What makes a good online store?

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These days you can buy just about anything in an online store from make-up to car parts (Yep, you guessed it , there really is an OnlineCarParts.co.uk !) But if you’re setting up your own online store, here are the most important features you’ll need to consider:

Traffic

Whether you’re selling make-up, car parts or anything else, if nobody knows it’s there then you won’t have any customers! Every online store owner needs a clear plan of how they will get visitors to the store not just occasionally, but consistently every day.

There are many ways of doing this including search engine optimization and social media as well as paid methods such as Google Adwords or Facebook Advertising.

Branding

Having a professional image is essential if people are to trust you with their credit cards, but that’s just one of the benefits of branding. These days you need to have a presence in multiple places online including Facebook and twitter. Having a consistent brand across all of these ‘properties’ allows your followers to recognise you and feel at home with you wherever they meet you.

If your look and style is professional and consistent, then that builds confidence and you’re much more likely to get sales.

Don’t just get customers, get fans

Which would you prefer? People who just buy your products or  raving fans who love what you do and can’t wait to tell their friends about you? Fortunately, with tools like blogs and social media platforms you can build and army of fans.  Use creative campaigns to tell the story behind your brand, what’s new and what’s in the pipeline. Don’t just tell them what you do, tell them (and show them) why you do it. Share insider secrets and what you’re planning next.

Email marketing

Once you have visitors and customers, encourage them to return by emailing them regular updates and offers. After all, it’s easier to sell to someone who already knows and likes your brand than someone who has never heard of it before.

Use your URL

Have a URL that’s memorable and easy to spell, then make sure it’s in all your printed material as well as being on your emails signatures, social media profiles and anywhere else people can find you online.

Test, test, test

Once you’ve got potential customers to your store, you need to make sure they are converting into sales. You need to be continually testing you prices, products, copy and everything else about your store to increase your conversion rate.  In order to do this you’ll need to collect data, so make sure you set up Google Analytics as soon as you can.

It’s got to be mobile

A responsive website is no longer an option. That’s a website that looks good on any device, mobile, laptop or desktop.  According to online store platofrm provider Shopify (in this Econsultancy post) , one third of sales came from mobile devices in 2014.

So there you have it – now it’s time to start your own online store!

 

 

Would you like Richard Branson as your mentor?

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That’s not all, you could also have Marie Forleo and The Four Hour Work Week’s Tim Ferris as your mentors, too!

To have a chance at being mentored by these big names in the business world – plus 5 nights on Richard Branson’s Necker Island – just enter Shopify’s Build A Business Competition.

Here’s how it works…

You’ll need to launch an online store with Shopify. Next, it’s time to get selling. After the eight-month competition, Shopify will calculate your sales. Sell the most during the competition, and receive the grand prize.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain mentorship and ask for insight from these renowned mentors. When else will you get the chance to chat with Richard Branson about your startup on his private island?

For more info and to enter, click here.

(Want to check out Shopify? You can sign up for a free 14 day trial on the competition page too.)

How to boost sales in your online shop

Is it time your online shop had a revamp?

A makeover could make a huge difference to your conversions. After all, you put a lot of effort into getting people to your shop, it makes sense to encourage people to buy once they arrive.

So what are the most important things to revamp? Read on…

What’s above the fold?

‘Above the fold’ is the part of a webpage that the visitor sees without having to scroll down. It’s the first screen someone sees when they land on your website, which is why it’s crucial to get it right.

Everything that’s above the fold is what will determine whether or not someone will decide to stay on your site, so what should go above the fold?

Most successful e-commerce stores put their most popular products on the front page, as well as any particularly good deals.

Make sure your USP (unique selling point) is clearly visible on the front page as well. (You can find out more about USPs in this post)

If you have a user login system, another strategy is to use their recent purchases to determine what else they might be interested in.

Reduce the number of steps to checkout

The fewer steps someone needs to take to get to the checkout process, the better.

Instead of making someone fill out a lengthy registration process, make it as short as possible. Make it optional. Some of the most successful websites only have a two-field registration process: the email and the password. Everything else is just pulled from the credit card entry process.

Make sure your ‘Add to Cart’ buttons are clearly visible on every page. On every step of the purchase process, it should be crystal clear to the reader exactly what the next step is.

