Major marketplaces come with restrictive seller policies. These venues downplay merchants’ branding to maintain their own homogeneous image.
Sellers with their own online stores play a different game. They have complete control over their customers’ experiences. Whether it’s rearranging product placement or highlighting a store sale, merchants can use their website to directly connect with their customers and encourage purchases.
But with so much freedom, online store owners may not know where to begin with curating their shop.
To start attracting buyers and retaining loyal customers, here are our 20 excellent tips for creating a successful online store. These strategies cover how buyers experience each element of your online store to explain how each aspect should be crafted to attract buyers and drive up sales.
By following these strategies, sellers can target customers’ interests through their online store so that their business stands out among less savvy merchants.
It doesn’t matter if you have the best product possible in your niche and the best customer service on top of that—if your store’s web design is lousy, your online business presence is doomed. According to a recent studies, 93% of buyers consider visual appearance to be the most important factor when making a purchase.
To create a profitable online store, you can either pay a pretty penny to a web designer or take it upon yourself to learn to code. Alternatively, you can just get a ready-made template and customize it to your needs. Fortunately, there are thousands of great ecommerce templates on the web provided by sites like UniformMarket powered by Sellers Commerce that have clean designs, intuitive layouts, and follow the latest web design trends.
Design elements should captivate visitors, such as using full-width images and avoiding distraction with minimal text.
Here are a few actionable tips for improving your web design:
If a visitor goes to your “About Us” page, that means they are already interested in you and are giving you a chance to prove to him or her that your product is the best. What you need to do is clearly spell out what you are, what you do, and, most importantly, what you offer to the clients. All testimonials, achievements, and any kind of social proof is welcome there.
Make sure you don’t waste this opportunity as it may lead to gaining a customer.Your contact information should be clear and easy to find on your about page and throughout your website as well. Be sure to mention your:
Packing your “About” page with too much information can be overwhelming for site visitors. Some online stores opt for a minimalist design to keep information clear and easily comprehensible.
Here are a few actionable tips for creating your “About Us” page:
Giving your hard-earned money to a little-known company isn’t easy for most buyers. Establish your reputation by showing which companies are working with you. They don’t necessarily need to be on the scale of a big corporation, but even small companies can add a degree of trustworthiness to your enterprise.
The more partners you have, the better.
Here are a few actionable tips for partnering with other brands and influencers:
Your consumers need to know they will have support after they make a purchase, if needed. Guaranteeing troubleshooting after the purchase and consulting before the purchase can convert potential buyers into loyal, returning customers.
The most comprehensive, helpful type of support is a live-chat feature that works 24/7. This tool can increase your site-wide conversion by 10% or more. If you don’t have the resources to offer round-the-clock support, you should still provide some type of service to help people during working hours.
As an example, check out how some use live chat to their customers:
Some companies keep the chat feature easily accessible, yet unobtrusive to buyers in the bottom lefthand corner.
Here are a few actionable tips for offering excellent online support:
No online store can exist without payments. Offer a wide variety of popular payment options for your customers so they can always easily make a purchase.
Authorize.net reigns as the UniformMarket go-to payment solution, but there are other popular options for your business to consider.
Advertising on social media channels is a powerful way to connect with lots of potential customers in creative, fun ways. Social media advertising can be anything from a simple Facebook feed post to a post on the Twitter news feeds.
Use tools, like Google Analytics, to track which channels your target customers are using most, and focus your marketing efforts on these platforms.
Here are a few actionable tips for advertising on social media.
Running a blog is an opportunity to generate more store traffic. Posts that contain SEO keywords and contain useful information for consumers are likely to rank high in search engine results. Blog posts that rank well and encourage people to visit your site are a stepping stone to people visiting your product pages and completing purchases.
A blog is also a medium to connect with audiences on a deep level. Seeing how customers respond to the content that you produce can inform your strategies for meeting buyers’ needs and wants. Blog posts build buyer trust when they provide some sort of value to the reader, like offering expert advice on your product usage or an industry-related topic.
Here are a few actionable tips for creating a store blog:
Reviews and ratings of your products boost your trustworthiness immensely. Online shoppers can’t meet sellers in-person, so they rely on other buyers’ feedback to assess merchants. Ratings on product pages save consumers’ time by quickly showing what other customers think about the product.
Product reviews are more convincing when they’re plentiful. To encourage more feedback, don’t be shy about asking your customers to leave a review after making a purchase. Customers who are satisfied with your product often won’t consider leaving a review because everything is already fine. Give them a gentle push, and they’ll likely be glad to share their positive experience with others.
Here are a few actionable tips for using product reviews:
Your online store has to receive traffic in order for purchases to happen. The key to generating traffic? Search engine optimization. By incorporating SEO keywords into your product titles and descriptions, your site is more likely to rank higher in search engine results. The increased visibility is the key ingredient for greater site visits and more conversions.
Here are a few actionable tips for making your site SEO-friendly:
Mobile shopping accounted for 30% of online purchases last year. This figure is only increasing—Business Insider predicts that by 2020 mobile shopping will account for 45% of all ecommerce shopping.
With the growing use of phones for online shopping, merchants have to ensure that their site design is mobile-friendly to make sure buyers can make purchases, no matter what device they’re using. Merchants can also use online store design templates that are already set to be mobile-responsive to make their site device-friendly.
Here are a few actionable tips for ensuring your site is mobile-responsive.
