show related products or your newest collection. Have a well-thought-of internal linking system. This will reduce your bounce rates as people have something to click on.
Link to other sites. It will show the visitors that you want to provide helpful content. And you don’t mind linking to those sources. This will paint you as genuine and reliable. Use Analytics. You simply can’t afford to skip on using Analytics to have a deeper knowledge of everything that happens in your store.
Make Site Secure And Trustworthy
Online data is very sensitive. So more and more customers are extremely careful before placing an order. That’s why you have to check all the points to make sure your site is secure and trustworthy. While bigger stores may be able to handle fraudulent activities. Starting an online store that sells customized soap will hit rock bottom fast.
Pick up a secure platform. Use strong SSL authentication. Track all your orders. Ask for strong passwords. Run PCI tests. Regardless of which platform you use – you have to keep your eyes peeled and make sure they have incredibly high security features. If you don’t know what to look for, ask for an email where they explain exactly what SSL policies they have.
Use Social Media For Promotion
Social media is big. And every ecommerce site should have a short term and long term strategy to gain more popularity on social networks. While Pinterest and Instagram may not be suited for all niches, the two big names – Twitter and Facebook are a must. Set your profiles and be as active as possible, without spamming your fans.
However, you have to avoid constantly trying to sell something. People want to know the story behind the brand too. Interesting statistics regarding the niche you’re in. How to use/style your products. Heck, you can even throw in one or two cat videos.
These paid and free tools will help you develop an effective social strategy. From helping you figure out when it’s the best time to post, to identifying the latest trends you should focus on.
Develop A Shipping Strategy
Customers expect to see the “Free shipping” banner on every online store they visit. And many of them look for the cheapest shipping available. The most common shipping options right now are – Free shipping, free delivery over a certain order value, flat rate shipping, shipping rates based on weight, order value and distance.
We’re all bargain hunters. And the phrase “Free shipping” instantly makes you want to keep on scrolling. Even if you weren’t tempted to buy anything. Analyse your costs and if you can afford to offer it, then go ahead. This works best in the clothing, beauty products or accessories niches as in most cases the packages are small or average sized. Free shipping is the most important factor now and it also encourages customer loyalty, so choose wisely.
Ask For Feedback
It’s amazing how many ecommerce sites decide to go without the customer reviews field. Online shoppers actually take time and bother to read a review for the product they intend to buy. And even make a decision based on what they read.
All these numbers and statistics apply to the whole web. You might have positive reviews on your site, but you also have to check what your customers say about you on other blogs and forums. Are they satisfied? If not, contact them and see what should have been different. You have to keep in mind that people used Google to find your site. And they’ll use it again to do a “background” check on your product.
Not only that, but reviews also improve your SEO rankings. As they provide fresh and unique content, increasing your long tail rankings and bringing in new visitors.
Introduce Live Chat
Ecommerce is stronger than ever, but nothing beats that human interaction you have in an offline store. If you don’t have a ‘live chat’ feature on your site you should.
Proactive live chat – live chat’s annoying sister. Can this upset some of your users? You bet, but it will also drive in sales that otherwise wouldn’t happen. Your live chat agents will approach clients with a non-intrusive popup message and ask if they need assistance.
Depending on the live chat software you’re using, you can even set up the waiting time or the required keywords for the popup to appear. This live chat strategy makes your user feel like he’s in a real store. Having all his questions answered by a shop assistant.
Choose Perfect Ecommerce Platform
Choosing your perfect ecommerce platform is a must. Being a startup you may evaluate your budget and choose to opt either for a fully equipped online store solution or a highly versatile solution.
Choosing WordPress is highly recommended for an ecommerce start-up. It’s a content management system which offers ease combined with a lot of flexibility. Support is one of the concerns in most cases, but if it’s WordPress – which is open source too.
You can find loads of troubleshooting material over the web. Another added advantage that you’d have with choosing WordPress is a massive pool of plugins which are developed ease your job further.
Now that the backend framework is prepared. Where you’ve also decided what you’d be sold. And that you’d have designed a beautiful website. It remains to choosing an appropriate web hosting platform. Large ecommerce stores that have loads of products and its images over the website, would usually choose to rent a dedicated server from a reliable hosting provider.
But the startup who’d be exploring the industry for the first time, a virtual hosting platform should be appropriate to get started. Once the host is chosen and your server is setup, you can point the name servers for the domain name, change the mx records and make your eCommerce store accessible to the world.
Improve Customer Experience
It’s important for your viewers to receive the best user experience on your website and hopefully land the sale. If you notice any image size limits or set proportions consider spending some time pre-cropping your product images. Or at the very least standardize the image size so your products will display evenly in rows/columns.