Business owners enjoy many online-only advantages. Even if you want to maintain your physical store for walk-in customers, the benefits of having an online store will make you welcome web surfing shoppers.
If you don’t have an online store yet, then you’re missing a lot of opportunities in boosting your shop’s revenue. But are you ready to reap those online benefits?
Unfortunately, creating an online store can be a great challenge, especially for small businesses. The reason for this is that they are short on budget, staff and time.
The good news is that eCommerce vendors will make the designing and maintaining of your store online to be simple and affordable. But there are still things to keep in mind before building your online store.
Know the right eCommerce vendor to use
If you could afford to hire a professional designer to create your online store, then go for it. However, if you’re one of those small business owners who doesn’t have a budget for it, then you should consider using an eCommerce vendor. It takes the hassle of hard coding and doing maintenance.
There are several eCommerce vendors you can choose such as Wix, BigCommerce, and Squarespace, among others. They have all the tools that allow you to design your online store with the overall feel and functionality that you want.
You can upload product catalog, accept payments, set up shopping carts and handle order fulfillment. They also secure your online store using their servers.
However, even though they usually offer drag-and-drop functionally, you still need to do some set-up work. That is, you must choose a template, customize its fonts, change the overall color scheme and choose the right product image sizes. Then, you need to upload your brand logo and background.
But setting up your online store using an eCommerce service is easy. It only takes an hour or so, depending on your level of expertise. The best part of it all is that you don’t need to learn coding just to build an online store.
Customize its look
Ideally, your online site should reflect your existing website. That is, it must have the same logo and color schemes to your current website. However, if you don’t have a business site yet, you can use the template of the eCommerce service and opt for a background and accent colors that complement your logo and overall business.
The design templates of many eCommerce services have theme settings that don’t need CSS or HTML knowledge when you customize them. They make it easy for you to upload your own logo, banners, slideshows, product images, etc.
Opt for the right payment system
For many online store owners, they go for PayPal when they start out. The reason for this is that this third-party processor offers a secure system.
However, PayPal has a reputation for having a poor customer support. It doesn’t advertise its toll-free number. Thus, most international clients will call the regular number and be charged accordingly. It can take a while for them to reply through email or social media.
Furthermore, PayPal charges seller fees that can easily add up quick.
So, another option is authorize.net. It’s a popular payment processing solution that charges $99 for set up and $20 monthly fee. For every transaction, it’ll get 10 cents.
But some of your shoppers might want to use their own credit cards, instead of using third-party payment processors. You need to obtain a merchant account with a credit card company.
Most companies charge a fee per transaction. The price can go from 20 to 50 cents. Then, they also take a percentage of the overall purchase amount. A monthly fee may also be imposed.
Set up a customer service
You can respond to your customers’ issues efficiently using a reliable customer relationship management. Thankfully, most eCommerce vendors have CRM options. But you can only use them by paying an additional fee. CRM makes it easier for you to interact with customers.
You should also use a toll-free number for your customer service. If you can’t afford it, try setting up a live chat integrated into your online store. But experts recommend setting it up if you could operate it 24/7.
Know the shipping costs
It’ll be easier for you to leave the calculations for the exact shipping costs to your courier. Most couriers will compute the shipping costs for you. The good thing is that most eCommerce vendors let you integrate the costs in your checkout section.
But you may also wish to offer your shoppers free shipping when they reach a certain amount. However, you must only do so if you could afford it.
Upload the best images and description of your products
Unlike your brick-and-mortar shoppers, your online shoppers can’t touch, smell or feel your product. Thus, you must provide them with clear, crisp image of your product.
You don’t need a professional photographer to obtain high-quality images of your products. If you have a 16MP DSLR camera, that would be enough to capture decent photos.
If you don’t have a DSLR camera, but you have an iPhone, you could follow these tips on how to use iPhone to take great product photos.
When writing a description for the product, make it short but with exciting details to boost your customer’s interest. Use compelling adjectives that can evoke emotion when your shoppers read your description. You should also include its uses, dimensions and other characteristics that could define your product.
To boost their confidence in purchasing your products, you should allow them to comment on your products and leave ratings.
Although positive reviews could increase sales, you’re also likely to receive negative comments. But don’t worry. Most eCommerce services offer customer review options that you can respond or remove undesirable feedback.
Or you can choose to allow your customers to share your products on social media sites.
Advertise your website
Once your online store is up, you must advertise it. You can start spreading the word online through email newsletters and creating Facebook or Twitter accounts to represent your online shop. On your social media channels, make sure to update them a few times a day to draw more attention to your promos and products. But when is the best time to post? Here’s a great post about it.