The ease of creating an online environment and running a web shop right from the comfort of one’s own home or garage has resulted in each Tom, Dick, Harry and Paula thinking that they can become the next Amazon, AliBaba or Zalando. Even though it seems easy enough, to become really successful, it takes a lot of hard work and sound strategy. As a payment service provider, we encounter hundreds of web shops in every corner of the world (wide web), some of which highly successful, some not so much. We have asked around and would like to present you with a list of useful tips that will hopefully help you to become the next online tycoon.
A flashy, professional web site may seem like the obvious choice, but if you sell organic dog food, a sleek site in grays and blues will just look weird. It also works the other way around: when you sell concrete slabs, a colorful, interactive web shop will make you look silly. It’s paramount that your online environment reflects you and your business. If you have lots of text, choose a font and colours that are easy on the eyes (so no Comic Sans, mmkay?). When dealing with mostly pictures, make them the highest quality they can possibly be, this is your showcase. Also, think about layout and functionality. What would you like shoppers to see first? How should everything work? And how should your web shop make them feel?
Put the ‘you’ in unique
For those lucky few that come up with a completely new service or product, it’s easy. They’re unique because nobody else does what they do and that is their USP. But if you sell clothes for instance or own a restaurant, how do you do that differently from your competition? Do you only use fair-trade products or do you operate from a paperless office? Make it known! Do you have Annie Liebowitz shooting your pictures or Salman Rushdie creating your copy? Shout if from the rooftops! Are the sweaters you sell 100% mermaid hair? That should be on the homepage! Even though everyone is unique, your product or service probably isn’t. The trick is to find and highlight that one thing that does make you stand out from your competition and showcase it in any way you can.
KYC, the other white meat
Know Your Customer. Seems simple enough, but is actually quite hard. What kind of person do you envision your customer to be? Are they male or female? Educated? Wealthy? Lazy? Handicapped? Sports fanatics? How does your merchandise or service improve the life of your customer? These are all things that you should have figured out before you open shop. After you start processing orders, you can employ a CRM-system of your choice to keep tabs on who your customers actually are and then adjust your strategy to cater to them. Do you see an increase in activity in a certain area; offer them a promotion. Are your customers more active during the night, then update your web site at night too to ensure that your customers are around to see it.
Shopping for carts
Choosing the right shopping cart software can make or break your shop. If your merchandise needs mainly visual displaying, choose a shopping cart that allows for that kind of interface. Want to offer your services worldwide? Make sure your shopping cart software is suitable for that. For smaller, starting merchants, we advise taking a shopping cart that is recommended/endorsed by your web host. With their extensive experience, they will be able to provide you with exactly what you need, fully integrated and ready to go. Larger, experienced web shop owners may benefit more from purchasing a loose plug-in, since there are more options for customisation to make it fit seamlessly into a web shop’s back-end.
Proper payment system
Having a proper payment system is equally important as having a suitable shopping cart. Choosing the right payment service provider is key to setting up a payment system that will fit your needs perfectly. First, think about how you would like customers to pay for your merchandise and services. Should they be able to pay via credit card? Would you like people to be able to order on the go with their smartphones? Will you cater to areas outside of your own country? Do you know which alternative payment methods they use there? A good payment service provider will be able to answer all your questions and advise you on which payment methods to offer. We recommend using a payment service provider from your own country that can advise you in your own language, in your own time zone.
Promotion is paramount
Promote your web site as much as you can, simple as that. Send out press releases to local media and/or influencers. Hire a freelancer if you don’t know how. Advertise on social media, for as little as $5 you can get a Facebook campaign going, and if you have awesome visual content share it on Instagram. Get intimately acquainted with Twitter and if you have interesting stories to tell, start a blog or snap away on Snapchat. If you don’t have enough time to do everything, pick one medium and do that really well. Ask your friends and family to like and share your web shop as much as humanly possible, make them shout from the digital rooftops. And if your budget allows it, also advertise offline, on TV or in the local newspaper. Anything to get the word out.
Dare to customer care
Especially when you sell a product or service that is not so one of a kind, make sure that your service is the distinguishing factor. Treat your clients like you would want to be treated and you’re halfway there. Being an open book instills confidence in your patrons. Be available for questions and take complaints seriously. Honour your promises and be clear when you are out of stock. It should be easy for customers to return their purchases and refunds should be given (within reason, of course) without making a fuss. Excellent service is a paramount to ensure great word to mouth advertising and customers returning to your shop. Also, offer a super safe payment experience, like Fort Know safe. Ask your payment service provider about their security options and PCI compliance.
Conversion is key
It’s tempting to make decisions based on your gut and past experiences, but if you really want your shop to soar, you will have to employ metrics; cold, hard data. Your store’s conversion rate directly measures the profitability and consequently is the measuring stick of your success. You can use metrics to predict future successes or to determine if everything is working like it should be. A good mnemonic is “when conversion is down, something is up.” Your customers’ behaviour on your site is a great bellwether. The funny thing is that what is most valuable to your company comes (almost) free. Keeping tabs on your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly conversion and making little tweaks accordingly will do wonders for creating an awesome customer experience and will keep your them coming back for more.
The customer journey
Creating an exceptional customer journey is not as hard as it looks; all you have to do is pay attention. In the eyes of the consumer, you are only as good as the last time they were in contact with you, so evaluate each and every contact point between your customer and your company. This is where you build customer loyalty by actively ensuring that your customer has a great experience each time and possibly even shares that positive experience with their friends. Take special care of the checkout process; consumers nowadays are notorious for their short attention span. A good rule of thumb is to make the path from product to payment as short and easy as possible. Also, take a peek at how your competitors are doing, maybe there is something that you can do better of different to make you stand out even more.
What is a web shop without visitors? Key is getting potential customers to your shop and it all starts with search words. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is crucial for generating traffic to your site. Determine which words your customers would use when looking for your product or service and use them as much as you can in your web site’s copy. Don’t forget to also include them in the meta title and meta description. This is after all the text that search engines display and lets viewers know what your page is about. Please note that each separate page should have its own unique title and description. Finally, optimise your images, videos and URLs (short URLs that include the most important search words), create a Google AdWords campaign and you are good to go.