Right now the Queensland Government is just opened up Round 4 of its Small Business Digital Grant...
Building a Better Online Business
Creating and managing your online business requires you to follow the same basic principals of any business - relying on sound Business Strategies. There are however, a few practices that differ or that just are unique to an online business. Here we share our views and experience with you to help you develop a more effective and profitable online business.
Your online store is a business. No matter how big or small. If you fail to grasp and embrace this notion then you will not be a success.
As we all know there are many online stores on the web and some are obviously more successful than others. How can you make your success out of your online store? Well we can’t guarantee such success but this article will tell you 10 initiatives which if NOT prevent, will spell out failure.
1. Keep it SIMPLE making the online experience for your shoppers EASY
There are three areas you need to pay attention to:
- Work from a 3-click policy
- Use constant styles and menus
- Don’t elute the site
- Your cart should be plain and obvious
- As customers purchase goods be sure all details are visible
- Let your shoppers make charges easily
- Offer easy shopping with bundled offers, related products
- Make the button for this obvious
- Don’t force login before checkout
- Don’t ask for superfluous information keeping data gathering to a minimum
2. Be CONSISTENT in your delivery
This means be sure that you present a common look and feel throughout your web site and shop. A sense of “sameness” in the way you present and deliver. This will also push your branding.
3. You need to be able to CONTROL your content
Just as you want the ability to self manage your web page content to be should you have the ability to maintain the content of your shop.
You should be able to…
- Add / Edit / Remove products
- Upload images supporting your product descriptions
- Specify freight pricing by product or overall for different destinations
- Have multiple options for products such as size, color
- Ability to bulk pre-load product data prior to launch
- Ability to suspend products if temporarily unavailable
- Allow a product to be in multiple categories
- Perform all maintenance functions online as an integral feature of your online store.
Offering a fully secured shopping facility is not an option, it is essential. You should ensure that:
- You are using SSL for encrypting customer credit card details
- Do not transmit customer’s credit card details by email unless they are embodied in an encrypted attachment.
- Do not share credit card details
5. Make it easy to SEARCH for products
You need to ensure that finding the right product is an easy and simple experience for your customers.
When offering a simple search facility be sure that it
- Uses a single field
- Display results on the same page
- Search on product name and description
- Make it fast
- If you want more options for searching offer an ‘advanced’ search option in addition.
6. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should not be an afterthought
Not all shopping carts are SEO friendly so pay close attention to this when choosing your shopping cart. When creating your online store you should try to make your store as ‘Google Friendly’ as possible.
Steps you can take include
- Set your page titles rich with keywords that reflect the content shown
- Be sure you site has a sitemap.xml file that is submitted to Google
- Make sure your sitemap is connected to your products
- Be sure to set ‘ALT ‘ text on your product images
- Use SEO friendly URL for products pages displayed including keywords whenever possible.
7. Use of clear quality IMAGES for products
If you use poor quality or poorly present your product images then you can easily destroy the shopper’s perception of your business.
Use of good photographers and graphic designers can pay off immensely. When pulling up product images be sure that:
- If you don’t have a good photo, use no photo
- Take high quality photo which are compressed for web viewing
- Avoid clutter or distractions in the background
- Use right other than flash
Tip: If you approach local schools you can quite often get a good photographer at a reasonable price.
8. MANAGEMENT and CONTROL of your transactions is imperative.
Do not trivialize the significances of your online store. This is your business and deserves all the attention you give to any other financial transaction in your business.
Your online shop should:
- Send you an email for every sale with full details except every said information.
- Back order details and pending orders should be readily accessible online.
- Reports should allow you to reconcile orders and payments
- You should be able to change the status of you orders.
9. Great communication with your costumers is essential.
Your system should ensure that your customers are continually aware of what is happening with the orders.
You should be sure to:
- Send them an email confirming order details once accepted.
- You should include clear instructions for order management and service or your site and emails as appropriate
- Contact details for customer’s service should be obvious, clear and accurate.
- If you can provide a link for customers to check the status of their order so much better
- Once the order is dispatched, send a confirmation to your customer.
10. Value your CUSTOMER DATABASE.
Your current customer database is money in the bank. They should be valued and nurtured. It is far easier to get a second sale from an existing customer than it is to make a sale to a new customer.
Be sure to utilize your customer database or an email based marketing campaign. You already have a wealth of information about this person so use it.
Steps you can follow are:
- Keep customers informed of new products and special promotions
- Offer special incentives to existing customers
- Send thank you email some time often they have purchased
- Seek testimonials and feedback from your customers
- Show customers testimonials and comments.