If you want to jump into the exciting world of e-commerce and build your own online store, try following these tips, as they could mean the difference between having to experience several growing pains versus seeing swift success and some solid return on investment (ROI).
Regardless of the niche you are entering, you will probably experience a ton of competition. These simple, yet valuable, e-commerce tips could help you push past the competition, as they are regarded as some of the best practices in e-commerce and online selling.
Before we get started with our list of tips for running an online store, a quick note about e-commerce platforms. There are several great options to choose from, including well known brands like Shopify and Etsy. However, if you intend to build your own online business with a free solution like WordPress, we suggest you check out our list of the Top Online Courses for WordPress to get started.
Example of a WordPress Online Store using the WooCommerce Plugin
Model Your Brand After An Industry Leader
If you are unsure of how you want to proceed with your online store’s look, functionality, etc., pick an industry leader and model your brand after theirs. You should not copy the model brand in every single thing they do. Instead, use them as a guide and add your personal twist to stand apart from the competition.
Grow Your Customer Base From The Start
You could have the greatest online store on the planet, but without customers that bring traffic, your e-commerce business will be a dud. You can avoid this common problem by focusing on building your audience from day one.
As soon as you decide on a brand name and buy your domain, start doing some of the following to build your customer base and create a name for yourself:
- Make social media profiles for your brand and start making relevant and compelling posts on a consistent schedule. Do not rely on just one social media network, as you want to diversify should something happen to a platform one day and it disappears.
- Collect email addresses once your store is built so you can deliver relevant content and news about your products and services directly to your target audience’s inbox.
By making such moves, you can grow your audience organically without relying on expensive ads that can bloat your budget, especially as a beginner.
Get In Touch With Influencers
You can grow your audience much quicker with the help of established social media influencers. Take the time to find influencers who have followers who would be interested in your products and services and get in touch with them. If you build a good enough of a relationship, they could help your store’s popularity explode quite quickly by making sponsored posts.
We have a great tutorial listing some Influencer Marketing Tips if you are interested in pursuing this avenue.
Experiment As Much As Possible
Chances are, your store, products, and services will not be a huge hit when you first start. As such, you must keep experimenting as much as possible until you see what works.
How do you experiment with e-commerce? An excellent place to start is with your ads. Create as many advertisements as possible that differ in terms of format, images, and copy. Once you see the type of ads that attract your target audience, you can then move to experiment with your site, using some of the same ad data and insights that caught your customers’ eyes.
Our guide, What is Paid Search, is a good place to get started if you want to learn about marketing your website through online advertising.
Be Thorough When Building Your Website
One way to lose potential customers is to have an incomplete website that does not have all the answers or information they need to make informed buying decisions. Some simple omissions such as these could mean the difference between making a sale and losing a customer forever:
- Return policies.
- Shipping information.
- Contact info.
Not only should such information be present on your site, but it should also be extremely easy to find. If not, it could lead to a frustrating user experience where your site visitor leaves without making a purchase.
Example of a Shopify E-commerce Store
Hire Someone To Write Your Product Descriptions
Excellent copy could convince a potential customer to make a purchase and become a loyal follower. If you feel that you cannot convey a product’s or service’s benefits well on your own, hire someone to do so. Yes, this will be an investment, but it should more than pay for itself in the long run.
Be Consistent With Your Schedule
You want your customers to keep coming back to your store so you can increase your sales. Besides offering fantastic products or services, one way to achieve this goal is to follow a consistent schedule.
For instance, try introducing new products to your store on the same day of each week. Once your customers see this pattern, they can keep checking in on schedule to make new purchases. Or, if your store has a blog, make new posts on a schedule, so your customers keep visiting for new content, which gives you an extra opportunity to sell.
Whatever you do, avoid inconsistency. That will cause your customers to lose interest, decrease their loyalty, and move on to your competitors.
Be As Visual As Possible
A visually appealing website can result in more conversions. Post as many pictures for each product, so the customer has no doubts about what they are about to buy. Do not be afraid to make your blog posts visual by adding multiple images, videos, or even gifs to entertain and inform your visitors.
Read: Helpful Tips for Designing a Landing Page that Converts
Offer Free Shipping At The Beginning
Since only half of online stores offer free shipping, making this simple move could push you past 50 percent of the competition right out of the gate. Free shipping could convince customers to pull the trigger on a purchase versus going elsewhere since they may feel reluctant to give their cash to a new store.
Reinvest In Your Business
As your online store starts to profit, it can be tempting to take that cash and spoil yourself. Instead of taking that route, however, you should reinvest in your business in ads, as it takes money to make money.
After a few profitable months where you reinvest your cash into advertising to bring in more sales, you should then reach the point where your business can support your lifestyle.
Do Not Overlook Abandoned Carts
There could be many reasons why someone puts something in their online cart and then abandons it. Regardless of why they do it, you should do everything possible to recover abandoned carts to boost your bottom line.
Try different abandoned cart emails and apps until you find what works. And to increase your conversions, consider offering a discount soon after the cart is abandoned so you can strike while the iron is hot.
Focus On Marketing More Than Your Store
Once again, you could have the perfect store and product line or services, but your online business will fail if nobody can see what you have to offer. This is one reason why you should focus more on your marketing and advertising efforts to drive traffic versus trying to create the perfect store.
The more you do to market and advertise, the more eyeballs will be on your offerings. With this in mind, remember to post on as many social media channels as possible daily. Also, create great blog content, contact influencers and other sites in your niche, and test ads until you feel satisfied with your traffic. Once you have the perfect mix of marketing and advertising that brings in customers, you can start focusing more on your store.
Read: Overview of Digital Marketing
Get Feedback So You Can Improve
While you may think your store is perfect, what really matters is what your audience believes. Create surveys to get customer feedback on how you can improve your line of products or services or your store. And while customer feedback is more important, you can get more opinions by asking Shopify support to review your store or reaching out to other online entrepreneurs to get their opinions.
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