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If your store isn’t yet online then you could be missing out on some serious revenue. The future of retail is digital and businesses who fail to adapt and enter the online space risk losing sales and their customers. If you’re ready to take the leap but aren’t sure where to start, here are some of the basics to consider when setting up an e-commerce site.
Although we may not want to admit it, how things look is an important part of our decision making process and having an aesthetically pleasing ECommerce Website Design is vital to making a good impression. If you can afford to, then it’s worth hiring someone to build you your custom online store, but if you can’t, that’s not a problem either there are plenty of vendors who already have the e-commerce functionality set up and who will simply brand it as your own, they’ll even host your store for you, so you needn’t worry about gaining and maintaining web hosting.
In terms of how your store should look, if you already have a website then the store should try to reflect as much of your brand as possible so as to look like one integrated platform. Be sure to check that the site works well on mobile and desktop and test it on a number of browsers.
It’s very important to use good quality images of your products. Incorporate some simple product shots and others in a lifestyle setting to allow customers to get a feel for the product in the real world. Although you don’t necessarily need to hire a professional to get good quality product shots, you shouldn’t cut corners. Professional product photographers have all the equipment they need to take good quality shots, they handle the composition, the shoot and the editing and you receive the finished pictures at the end of it. Hiring a photographer may seem like a lot of money but this amount of labour would cost you internally and you’re not guaranteed to get the quality you may be looking for.
Just as product images are important so are product descriptions. Try to keep descriptions short but detailed and remember that you are trying to sell a product, so embellish the text with emotive descriptors and remember to add important information such as dimensions, weight, materials etc.
Hosting an online shop does mean having the capacity to respond to customer queries and complaints. If you don’t have an in-house team who can do this for you then consider going with an e-commerce vendor who provides customer relationship management. Another option which is gaining favour with online stores is to incorporate a live chat. Live chats can be operated 24/7 and there are many companies that will man them for you if you don’t want to be the one to receive the messages. Live chats are a great tool for reducing the number of phone calls and emails you receive and provide the customer with a better experience as they often can get answers to their questions far more quickly.
Processing payments online isn’t as tricky as you may think and when starting out you can simply use PayPal. The benefit of using PayPal is that it is widely known for being secure and trustworthy and as a small company it will put customers at ease that their payments are being held by a secure third party. If you want to give your customers the option to pay with their own debit or credit cards then things become slightly more complicated and you will need to establish a merchant account with each credit card company. To begin with, stick with PayPal and look into other payment options as you grow.
One of the things many people fear with an e-commerce store is returns. If you’re not handling this in-house then be sure to go with a vendor who offers built in tools to help you deal with the returns process. This includes refunding the cost of the item, updating inventory and communicating with the customer about the status of their return.
The success of your e-commerce store can be easily tracked through free reporting software such as Google Analytics, Google Analytics can show you where your website traffic is coming from, what countries people live in, what device they browsed your store on, if they made a purchase or if they left after reaching a certain page. This is very valuable intel and can help you make changes to your store to make it even more efficient.