Ecommerce 101: Best Practices in Running an Online Store

What a battle, it used to be to launch and to run an online store? Not anymore. It has become that easy now. You just need to focus on primary elements like presentation, data management, and its user-friendliness. To refine your storefront in ways that could enegage your valuable customers, is as simple as ABC.

 1. Data Management and Content Placement:

a. Inventory: When a customer shops at your store, their confidence is often reinforced with the knowledge that the item is in stock (that it actually exists).  When your customer is drawn to a product, include the inventory.

b. Imagery: Try to incorporate high definition photos. Arrange them in a way where they can stand out. For example, the slideshow only shows one photo at a time. There’s more information in a carefully placed mosaic, where individual images become larger when the cursor hovers over it.

c. Engagement: Create convenient ways for customers to engage through social media, and display the links prominently in your storefront. North Face is a good example of how product imagery, product details, a store locator, inventory, and social media links are combined with careful consideration given to a quality presentation for the customer.

2. Broadening the Range of Products:

Simply put, customers like choices. For example, if you sell T-shirts and discover that large demographics among your customers are seeking themes in pairs or groups, assemble a package that caters to that need. Then, create a special offer.

3. The Full Experience for Mobile Shoppers:

Although some sites perform satisfactorily on a mobile device you should be sure that your site performs well on both platforms. Remember, 80% of consumers shop online and 56% of American adults are now smartphone owners. Put together, these two numbers are a powerful indicator. It means that 45% of consumers are likely to shop online using their phone!

4. Mobile Device Compatibility:

A large number of queries from customers begin on smartphones, and even if the final purchase is made at home, much of the primary research will likely be done on a mobile device. Product interest can start with a conversation or something that somebody sees in a store window. Smartphones are handy little gadgets, and the research can start on a whim, anywhere and at any time. According to a BIA/Kelsey report, mobile searches will generate 27.8 billion more queries than desktop searches by 2016!

5. Testimonials:

Oftentimes, testimonials reinforce a buyer’s interest in your product – especially when the testimonials project authority.  Someone widely known to have experience in the type of products you sell would be a bonus. The basic idea is to alleviate customer anxiety through media outlets, reviews, or whatever opportunity presents itself. And remember to focus on what makes you unique.

6. Product Comparisons:

If customers are going to compare products, help them. Don’t give them a reason to leave your site. Provide information with which to conduct comparisons so that the “Add to Cart” button stays close at hand. Such comparisons could come from social media, where customers share their research and buying experiences. This also helps reassure customers that they are getting the best possible product.

7. Product Content Leads the Customer Experience:

Marketing should lead the customer experience – even in an online store. Until that moment arrives, where customer has committed to buy, emphasis should be placed on selling.

8. Background - Tell your story:

Every entrepreneurial challenge is a struggle and so far, I’ve never walked away from someone’s start-up story thinking how boring it was. This is especially powerful if the product is your own. Stories about late nights in an improvised production area makes for a powerful way to engage your customers.

It sounds cliche, but it’s absolutely true. Setting up an online stores has never been easier. Now is the best time to concentrate on content, how to draw customers in, engage them, KEEP THEM, and understand the important role that social media plays in the process.

Owen Andrew is an online journalist in Southern California. With years of experience in ecommerce and small business, he is passionate about using his knoweldge to help others.

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