28 Apr 10 tips to start your own online store
Read time: 12 minutes
COVID-19 has significantly changed the way businesses operate. One of the biggest changes that it has brought to small businesses is the need start an online store. There are a variety of programs, site builders and systems that you can use to run your online store. This means that it can be a little confusing knowing where to get started.
We have compiled 10 tips to start your own online store to help simplify the information out there into actionable steps that you can take. Get started on your journey of Ecommerce!
10 tips to start your own online store
1. Use the most suitable plugin
If you’re using a CMS tool like WordPress, the first thing that you need to start your online store online is an Ecommerce plugin. A plugin is basically an addition that allows you to customise your site according to your needs.
An Ecommerce plugin helps you run an online store on your website by adding in shopping cart, payment and shipping functionality. It is important to use a reliable and suitable plugin for your online store for security and simplicity. Common Ecommerce plugins to use on WordPress include: WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Cart66 Cloud, Easy Digital Downloads etc. Redsteps recommend using WooCommerce as it is the plugin with the greatest variety of functions. This means that you will be able to customise your online store to exactly how you would like it!
2. Upload clear photographs of products
Clear photographs of products are one of the key principles to having a successful online store. Ensure that you have images for all the products that you intend to sell online. Unlike physical stores, customers rely wholly on sight when interacting with products online, so ensure these images are attractive. When taking photos of your products, ensure that you have bright lighting so that the images are clear to see. While white backgrounds are standard, you can also get creative! You can also try a backdrop with your brand style so that the images stand out further. Having images from a variety of angles can also give your customers more information about your products. This reduces their perception of risk when buying online.
3. Label your images
With images being a key principle, it is no surprise two of our tips to start your own online store relate to images! As well as being attractive for customers, it is important that your images are organised in your system. This includes naming your images clearly. While we understand that this does take time, it is crucial so you can search for them easily. When uploading your product images to your website, ensure that they also have an alt text. Site visitors using vision impairment devices will read out this alt text to help them understand images on the website. Having alt texts on images also helps Google index your images better. This may then enable them to show up on Google Images when customers search for your product. Clicking on the image result takes customers directly to your product page, increasing traffic and sales on your online store.
4. Have a clear pricing strategy
You may choose to have the same pricing strategy as your physical store (if you have one) or you may choose to have different strategies for your physical and online store. This really depends on how much focus you would like to put on each store and what you aim to achieve. If you would like to push forward your online store, you may consider selling your prices at a lower margin so that it increases the sales on your online store. However, keep in mind that depending on the product you are selling, this can also indicate that there is more value in coming to the physical store. Value that is often exclusively available at a physical store include: expert advice, trialling the product, interacting with the product etc.
5. Sort out your delivery costs
Another important factor to consider when selling online are delivery costs. There are 3 main options for businesses when considering delivery costs:
Flat rate delivery – A flat rate delivery means that customers will be paying the same delivery price. This is regardless of how much or where they purchase your products. (ie. $10 flat rate delivery)
Free delivery over a certain amount of purchase – This practice of sorting delivery costs is popular as it encourages customers to buy more to cut out delivery costs. (ie. Free delivery when spend is over $50)
‘Free’ delivery across board – Instead of adding delivery costs as a final price on the checkout, you can choose to offer free delivery. The delivery costs are instead just added straight to the product price. It has been found as an effective strategy since customers perceiving this to be cheaper, despite still paying for delivery.
6. Put in place a smooth checkout process
The checkout process is one of the most important parts of your online store. This is because customers have more freedom to pause or completely stop a purchase halfway through compared to buying from a physical store. Keeping this in mind, the checkout process needs to be clear and simple, guiding customers to the final payment. You can do this by adding easy to see buttons that lead customer to the next page of the process. It is also important that your pages load quickly during this process so that it is as smooth as possible for your customers. Imagine that you are a customer and go through the steps required to finish the checkout process. Is there anything that you can improve?
7. Implement a secure payment system
While many customers are becoming comfortable with shopping online, a large reason why some customers are still hesitant is the risk involved in paying online. The greatest risk in paying online usually come from scammers who intercept the payment process between the customer and the business to take the money the customer was supposed to pay. Ensuring that you have a secure online payment system will help your customers gain confidence in buying online from you. Integrating a universally trusted system like PayPal on your site can help minimise risk for both your customers and your business. You can do this easily by signing up to the ‘Merchant Portal’ and then linking your account to your website. Also, ensure your website is secured with an SSL and all pages show the lock in the top left of the URL bar.
8. Link your online store to Instagram
Make sure that your customers know that they can buy from you online! It is no secret that more and more businesses are being found on Instagram. This makes Instagram a great way to promote your online store and your products at the same time. Once you get your Instagram account approved for Instagram Shopping, you can tag products on your posts and link it to your online store. When customers tap on these tagged posts, they can see the details of the products and also follow on through to your online store. As these posts are from your feed, it is a much more natural way to lead your Instagram followers to your online store compared to running a sponsored post.
9. Run retargeting ad campaigns
Customers can often change their mind during the checkout process on your online store and abandon their carts. However, not to worry, there are ways to bring your customers back and guide them to finish the buying process by running retargeting ad campaigns. Retargeting ad campaigns can be run on Facebook or Google and tailored to show for only people who have taken a specific action on your website. These actions include just visiting or even visiting specific pages (e.g. a product page). You can create a variety of different retargeting ads to be shown to different kinds of customers. These ads will remind customers about your business and encourage them to visit again.
10. Manage your delivery process closely
One of the biggest hurdles of managing an online store is ensuring that your products are delivered to your customers promptly. You can overcome this hurdle with a significant amount of planning. Plan how your products will be packed on receiving the order, leave the warehouse/office and be mailed to your customers. In addition to planning, it is important to manage the delivery process closely as well to ensure that each stage of the delivery is being carried out smoothly. It is also crucial to give your customers regular updates on where the delivery process stands. This will help you maintain a good relationship with your customers even if an unexpected delay comes up in the process of the delivery.
Redsteps turned 10 in mid-2019, so we are creating a series of ’10 tips’ to share the knowledge gained from our experiences to help you with your business’ marketing.
Are you thinking thinking of starting an Ecommerce store but are not sure where to start? Not to worry! Redsteps specialize in building Ecommerce websites that sell and look beautiful. Contact us today for more information.