Last year, 10% of the Canadians have made online purchases at least once a week. It might seem little in comparison with other countries, but, according to the statistics, online commerce is still expected to grow. Retail e-commerce sales in our country are expected to reach 29 billion Canadian dollars by 2021, from 18.3 billion in 2016.
Given this perspective, opening an online store might seem like a safe investment. But don’t rush with opening your e-shop yet, there are some things you have to consider when designing an online shopping space. Here are 10 things we believe are important to pay attention to in order to achieve success.
- CHECK YOUR COMPETITION AND FIND A NICHE
Investing in any business idea is something you don’t want to rush into. When searching for ideas on what kind of online shop you could create, start by checking the market and analyzing the existing online businesses. Which are the most competitive? Which have the most clients? Which niche is underdeveloped? Every business must serve the needs of the customers in order to achieve success; opening an online store follows the same rule. If you discover that there is a large number of online shops selling clothes, the market might be very competitive and even saturated. Find a niche of products or services that is underdeveloped and focus to grow on that market.
- KNOW YOUR FUTURE CUSTOMERS
Before starting your new venture, you should know who you would be selling to and if those people are actually interested in what you have to offer. Knowing your audience helps you establish the product portfolio, helps you design the shopping experience and gives you a direction to follow in the creation of your online shop.
- CREATE THE PERFECT WEBSITE LOOK & FEEL
Design is extremely important for any kind of website, including online stores. When designing your online shop, make sure to take into consideration the current design trends and functionalities that people are looking for and appreciating. Consumers love spending time on good-looking websites, so try to keep up with the times, as there is no point in opening an online store that won’t be able to keep users online for more than a couple of seconds. The design of a website should create an environment that would make the customer want to become part of your community.
- DESIGN A UNIQUE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
Build your online store as carefully as you would arrange your products on your offline store’s shelves. Your website needs to be as intuitive and user friendly as possible: your clients should be able to quickly search for the products they care about, to filter the results according to their needs, to easily edit their order and navigate easily on all pages and among all categories. If the user is not feeling comfortable with the experience your website is offering, they will not buy anything from you.
- SEARCH FOR THE BEST TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS
An online store is more complex than a regular website, so check for the best technical solutions on the market. Choose your system carefully, look for the most popular ones, the ones that are well established, have good reviews and a strong community to answer to any of your questions. A good system in place means having good hosting, good operational procedures and the fact that your website won’t crash when more customers will visit it at the same time. Any situation that creates discomfort for your customers is a step towards the failure of your online business.
- INVEST IN SAFE ONLINE PAYMENT METHODS
A person always takes a risk when shopping online: there’s a chance that thieves could steal your payment information and make purchases on your behalf (or pay themselves fraudulently). When it comes to payment, one usually has multiple options, such as using a credit card, a debit card, a payment service such as PayPal, paying cash at the arrival of the products and so one. Depending on your customers concerns, one of those choices might be better than another. Analyze all the payment possibilities and choose the best ones for you and your customers, so that everybody will feel safe buying on your website.
- MAKE SURE YOUR WEBSITE STAYS HACKER-FREE
Pay super special attention to anything about information security and financial transactions. Invest in a protected server host and in antimalware systems that will help you keep your website valid and trustworthy. It helps investing in the services of an IT company that will make sure to keep your website protected and act fast whenever there is a problem.
- CONTENT IS KING, ESPECIALLY FOR SEO
In most cases, SEO is what brings the most customers to your online store. When people are searching for an online store, you need to make sure your website appears on that first Google results page. Search engines bring around 85-90% of the visitors to niche online shops. That is why you need to pay attention to your SEO content. Make sure your product descriptions include the most performant keywords and try updating your content constantly.
- CREATE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
When opening an online store, you need to build a strong social media presence, as social networks are for some of your customers the first place where they find about your products. Online promotion is one of the most efficient marketing tactics for online stores, so plan an online campaign and start building your brand’s social communities.
- MAKE THE BEST OF YOUR OFFLINCE PROCESSES
Your online business can work successfully only if your offline logistics are well organized. This includes organizing the shipping of the purchases, your relationship with your vendors, the customer service outside the website. You need to provide quality customer service whenever you are interacting with the customer, whether it is online or offline, and make sure that all the interactions a customer has with your business are the most enjoyable.