Is your business considering an online store?
With more and more people choosing to shop online it is becoming increasingly important to ensure that your business has an online store.
Having an online store not only makes your products and services more accessible to your clients and customers, but it is also much easier to manage orders and customer information due to the many programs and software that are now available.
For too long it has been believed that only product based businesses should bother with an online store, but in today’s modern world that is just no longer true.
There are no limits as to what type of business can have an online store, whether you are a blog, marketing company, software or accounting firm, there is always room to consider having an online marketplace.
Even if your business relies more on personalised consulting, you could experiment with the option of offering an introductory consulting package that interested customers can purchase online.
According to statistics from the United Nations Trade and Development, e-commerce is worth more than $22 trillion and this number is continuing to rise as the years progress.
Don’t you want your brand to be a part of all of this?
To add fuel to the e-commerce fire, millennials are the largest demographic shopping online. As they become the largest group of consumers in the world, it is going to be important for your business to have online purchasing options in order to stay relevant.
Consumers are also very quickly growing accustomed to the speed, convenience and ease of purchasing online.
The idea of waiting for a package can sometimes be a turn off for customers, however in the USA, big e-commerce stores like Amazon, have had huge success rolling out same day, 1-day and 2-day shipping and it won’t be long before we see this in Australia.
There is no doubt that there is a lot of money on the table when it comes to having an online store and there is no doubt that having an online store can mean big business for you brand.
But there are some pitfalls that you definitely want to avoid. In fact, we have seen businesses spend big bucks on their e-commerce store only to have it backfire a few months later.
No matter what type of e-commerce store you are looking to build, there are three things that you need to have in place before you even start.
These three tips are going to help you build a solid e-commerce store that will be safe, efficient and easy for your customers to use.
Like all things in marketing, having an e-commerce store is about appealing to your customers and ensuring that you are taking into account their needs and lifestyle.
But if you are wondering where you should begin and how you should get the ball rolling, here is where to start-
6 Critical Things to Consider When Building Your Online Store
There is a lot of information out there on how to start an e-commerce store but it can be hard to separate the facts from the fiction.
It can also be hard to discern what is going to work for your business and what will not.
We are going to aim to simplify the process as much as possible so you can make the best decisions for your brand and your customers.
The first step is determining the type of platform you want to use-
1.) The Platform of Your Choice
There are so many great e-commerce platforms out there that offer a range of functions and services. They also range in price and terms of service. Of course, then there is also the option of having your e-commerce store uniquely coded for your business.
Most companies choose to go with an existing platform because it is more cost effective and efficient than having a custom coded store.
Most of the existing e-commerce platforms out there are also pretty adaptable, which means that you can easily make tweaks and changes to suit your brand.
Here are 20 of the top e-commerce platforms to choose from-
- Spree Commerce
- Big Cartel
- Square Space
All of these e-commerce platforms offer something different, but do your research and see which one is going to suit your business the best.
Once you have deciphered which platform is going to suit your brand and needs the best, the next step is to consider your payment gateway.
2.) Choosing your Payment Gateway
No matter what platform you choose, chances are you are also going to have select an appropriate payment gateway. This payment gateway is going to allow you to process transactions from credit cards and allow you to access your money.
Of course, it is extremely important that you use a payment gateway that is going to fulfil the needs of your company and your budget.
Many payment gateways charge a fee, and it is important to be aware of this before selling any of your products or services.
To help you navigate through all the payment gateways, we have narrowed down some of the top options and their benefits-
- Braintree: launched in 2010, Braintree is now owned by Paypal. Braintree accepts many payments including PayPal, Apple Pay, Android Pay, Venmo and even Coinbase (bitcoins). Braintree is supported on BigCommerce, Magento, Spree Commerce, WooCommerce, Shopify and others. Braintree charges 2.9 percent and 30 cent transaction fee.
- Stripe: this payment gateway was designed to appeal to developers, which means that it offers very progressive payment solutions. It accepts all major credit cards and is supported on platforms like BigCommerce, Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento and Spree Commerce. They charge a 2.9 percent and 30 cent transaction fee.
- Authorize.Net: this payment processor is one of the oldest and has been around since 1996. Even though it has been around for a while, the platform can be tricky to set up at first. It also charges a $49 setup fee and a $25 monthly fee as well as 2.9 percent and 30 cent transaction fee. It is supported by most big e-commerce platforms like Volusion, Magento, Shopify and others.
- PayPal: this payment gateway is one of the most popular and has been around since the late 90’s. Paypal owns both Venmo and Braintree and are very consumer friendly, making it easy for your customers to purchase from your store. Paypal charges the industry standard of 2.9 percent and 30 cent transaction fee, but they also charge a fixed 3.9 percent fee for international transactions. Paypal is supported by all the big e-commerce stores and has over 165 million users.
- Amazon Payments: launched in 2007, this platform was designed to offer the same checkout experience as amazon.com. It is supported by all of the major e-commerce stores including Shopify, Magento and others. It also charges the standard 2.9 percent and 30 cent transaction fee. They also have no setup fees, making it a popular choice. Many big companies also use Amazon Payments due to its reliability and easy setup.
There are other payment gateways out there, but these are the top that you probably should consider first. They are also viewed as being more secure and therefore less likely to be compromised.
Of course, you always have to take precautions when taking personal information online, but with one of these platforms you are more likely to get the basic protection that you need.
