The popularity of the Internet is starting to hit brick and mortar businesses right where it hurts, their sales volume. As consumers enjoy browsing online stores in the convenience of their own homes and having their goods delivered to their door, offline businesses are beginning to realize they must create an online presence or get left behind. The advantages of e-commerce are many and varied, not the least of which is reduced costs. Venturing into the world of e-commerce is not something any business should rush headlong into. Before your business ploughs ahead with a virtual store, consider the following points to help you get set-up right the first time.
Does It Make Sense?
Although the idea of setting up shop online might sound right, you really need to be sure that you can deliver not just the products for sale but in a fashion that won’t undermine your business. If customers expect fast delivery from an online sale yet you take weeks to process their order, your web presence could in fact reduce your sales.
Understand what your customers are likely to expect from your online store and be certain you can meet or exceed their expectations. If you feel e-commerce is a little beyond your capabilities right now, just put the idea aside and focus on developing a web presence that markets your business to your target audience.
Is It Easy to Browse?
When it comes time to setting up your online store, ensure the store layout has very clear navigation to make it easy for your customers to browse your product offer. In fact, ease of use is one of the biggest advantages of e-commerce to the actual consumer because they can shop quickly and easily when your store is well designed.
Having broad categories can cost customers time and cause frustration so make the effort to categorize your products and services into logical groups. For example, a broad category such as boys' toys with a page full of assorted items makes for an unpleasant shopping experience. Drop-down menus such as cars, figurines, dress ups etc, will improve customer experiences and help them find what they’re looking for easily.
Can It Be Trusted?
If you integrate a trusted payment option such as PayPal into your store’s payment gateway, your customers will feel more at ease given the familiarity of such a prominent brand. You can quickly lose customers at the point of payment simply because they get nervous that your e-commerce store is not trustworthy. Invest in a secure and high quality store platform and payment provider, and you’ll capture the maximum number of sales instead of losing a lot to security fears.
Setting up your online store can be a little daunting at first especially if you have a wide product range. Quality photos and detailed product descriptions will impact your sales rate dramatically, so although it might seem time consuming it’s necessary as your customers can’t pick up and inspect the item the same as if they were in a store. The more you share with them online the more informed their purchasing decision would be. It’s no use misleading your customers and sending them an inferior product as you’ll only end up with complaints to handle, refunds and worst of all, negative discussions about your business both offline and online.
Take care of your customers by bringing them the convenience of shopping online and they’ll thank you for it by buying from you time and again. One of the most valuable advantages of e-commerce is that your customers can use the online social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to share your web business with their friends. By adding social network buttons to your store you will make it easy for your customers to share and bring more customers to your virtual door.
Based on years of strategic business management and leadership experience, Michelle Adams brings real world expertise to the virtual online business platform. Michelle is co-founder of VredVoice.com, which publishes quality information on how to make money online.