As a website designer, I have worked with hundreds of clients to create online stores. The difference between a successful and an ‘also ran’ e-commerce store is often just a set of simple tips and planning that entrepreneurs need to follow.
Let’s look at 5 such practical tips in detail that have been tried and tested by actual e-commerce stores:
1. Carefully Select the Products for your online store
To begin with, you should carefully select only those products which are not easily available on every other store, especially the multi-billion dollar portals. Question yourself why a customer will purchase that product from your online store.
Price is unlikely to be a good reason, because it can never be a lasting advantage.
So you could try specializing in some cool or wacky stuff, some speciality products, or a focused fashion range to make a standalone store work. Examples include: Party favors and decoration, Pashmina range, Fitness back Support, Jokes & Prank props.
Or go for a niche within the usual product range such as: ‘Plus Sizes’, ‘Eco-Friendly’ range of products, ‘Hand-Crafted’ range etc.
Remember to highlight the differentiation in your branding, your website and your social media.
2. Use only High Quality Product Photos
A high quality product photo is perhaps the single biggest reason for an online product to sell. Never launch a store without high quality product photos. Do not worry about the costs. You can do a photoshoot yourself for a budget these days, if such pictures are not available from the product supplier.
Typical high quality product images would have to be at least 1000px x 1000px in size. Lighting and background also matters. If you look at what the biggest online store recommends about product images. the product should fill most of the area of the image, should be well lit, with a white background and no text or distracting graphics.
I have personally seen many entrepreneurs losing out on sales because their product photographs did no justice to their great products. Once this was solved, their sales started to grow and bounce rates reduced.
Also remember that your product images also need to be optimized for a good loading speed. Use a lossless compression tool to optimize, and use caching plugin / options in your online store to retain a good loading speed.
3. Use Online Marketing Tools
This is a huge topic in itself but let’s talk about the important part here. Whether your platform is Shopify or Woocommerce , Bigcommerce or any other – each of these has an ecosystem of supporting online marketing tools. These could be tools for:
a) Newsletter integration and automation
b) Abandoned Shopping Cart Follow Ups
c) Sales Social Proof
d) Intent and Exit popups and bars
e) Checkout promos for Pricing and upgrades.
Your first few months should be spent on understanding and experimenting with these tools to see what works best for you.
Then keep the ones which work best and lose the others. Remember, you may have a great product but you will still need to market it online as the internet is very – very crowded.
Start thinking about pay per click (PPC) ads as well to drive traffic to your product pages. Because SEO and SEM will only work till a point. Google Shopping Ads (Source) and Facebook ads are two key areas for getting leads and sales. You should probably look at starting out with ONE of these. These require hours of study if you’re planning to do this yourself. I suggest enrolling into free Youtube or paid Udemy courses to get actionable knowledge in these.
4. Work on your Social Media Marketing
It’s no secret that Social media marketing is really important to sell a product. Our tip here would be select the appropriate channels and focus on 1 or 2 channels initially. Instagram is perhaps one of the best channels for apparel, fitness, accessories, jewellery, even electronics. Facebook is another obvious channel but getting crowded.
Use local influencers through giveaways, contests or promotional posts on these channels to market your products. Always seek reviews if the customer appreciates your product. Another way is to cross-promote with other related services and products. Example: A wedding favor store could collaborate with a wedding photographer, a sports kit online store could collaborate with a fitness or gym brand.
I also recommend using Social media marketing automation for easier outreach. This broadly provides for automating, scheduling social media outreach, also searching for best possible opportunities, hashtags etc. using a range of tools like Sprout Social, Buffer, BuzzSumo.
5. Provide great Customer Service
Statistics in a survey done by hubspot showed that 80% of respondents had stopped using an online store due to bad customer service.
So how to avoid becoming a part of such a statistic ?
To provide great customer service on your online store, try the following:
- Create a FAQ, contact section along with your customer service email etc.
- Follow the statutory requirements of your country in respect of e-commerce rules.
- Try to provide instant chat by integrating a chat widget / chatbot. This isn’t very difficult today. Almost all ecommerce platforms support 3rd party chat widgets. There are even free ones like Tawk.to .
- Test that your customer notification emails are set-up correctly using test orders / accounts. These are automated emails that the customer should receive on sign-up, purchase, processing completion etc.
- Provide clear store policies, refund, delivery, return policies in dedicated sections or pages. If you can provide time-bound guaranteed customer service – highlight it on product and checkout pages using banners.
As you must’ve seen from above; great customer service, high quality photos, focused social media marketing and a lot more go into creating a successful online store. Hopefully the tips above will serve as a first step for you to finalize your plan for a successful e-commerce store launch. If you’re looking for an initial free consultancy by an ecommerce development company in India, feel free to reach out to us.