Once you have come up with the best payment processor for your business, the next thing you have to consider is your delivery process.
3.) The Most Effective Delivery Process
Once you have considered the platform and payment processor, the next step is considering how you are going to deliver your products or services to your customers.
Many online store platforms offer ways to deliver virtual or downloadable products or services, but if you are doing physical products you will need to come up with another solution.
This is actually one of the most critical steps when it comes to setting up your online store because the last thing you want to do is lose your customer’s trust if their product is not effectively shipped.
To add to the pressure, a survey conducted by Dotcom Distributors found that a whopping 87 percent of online shoppers would use their shipping experience to determine whether or not they would order from that same company again.
Even though the delivery process was rated as being one of the most important steps in running an e-commerce store, other surveys have also found that shipping costs are often a huge deal breaker for customers.
When it comes to choosing your delivery provider, it is important to keep these factors in consideration.
While there are likely to be a range of shipping companies in your area that you can utilise, doing your research to find the best option for your brand would definitely be time well spent.
There is also the option of doing the packing and shipping process in-house if you have the storage room and staff to help.
When choosing a delivery service, many brands make the mistake of overlooking refund policies.
If you are going to offer exchanges or refunds to your customers, you need to make sure that your delivery service also provides for this.
Many delivery services charge a fee for this too, so it is definitely worth considering so you can make the best refund policy for your customers.
Once you have a delivery system in place, the next step is crafting your sales funnel.
4.) Crafting Your Sales Funnel
The idea of a sales funnel is to guide your leads through your website so they become paying customers.
There are many techniques and tips you can employ to create an effective sales funnel and while we won’t go into all the details here, one of the most important things is the ease of purchasing your products or services.
This requires you to have a well thought out e-commerce store that showcases your products and services in an easy and clear manner.
It may also help to have instructional videos or detailed explanations about the product and the benefit it can provide to your customers.
Along with having a great explanation, be sure to include photos that clearly highlight the details of your product from different angles.
By having a really clear, simple and easy way for your customers to view the product it will definitely help to drive sales.
Once your customers have placed the item in their shopping cart, the next few steps are also extremely important.
Try to keep the process as simple as possible and be sure to include shipping details and what your customers can expect after they order.
5.) Turning Your Customers into Life Long Lovers
Once you have scored a new customer on your online store, the best thing you can do for your business is to keep them as a loyal customer.
Numerous research firms have found that existing customers are far more valuable to your brand and are more likely to purchase again.
After you have gone to all the effort of getting your customer to purchase from your brand, you may as well have them stick around for as long as possible.
There are may ways you can retain customers such as offering follow up emails, discounts, coupons and so on, but the best way is to ensure you offer the highest level of service from start to finish.
It may also help to consider this survey by econsultancy.c0m which reviewed how customers value their online shopping experience-
- Ease of checkout: 83%
- Variety of products: 82%
- Package tracking: 79%
- Free Shipping: 74%
- Variety of Shipping options: 74%
- Ease of creating an online account: 74%
- Clear refund policy: 70%
- Ease of making exchanges and returns: 65%
- Live Customer Service: 61%
- Flexibility to choose Delivery Date: 58%
- Flexibility to re-route packages: 57%
The same survey also found that the four most important factors that customers considered when referring an e-commerce store to a friend or family member was-
- Free Shipping
- Receiving the product as and when expected
- Free Returns
- Easy Returns and Exchanges
The results of this survey will hopefully point you in the right direction when it comes to developing your online store.
If you take all of these points into consideration, it is very likely that your online store is going to be a huge success and your customers will keep coming back for more.
6.) Encourage Online Reviews
The final step that you have to consider when starting your online store is collecting reviews.
Reviews are super important when it comes to online shopping and in fact, many customers report that reading reviews are an important part of their decision process when choosing what to purchase.
In fact, 88 percent of consumer trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, especially if the reviews are written in an honest and forthcoming way.
Unfortunately, many customers don’t leave reviews and it is very tricky to encourage them to do so. Many brands offer incentives to get people to leave a review, which is a great place to start.
Usually once you start to get a handful of reviews, people will be more likely to organically leave them without being prompted to do so. As in many cases, most people don’t like to be the first to do something.
Building up honest reviews is a great way to tempt customers to purchase and is also a great way to stand out from your other competitors. Even if you sell a similar product, if your product comes with reviews and your competitors’ does not, you are more likely to earn the sale.
Research also shows us that customers are likely to spend 31 percent more on businesses that have excellent reviews and 72 percent of customers say that positive reviews make them trust the businesses so much more.
On the flip side, if your business has no reviews customers are less likely to trust your brand and therefore, are less likely to make a purchase.
By taking these six steps into consideration, setting up your online store will be quick and easy, so you can start selling your products sooner rather than later.
Here are the main points of this article summarised –
- E-commerce is booming and is only expected to rise as millennials take up more of the consumer market space.
- All companies can use e-commerce to help drive sales to their business whether you are a B2B or B2C there are many options available.
- The first step to creating your online store is choosing the right platform, followed by the payment gateway and shipping method.
- To create a successful online store, it is important to have an effective sales funnel that appeals to your customers.
- Research shows that existing customers are more valuable than new customers- be sure to think about ways to retain your customers.
- Encourage your customers to leave online reviews, especially if they were happy with your quality of service.
So there you have it, 6 important steps to consider when it comes to creating your online store.