Five steps to online selling success

Getting your shop online can be a really rewarding experience and can open your business to a whole new target market, but there are a few pitfalls to stay away from.

1. Platform

The first thing that you will need to assess is the platform that you will use for your business. Do you use a hosted platform like Shopify, or self=host the software as you can with Joomla on business web hosting from our sister brand? Do you select software that specifically designed for e-commerce with Magento, or a content-management system like WordPress with plugins like Woocommerce that can extend it’s functionality?

As with all business decisions you will need to write down your objectives and work through the pros and cons of each system. With hosted platforms you can generally access a free trial period to try out the features and ease of use. If you are going down the self-hosted route you can setup an installation to try the software prior to final selection to see what additional features each software offers.

Security

Once you have your platform chosen, you will need to think about the security of your customers data. Even though we are discussing e-commerce, I am of the opinion that ALL website should be using a SSL/TLS certificate (The green padlock in your omnibar above ⬆️). This will encrypt the traffic between your website visitors and your website server.

If you have chosen to to self-host your software, you will need to have a back-up and malware scanning process in place. Although these may sound scary, they’re not. For a full backup, you can normally do this through your web hosting account, and regarding Malware you can scan externally with various online services like Securi and even Google’s Search Console will email you if they notice any unusual downloads.

Target Market

One of the crucial parts selling online, in-fact selling in general, is creating the right content for the right people. If you can answer their questions, and then supply a solution to their problems, you will have a customer.

To understand the persona of your ideal client will allow you to be able to understand what problems you are solving and how your product/service helps them. The questions you will be answering are:

  • What industry does your ideal client work?
  • What is their job role?
  • What tools do they use or need to do their job?

There are a million and one full articles on how to do this on the internet, but I can recommend a great service by Hubspot called “Make My Persona Tool” ( https://www.hubspot.com/make-my-persona ) that will walk you through the whole process.

Checkout

Checkout is a fundamental part of the buyers journey and is often over looked. You know the scenario well, to actually make a purchase you need to visit the basket, then checkout, and finally payment.

The most common mistake is giving your website visitor the chance to get distracted and leave the checkout process. If you can remove unnecessary content around the checkout i.e. header navigation, links to your latest blog posts, etc. then your user will have an easier task to complete.

You can use Google Analytics Goals to track how many visitors complete the full checkout, but also how many fall off during the basket stage.

Promotion

The final piece of the puzzle is to promote, promote, then promote some more. After you have built your online store, written a great set of blog posts, connected your payment providers, you fall back on the old adage the “Build it and they will come”, but unfortunately this is only half correct. Without building it “they” have nowhere to come to, but they also need to know about it.

This is where you need to turn to the old marketing techniques, maybe some Public Relations (PR) in your local, national, or target market newspapers. Maybe turning up for some Twitter Hours on social media. If you already have contacts, sending out e-shots using Mailchimp could be a great start. But whatever you do, you need to keep doing it. Persistence is key.

Email Marketing

Conclusion

I hope this gives you some pointer on what you need to think about when building your online store. In your experience, what have you come up against whilst building your shop? Do let us know if the comments below.

Neil Batchelor

I currently wear a few hats! Well, apart from being lead organiser of wpcoventry, I am also an ICT Business Advisor with the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce where I help SME with all things digital. Then in the odd few minutes that I have left(!), I am the Technical Director for EncodeDotHost which helps businesses across Coventry and Warwickshire make the most of the web.

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