How to Get Online?
The first thing you must ask your self when deciding to sell online is how do I get my store online?
This may seem like an obvious question with a potentially simple answer “I will get a website” but with so many options available with varying degrees of difficulty and cost in setting up and maintaining your store you have to decide what is right for your business. You can choose between popular out of the box platforms such as ‘Shopify’ and ‘Squarespace’ which offers a seemingly easier setup at a price or open source platforms such as ‘Magento’ that can deliver excellent platforms with the freedom of choosing your own hosting services but may require the services of a developer to get you up and running.
Whichever system you choose you need to know which one is right for your business.
Once your store is designed, built and ready for customers you need to decide on ways of receiving payments from customers. One of the greatest hurdles online retailer face is trying to reduce the amount of abandoned carts. There are many reasons why this could occur but it is worth spending time and effort to give your customers comfort and choice when using your store. The obvious initial payment method for most stores is ‘PayPal’ as it is has a global reach and is a household name for being a secure method of making and receiving payments, However a second option might reduce an abandoned checkout due to offering choice. There are many payment processing plugins available that are compatible with most shopping engines such as ‘Shopify’ and ‘Magento’ and these can run in tandem with ‘PayPal’ to increase your range of accepting payments.
Even if you are fortunate enough to have an established customer base you still need to let your customers and prospective customers know that you have set up shop online. It is foolish to think that simply by setting up an online store customers will simply find you and start purchasing without any effort. If you already have a customer base from a bricks and mortar store then you will want to promote it via an email promotion and / or via your stores social media pages. Consider offering an online only promotion to start accepting traffic and growing momentum to transfer occasional customers to becoming regular customers online.
If your business doesn’t have the luxury of an existing customer base then the work is harder but will be extremely rewarding once the sales start trickling through. To generate customers create a buzz, ensure that you are active on all forms of social media and consider publishing an online PR blast to send to all the relevant news agencies to tell the world or at least your community that you have opened up shop and ready for business.
Keeping up the Momentum
Hopefully the initial hard work is now complete and your store is live and you are generating sales. To keep buyers coming back time and time again keep your range fresh and up to date. Keep engaging with your existing customers with regular email blasts informing them of new items and great deals and generate new customers by building subscriber lists with the lure of a first time purchase discount or gift with purchase.
Spreading the Word
Once satisfied that the store is starting to gain momentum and loyal customers then it would be natural to think about expansion as it is probably one of the reasons you went online in the first place to potentially grab a larger slice of the pie. Before deciding on marketing options it is essential that a proper budget is put in place that ensures that profitability is still maintained within the business. For online retailers the key mediums to advertise which are able to accurately measure success include social media ads such as Facebook and PPC search campaigns such as Google and Bing. These sources of traffic can be an excellent source of customers but it comes at a cost so monitor your campaigns carefully to make sure you are targeting the right people and not wasting your budget on irrelevant clicks.
Grow Grow Grow
Now that your business is selling and expanding it is important to not lose sight of the core business values and to keep your ideas fresh and simple. Spend more time working on the business rather than in the business which means delegating day-to-day areas to free up time on more important decisions. Surround yourself with positive people who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and get dirty with growing your business.