Some Important Tips to Consider Before Starting an Online Store
Starting an online store is one of the easiest ways to make money on the Internet. It can also be one of the most cost efficient ways to start a business. However, not everyone experiences the same level of success. While one person can turn a small business into a multi-million-dollar-a-year platform, others may wind up shutting down the eCommerce site after six months.
In order to prevent failure, there are a few tips that need to be considered before starting an online store. It's not all about having something to sell. A lot of work needs to go into an eCommerce platform to make it an annual success.
Have the Right Kind of Hosting
Most websites reside on what's called a shared hosting server. This is when several website owners share the resources of a single server unit. It's also one of the reasons why these types of accounts are so inexpensive.
A shared server does well for sites that don't experience heavy amounts of traffic. However, this isn't the plan of most people who want to build an online store. The more customers visiting the site, the more money is made. When traffic to the site becomes too high, there could be latency issues or the host may wind up charging extra fees.
One way to avoid some of this hassle is through VPS hosting. In the virtual private server, site owners have their own allocations of web space and bandwidth which is usually much higher than when using a shared server. As a result, the website can handle far more traffic and have access too much more storage space. This is ideal when running an online store simply because it needs to be fast and have space for images of various products.
Have a Strong Marketing Plan
One of the reasons why most businesses close within four years is because of a lack of marketing. Owners cannot expect to make sales if potential consumers don't know the site exists. Even the smallest of eCommerce sites benefit from a marketing budget of some kind.
A few ways to market the eCommerce site include:
•Creating and maintaining social profiles for the business.
•Using Pay-Per-Click campaigns in both search engines and social media.
•Using an eCommerce platform that turns the online store into an affiliate, which allows other people to market products.
•Set up and maintain email marketing campaigns.
•Blogging to bring in traffic and drive interest in the business.
Not everyone is able to afford a massive marketing budget, though. Luckily, there are many ways to get started without investing a heavy amount of money. In fact, many methods can get started with less than $50 per month.
Perhaps one of the best ideas to develop a marketing plan is start small and let the success of the business fuel a future budget. Set aside a certain percentage of the sales every week to reinvest in various marketing platforms. This lets the business drive its own success without further out-of-pocket expenses by the owner.
After all, any business should be able to sustain itself in order to call it a success.
Have a Method for Direct Communication
Studies show that consumers are more likely to buy from a company that uses forms of direct communication such as live chat. Displaying phone numbers, email addresses and even contact forms allow buyers to feel comfortable. This begins to solidify trust within the online store.
If the eCommerce site is maintained out of a private residence, it doesn't need to show its address. Instead, invest in a nearby PO box. This provides a mailing address as well as gives the customer the feeling of direct communication.
Social media interaction can also fall in the category of customer interaction. Don't ignore fans and followers of an account. Consumers often trust companies more that interact with them on sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Offer Superior Customer Service
If there is one thing that every online store is going to face is its competition. Unlike a local retail shop that may be competing for customers in a community, the Internet offers a vast collection of adversaries. As a result, customer service needs to be a priority to continue being successful.
Consumers can simply move on to a new online store if they don't like the services provided by one company. As such, online businesses need to offer an experience to remember. Visitors need to feel good about their purchases and that the business will take care of their needs.
Here are some things that can affect the overall customer experience:
•Communication:As mentioned earlier, communication is a key point in helping customers feel welcome.
•Shipping Practices: Customers want to know they will receive their goods in a safe and timely manner.
•Addressing Issues: Ignoring a customer can result in negative feedback, especially if the individual takes to social media with problems.
•Personalize the Experience: One method many online businesses implement is making the consumer feel unique by addressing him or her by name in email and other aspects.
Customer service is such an important facet that many shoppers don't mind paying extra for a superior experience. More people will spend money on the same item even if it's higher in price just because of the experience.
Keep the Customer Feeling Safe
One of the most vital aspects of maintaining an online store is making sure customer data is safe. This often includes the use of secure socket layers and other forms of protection. In reality, things like VPS hosting can offer an extreme amount of protection as long as the site owner has a good handle on administrative tasks.
No one wants to worry whether or not their information is easily accessible by the criminal element. Any additions for security should be displayed with pride on the website. This is why many will see verification and protection images on eCommerce pages.
Starting an online store can be exciting, fun and profitable. Understanding everything from the benefits of VPS hosting to marketing will improve the business. Explore options carefully and take the time to understand what will go into the process. It may very well boost the chances of developing a successful online business.
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