The Internet has already become a crowded marketing battlefield. Many successful businesses today hold the majority of their sales by maintaining and investing in their online shops.
A great percentage of consumers are converting each day to online shopping. It has its advantages exactly because of its functionality and efficiency. The idea that you can just order any product or service online and that it will be delivered right at your doorstep is pretty logical and practical.
Running a successful business today requires a functional and well-designed website. The first and the most important step of a successful online campaign is development of an e-commerce based website and the key here is to be focused on the design.
The website design trends in the year 2013 are followed by a minimalistic design. Flat header, high-resolution image slider, and contact details at the footer are just the basics, but when it comes to an e-commerce website, you need to pay special attention on the image/text ratio. Be aware that growing amount of total internet users are performing online shopping using smartphones and tablets. In Q4 of 2013, it was reported that 16% of all Ecommerce sales came from a mobile device. Your website design should be responsive and provide support for computers, tablets, and smartphones, so that it can hold the structure of the page without losing its resources. For example, 45.4% of the United State smartphone users have visited Amazon via their phones.
Too many images, videos and glossary effects along with inappropriate and uncategorized structures can significantly reduce the efficiency of your website along with its page load time. This will most definitely reduce the number of visitors – both potential and regular customers. No one likes to wait more than 2 seconds for a page to load.
Most online shops have a clear product page with a short description and a couple of images for each item followed by the “add to cart”, “purchase” and “continue shopping” buttons. These buttons all lead to specific shopping forms and account details and they present the basics in designing every product page featured on your online shop. However, here you must keep in mind that some online stores such as E-Bay and Amazon sell millions of products and that kind of database needs a powerful and reliable hosting service to cover the design/efficiency ratio of their online shop.
There are many great responsive designs on themeforest.net between which you can opt. WordPress is the most commonly used open source content management system today for creating online shops. Many of the templates can be customized with no special knowledge of HTML and maintenance is a far easier process.
Website optimization and online promotion
In order to achieve and maintain your full online presence you must optimize your website using online marketing techniques – specifically search engine optimization. Google for instance has released a new search algorithm and many updates during the past year. These updates all focus on a clear structure for the website as well as the semantics of the content. Aside the basic rules which follow organic SEO (no keyword stuffing, high resolution images, spam backlinks etc.), now you must pay attention to the relevance of the presented content and the content connected to it. But this is just the start.
Achieving perfect optimization of your website for search engines isn’t merely enough. Promotion of your online shop should be done in order for you to generate a list of returning and potential customers. Asides the popular Google Ads, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have become powerful advertising tools. You can make your business pages on these sites to promote your store. Currently, there are over one billion Facebook users and 71% of them are using smartphones and tablets to access their profiles, share content, and connect with people at least once a day. Many online businesses create business pages and promote their products by utilizing social marketing campaigns. This way, they harvest the potential traffic and redirect it to their online shop page. Another advantage of that increased traffic on your page is that it ranks you higher on the search engine lists, in result improving your online presence. Many online shops with business pages on Facebook have 500–700 followers but the key is to generate far more if you wish to increase the number of people landing on your product page.
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Newsletter campaigns also play an important part when it comes to improving the business of your online store. Giving your customers an option to subscribe to your newsletter will help you generate monthly surveys and in turn will help point you in the right direction. However, you need to be careful about this. Only use your generated list of emails or advise a company which provides permission based email services. By utilizing these methods, you will reduce the chances of your newsletter being treated as spam, resulting in a more effective marketing campaign. This way you will reach a larger share of your targeted audience instead of fishing in the dark.
There are over 900 payment providers spread around the globe. Each provider offers different rates, services, payment options, and provides support for different industries. If you are interested in seeing the response your website gets you can first offer support for a more well-known payment method like PayPal or Skrill, before looking into a more robust and integrated payment solution. Payment methods like PayPal and Skrill are accepted in the majority of the world and support a wide array of payment options and currencies. Do keep in mind, the rates offered by such payment methods can be quite high in comparison to a fully integrated payment solution.
If you are planning on future growth and expansion, best to look at payment processors and 3rd party payment solutions. Research payment-service-providers (PSP) supporting your industry and desired markets. When looking at PSPs, make sure you look at rates, the quality of the merchant support offered, and if they have the ability to grow with your business by adding more supported payment methods and currencies along with other Ecommerce solutions in the future. You can also check your competition to see what PSP they use. Your more successful competitors are most likely using a payment solution that best fits the industry and market.
Shipment and Customer Support
Customer service and shipping are important parts that hide behind the online presentation of your shop. A reliable shipping company and efficient customer service support present a vital part of your online business. As mentioned in the beginning, the whole point of online shopping is that you can order a product which will be delivered fast. The products you are selling can be damaged during transport and the customer may ask for a refund. Not only that, but it may cost you your regular customer. This is why you need to work with a reliable and efficient shipping company and to have a trained and well-organized customer service support.
Make sure your contact information, refund policy, and return policy are clearly presented throughout your website. The first step to quality customer service is being there for the customers. Inadequate customer care and shipping can result in an excess of chargebacks.
Running a successful online shop today isn’t that hard as long as you follow the rules and regularly maintain your website according to the trends and updates that follow.