There are a lot of different questions that may spin your head around, if you intend to start an online store. Some of them are easier to answer while others may keep you awake at night. Today, we will discuss some of the most important things that you may consider before launching your website.
Choose your domain wisely
The first thing you need to consider is the domain you will be using for your website. It should be easy to remember and pronounce, as buyers often tend to share this information using the word of mouth. This is the first point-of-contact for your clients so choose your domain wisely. It is also important to choose domain that is not that close to an existing trademark. It would be a deal-breaker if you choose a domain that is close enough to existing trademark and somewhere down the road, you have to change it to something else.
Choose an e-commerce platform
There are a lot of products available on the Internet, that will allow you to build your own online store. Some of them are good, some of them – not to say bad, but hard to work with. Still, most people try to find an application that is easy to use and provides flexibility. If you are a store owner, there is a big chance that you do not have any development-knowledge. This is why you need to choose an appropriate and easy to use e-commerce software that you can work with. Some of our favorite picks for building an online store include OpenCart, Magento, PrestaShop and Arastta.
Select payment methods
Diversity in payment methods may be hard to achieve but it will surely increase your conversion rate as more customers will be able to actually pay for the goods you offer. This is a particularly big deal in regions with locked payment methods where there is one or two viable ways to pay online. It is also handy for customers when they can choose the payment method with the least Tax/Vat or the cut the bank takes for the transaction.
If you intent to get your brand out on the international market, you will surely have to put a lot of attention on shipping. This is often a deal breaker for many customers that wish to buy a single item. Often times when you include the shipping for long distance (USA to Europe), the total price is almost doubled. Pickup rates, Counter rates and shipping supplies can be negotiated in order to lower the shipping cost as much as possible with larger companies like FedEx and UPS even offering free packaging.
Provide secure access via HTTPS (SSL)
When working with client’s sensitive information like credit card details etc, it is of utmost importance that you have taken the necessary security measures. Connections via HTTPS show the clients that you are trustworthy even if all of the payment info is being stored and processed by a third party payment gateway. SSL also shows customers that this is your website and not a phishing attempt when being linked in forums and emails. For all of these reasons, we offer a free SSL certificate with our E-Commerce Hosting package.
Search Engine Optimization is important for all websites, but particularly so if you are trying to sell goods. Creating a good rich snippets and having a spot in the top Google search results will skyrocket your sales. One very important method is to provide appropriate Alternative text to the images for each of your products. This will tell search engines exactly what the image represents and will allow you to appear more frequently in the image section of a Google search.
Optimize data delivery
Most online stores have an average image amount ranging from 100 to 1500 depending on the product variety and number of brands they represent. Imagine how much slower your website will be if each page had to load 10-20 images every time a user accessed it. To provide better loading speeds and remove the bandwidth consumption of your images, you can use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for providing them. A CDN like CloudFlare will make sure your images are loading fast for users despite their location. You can setup a subdomain specifically for images and enable CloudFlare for it. Then all you will need to do is upload all of the images via an FTP client and after that link them in your website.
Often times the visitors on your website will have certain reservations towards the product they wish to buy or will need additional information. If you just leave them hang you will lose on potential profits and loyal customers. This is why you should think about providing a customer service and live chat in particular. Zopim live chat is a great addon that will allow your customers to quickly come in contact with you or your team and have all of their questions answered promptly.
Exclusivity and fair pricing
Finding a niche or being the only one supplying products which are in demand is crucial for maintaining a successful business. Just imagine trying to sell lamps when there is already a well established with its service and quality of products lamp store on the same street or even town – it is close to insanity unless you have a really innovative product which you are sure everyone will want. Sadly, most of the time that just isn’t the case and you will be left with a store full of products and no customers. While some of the negative effects of competition can be avoided online, the exclusivity of your products should be one of your top priorities. Fair pricing is the other thing which customers take into consideration. Customers will also not buy something from you when they can buy the same thing with 10% off somewhere else and that is just a fact.
Ease of use and Responsiveness
Having an easy to navigate through website with implemented search functions and user friendly interface is something that will net you a lot of profit in the long run. People usually visit websites for a few seconds before being frustrated with some part of the User interface and deciding to go look for the product they wish to buy somewhere else. That is why having the most friendly user interface will win you a spot in the top online sellers almost every time. Having a truly responsive website which can be easily viewed on a mobile device will add additional 40% more visitors to your store.
The provided guidelines above do not cover every step of the process of setting up an online shop but you can find more information regarding individual applications in our tutorial section. Furthermore, you can leave us a comment in the section below if you want a more detailed guide for any of the above mentioned points.