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How to Set Yourself Up for Success as an Online Retailer

Tommy Wyher

There are billions of dollars that are being spent at online retail stores on a daily basis.

Just by having an online store does not automatically guarantee that it will be successful.

Some of the world’s largest brands have failed on the online retail because of lack of preparation.

Setting yourself up for success will take careful planning as launching too early could cripple the store if mistakes are made.

The following are just a few of the many things that you have to do to set yourself up for success in the online retail world.

Website Speed and Mobile

One of the quickest ways to lose a customer ready to purchase is by having their computer freeze or even confirm an order twice. Website speed is something that some online retail stores have trouble with. All of the images and media on one page can slow down even the fastest of Internet connections. Missing out on mobile customers can cost a business millions of dollars. Mobile traffic has been increasing year after year so targeting the mobile demographic is necessary to maximize profits. There are things that can be done in order to speed up this process, though.

Related Article: The Essential Checklist: Must Do's When Starting an E-commerce Website

  • Limit the media on pages where it is not necessary.
  • Categorize things in smaller groups instead of having an entire inventory on one page.
  • Make the site mobile friendly. Many people have smartphones with a faster connection than they have at home. Cutting out people shopping on smartphones and tablets isn’t wise. Many people tend to surf using a mobile device instead of a laptop or desktop when on the go.
  • Use reliable servers as this will only cost a small amount of money compared to the sales that can be potentially lost.

SEO and Marketing

Marketing and search engine optimization done correctly allows a smaller store to compete with a much larger store. Not one E-commerce marketing plan works for all industries and certain items can easily be found while others need to be found after hours of searching. Having a plan of attack before the launch of the store is imperative. Your store could be leaking money from the beginning if a lax approach is taken as far as marketing goes.

  • Target less competitive keywords in the store’s niche to have a chance against much larger companies.
  • Try to outthink rather than outspend when it comes to your marketing plan. Great marketing doesn’t always have to be expensive.
  • Use bloggers to do product reviews. The social presence of many of these bloggers is incredible.
  • Find some cheaper outsourced SEO work but make sure the person or team comes highly recommended.

Check It Out

What many people new to online retail fail to do is come up with a secure and simple checkout process. With the large data leaks that have happened to retail giants within the last few years, security is paramount. Something else that is quite important is not to allow customers to overthink their purchase. A simple process should be used. Apple Pay is a perfect example of a brand trying to make transactions seamless. Here is how to make your checkout process as simple as possible.

Related Article: Learn By Example: 7 Great Mobile-Friendly E-commerce Websites

  • Allow for autofill for returning customers. Easy login is also another great tip. Your customer might forget a password and simply go to a store where they remember their login.
  • Try to create a process that has the least number of clicks possible. This has been shown to increase conversion rates. Less is more holds especially true when it comes to online shopping.
  • Make the checkout button easy to find and a different color from the continue shopping button. You do not want a customer to halt their shopping just because they clicked the wrong icon.
  • The credit cards and other forms of payment that are accepted on the site should be present clearly on the checkout page. A person might enter a credit card number only to realize the card isn’t accepted at the store. Without clear identification, this can lead a customer to become frustrated, which never helps when it comes to conversions.

Customer Service and Returns Policy

All it takes is one high-profile customer to take exception to your returns and customer service quality. 58 percent of customers want a "no questions asked" return policy while 66 percent of customers want free return shipping. These numbers are too high to ignore. Many times the perks an E-commerce site offers can keep a customer coming back for years. Returns will happen. Customers order the wrong item all the time. Make sure the product description is done professionally is also important. A great product description can reduce returns immensely, however, they will never be eliminated completely.

Customer service in these situations is very important. Usually, customers calling are not in the best of moods. If they feel like they have been shipped the wrong thing when they haven’t been, it is important to offer a return regardless of which party’s fault it was. The social media team can also do a great job of calming down complaints. Many people turn to social media to voice their displeasure with a company. Invest heavily in customer service pros. This could end up being your best customer retention tool.

Related Article: Helpful Feedback: What Customers Like to See in an E-commerce Site

The world of E-commerce will continue to develop and the new trends of mobile shopping will continue to shape the online retail world. It is important to hold off launching until many of the bugs are figured out for your online store. A company or retail website can be blacklisted in a matter of weeks if things aren’t running efficiently or orders are being missed/or duplicated.

Make everything as easy on the shopper as possible. It has never been easier to make a large purchase with a few swipes on a smartphone. E-commerce will be booming for decades to come so don’t miss out on this incredible business opportunity.

Image Credit: NanoStockk / Getty Images
Tommy Wyher Member
Tommy is a writer who enjoys traveling quite frequently. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill means that Tommy is an absolute college basketball fanatic.