Starting an online business requires a good business strategy with a lot of planning. Knowing what needs to be prepared when setting up an online store and how to go about it is crucial to help you get your ecommerce business off the ground.
My previous post covered how to setup an online store with InstanteStore which is pretty straightforward on how to complete the setting up process.
This post will further explain what first time sellers need to do when creating an online store. Let’s begin.
Decide Who Are Your Target Customers
You may have in mind what you want to sell. But you also need to determine what kind of customers to target. These are the folks who are going to buy your products.
It’s not about putting up a bunch of products online and hoping that the fish will bite. Different fish go for different baits. If you’re going to catch sharks, you won’t use worms as bait.
Now back to your target customers. Who would they be?
Parents? Mothers? Singles? Teenagers? Young working adults?
Your site needs to cater to your target customer groups.
What are they looking for? Why should they buy from you? What makes your product different or special compared to others? Is your site convincing enough?
How are your customers going to find you? If it’s going to be via mobile, make sure that your site is mobile friendly and responsive so that it will look good on mobile and rank higher on search results. Google made it clear that mobile friendly sites will rank higher in search results.
Compile Your Keyword List
Look at your keyword list (yes, you must have a keyword list). It will give you an idea on who are the potential customers searching for your products in Google.
If you’re not sure how to get a keyword list, just type in your general product name in Google. You’ll notice that Google will provide suggestions before you finish typing in the complete keywords in the search box. Note down those keywords.
Look at the search results that appear. It will give you an idea on who your competitors are and the keywords that they’re using which you should note down.
Scroll to the bottom of the search results page and you’ll see related keyword searches. Note down those keywords as well.
You’ll end up with a list of keywords which you’ll sift through to see which are the ones that you’ll need to put on your main site, category pages, product pages, contact us, FAQ, etc.
That keyword list will keep growing as you expand your search further.
Create Your Site For Your Customers
Once you’ve gotten a clearer picture on who your target group is, that will give you an idea on how to create your site with the look and content to appeal to your target group of customers.
For instance, if you’re selling fashionable products, you would have more product images of your clothing, shoes, accessories with only information that is relevant to your target customer (ie. size, color, type, etc) displayed properly on your product pages. Pictures need to look amazing to sell.
If you’re selling technical equipment, you would have more detailed content of the various components like length, electrical current, compatibility, safety features, etc.
Bottom line, create your site for your target customers. Your site needs to answer their questions and meet their needs in order to be considered working well.
You need to create an ecommerce solution onboarding process for customers with an amazing user experience.
Start With A Simple Template
Since you’re just starting out, you don’t need an elaborate template. Pick a simple template because the idea is you want to quickly build your online store to get it off the ground running.
You can always change and customize the template later. As long as your products and the customer onboarding process (from the time they land on your site to checkout and product delivery) is smooth, you can work on tweaking the looks of your site as time goes by.
No point spending a tonne of money on your template when you’re just starting out unless you have plenty of budget to burn.
Pick A Good Domain Name
One that is preferably SEO friendly and easy to remember. No point having a long and complicated domain name that no one can remember and have trouble spelling it out on mobile.
When I say SEO friendly, it would be related to whatever you’re planning to sell on your store.
Choose Your Products Well
You may have a long list of products that you want to sell. Narrow it down.
Start by populating your site with less than 100 products first. This will allow you time to focus on building your online store while you can add more products later.
Do your research to see how well those products are selling and what kind of keywords are being used to find those products. Note down those keywords.
Check Out Your Competitors
Find out how much your competitors are selling those products including shipping charges and tax. See if you can offer a better price or better value to your customers.
Perhaps free shipping for orders above $49 or $99? Shipping matters a lot when it comes to online shopping. You need a good shipping strategy to convince customers to complete their orders and cut abandoned cart rates.
Please put your shipping upfront so customers don’t have to go all over the place trying to figure out how you charge shipping. Example : $5.99 shipping on all orders OR Free shipping over $29
You can even put Free Shipping Over $xx in your homepage meta description so it will appear in search results.
Your shipping policy page should be clear and easy to understand.
