4 Crucial Things You Need To Create A Successful Online Store
When someone starts picturing the online store they want to create, they don’t imagine failure as a part of that picture. They see a beautiful website that hundreds, or even thousands, of people turn to all the time to buy their products. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Creating an online store is easy, but creating a successful one is a challenge.
If you’re looking to build an online store, here are 4 crucial things you’ll need to turn it into a success.
1. A Great Website
To start, you’ll need a great website. No matter what niche you’re in, you’ll likely have a lot of competition, so you can’t settle for just an average website. Your website needs to strive to be better than any of its competitors. There are a few key ingredients you’ll need for this.
First, you’ll want a good website hosting plan. Where you host your website will play a large role in determining how fast your website runs, how big the website can be, and how secure it is. Don’t just settle for the cheapest hosting provider you can find – really take some time with the decision and choose one that will be right for your store.
Next, you’ll want to focus on the design. If you’re using a service like WordPress or Shopify it’s easy to create a basic website in a matter of minutes. However, you don’t want basic. Search around for some premium or custom themes, even if you have to pay for them. Find something that will truly stand out, while also providing your visitors with plenty of functionality. The design of your website will say a lot about your brand, so make sure it’s top notch.
Finally, your website needs to be easy to use on every device. More people each day are starting to use mobile devices to access the web rather than a desktop computer. Your site needs to look great no matter what device opens it and it needs to be easy to use. For instance, if you have small buttons or text links that are vital to the checkout process, this will likely harm the user experience for any one opening your site on their phone.
2. A System For Handling Orders
Depending on what type of online store you’re running, you may need a system in place for how to handle orders. There are two possible scenarios. In the first, you’re running a dropshipping website. A dropshipping website is when a customer makes a purchase through you, you relay the order to the manufacturer, and the manufacturer sends the order directly to the customer. In this scenario you don’t have to worry about housing or packing up your orders, as all that is taken care of for you. To learn more about this system, you can check out this dropshipping guide.
For those of you who aren’t dropshipping, you will need to think about these things. Where are you going to store your products? What’s the most efficient way to package everything up? How can you save money on shipping? These are important questions to ask yourself and the answers will vary from business to business.
Take some time to really think about your order fulfillment process. When someone makes a purchase from you, they don’t want to wait weeks to get it. You want to capitalize on that excitement by having an efficient system in place that will get their order out quickly. This will not only make your customers happier, but it will keep you from becoming overwhelmed when the site takes off.
3. A Solid Marketing Strategy
Once you have an amazing website, and some background efficiency to back it up, now it’s time to start getting the word out. No online store will survive without a solid marketing strategy behind it. When it comes to marketing your online store, you have a few options, and you should explore them all at one point or another.
To start, you should make sure your website is optimized for search engines. This will help your store rank higher in search engine results, and therefore make it easier for people to find you. Search engine optimization can get pretty technical, but it’s easy to apply the basics to start.
Another strategy you’ll want to explore is social media marketing. Social media is a powerful way to reach thousands, even millions, of people, all with just a few clicks of your mouse. The key to social media is creating accounts on the most popular sites, then maintaining an active presence on them. Interact with other people in your niche or with interested customers. Promote your latest products or discounts. Make your social media accounts an extension of you and your brand – this will help your message spread and start generating some traffic.
Finally, if you have the budget for it, consider running some paid ads. Putting ads on other websites, search engines, or social media platforms is a great way to start getting the word out about your store. Best of all, you can start off with just a small budget and see if it works for you. Try picking one avenue for online ads – such as social media – then give yourself a small budget to work with.
4. A Process For Analysis
Finally, however you initially set up your store, it probably won’t be the best it can be. Even if you follow the advice above, there will still be room for improvement. The key to growing further is to have a system in place that lets you analyze your current performance and find problem areas you can improve on.
There are several ways you can do this. You could send out a customer satisfaction survey and get feedback directly from your customers. Or you could install tracking software on your website and analyze customer behavior, such as the bounce rate on certain pages or the abandoned cart rate. Find a method that works for you – or use them all – and then set up a time every few weeks to analyze your performance.
Aim for Long Term Success
Most online stores don’t become a success overnight. It takes time to create a great website, effectively promote it, and figure out where you’re going wrong. You also need to work on the behind-the-scenes stuff, and get effective systems in place to manage and ship orders. But, if you can take the time to ensure the above elements are all included in your online store, success will likely come and stick around for a long time.
Dave Schneider is the marketing manager at Albacross, the free B2B lead generation platform. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world, and has visited over 65 countries.