Brick by Virtual Brick: No Sweat Steps for Building Your Online Store
Every great business needs a great online store to compliment it. Sure, you may sell plenty of products in the real world, but having yet another outlet to move more product and make more sales should be a no-brainer to any company worth its salt.
Creating an online store may seem like a daunting task — which platform do you choose? How should it look? What about pricing? — but there are plenty of tools out there for the job. When you are ready to add an online store to your website, consider these points and you will find the task just a little easier.
Are You Ready to Handle the Increase in Volume?
If you already sell products from a brick-and-mortar store, then you are ahead of the game. You probably have a great production team and all of the logistics figured out. But even if your business is already booming, adding an online store will — hopefully! — increase your sales, and you have to be ready for it.
First, make sure that your systems can handle the increased volume. This means that, if you don’t already have one, you should contact a cloud service provider that stores files off site to help you manage your data more efficiently. This will allow you to focus on maximizing your online store’s performance and can even add an additional level of security for your customers.
Naturally, with an increase in sales, you’ll need an increase in production as well. Talk to your production team (or analyze the data yourself if you’re a one-person show) and make sure that the product supply can meet the possible demand. Customer’s won’t be happy if you’re always out of stock on items they want.
Which Platform Should You Choose?
There is a wide variety of e-commerce platforms out there that you can choose from, but there are really three that stand out.
Shopify and Woocommerce are two very affordable platforms for small to medium-sized businesses that allow for a range of personalization and offer a decent amount of customizable options. Both platforms are great for first-time e-commerce owners because there is little to no programming experience required: just plug and play, essentially. Both Shopify and Woocommerce have great developer communities as well, so you can find answers in a pinch fairly easily.
A good third option is called Magneto, but this is intended specifically for those with a good knowledge of programming. Because of this, the options available to you are limitless, as you can manipulate the open-source software any way you choose to fit your style and needs.
Pricing and Payments
Another thing you need to consider is the price point of your products, and what forms of payment you will accept. If you already sell your product in the real world, then you can choose to price them same online, or differently depending on your needs. Also, check what potential competitors on the web are charging; an online store allows many more customers to reach you, so you must stay competitive if you want to survive.
With e-commerce, you also need to decide on the types of payment you will take. Do you want to only accept major credit cards? Are debit cards okay? What about PayPal and other web-based payment sites? Chances are, each form of payment you choose to accept will cost you a little money, but it will also allow more customers to purchase from you. And with most platform, you can start small and adjust accordingly as your site grows.
What About Customer Service?
Exceptional customer service in a timely matter is very important once you start selling your products online. You will receive questions about return policies, problems with shipping and payment troubles. If you want to stay in business, you need to make sure you handle these questions quickly and effectively.
Provide an email contact that is strictly for customer service only, This will channel all questions to one specific location. Then, either you or a team can address these problems as they arrive in the inbox. Also, pay attention to your customer’s social media posts about your customer service and thank them for good reviews and fix whatever you can if they are negative. This will let your customer base know that you are serious about their customer service experience.
Finally, think about using a live chat service to handle any questions immediately.
When it’s time to build an online store, remember these key points.
Cameron Steele is knowledgeable in all aspects of building and running a website, and has been running his own web design business for several years.