Titles And Descriptions Matter
This is one of the places where sellers don’t really bother much on but it is extremely important. Your site will stand a chance of ranking better if you add in proper page titles, meta descriptions, product names, product and category descriptions matching keywords that are being used to find those specific products.
As people tend to land on product pages when searching for products, you need to make sure that your page titles and descriptions contain specific keywords that people are searching for.
Since InstanteStore simplified their Add Product page, you just need to click on Advanced Product Settings and select Product Meta Details for the field to appear in all the product pages so you can key in the relevant keywords.
Not sure how or what to put in your product meta description? Start by :
[Product Name] is a [type of product] used for [reason].
Add in the keywords related to your product and your page title as well.
Important keywords should appear in your :
– Page Titles
– Meta Description
– Category Description
– Product Name
– Product Description
– Alternate tags for your Product Images
Category And Product Pages Description
Make sure your product pages don’t confuse visitors or turn them off. If you have quite a bit of content, consider showing them in point form so that it’ll be easier to read.
The type of font you use matters. Choose fonts that are easy to read.
Same goes for your category pages. You can add in banner images but make sure that they do not distract visitors. Add in some relevant content in your category page.
Be consistent with your writing style and always put yourself in the shoes of your customers. How would they like to view your store’s products? Would they be comfortable reading what you’ve put up?
Your Own Product Images
Whatever you’re selling, it’s always good to upload your own product images. You don’t need to spend a lot of money having them taken by a professional photographer.
Use any smartphone that comes with a good camera and add in a white background (white paper is fine) with proper lighting to take your own product images. Good product images will go a along way. Put in several product images showing different angles and your product in use.
Name your product images properly. State whether it’s Side, Back, Front, Top or Bottom. See if you could include in some keywords as alternate tags for your images.
If you really don’t have the time and need help with making your product images pop out, check out Pixc as we have a good partnership with them.
Offer more than one payment method to cater to customers’ preference. Some may want to pay using offline methods like checks, bank transfer other than the standard credit or debit card processing.
Include in logos of credit card and payment methods like MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, etc to make your site look more trustworthy.
If you don’t want a barrage of emails from customers asking you the same thing over and over again, please update all their questions and your answers in a proper FAQ page.
Also put in answers for questions that people normally ask in Google that’s related to your products. You can add them in to the specific product or category pages.
The idea is to answer questions that customers will normally ask by putting them clearly on your site to cut down unnecessary email correspondence.
Your return policies and shipping policies need to be stated clearly on your site.
Contact Us Page
State your contact details clearly. Adding in a phone number and working hours will help for customers who prefer to speak over the phone instead of typing email.
If you run a small brick and mortar store, do add in a Google Map.
Sign up for Google My Business as it will help customers find you easily in search results.
Start Working On SEO
For first timers, you need to start working on your SEO the moment you start building your online store.
Create a blog and add that to your site. Start adding relevant content to it by offering tips, advice, how-to articles with the relevant keywords that you’re targeting.
Include in videos and images of your product being used.
Share your content on social media but remember to add links back to your site or specific product pages.
The thing about SEO is that it’s not a one time instant thing. It requires consistency to build by adding relevant content to your site, blog and social media using targeted keywords.
That’s why it’s important that you start working on your SEO the moment you start building your online store where you place targeted keywords in your titles, descriptions, category and product pages.
Setting up an online store is more than just adding products, payment and shipping methods. It includes coming up with an onboarding process for your customers and building your online store with the relevant keywords and target customer group in mind.
Having an overall view of what you need to work on and add into your store as you’re building it will help you get your online store off the ground when you’re ready to launch it.
Knowing what your competitors are selling and being able to offer better value and a good user experience will help you win customer confidence in buying from you.
It takes time to grow an online business but with the right foundation being built and consistent work put in to make your site better with more exposure, you’ll be heading in the right direction.
If you’re a first time online seller or existing merchant who’s been selling online for some time, we hope some of these how to sell online ecommerce practical tips are useful to help you grow your business further.
Don’t have an online store yet? What are you waiting for? Sign up for a 15 day free trial of InstanteStore now.
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We welcome any feedback, questions or suggestions you may have on ways to improve the selling process and to make doing business better for you.