Monday, September 2, 2013

8 Tips when Planning an Online Store

Monday, September 2, 2013

You may not have an actual store just like a regular shop in a shopping mall; a retail outlet may have its many advantages such as deciding on the interior design of the shop or what sort of theme or other decorations to include to bring out the merchandise. A store’s image is important;therefore an online store’s image is as important as the interior design of aregular retail shop.

No matter how small or big your onlinebusiness can be, when planning an online store, there are few key factors toconsider in maintaining an impressive image to ensure that your customers attention are: GRABBED, SEIZED and always coming back for more.

I have seen various blog shops to online stores, some have played their cards right and some still have room for improvement. An online store relies a lot on its image. It is not the same as regular shops which you can visit physically that relies on sight, sound, smell and touch; whereas an online store relies on your customers’ sight and mind (perhaps sound too for those who include music on the online store front). 

Therefore based on my observation, I have taken this opportunity to share with you on what are the elements that you as a seller, need to consider and incorporate, when starting an online business.

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Catchy Name
This is my favourite part of running an online business. Coming up with a catchy online store name is like giving a name to something that means a lot to you. You want to go for something that is catchy, easy-to-remember OR something that perhaps reflects you and your interest or personality.

As mentioned before about making the first impression, the foundation of your online business lies in the layout design and theme. First of course is a business plan, second would be the theme that matches the nature of your business. For instance, if you are selling natural tea leaves and tea blends, you would settle for a nature-based theme and settings such as cool tone colours, fonts and arrangements suitable for your business. Logically, it won’t be suitable to select a theme with fashion colours like magenta or shocking pink for a nature-based biz. So, selecting the appropriate theme that reflects your business is important.

Online store banners
Banners are very useful in an online business setting. Banners are the replacements of an A3 size sale poster which you usually come across in a mall or so. Banners are previews / call-to-actions of a special new product that just arrived or a promotion that you wish to announce. Banners usually comes with minimal but straight to the point copy (or message), attractive photos or visual designs, including a link to redirect customers when they click on it. This is a very powerful tool and it isn’t a decoration for an online store.

Beautiful images and photographs
Not too long ago, I learned the importance of images and how writings and visuals can go hand in hand. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; I couldn't agree more! Therefore, having quality and good images of your products is another key factor that shouldn't be overlooked. I am not talking about using the best cameras to photograph your products (although investing in one is a good idea); what can also be considered is the lighting, angle, image contrast and so on and so forth that matters too. Taking photos for a product has its own unique method, it’s good to look it up. Saving the best size for your photos is another thing that you should look into; some online selling platform allows you to a good particular size that is just nice for your visuals. This way, when you customers click to zoom-in, the images are not highly pixelated; it would be clear enough for your customer to analyse your product in detail before making his/her own decision.

Redirecting your customers
The first tip goes to your social media networks. Social media has not only become an important marketing tool, but is a big part of the pop culture. While the worldwide web is really a…well…a huge web, as a business owner, you would definitely want to reach out to your current and potential customers. This is to ensure that even if they forget your URL, they will still be able to receive updates via social media.

Second tip; include your major social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. on your online store to redirect your customers to your social media networks. Should you feel that it is taxing and hectic to update each of it constantly, then find a way to interlink your accounts to go so that they appear simultaneously. You can also add in your blog (if you have one) for style suggestions if you are running a fashion store, or craft suggestions if you are running a craft store. 

Finally, the third tip would be including your contact details, such as email address as well as postcode, state and country. This way, your customers will be able to know where you are located, internationally or local, while gaining your customers’ trust.

Payment methods
Payment methods allow your customers to prepare ahead on how they can make payment when they are       ready to make a purchase. Be as efficient as you can be in this part of the setting up because if your
online store is not user-friendly, you might just chase the customers away. In my opinion, among all the
elements, this is one of the most important ones.

Categorizing your products
Whenever I am shopping online, I would always take a look at their categories which will direct me to       what I am interested in. Categorizing your products let your customers know that you have variety of           options available. For instance, a long pink maxi dress can be categorized under ‘long dress’, ‘dress’,
‘colour pink’, and even by size and price. Plus, it makes it easier for your customers to view and select
their preferred clothing.

Efficient customer service
Having good customers service is important, because customer service is more than driving sales. You       can maintain good customer service by making sure that emails and comments are answered efficiently.         Your customers will be satisfied and it will also build trust between you and your customer. It is natural         for customers to have a lot of questions about your products, so be prepared to answer their queries.
You can also incorporate a chat system on your online store; this is to ensure a quick feedback and               assistance.

Now with this 8 extra tips, are you ready to start or uplift your creative biz? Got any good tips of your own to share? I would love to hear your comments! Happy planning and start your biz today!

*Photos courtesy of Squarelet

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