With millions of e-commerce sites on the web, how can you make yours stand out and attract the attention of your potential customers? There are now more tools and resources than ever for building online stores. Let’s look at some of the basic principles to keep in mind when you ready to build your first e-commerce site.
Target a Specific Niche
Don’t let the simplicity of building a fast e-commerce website tempt you into getting started before you’re actually ready. Even more important than how your site looks and functions is targeting your customer base. Online commerce is extremely competitive, which makes it extremely important to identify your customers before you put up your website.
If you’re not yet sure exactly what you want to sell, your first job is to research products, categories and keywords. You can use sites like eBay and Amazon for inspiration. You have to decide whether your store is going to be broadly or narrowly focused. It’s often better to focus on a very specific niche rather than being to general. For example, rather than selling something in a broad category such as electronics, you may want to focus on a particular type of product, such as GPS systems, portable DVD players or digital camcorders. This allows you to target long tail keywords when you promote your site rather than very competitive keywords.
Make It Easy For Customers to Navigate Your Site
When you are ready to build your e-commerce site, you will want to make it as easy as possible for customers to find your products and make purchases. Having a search function on your site allows people to find what they’re looking for easily. You also have to decide whether or not people will have to register on your site before buying something.
While it’s good to have a registration process so that you can build a mailing list, you should not make this mandatory. Some people will just want to shop without bothering to register. For people who do choose to register, you should make this process as simple as possible. The only information you really need from them is name and email.
Provide Detailed Information About Products
While some customers will come to your site knowing what they want, many others will have to be educated. Make sure you provide clear descriptions of every item, along with the specific benefits it offers. Photographs can also help to highlight products and ensure people know what they are getting. If different sizes, colors, styles or models are available, make sure that the customer is aware of this and can easily make these choices.
Have a Secure and Simple Shopping Cart
If you want customers to feel comfortable shopping on your site, you must provide them with a secure online shopping cart. There are a few key features that your shopping cart should have.
- Ease of Use -Customers should be able to easily place items in the shopping cart and make changes. The checkout process should be as efficient as possible, without the customer having to click on too many separate pages.
- Display Real Cost -The shopping cart should clearly display the cost, including any taxes and shipping. People don’t like to be surprised when the final cost is higher than they expected. Providing free shipping or a flat rate eliminates any uncertainty about the final cost.
Security -To ensure customers that your site is safe and secure, you should have an SSL certificate and a trust certificate such as VeriSign displayed.