Open the doors to your very own virtual shop today with this checklist of essentials.
So you’ve decided to open an online shop? Getting your business up and running online isn’t hard, but ensuring your online shop is secure, searchable and simple can be a bigger demand. An online shop could be a huge earner for your established offline business.
In this helpful guide, we walk through five tips for setting up a successful ecommerce store. We also cover five easy steps for improvements to your online store functionality and aesthetics. And lastly, we cover why website usability is paramount to your online retail success.
Once you are ready to start building your online store, UK2.NET can help you get online fast. See our ecommerce website builder packages and additional security options at UK2.NET.
Everything You Need To Set Up Your Ecommerce Online Shop
Make sure you have all the following boxes ticked when launching your ecommerce online shop:
#1. You’ve registered a domain name.
There’s no use having an online store if you don’t have a web address; your website can’t exist without one. Picking a domain name can be easy if you already have a brand name in mind, so be sure to match your business name and web address accordingly. If your business name is quite generic – for example Bathrooms Online – then the corresponding domain name will likely be taken already.
This is where it pays to think outside the box with your business name to avoid sending potential customers to competitors with similar names. If your domain name and your brand name are memorable and unique, then your online customers are more likely to remember your domain and spell it correctly when searching for your online shop.
A domain name should be short, sharp and easy to remember. Find out if yours is available and register it today over on our domain name registration page.
#2. You’ve considered your web hosting options.
There are a few different web hosting solutions that could fit the needs of your online shop, so be sure to do your research before you settle for the solution with the lowest price tag. Investing in your web hosting solution will benefit your business as web hosting powers your website, and if your hosting can’t cope with the size of your site or the demands of your website traffic then it’s likely to cause downtime, which could spell disaster for your business.
Check out reviews of the web hosts you’re considering to be sure they offer a respectable service and get in touch with sales teams to decide on which hosting solution best suits your needs. You can chat live with our expert team right now by clicking here: they’d be happy to discuss the best route for your online shop’s website hosting.
#3. Your website has shopping cart functionality.
No ecommerce online shop is complete without a shopping cart, as your customers must be able to actually select your products and make purchases from directly within your website. If you’re considering building your shop using a website builder tool, make sure it offers ecommerce functionality. UK2.NET’s Online Shop Builder. It gives you everything you need to list and price your products in no time at all, so you can get busy making money. Find out how it could empower your online business here.
#4. You have a trusted payment gateway.
Today’s online customers are more aware of their online security than ever, and it’s your responsibility as an e-tailer to ensure that their payments to your business are secure. Using a third-party payment gateway such as PayPal or Stripe will encourage your customers to feel comfortable shopping on your website, as they know and trust these established brands. With UK2.NET’s Online Shop Builder, you’ll be given the option to receive payments via PayPal or Stripe, ensuring your customers can shop safely and securely.
#5. You have an SSL certificate.
Many of today’s customers will look for a sign that your website is secure before they commit to trusting your brand. An SSL certificate will add the “https” prefix to your site’s URL, and display a padlock symbol in the browser bar of your website’s visitors. This indicates that the site is secure to shop and that their sensitive information is fully encrypted when being transmitted to your business. Building trust in your customers is an ecommerce essential, so SSL is of vital importance to your online shop.
5 Easy Steps To Improve Your Online Shop
Once your online shop is up and running, it’s important to remember that there’s still work to be done. To remain competitive, your online shop will need regular updates and assessments. Don’t worry, UK2.NET is here to help!
Despite the huge investment made in online stores by high street retailers, ecommerce shopping remains a marginal activity. Statistica published a study stating that only around 20% of retail sales in the UK were conducted online. From concerns over data security to a lack of product information, many people are still reticent about ecommerce shopping.
If your business relies on internet purchases, that represents a problem. A website has to be a shop window, till point and customer service desk all in one, providing key information in a way that successfully conveys your firm’s ethos. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to improve a customer’s ecommerce shopping experience.
Below are five recommended techniques to improve your online store:
#1. Learn from the market leaders.
Research rival sites to see what they do well (or badly). Amazon is an obvious point of comparison, but study other firms’ ecommerce shopping experiences as a whole. Does each site suggest alternative goods, or save the contents of your basket for a future visit? Is there a prominent Search bar with predictive text? How many data fields are required to complete a purchase?
