If you want to take your business’s website to the next level and start offering e-commerce capabilities, there are a few things you need to consider. Selling goods and services online isn’t as hard as you might think, but doing it successfully takes a bit of extra care and consideration. Below are a few practical tips for setting up for online store.
There are two main options for online purchases: credit cards and third party payment options like PayPal. For credit card payments, you can apply for an online merchant account through your existing business bank or through a third party. The application and approval process may take some time. PayPal, for a monthly fee, allows you to bypass the need for a merchant account and customers will be able to pay directly through their bank accounts or credit cards. Some prefer PayPal, as a customers credit card details are not entered into your website. Look at the fees charged by each provider and determine which is the best option for your business.
There are a number of ready-made shopping cart packages available, allowing you to a able to accept credit cards and PayPal in a ready made shopping cart system. Many companies can get you up and running in no time for a monthly fee. Your hosting provider may even offer shopping cart services. However, if online business picks up, you may need to upgrade to something more sophisticated.
There’s a lot of ecommerce software out there, with ProStores, Shopify, Volusion and Yahoo! Merchant being currently popular. These software packages will make it easier for you to set up your online store by walking you through the necessary steps.
It’s not enough to have great products and a good ecommerce software setup if your customers can’t find you when they have questions or comments. Make sure your contact details are easy to find and that your phone number and email address are correct and up to date. You could also include a phone number at the top of each page. Don’t make your customers work hard to find you.
This is a small but important detail that will help you to gain the trust of your customer. In the age of identity theft, it is crucial to treat your customer’s personal data securely. You may consider displaying card icons and security certificates clearly on the website to show your customers that their information is secure.
Although it may seem like an unnecessary afterthought, installing a chat system can really enhance your customer service and help you to be proactive in persuading indecisive customers to purchase your product.
Have you ever found yourself bogged down in a seemingly endless checkout process, where you give up because of too many error messages or too many steps to complete? Remember, the checkout stage is when customers are most likely to abandon their basket. Long and complicated checkouts will frustrate them and you may lose a customer. Try to make it simple and straightforward and don’t make it mandatory that they create an account just to make a purchase.That just complicates things.
Be user friendly, organized and easy to navigate. De-clutter. Clearly sign-post the actions required: “Buy Now”, “Add to Cart,” “Complete Your Purchase”. Let the customer know where they are and what they need to do next.
Not everyone looking at your site is browsing on a desktop. Many sites are not designed with tablet or smart phone users in mind and so the interface is not easy to use. Remember that people are, according to studies, actually more likely to purchase while on mobile devices. If you don’t design your site with them in mind, you’re shutting out a lot of potential customers.
You’ve got your ecommerce software installed and your shopping cart set up and ready for business… but what about the photos and marketing copy? If your photos aren’t attractive and your writing is clunky, hire someone to produce something professional and appealing. People don’t want to buy from websites that aren’t enticing or engaging.
Setting your website up for e-commerce is a big step forward but it needn’t be a complicated one. By choosing the right software and carefully designing your website’s interface and content, you can create a streamlined, customer-friendly online store that will take your business to the next level.
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