9 Killer Tips to Create a Successful Online Store
The world changes, and business changes with it. Due to increasing competition, commerce grows continually more harsh, and business owners need to find ways to avoid going under and to maintain profitability. A huge part of trade has now been taken over by digital commerce.
If you look at some statistics, you’ll understand why it is so important to establish yourself in this online ecommerce family if you wish to remain competitive. This is a trillion dollar market that has grown by 20% during the last couple of years alone. It consists of 12-24 million online stores (a precise number is not known), among which only 650,000 stores are selling more than $1000 US annually. The numbers are pretty scary, right?
Don’t worry, there are still many ways in which you can improve the status of your business. According to the same statistics, 94% of people believe that well-designed online stores bring a higher conversion and sales rate.
What are the reasons for this crazy pursuit of a beautiful eCommerce website? Visitors have learned diagonal reading and, to make things worse for web designers, they have also been conditioned to form an opinion of a website in the first milliseconds after arriving there. In the unforgiving jungle of business competitiveness, these first milliseconds are all you have to create a good impression, otherwise visitors will quickly leave and seek out your competitor’s more impressive website.
All that might sound intimidating, but if you are not a timid type and if you love a good challenge, you’ll definitely enjoy the process of creating a successful, highly-visited ecommerce website. As Lord Beaverbrook said, “Business is more exciting than any game,” so let’s focus on the very core of the problem and develop solutions for it.
Here are our 9 killer tips for creating a successful online store; 9 breadcrumbs to lead you out of the competitive eCommerce jungle.
They may not seem that important on their own, but, as the saying goes “Many a mickle makes a muckle.” In other words, much can be achieved by taking many small steps.
So, let’s start!
1. Good Web Design
I probably won’t surprise you if I say that web design is more about visual presentation than the information it actually conveys. You may have the best product possible in your niche and the best customer service on top of that, but if your website is lousy, your online business presence is doomed.
To create a profitable online store, you can either pay a pretty penny to a web designer or take it upon yourself to learn to code. Alternatively, you can just get a ready-made template and customize it to your needs. Fortunately, there are thousands of great eCommerce templates on the web provided by sites like TemplateMonster, TonyTemplates, Apollotheme, and others that have clean designs, intuitive layouts, and follow the latest web design trends. Just remember the main principle: create an online store from which you yourself would buy.
A good website is characterized by modern web design, full-width images, and minimal text.
This is an example that Reebok chose for their online store:
And this is a ready-made option for your online store:
2. About Us Page & Contact Info
I bet this has happened to you. You opened a website and couldn’t understand what it does. A magic combination of “Ctrl+F”, typing in “About Us” and the first sentence tells you everything. No one needs you to write long sheets of text, people will diagonal-read (remember?) it anyway.
What you need to do is clearly spell out what you are, what you do, and, most importantly, what you offer to the clients. All testimonials, achievements, and any kind of social proof is welcome there. If a visitor goes to your “About Us” page, that means he or she is already interested in you and is giving you a chance to prove to him or her that your product is the best. Make sure you don’t waste this opportunity as it may lead to gaining a customer.
Your contact information should be clear and easy to find on your about page and throughout your website as well. Mention your contact email, your address, and your social media channels.
Some websites have minimalist “About” pages, which are still incredibly attractive, like this example:
“Contact Us” information is usually placed at the bottom of a website, and users are used to finding it there.
3. Partners Area
No one wants to trust an unseen, unheard of, and unknown company, especially when it comes to parting with their money. If you don’t have an established reputation yet, show them how many other companies are working with you. They don’t necessarily need to be on the scale of a Coca-Cola or Apple, but even small companies can add a degree of trustworthiness to your enterprise. Show your future customer the relationships you have already established.
The more partners you have, the better. This is how Amasty shows their established relationships with partners:
4. Online Support
This deserves a separate post, but I’ll give you the main points in brief. Support is really, really important. Ideally, it’s live-chat support that works 24/7/365. If you don’t have the resources to offer it (or, maybe, you have a small business that doesn’t need it), you still need to have a support service that helps people during working hours.
Your consumers need to know they won’t be abandoned after they make a purchase. They need to know they are supported if required. If you guarantee troubleshooting after the purchase and consulting before the purchase, you are very likely to convert them into devoted returning customers. On top of that, having an invitation popping up on the website to contact the support increases the conversion rate noticeably.
