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How to Start a Successful Online Store

Wondering how to start a successful online store? Online stores are in demand, and online shopping has been a common practice for millions of people. According to statistics, online shoppers in the U.S. are projected to grow from 209.6 million in 2016 to 230.5 million in 2021.

One of the top reasons why Americans prefer to shop online is because of the experience the business is providing and the comfort that they get to enjoy. As a result, shopping online is starting to become more like shopping in person.

Unlike brick and mortar shops, online shoppers only rely on the shop’s reputation, product reviews, descriptions, and images to decide whether they are going to buy a product. Learn for yourself how WordPress can be used for e-commerce.

If you are just starting an online shop business, you need to know how to launch it successfully. Here are some tips to guide you.

15 Tips to Create a Successful Online Retail Store that Drives Sales

1. Write a product description that sells

Online shops must provide all the important details as much as possible about the product to help their customers decide whether to make a purchase. There are also some important points that you should consider in writing a product description.

  1. You should define your target audience, and this is by understanding your buyer persona. By writing a product description to your targeted buyer’s persona, you can tailor the content of your product description by focusing on your target customers’ wants and needs.
  2. Focus on your product benefits instead of features. Although your product has tons of cool features, the truth is, your customers are not that interested in those. What they care about is your product’s benefits—what problems your product can solve, and how it can improve their lives.
  3. Use emotions to influence your buyer’s behavior. Emotions greatly influence a person in making decisions. In fact, research shows that emotions influence judgments and choices. Marketers are aware of this and use this to make sales
  4. Choose the right tone and language for your product description. Once you have identified your target customer or buyer persona, it is easy for you to tap into their sense of urgency, what makes them tick, and the language they use. Usually, product descriptions are written using a friendly tone, and from a second-person point of view. 

2. Use high-quality images

Using a high-quality image is essential when selling online, especially when your customers cannot physically touch the product you are selling. By using high-quality images, you are able to allow your customers to interact and “feel” the product by just looking at the image.

There should also be two types of images on your product page. 

First is the clean-cut photo of your product in a white background. Your product image should be zoomable and clear enough that when it is enlarged, it shows the details of the product, like stitching, texture, and construction. There should also be multiple views of your products so your customers can see the front, back, side, and other specific details of the products.

Second is a lifestyle photo or a photo of your product in action or being used in its intended environment. For example, if you are selling knives, then the intended environment is the kitchen.

3. Build a better social media presence

About 4.8 billion people use the Internet, and 3.8 billion people use social media. A lot of businesses take advantage of social media, especially in online shops. In fact, 90% of businesses in the U.S. were using social media to market their products and services in 2017. 

Your target audience and potential customers can easily find out about your product with social media. Therefore, once you have chosen your social media platform, you must work on your social media presence or social media campaign. This is by creating a social media strategy and promoting your business using your chosen platform.

4. Choose your payment gateway

For your business to earn, you must have payment gateways so that you can accept payments. Your payment gateways must be quick, convenient, safe, easy-to-use by your customers and compatible with your platform.

According to invespcro.com, the average shopping cart abandonment is 65.23%. 7% of those buyers abandon their shopping carts because the online shop does not have enough payment options.

In choosing payment gateways, you must study your options before you choose a payment solution that will benefit your customers and your business. You may also consider the following:

  • Study the pricing or fee for using the third-party tool.
  • There are merchant account options, by which a bank can process transactions. 
  • Supports all necessary payment methods, such as PayPal, credit card, debit card, and other e-payment methods.
  • International transactions and availability in other countries.

5. Plan your shipping strategy

Online stores rely on shipping services to transport the purchased products from them (the retailer) to their customers. 

According to invespcro.com, 44% of buyers abandon their shopping carts because of high shipping costs. Therefore, retailers should find the right shipping strategy and should offer a fast yet affordable shipping method. Some of the best shipping strategy successful online shops offers are:

  • Same-day delivery, where the product will be delivered the same day it has been purchased. A survey shows that 74% of U.S. consumers are more likely to repurchase a product after receiving same-day delivery.
  • Overnight shipping, this is where the customer will receive the product the day after the purchase has been made.
  • Expedited shipping, this is by shipping the product faster or earlier than the standard shipping schedule or transit time.
  • International shipping, this is where you are able to ship the products overseas.

6. Create an engaging web design 

If your store is unattractive and lousy, your online presence will go down, and you will most likely lose followers and customers. Your web design should captivate visitors and give them a good first impression. Websites that are designed poorly will appear unprofessionally-created and less credible. 

When a visitor lands on your website, they will judge your business within seconds. 

If your website looks unappealing, they will immediately leave your website with a negative impression of your business. 

A well-thought and well-created website also helps keep up with competitors, improves search ranking performance, and reduce bounce rates as your visitors or potential customers stay on your web page longer. 

