In the current economic climate many people think they should open an online store or close their physical store to get online. In theory this makes sense and should cost less than bricks and mortar but it is very easy to sink $10-$20K into an online store without much thought and not sell a thing! They come to a web design company like ours with the hope that an online store will be an instant money maker for them. In some cases this is true but in a lot, it takes time and effort to build up an online business. As a web design company we build lots of ecommerce stores, some people come to us with very clear ideas about how they want their website to look and function. They often ignore their web designer and pay attention to the wrong details without covering off the basics. By following the tips below you will be on your way to online success.
How the website looks and how easy it is to navigate is no different on an ecommerce site as any other website. Some ecommerce website design is very busy with lots of boxes, offers and information; some are much simpler and concentrate on the product. Neither of these are the right or wrong approach but it will all depend on your product/s. If you are selling lots of different products, at the lower end of the price range and it is all about quantity then a busy website with lots going on is the way to go. If you are selling a more sophisticated product costing more to buy then less is more, let the product sell itself. Quality over quantity, in this case would be more suitable.
Don’t rush in…often just a small amount of research will allow you to learn from others and get a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. What you do and don’t like are not necessarily what successful companies do online. Don’t always base your decisions on how you shop online; you should try to find out how most people shop online, what they consider to be important. The product or products you sell should also be researched; does the general public want what you are offering? Is it unique? Will you be competing against established players in the market? Why will people buy from you and not them? These are just a few of the questions you should consider before you even think about setting up an online store.
The most important part of any ecommerce website is the product and how you display it. Clear, easy to read and understand descriptions can make all the difference and turn a browsing customer into a buying customer. Often manufacturers give you descriptions or technical specifications which can be used, but sometimes they are full of jargon or not very user-friendly and can put a buyer off. Make sure you read everything before you add it to your product; ensure it is helping the sale, not hindering it. If you do need to add technical specs or more detail we recommend adding it as a PDF download to save space and time for your potential buyer.
We would rate the quality of your images right up there with the design of the website. Time and time again we have designed a fantastic looking website, it works brilliantly, has all the functionality you could want and then our client loads their product images and they ruin the whole site. We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to make your product appealing and a great photo will do this time and again. A snapshot taken at home will never compare to a manufacturers professional photo or a product photographers work. It is an expense but if you spend money on anything during your ecommerce website design, spend it on ensuring you have great photos. To demonstrate this have a look at one of our recent site launches http://www.wyck.com.au/buy-online/ and then compare it to one of their competitors http://www.aromaliving.com.au/store. You can see the difference instantly between the two and this is mainly due to the web design quality and continuity of the image quality and size.
It is very important to keep your product availability, pricing and information as up to date as possible. If you have a blog or news or other product information that is date sensitive you should always maintain it, going to a website with out of date information is a big turn off for potential customers.
When customers order from you or make an enquiry about a product it is imperative that you keep them informed of their order progress or respond to their enquiry quickly and regularly. Most content management systems offer the ability to send automated emails at different stages of the progression of the order.
The easier it is to pay, the more likely it is that people will buy. If you offer only one method of payment you are limiting your chances of a sale as some people will not want to pay by your proposed method. The quickest and easiest way for customers to pay is by credit card, processing their card in real time is ideal so that the sale is complete and they know their product/s are ordered and paid for. There are lots of options to choose from when deciding how to process credit cards, the most common way is via your bank or a third party such as SecurePay (www.securepay.com.au) or Eway (www.eway.com.au). Another common method is via PayPal (www.paypal.com.au),the disadvantage of PayPal being that your customers leave your website, go to PayPal and then go back to your site. Some customers will be put off by this and abandon the sale
You can also choose to collect credit card details and process them offline in some cases, this will not turn customers off but it does delay the process of you receiving the money.
Other less popular but still effective methods of payment include offering the ability for clients to direct deposit into your bank account, send a personal cheque or money order or pay cash on delivery. For some customers you may even offer an account once they are approved as a customer.
The more methods of payment you offer, the more likely a customer will buy.
Next month, more tips to help your online store succeed.
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