Selling through a website offers lots of potential for increased revenue. Here are 10 important details to tend to when planning this next step in your business:
Look at other online stores selling the same or similar products. Collect as much information as possible about how they market themselves. Then, ask yourself if you can realistically compete and, if so, how to differentiate yourself from your competition.
Budget for Promotion
Before you break ground on an e-commerce website, research how people will find you on the internet. Figure out your keywords and how competitive they are. Estimate a realistic budget for search engine optimization, Google AdWords, and even social media marketing, especially if your product is so new people don’t yet know they can get it.
If you expect heavy site traffic, don’t cut corners with your website hosting. Ensure you have enough data storage space and bandwidth. Slow websites kill online businesses. Also, if you’re selling through a third party e-commerce site, find out about any caps on inventory, listings, etc.
Unless you’re only using a reputable third-party payment option like PayPal, you’ll need a secure socket layer (SSL) encryption certificate, which you usually get from your site host. The SSL certificate makes it possible to send secure online payments, protecting you and your customers. And even if you do just use PayPal, the SSL certificate adds credibility to your site.
Payment & Shipping Options
Provide enough payment and shipping options for customer convenience. Look closely at the tools that come with your e-commerce setup, such as the ability to offer discounts, loyalty programs, or gift-wrapping options. Not all e-commerce solutions provide the same options, and some charge for extras, so choose a plan that’s right for you and your customers.
Content Management System (CMS)
Find a CMS that’s easy to use and has a solid customer support team in case you need them. You won’t want to be struggling to add and remove products or make other changes to maintain or improve your site. It should be as quick and easy as breathing.
Ensure you have the ability to run reports to see top-selling items, dead weight, and cart abandonment metrics.
You’ll want the ability to integrate social media marketing tools on your website, including on your product pages and content. Start thinking about social media, email, and content marketing strategies. Also, don’t neglect having basic SEO incorporated into your site design.
Professional Product Images & Descriptions
There’s more to budget for than just having your website built. Professional-quality images of your products are essential to sales, as are well-written product descriptions. Compelling sales copy helps a lot, too.
Navigation and Layout
Create the simplest navigation possible on your site. The goal is to minimize the number of clicks it takes for a shopper to find something they want and pay for it. Like in a brick-and-mortar store, clutter and disorganization frustrate customers and push them out faster, while a streamlined, easy process is highly conducive to buying (and buying extra stuff).