Posted: Tue 30th Mar 2021
E-commerce is big. For customers, it offers convenience and ease-of-use. For businesses, it can be a cost-efficient alternative to renting or buying a bricks-and-mortar store, and may help reduce expenses while increasing profits. It can also be an opportunity to reach more customers.
So as a business, how do you establish a successful online shop? Here are some tips and recommendations on what to do to make sure you're getting the most out of e-commerce.
Choose the right domain extension for you
When establishing an online shop, it's incredibly important that customers trust your business. If they've never shopped with you before, handing over personal details online can be an anxious experience.
An easy way you can establish this trust is to use a domain extension that's known all around the world, with a reputation for reliability.
For example, .com is one of the most registered domain extensions in the world. A domain extension that's known internationally (.co.uk is another example) can give your e-commerce presence a strong foundation to build on, and help inspire a degree of trust in customers.
Know your products
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, and this is especially the case when creating an online shop. Before setting up your e-commerce platform, you need to know what you're selling and how many items you have.
While this may sound obvious, the answers to these questions will help you plan, budget and promote your goods online. Consequently, you need to address them as soon as possible.
When determining what it is you want to sell, it's important to look into how your potential competitors market their products in the region you're targeting. If you're selling toothbrushes in the UK, is there a market for that item, or will the competition swallow you up?
Alternatively, you may find that the product you want to sell is in high demand and untapped in your chosen market. Market research companies can be valuable assets to help establish this information.
If what you're selling is already available, consider why customers would buy from you. Are your goods cheaper, bigger, better made? It's imperative to ask yourself these questions before establishing an online shop.
Get to grips with your audience
Understanding your audience is vital if you're to run a successful online shop.
How your competition's goods are being reviewed online, for example, can provide insight into the demand for the product and the pain points that customers are experiencing.
With this information, you may decide to market your products differently once you have a sense of what customers like, what they don't, and what they expect.
You can also identify trends in demand and tailor your online shop to fit. For example, if people in big cities are buying your goods, why not use a courier service for deliveries? This can help items arrive faster and keep your customers happier than if you were using standard postal systems.
If, on the other hand, you're selling large items that are more popular in rural environments, it may be best to work with a reliable delivery partner to make sure there are no issues with customers receiving their items.
Knowing your customers enables you to offer a more positive, memorable e-commerce experience.
Build your online storefront
So, you know your products, you understand your customers and you have a website ready to go. What next? It's time to build your online storefront.
For online customers, your website is the same as a shop window. If the shop looks organised, appealing and easy to navigate, you're more likely to get people entering your store and buying your goods.
This is no different from your online store, so you have to make sure that you offer a user-friendly experience that makes it as easy as possible for people to complete a transaction.
Poor user experience can drive customers away, so from the moment they begin interacting with your e-commerce presence they should be able to see exactly what it is you sell and know that they can find what they're looking for quickly.
You should include high-resolution images, for instance, to make sure your website is attractive and gives users the chance to see what they're buying.
Strong search options can also help customers have a more enjoyable shopping experience. For example, if you sell clothing online, it's worth including a filter option so customers can easily find the right size or colour for them. This will save them time and lead them to the checkout sooner.
Speaking of which, the payment part of your e-commerce can be the difference between a sale and an angry customer. Accepting a range of payment options, from PayPal to card payments, can help make sure that you're catering for more customers and that they don't fall at the final hurdle.