Online store owners can’t improve their growth strategies without monitoring their progress. The best way to track your selling activity and customers’ behavior is to use a tool like Google Analytics. This program provides sellers with clear metrics about their store, such as the percentage of product sales, the number of site page visits, and the number of abandoned shopping carts.
Continually track your selling metrics with Analytics so that you can form long-term insights on how to engage customers more effectively and encourage more purchases.
Here are a few actionable tips for tracking and iterating on seller activity with Google Analytics:
Free shipping is now an expectation of some online shoppers. The added cost of standard shipping can easily dissuade buyers today from completing their purchase at checkout. Sellers who can afford to offer free shipping should provide the service if they aren’t already to incentivize purchases.
While the upfront cost of offering free shipping may hurt at first, many merchants see a greater return with increased purchases after offering the policy. To make sure customers are noticing your generous policy, highlight on your online store that you offer free shipping.
Here are a few actionable tips for attracting buyers with your shipping policy.
Growing your business involves more than your customers — you also have to reach out to individuals in your industry that can help you reach more buyers within your target audience. Networking with the right groups allows merchants to generate product buzz and extend their reach to connect with as many customers as possible. Sellers should consider reaching out to:
These four groups can quickly spread the word around your product, so it’s worth reaching out to network and share why you might be valuable to work with.
Merchants who don’t have a coding background should consider using software like Retailer Pro or B2B Program Manager by UniformMarket powered by Sellers Commerce, to set up their online store. These programs have built-in store templates, so sellers can easily customize their sites without any knowledge of programming or graphic design.
Customers browse through online stores looking for the lowest prices and the best overall shopping experiences. To keep buyers attracted to their store, merchants should identify shops that are similar to their own business that they can compare against. Are these stores offering 60-day or 30-day return policies? Do they offer free shipping or only paid options? Figuring out what makes competitors more advantageous enables sellers to determine what they need to change about their business to keep returning customers loyal and attract new buyers.
Here are a few actionable tips for assessing your competition:
Humans are visual creatures. We process images in 1/10 of a second and understand visual information 60,000 times faster than words. With this natural tendency towards visuals, product images make a strong, immediate impression on buyers. It’s critical to use clear, high-resolution photos that highlight the products’ details to quickly attract buyers without losing their attention.
Show multiple angles of your product with photos so buyers can fully imagine the item and are aware of all of its details. Unable to see the product in-person, buyers will feel more secure with their online purchase if they have a complete visual understanding of the item.
Online store owners don’t have to worry about marketplace rules that limit what they can include on product pages or in communication to buyers. Merchants with stores should take advantage of this control by offering incentives to buyers. Whether it’s a pop-up discount at your store’s homepage or a promotional email about an ongoing sale, sellers should actively reach out to buyers with different types of incentives to make purchases.
Merchants should use data-driven tools (see tip 11) to segment their customers and target incentives at different buyer groups. For example, you might send an email offering a discount on a first purchase to site visitors who visited product pages but never completed a purchase.
Here are a few actionable tips for offering incentives:
Organic word-of-mouth marketing on social media can drive your ecommerce business growth. Public discussions of your brand and products on social media channels serve as social proof — the psychological phenomenon of people assuming others’ behavior reflects correct behavior. Online buyers can’t see your products in-person, so they consider what other customers have to say about your business on Facebook to determine whether they should make a purchase.
Encourage social media buzz around your product by starting a campaign that encourages sharing. For example, a brand might offer customers an entry into a contest if they leave a comment on a social media post or tag a friend. Merchants should also encourage social sharing by making their social media channels easily accessible on their site.
Here are a few actionable tips for encouraging social sharing:
Email marketing is an easy way for merchants to build relationships with their customers. Merchants can send out targeted messages to segments of buyers that address each group’s specific wants. By appealing to buyers’ interests, email marketing is a powerful tool for encouraging sales and increasing revenue.
To get started, you’ll need to collect the emails of buyers and make sure that they want to receive messages from you. There are plenty of opportunities to ask buyers whether they want to receive email notifications, such as at the checkout process or even in a pop-up window while they’re browsing.
Not every buyer will agree to sign up for your email list, but the group of customers that do will be an eager set of buyers who are excited about your brand and will likely respond well to your email marketing.
Here are a few actionable tips for using email marketing:
Buying a product online with a limited return policy is risky. The customer can’t see the item in-person, so they have to hope that the product is actually as-described. With the possibility of the product not being up to their standards, most buyers won’t buy an online product if returns aren’t accepted.
Sellers can build buyer trust and incentivize purchases by offering generous return and money-back guarantee policies. Allowing customers to return an item if they change their mind or if it doesn’t match the product description shows other consumers that you trust your buyers and want to provide them with value.
A money-back guarantee is very important. You need to give your customers a way to respond in case they do not like the product. It doesn’t mean they will necessarily ask for a refund. Of course, some of them will, but most people just need to know there is a back-up option. People, by nature, are not risk takers, so this flexible payment policy will be attractive to them. As a result, you’ll get more customers than you would if you didn’t have a money-back guarantee.
Here are a few actionable tips for return and money-back guarantee policies:
Online stores give merchants complete autonomy over the customers’ experiences. Instead of following a marketplace’s policies, a seller can set up their own online shop by their terms to shape their buyers’ product interactions.
Merchants with this freedom as an online store owner can encourage more conversions if they know how to craft each element of their shop. By following the strategies outlined in this guide, merchants can become more aware of how customers perceive every store element and apply that knowledge to create their shop. Curating an online store to align with key buyers’ wants and motivations gives sellers an edge over less mindful competitors.