Having a web design that is placed right from the beginning will help you save money in the future because you do not need to update your website. You can either hire a professional web designer, such as the freelancers in Fiverr and other freelance graphic design websites or use a website builder like Wix

7. Partner with other brands

Partnering with other brands creates an opportunity to develop strong and lasting business relationships with others. It also establishes a reputation that you work well with others. That is why brands want to co-partner with you. Your business will also gain exposure and immediately showcase your reputation to site visitors. As a result, more visitors and potential buyers trust your business. 

If you choose the right brand to be a partner with, which should be relevant to your brand, it could help fast-track innovation in your business. It helps brands explore new ventures by sharing ideas and areas of expertise without the huge expense and learning curve if they will execute the fresh idea on their own. 

Partnering with other brands allows you to extend your reach to different audiences. Your brand partner is also promoting you to their audiences. You have the potential to reach new market segments that are not on your radar or target reach.

8. Provide excellent customer service

Customer service is the assistance a business provides to people who are interested in availing products or services of a business. The business owner or customer service professional is responsible for making sure that people will have a good experience and that their needs are fulfilled. 

Potential customers and existing customers need support before, during, and even after making a purchase in your store. Even if you have a fantastic product, you will definitely lose customers if your customer service is unreliable and unhelpful. Providing them with excellent customer service creates loyal customers. 

What is excellent customer service? It is the best practice of valuing your customers and taking the step further to exceed their expectations rather than just meeting their expectations. It includes being friendly all the time, responding to customers promptly, listening to concerns, getting to know them more, and asking for feedback.  

9. Advertise on social media

With billions of people using social media worldwide, it only proves that social media is the most powerful tool you can use in promoting your business. Social media platforms for your business can be anything from Facebook feeds (using Facebook ads), Snapchat ads, or Google Ads. By taking advantage of social media power, you will be able to reach more prospective customers.

Social media is every business’ best friend. If you boost your social media presence and digital engagement, it also increases the chances of building your brand awareness. Social media also provides a built-in analytics tool to help you measure and evaluate your social media campaigns’ success. 

10. Get online reviews

You might not realize just how important online reviews are to your sales. Availing products or services online can be a scary place for the customer. There are a lot of fake products and scam sites. Customer reviews can give trust and fill your customers with confidence in your online store. According to statistics published in VENDASTA:

  • 68% say positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • 73% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to six reviews
  • 88% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to ten reviews. This means it’s important to have a large body of reviews, as customers are reading more reviews now than in all years past
  • 26% of consumers say it’s important that a local business responds to its reviews
  • 51% of consumers will select a local business if it has positive reviews
  • 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations 
  • 9% of consumers will phone a business after reading positive reviews 
  • 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site that has user reviews
  • 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores

Customer reviews increase conversions. It builds trust and eliminates any doubts potential customers might have on your products or services.

11. Ensure your online store mobile friendly

There are about 5.11 billion mobile users worldwide in 2019, and 290 million people in the U.S. are expected to have a smartphone by 2024. According to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults, 8 in 10 Americans shop online, and 51% of them made a purchase using their mobile devices. 

That is why mobile responsiveness of online stores is crucial since more than half of internet traffic shops use their mobile devices. Merchants have to ensure that their online store design is mobile-friendly and responsive so that buyers can make a purchase.  

12. Determine if there is a market for your business

Before you even start opening an online store, you need to ensure that you have a market for your business idea. Doing solid research about your products, customers, and their buying behaviors can save you hundreds and even thousands of dollars. 

Formulating a business plan is the first thing that you need to do before starting a new business. This will help you determine the answers to your critical decisions and avoid big mistakes.  

13. Do product or service trial run

Testing your products and services before introducing them to the market in your online store can help you see if there is a market. You can also get feedback from your customers to help you tweak your ideas before you move forward and begin selling your products. Try selling your product or service on AmazoneBay, or other similar platforms and see how people respond to it.  

14. Keep an eye on the competition

Gain some potentially valuable insights by looking at your competitors’ online store and see how they are doing. Although it is important that you focus on your own plans, keeping an eye on your competitors can help you understand your competitive advantages and disadvantages. Being aware of what your competitors are doing is an important part of running a business. You can learn from their success and failures and set yourself apart by understanding how they do and how you can improve.

15. Use email marketing relentlessly

Use email marketing to build a relationship with your customers. Businesses are particularly fond of using email marketing platforms because they are cost-effective while giving you a sense of control. Email marketing is the act of sending commercial emails to a group of people through the use of email. These commercial emails are either advertisements, sales solicitations, or other promotional content. The main objective is to promote a business and sell a product or service. Read our article, “The Best Courses to Help You Learn Email Marketing,” to find out what online courses you can take.

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