Whether you’re a charming local shop or a big-time business, online retail is a huge opportunity to take advantage of. The bonus? Building your own online shop is not as difficult as you might think. With the right solutions, some design know-how, and attention to the critical components of customer satisfaction, your online shop can take shape, starting today.
What do I need?
With an online store becoming an expectation of retailers, solutions have been built that help get your shop online as quickly and effortlessly as possible. eCommerce solutions, such as WooCommerce, facilitate your product catalog, shopping cart system, and logistics more readily than a ground-up shop. While it may not possess the unparalleled flexibility of an in-house solution, putting your wares on the Internet sooner rather than later is the goal.
With a working site in place, it’s important to facilitate transactions for obvious reasons. Customers are more likely to purchase your products if they are provided with payment options they trust. Here, PayPal fits the bill nicely, though the 2.9% plus $0.30 fee per transaction can add up quickly. For this reason, there’s no better solution than enabling credit card purchases, which means setting up merchant accounts with card vendors.
How Should It Look?
If your business has an existing website, then your online shop should mimic it as closely as possible. Doing so avoids confusion and helps capitalize on the reputation your brand has earned from your prior marketing efforts.
eCommerce solutions provide this functionality, though sometimes at a premium. At the very least, each service allows you to select a color scheme and upload a company logo, which is an excellent basis with which to start. For a modest fee, you can further customize the appearance to better match your original scheme, so it’s important to gauge what your brand image is worth to your organization.
How Should I Present My Products?
Shoppers have very specific expectations when shopping online, outlined by the unique context of digital purchases. Without the in-store opportunity to touch materials and observe product quality, online shoppers need more convincing through visuals and pertinent information in order to turn a view into a sales conversion.
The key is to eliminate the pain points of the process. Make the price clearly visible so that customers know what they’re getting into. Reinforce this with product specifications that are relevant to its quality. Finally, approximate the in-store experience as much as possible with multi-angle, high-resolution images and a few shots of the product being used/worn by someone “in the wild”. Doing so helps instill confidence in the purchasing process, and allows customers to see themselves using the product in their own life.
How Should I Handle Logistics?
The next two essential components of your online store are shipping and returns/exchanges. When shipping products, it is best to build a relationship with a carrier. Having an account with an established carrier will help you earn discounts and improve their service. Shipping calculations then go through your carrier, and most eCommerce platforms will display the shipping costs to the customer based on this information.
When handling returns, it’s important to have a clear policy and protocol. Customers are far less likely to do repeat business with a company whose return policy is inconvenient. Provide pre-paid shipping labels or, at the very least, coherent instructions that make the process understandable. Whatever you do, avoid putting the responsibility of shipping on the shoulders of the customer, as lost returns, bad experiences, and wasted clerical time will cost you far more in the long run than a few pre-paid returns.
How Can I Promote My Store?
Once your store is online and all the pieces are in place, it’s time to publicize. The Internet is a crowded place, and standing out requires making an impression in the minds of current and potential customers. Recent marketing research has shown that a “multi-channel” presence will raise awareness of your site by repeatedly delivering a coherent message on each of the channels where your customers exist.
Find out where your core audience resides and build your strategy around those channels. Create a hashtag for Twitter that exemplifies your brand in order to spread the word. Post pictures of new products on Pinterest and reach out to your customers. Keep your branding consistent and your presence prevalent, and your store, and sales will benefit.
Creating an online store is an exciting endeavor, but getting your ducks in a row is a vital part of the process. Start by gathering the needed solutions and then design it to match your business website. Present your products with the customer’s needs in mind and promote your presence through fruitful social media channels. Finally, handle logistics with a dedicated carrier and do what you can to facilitate seamless and simple transactions. Your business success is built upon a strong foundation, and with these considerations in mind, your foundation can deliver future success in droves.