Without a proper plan, opening an online store can be very overwhelming. It doesn’t matter whether you want to add ecommerce to an existing website or set up a whole new online store, pre-planning is essential to the success of your new business. Critical decisions need to be made on various aspects of the online store to ensure it operates smoothly. Successful ecommerce websites like ebay and Amazon put a lot of work in their online store which translates into their huge success and popularity. With the right context, products and setting of your ecommerce website, your online store could also be the next big thing. Here are 5 things to do before building an online store.
1. Have a look at your successful competitors.
In the past few years, ecommerce websites in Australia have tremendously grown to make the competition very high. Before you even begin building your online store take a look at other ecommerce websites that offer similar products. Look at their marketing techniques and how their business operates. How often do they advertise? What are customers saying about their products? What payment options do they use? Gather as much information as you can. You could also interact with some of their customers and see what they want to be improved on the products or services. Such information is going to help you have an edge over your competition. You will come in the business knowing what works and what does not work. Such information is going to help you sell products online and match or even beat your competitors.
2. Get your business set up on social media.
Social media is very paramount to the success of an online store. This is the most likely place that consumers will get to know about your products. According to vivid social, Australia has 15 million monthly active Facebook users and 3 million monthly active Twitter users. This is a huge potential market. Your online store needs to have an active social media presence. Establish a professional and compelling profile on the popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Customize the profile to reflect with your brand. Post images and content that is going to help you sell products online and be responsive to inquiries.
3. Establish a payment gateway.
This is a very important and sensitive element of any online store. There are very many hackers and malware that may tamper with transactions; the payment gateway you choose needs to be very secure. Some of the popular payments gateways in Australia include PayPal express checkout, eway and NAB transact. Do not rely solely on credit card options. Integrate several secure payment options to your ecommerce website. You should also make sure you get the necessary plugins and extensions on the payment gateways you choose.
4. Define your shipping options.
The shipping option you choose will depend on your target market. Are you after a wider audience or you are just after the local community? Shipping within the country is very easy, however, if you have consumers overseas, you should be very careful about the option you choose. Shipping can single-handedly make or break your business. If you project to make big profits, offer free shipping to your customers. Many customers get discouraged on the extra costs incurred on shipping. If you charge very low shipping costs or, make it free, your market will grow tremendously through referrals. The shipping option you choose should also be very time conscious. If you have an option that can deliver a product in a week; do not select one that will take a month.
5. Clearly define your return policy.
In every business, there has to be a bunch of customers that are very hard to satisfy. Most people who buy products online want to be assured they are going to get their money back if they are not satisfied with the product. You need to give a clear and simple explanation of the time frame a product is eligible for return and how to go about it. Such policies will make consumers confident even before they make a purchase.