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Create a Retail Website That Converts Prospects Into Loyal Customers

Business.com / Mobile / Last Modified: July 2, 2018
Image credit: sdecoret/Shutterstock

More consumers are shopping online. It's therefore crucial for small businesses to compete by setting up their own online store. Here are five tips for creating a retail website that converts prospects into loyal customers.

The web allows shoppers to buy any product from anywhere in the country – even the world – from the comfort of their own home with just a click of a button. According to a 2017 Statista survey, 40 percent of internet users said they purchased items online several times a month, and 20 percent said they purchase online at least once a week.

Now is a great time to start an online retail store.

But you can't just create a website and list your products on it, assuming that visitors will gobble them up. These days, customers can shop around more than ever, conduct research on different companies and compare deals to get more bang for their buck. Customers can browse dozens of stores online in minutes, so you need your website to make a great first impression that convinces visitors they should buy from you, not other e-tailers.

To build an online store that really sells, here are five tips for creating a retail website that converts.  

1. Pick an e-commerce platform.

Starting an online store might seem difficult, but anyone with a computer can easily set up a site without spending a lot of money or having any coding skills. The first step is securing a domain name, a hosting site and an SSL certificate. Once you've acquired these, you can then select the type of e-commerce platform you want to use.

There are a number of platforms to choose from. Some, more than others, come with built-in features that make it easier to sell your products online. Some platforms support payment methods like PayPal, PayPal Standard, Stripe and others. Don't forget to include security seals and payment logos on your site pages so your customers feel their credit card information is safe when they're shopping with you.

2. Choose an inviting theme.

Your online storefront needs to make a good impression on your visitors, just like a brick-and-mortar storefront should. It's imperative to choose a beautiful, clean design for your site.

You don't need to be a web designer to have a gorgeous online store. Many platforms, such as WordPress + WooCommerce, offer a variety of themes, both free and paid versions, that incorporate many of the features retailers need. In addition, they provide easy navigation for visitors and are optimized for mobile users. Choose a theme that reflects your brand. Keep in mind that themes can be customized.  

3. Add product images and detailed descriptions.

Customers want to know exactly what they're buying. Providing clear images converts browsers into buyers. No one wants to buy your product if the images are out of focus. Customers also prefer to see multiple views and angles of the product with the ability to zoom in on details. If you aren't skilled at photography, you may want to invest in a professional photographer who can take amazing photos of your products that will catch the attention of visitors.  

Don't underestimate the importance of detailed product descriptions. Eighty-eight percent of shoppers report that detailed product content is very important, according to Salsify. When writing your product descriptions, be very specific. Use bullet points to list product features, technical details and benefits. This is where you can convince people why they should buy your product.

4. Let customers save their carts or create wishlists.

Customers abandon their carts all the time. In fact, the average cart abandonment rate for the retail industry is a whopping 77 percent, according to Moosend. This is why it's important to let your shoppers save their carts and create wishlists.

You can send shoppers an email reminding them they have an item in their shopping cart. This provides multiple benefits. It helps boost sales, and when customers return to your site, they won't have to search all over again to find the items they wanted. This helps ensure a more speedy, pleasant experience for shoppers, and it is easier for you to tempt them into making a purchase.

5. Keep your shop updated and protected.

You'll need to keep your shop updated with the latest products, prices and content. Some platforms, such as WordPress + WooCommerce, require constant updates.

You don't want to put customers' personal information at risk. While some platforms provide some protection, you might want to hire a webmaster to manage it for you. They can create a maintenance plan for your site to ensure a great user experience up-to-date content. Another benefit is that you'll have someone behind the scenes keeping your site secure from attacks so you can focus on other areas of the business, like sales.

By implementing these five simple strategies, you'll give future customers the convenience and experience they're seeking, and you'll see the conversions you've been hoping for.

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