Since the 1990s, when the first large scale ecommerce sites Amazon and eBay were founded, it has become very clear that the Internet is a powerful and effective sales channel for businesses. For instance, in the United States, currently over $230 billion worth of retail sales takes place online, and this number is expected to increase to about $370 billion by 2017.
If you are considering creating an online store for your business, there are several factors to consider.
The products you choose to sell online are a key factor to consider when creating an online store. Not every product or service you sell offline will work online and so it is very important for you to put some thought into deciding which products or services to sell online and which ones to leave out.
For instance, you can choose to sell only your premium products online or sell only a segment of your products that appeal to your customers who are tech savvy. Whichever products you choose, be sure to monitor activity by your visitors and modify your listed products to suit their preferences and online shopping patterns.
The way you price the products listed in your online store is very important. For instance, unlike goods, which are displayed in your physical store, you have to put delivery costs into consideration.
To address this, you can adopt various pricing strategies that can help you drive customers to your store while increasing your sales. For example, some online store owners offer free shipping to their customers to make their products more attractive and drive more sales.
Keep in mind that if you choose to do this, you have to make sure the price of your product without the shipping cost still allows you to make a good profit margin on each sale or that the additional increase in sales from your free shipping promotion offsets the free shipping promotional costs.
You can also offer value added services to your products by for instance offering faster delivery times.
Traffic and Visitors
Many online store owners can be quickly discouraged after setting up their online store. They notice that they are not getting enough traffic or visitors. Before you set up your online store, think through how you will drive awareness amongst your customers so that they can visit your store and encourage their friends and family to do so as well. Keep in mind, that success takes time and determination.
The first step is to advertise your online store on all your offline marketing channels such as your business card, flyers and sign posts. You should then encourage your current customers to visit your online store by launching special promotions and discounts to customers who buy products or who invite their friends to your online store.
You can also launch new products exclusively on your store. Other ways to increase traffic to your online store include online advertising and through SEO strategies. If you choose to advertise online, be sure to ensure that the amount you are spending is offset by the amount of new sales you are getting through your website and that you are reaching your profit margin goals.
Payments is a big pain point for online store owners because many of them don’t know how to differentiate between online payment providers and don’t know what features to look out for as they make their decision. Many also find the decision process confusing and with so many payment providers in the marketplace, the entire process can get overwhelming.
In setting up payments for your store, the first step is in deciding what company (known as a payment gateway provider) you want to use to enable you accept payments online through credit cards. The Yola Online Store provides an extensive list of good payment gateways such as Sage Payments, American Express and PayPal that will enable you to accept credit cards. (If you use Yola Online Store, review this article on how to setup your payment gateways.)
The factors listed above should help prepare your business for its online store debut. Preparation breeds success, and we can’t wait to see you get started! And, as always, let us know if you have any questions.