Increase trust

Trust is often the most important factor for determining whether or not someone buys. Certain colours like blue tend to work best to increase trust. It does make a difference what industry you’re targeting and what the visitors’ age range is, however.

If your site’s design and branding looks professional, visitors will be more likely to buy.

Adding features and products

Ask your customers what they want to see more of. Is there a product line they want you to carry? Is there an improvement or a feature they want added to your site?

Although website owners are often very intuitively aware of what their users want, they can’t always come up with the perfect solutions for their customers on their own. User feedback is critical to building a great business.

In short, start your design with the above the fold impression. Make sure it creates a sense of safety and trust, as well as conveys why your site is special. Put your best products up front. Reduce the steps to checkout and make the process as streamlined as possible. Finally, continually ask your users for feedback, feature suggestions and product requests.

If you’re just about to start your own  online shop (rather than being ready for a revamp!) you might like to get yourself a copy of my e-book, Start Your Own Online Shop.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Four reasons why you should be selling things online!

Today’s guest post is from Hannah Jones, who set up her own eBay shop last year and is about to teach others to do the same in her 31 Days 2 an Online Retail Business course.

You may be thinking I’m nuts to post an article about this course in the same week that I launched my own e-book Start your own online shop, but I’m not! Start Your Own Online Shop is a concise ‘how to’ guide and 31 Days 2 is a much more in depth course, so I think the two could complement each other nicely. Plus 31 Days 2 focuses in on the online marketplaces (eBay, Etsy, Amazon) whereas my ebook also looks at setting up your own website.

Over to you, Hannah!

Whether you’re still looking for the business venture which will make your family more comfortable, or thinking about ways to supplement your income to make sure you always have that extra bit of money, it’s worth considering starting an online business selling on websites like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy.  I love selling online, and I could go on for days about all of the things I love about it. But, for the sake of keeping Helen’s blog readable, here are four of the big reasons why you should start an online retail business today! [Read more…]

Why people struggle to run online shops (and how I’m going to help)

Having a shop on the internet is the holy grail for many mums. It’s a flexible way of earning a living, low cost, you can sell things you love and you can work from home at any time of day or night.

It’s not just mums, though. Plenty of people are looking for a way to cushion their income against the risk of losing their jobs. Plenty more want to have a little project on the side that they can grow and eventually leave their jobs completely.

I wrote this post How to start an online shop over a year ago. I mentioned starting an online store on my Facebook page and a few people replied with “I’d love to do that, where do I start?”.  So I wrote down the steps I’d take to start an online shop on a really small budget. It’s been one of my top three posts ever since! When it went live it was shared widely on Twitter and it’s had hits almost every day in the last year.

It’s not that hard to start an online shop, but it can be hard to make money from it. There are plenty of reasons for this, but the big ones are lack of knowledge and not having a proper process. Whenever technology makes something easier or cheaper, the barriers to entry go down. In many ways that’s great, of course. But the problem is that if something is easy and cheap to start, we tend to dive in without much preparation and that increases the chance of failure.

Now it’s fine for me to sit and talk about ‘barriers to entry’ and ‘lack of knowledge’ in a cool and distant way, but the truth is that it’s bitterly disappointing to dip your toe in the world of business and fail. True, being able to deal with failure is a valuable, probably essential, skill.

But people need this income to keep a roof over their families’ heads. One little business success can lead on to much bigger businesses (and our economy SERIOUSLY needs this, doesn’t it?) Plus I knew I had some knowledge that could help people get their first online business off the ground and earning an income.

So what was the answer?  I decided to create an e-book and sell it as widely as I possibly can. My plan is that this will expand my ‘how to start an online shop’ post into a lot more depth, but the price won’t be a barrier to anyone who wants to start their own online store from home.  I have a feeling that some people might want a little more support than an e-book can provide, and if this turns out to be true, I’ll write an e-course or set up a coaching group based on the same series of ten steps.  I’ll still keep this affordable, though.

The e-book is almost finished now and I’m planning to launch it in the next couple of weeks. So if you know anyone who wants to start their own online shop, please do let them know. I’ll be posting the details here at Business Plus Baby, but if you want to make sure you don’t miss anything you might like to sign up for my mailing list.

Right, I’m off to finish that e-book!

Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net