Raleigh small business owners, looking to get your store online? Local website designer Cori Nevruz tells you what you need to know.
Creating a website for your business can be a big undertaking. There is so much to do and consider. Adding an online store to your website brings in another component that adds to the complexity.
Take a deep breath.
Once you know the basics, you can get started.
Below are some tips and suggestions I shared with a great group of women from Vend Raleigh:
- Know your needs – do you have 10 products or 10 thousand? does each product have options like colors or sizes? do you need to be able to take coupons, gift certificates? synchronize inventory with a physical store?
- Research cart systems – no question, it is a whole lot easier and less expensive to use a customizable cart system rather than creating a ground up web store. There are a lot of great cart systems out there. Try to find the cart your favorite stores, your competitors, your business networking friends use. Compare what features you need to what the different carts offer.
- Shipping – what types of shipping will you offer and who will you ship through?
- Tax – This is always changing so make sure you keep up with it
- Payments – Do you need a merchant account to take credit cards or will you simply use PayPal?
- Create a Clean Navigation – Make sure your users can easily get to your product categories and cart from every page
- Make sure you have Clear Pricing – If they change a selection, the pricing should change (if a pearl in the necklace costs more than the ruby then the price should change when they change the option)
- Organize your product information
- short description – a teaser – short but informative
- detailed description – all details, materials, dimensions…
- reviews – let people review your products, good and bad,
- high-quality photos/video
- options (sizes, colors – are there price changes with option changes)
- Easy access to cart from EVERYWHERE – wherever the user is on your site, they should be able to go to their cart and checkout.
- Allow registration but do not require it
- Always have a Forgot Password link on the Login page unless you really like to have the same customer call you over and over or register dozens of times
- Allow for a checkbox if the Shipping address is the same as billing – please do not make your customer enter it twice…
- At the checkout screen, allow user to change order or return to change the order (maybe they want to order more!)
- Display your contact information on every page in an easy to find location – make sure your customers can easily contact you if they have questions.
- Create a detailed Terms & Conditions Page
- Security details of your website (SSL)
- Return Policy
- Shipping Methods and timing
- Payments Accepted
- Allow simple passwords (if they make their password ‘password’ that is really their fault but forcing people to use upper case, lower case, numbers and crazy symbols at a minimum of 20 characters just makes people not want to register)
- Create a site map (great for SEO)
- Use Google Analytics or another advanced analytics program
- Integrate and maximize use of Social Media
- Pinterest (depending on product type)
- Categorize products then organize but do not put the same product in every category. The purpose of categories is to make finding what you need easier, don’t over complicate.
- Show order confirmation with print version and send an email of confirmation
- Offer PayPal even if you have a Merchant Account (credit card acceptance)
- Allow for Quick registration (only require what is really required) Please do not require county or ‘how did you hear about us’… you are just asking for cart abandonment
- Obvious error messages (ERROR: ALWAYS WRITE IN RED)
- Map with directions if you have a physical store
- Must have Browser, Operating System compatibility – Test in as many as you can
- Internet Explorer
- Mobile Browsers
- Mobile ready design (Mobile version or responsive)
- Offer a Live Chat if you are able
- Blog (People are more likely to buy when they feel that they know the seller, more trusting)
- Create a mailing list/newsletter that people can sign up for when they register and/or order – Reward those who sign up for newsletter (20% off to all new subscribers)
- Hold a contest to get more social media followers (Like us and be registered to win a $50 gift certificate).
Take the time to get your thoughts together. Thinking it through now will save you time and money later.