This is a typical placement for an online chat button. You can see how a clothing store, GitmanBros, offers you live chat should you wish to discuss their products:
5. Payment Methods & Money-Back Guarantee
No online store can exist without payments. Choose the right payment processor for your business from credit cards, PayPal, or digital wallet payments. Here you can read everything you need to know about payment methods and the one you should choose.
A money-back guarantee is very important. You need to give your customers a way to respond in case they do not like the product. It doesn’t mean they will necessarily ask for a refund. Of course, some of them will, but most people just need to know there is a back-up option. People, by nature, are not risk takers, so this flexible payment policy will be attractive to them. As a result, you’ll get more customers than you would if you didn’t have a money-back guarantee.
Nike created an interesting area with payment options where text seems to be almost invisible. Everything, except the very images of items, seems to be so white and fragile, that you focus all your attention on the products:
6. Social Media
If point 4 above deserved a separate post, this one does even more. Social media benefits you at all levels: exposure and attracting visitors, retaining the visitors and turning them into your customers, allowing your customers to talk about you and make your brand more personal to other consumers.
Organic word of mouth marketing that occurs on social media sites can be incredibly beneficial to the growth and success of your ecommerce business. Depending on your strategy and type of product, you can also take advantage of advertising opportunities available on Facebook, showcase your product in Instagram, present your articles on LinkedIn, keep your current and potential customers updated via Twitter, and increase your exposure via Pinterest.
Ask yourself, what is it that you do when you hear about some brand for the first time? You Google the reviews and find out what people say about the company you’re looking into on social media. Social media is one of the most powerful tools for ecommerce and is not to be overlooked.
Stay connected with your customers on social media like Sephora does:
7. A Frequently Updated Blog
There are several reasons for keeping a frequently updated blog. The content you offer should be of high quality. Know your audience and make sure the content responds to their needs. Keep in mind that using the right keywords will help you improve search rankings, and the fresher your content is, the better it is for Google.
However, these are not the only reasons why you should run a blog. You may aim your blog at different targets: run giveaways, provide your customers with tips or fun content, suggest sets of tools or tutorials related to your business. This is also a great way of collaborating with other businesses by exchanging links, mentioning each other on the blog, and getting some benefits in return.
And yet, this is still not the full list of reasons why you should post frequently on the blog. Try to create content that can give you feedback. Feedback positively affects SEO in many ways (For example, the comments under a blog post that use hot-trended keywords improve your ranking).
Frequent, relevant, and beautifully-presented blogs always have readers:
8. Reviews and Ratings
Reviews and ratings of your products can boost your trustworthiness immensely. It is social proof, as is social media, but I would rather call it a concentrated social proof. You see, for customers, gathering information from all over the web may be tiresome because not only do they have to gather it but also analyze it all and come to a conclusion whether the consensus is good or bad. What product ratings can do is save them time and help them find out what other customers like them think about the product. Ratings also create user-generated content that can bring extra value to your website, including SEO value.
It’s also important that you ask your customers to leave a review about your product. When your customers leave your site, you are very likely to get mostly negative feedback (which inevitably is present in every business), as it will not have occurred to those consumers who are satisfied with your product to simply write something about it because everything is fine. However, if you ask them to do so, they will often gladly share their great experience with others.
Puravida makes their items even more attractive by showing their rating:
And this is how they use hashtags to create user-generated content:
9. SEO & Responsiveness
We’ll start with the second one: responsiveness. “Responsiveness” allows your website to be displayed well on ANY device, whether it’s a huge desktop or a smartphone. Why is it that important? Because Google ranks mobile-friendly websites higher.
SEO is incredibly important for your website. Your website needs to be SEO-friendly, the URLs need to contain keywords, and keywords need to be present in your blog posts themselves. There is a great article on Kissmetrics on SEO optimization of eCommerce websites. According to the same resource, 78% of mobile searches for local business information result in a purchase. Don’t lose your audience, make sure they can reach your store no matter which device they have.
These are 9 of the main tips on how you can make an exciting online store. Hopefully, they will help you create a great eCommerce website.
If you have something to add, please feel free to write it in a comment section—we can help each other create successful online stores!
Creating a beautiful eCommerce website is a challenging thing, but in the end it pays off.
Good luck and big conversions to you!