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Taking your business online means tapping into an endless world of possibilities. Here is a comprehensive checklist of things you should know before you take your enterprise online.
I remember how my mom used to talk about a certain aunty who owned a jewellery and saree business. In a little room, they would stock up those transparent boxes of artifical, kundan, and precious stone jewellery and various brands of saree boxes. To be very honest, I was always fascinated by their work, and I used to wonder if I can have my own business like this. As kids, it was all so easy and fun. Today, there are many women who run their businesses from home. They are home-makers and entrepreneurs, in their own sense.
With the use of technology and social media, now their business can reach a much greater audience than they can imagine. Moreover, having an online store, where these women can publicize and sell their stuff, brings them a lot of visitors and potential buyers. The marketing and shopping landscape is changing, and like the US/Europe, a lot of people in India have started buying off the internet. With this change, having an online store is imperative, and a useful medium to get more returns. But, a lot goes into building such an online store.
Having an online store is imperative, and a useful medium to get more returns. But, a lot goes into building such an online store.
When a business decides to go online or when an individual chooses to start an online store, they are confronted with three options. Either they can design the store themselves or the store can use marketplaces like Amazon/eBay/FlipKart. The former is a time-consuming and expensive option, while the latter doesn’t allow for any personal brand building.
The third option is to set-up a store making use of the numerous e-commerce platforms like Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce, etc. The ultimate goal is to be able to set up a store in no time, with less expenditure, and yet, have a great professional look. Once this has been done according to the personal preferences and availability of resources like required knowledge,expertise, money, and time, let’s move our focus to the very basic requirements of an online store:
Who would like to purchase from a damp and congested retail store? The same holds for online purchase. Would you be interested to even check out products from an online store that looks too cluttered with items not organized into relevant categories? So, it’s the foremost factor that must not be overlooked when setting up an online store – keep the look clean and tidy.
Along with the tidy look, keep it interesting. This includes the fonts, colours, product catalogue style, image resolution, and the overall content on the site. Keep it engaging, interesting and appealing.
No one would buy from a store that doesn’t provide secure financial transactions. Moreover, in a market where online purchases are not that common, it is of critical necessity that the payment is secure. Make sure that the customers’ credit card details are not distributed to marketing agencies. By giving a trusted environment, overcome the biggest fear associated with online shopping- the fear of financial misuse.
Won’t you be put off with an online store that takes ages to load on your desktop/smartphone? If the images take too long to show up, be sure that the potential customer is bidding you goodbye even before he’s started to look at your catalogue.
Help the visitor/potential buyer in not getting lost on your website. At all times, keep the URL informational about where the visitor has landed on your website. A sitemap should not be missed! No matter how huge or small the online store is, it is always appreciated if it has a search bar to look for a particular product. Make sure that the products are categorized and can be searched using the search functionality. This would bring the buyer quickly to the group of items he is looking to buy. It would save his time, and bring quicker revenues to the store.
Make sure that your business’ website or the online store opens up in a multitude of browsers. Gone are the days where Internet Explorer used to reign. Always remember, your buyers can visit from any browser!
Just like browsers, it is of great importance that the online store is optimized for a number of screen sizes. In this age, people are always busy from the start of the day till night. Online purchasing is a saviour for people who can’t visit a store to buy their favourite stuff. These busy people may shop from smartphones/laptops/tablets etc. So, make sure that your store is rendered in the desirable fashion on these different screen sizes. Remember, E-commerce is leading to M-commerce.
Remember, E-commerce is leading to M-commerce.
Offer social media sharing buttons (Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Google+/Instagram) on the online store. Encourage your buyers to spread the word about you, and offer them some incentive/discount on their next purchase when they share about their current purchase on their social networks. This won’t cost much to the store owner but brings more online visibility and future buyers.
When a user searches for a particular item or makes a purchase, it is beneficial to suggest related products which he/she may like to buy with that product or at a later point of time.
Follow these critical and useful points to make your online store a pleasant experience for your buyer, and a revenue-generating place for you. Contact the author, in case you need easy tips to implement these essentials!
Pic credit: Velkr0 (Used under a CC license)
Shaifali Gupta is the founder of Media Meridian, a Social Media & Content Marketing firm. Starting
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