#2. Boost stock levels throughout the autumn.
Online sales in November and December almost double compared to the other ten months of the year, so prepare in advance. Employ drop-shipping, which ensures multiple stockists for key product lines. Consider increasing warehouse space to boost stock levels so you don’t run out of key lines. Customers may never return if you don’t have the items they want in stock.
#3. Ensure your site is equally easy to use on mobile or desktop.
In 2010, mobile devices accounted for 1% of online retail sales in the UK. Last year, most online orders were made using a smartphone or tablet. Yet it’s easy to prioritise the desktop experience over mobile. Factors to consider and compare include ease of navigation around the site, whether the same product details are displayed, and how payment gateways work.
#4. Provide a wealth of information.
In the absence of store assistants, a website should pre-emptively answer every question. A single photograph above a generic text description won’t encourage people to click ‘Add to Basket’. Instead, upload multiple images, perhaps in a slideshow, with every nugget of product data you can find. List customer reviews, suggest alternative items and put an enquiry form on every page.
#5. Develop an algorithm to encourage additional or complementary purchases.
A recent report suggested almost 80% of British adults have succumbed to impulsive online shopping, and this isn’t necessarily standalone purchases. Someone buying a birthday cake may appreciate an invitation to add sparklers or a card to their order. Upselling profitable items add value to the user experience – and your balance sheet.
As leading web hosting providers, UK2.NET would also recommend choosing a trustworthy hosting partner for your ecommerce website – ensuring it can be viewed rapidly and dependably. Please get in touch to ask for advice on our hosting packages.
Why Usability Is Vital To Your Online Store
There’s more to online business than uploading your products and pressing “sell”!
The benefits of having an online store for your business are plentiful. Increased visibility, a worldwide market, and no “closed” hours thanks to around-the-clock trading are a huge plus for any business. If executed correctly, your business will profit hugely from digital transformation. Everyone is selling online now, but what are the most important features of an ecommerce website?
Usability can be overlooked by first-time ecommerce shop builders. So much emphasis is now placed on website content and layout – which are indeed important – that the actual functionality of the website can slip through the net. However, it is vital to remember that usability is central to your site’s success. How can your business hope to trade successfully online if your site is difficult to navigate?
What is website usability and why is it important?
Website usability is pretty self-explanatory: it’s the ease of use of your website. The way it looks isn’t the only important factor here; usability is all about the way your site functions. This means delving into the backend of the website and being sure that the sitemap is easily navigable: can your customers easily identify and follow the journey to purchase from each of your landing pages? Are products clear, concise and clearly priced?
The enemies of site usability are ambiguity and incoherence. Your customers should be left in no doubt over what they should do to make a purchase, and they should be informed at all points of purchase about the contract they’re entering into, including product information, shipping details and additional information such as contact details.
Website usability is vital for your business as it will boost your conversion rates. Should potential customers find your site difficult to navigate – or confusing, contradictory or slow – they are highly likely to abandon their purchase and go elsewhere. Remember that the impersonal nature of selling online means that there’s a distinct lack of personal rapport between your brand and your customers, and they aren’t likely to display enough loyalty to persevere with their purchase if it’s a laborious process.
Better Search Capability
Not only does site usability keep your customers happy, but it will also keep the search engines happy too. Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others will scan your site and rank it using a variety of criteria. The way your site is built is central to this site ranking, and as part of your search engine optimisation efforts, you should be sure to make usability a priority.
The search engines’ main priority is to make surfing the ‘net a quick, easy and safe experience for their users, so this should also be your aim. Including clear points of purchase, a short, simple purchase process and relevant, factual information that will help your customers are three great ways to tick the usability box with search engines.
In addition to the ease of use, the availability of your website is a big part of site usability. After all, if your site isn’t available it won’t be very usable!
Investing in powerful and reliable website hosting is essential for all businesses that want to provide a consistent and high-quality experience for their customers. If your sites are receiving ample traffic they should be running a dedicated server with high bandwidth to ensure your website data is transferred to your potential customers in real-time and without delay or interruption.