How to Set Up an Online Store
Love it or loath it, the new way to retail is to e-tail.
“If you can’t beat em…” now where have I heard that before? Everywhere I turn lately smaller retailing clients are jumping on-board the e-tailing train, all bound for 'maximum revenue' land. It’s not always a replacement for their high street counterparts, but it is a cost-effective way of keeping up with the big boys in the marketplace by creating more equality in a world where price and accessibility are the deciding factors between success and failure.
After all, where else can you build a shop in a matter of minutes and open it to the world 24 hours a day, 365 days a year? The magic of the Internet brings this within the reach of even the smallest retailers - so what’s stopping you? Just follow these golden rules for e-tailing success on the net.
Acquire your domain name as soon as possible. Try and make it applicable to the products you sell, Once you’ve thought of a catchy web address then ensure that it’s available. You can do this at a number of domain name purchasing sites such as 1&1 (www.oneandone.co.uk) and Whois-search (www.whois-search.com).
Ensure that you use a web or (if you’re doing it yourself) an e-commerce package that is responsive to your business needs. After all, no-one knows your business better than you.
Make sure your e-store homepage loads within 10-20 seconds. Net shopper’s demand instant gratification or they’ll go elsewhere!
Keep the design of your e-store clean and shopper-friendly. Fancy graphics and animations may look great, but they take time to load and may make your site look too cluttered. Stick to the “less is more” more principle of effective web design.
Ensure that your ‘e-store’ is easy to navigate and (as in point 3) fast loading on each link.
Your ‘Buy Now’ options should be clearly identified and purchases easily reviewed throughout the e-store.
Make your final order forms as user friendly as possible but ensure that you are getting all the information you need from purchasers, as this data can prove invaluable when planning future marketing for your e-store.
Market, Market, Market… your –e-store on every search engine, every banner exchange service, through direct marketing methods, press releases, online articles and, of course, on all your existing business stationery.
Make sure your payment system is secure. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) should be able to advise you on the most economical way to achieve this, or you could contact a specialist e-commerce organisation, such as Netbanx (www.netbanx.com) or the increasingly popular PayPal (www.paypal.com), which requires your customers to sign up for a free PayPal account if they don’t already have one. Either way, as with anything in life, shop around and consider all the options before you commit to a particular route.