Starting an online store is a complicated process that’s made up out of hundreds of decisions you need to get right.
And while there are plenty of opportunities, merely opening up a store doesn’t guarantee results. In fact, although thousands of new stores open up each week, only a small percentage of them are able to enter the marketplace and become profitable.
Luckily, even if you’re a complete beginner starting your first online business, there are plugins to grow your sales rapidly that can make the entire process much easier and increase your odds of succeeding.
By using the right tools and knowing where to focus your attention, it’s possible to enter even the most competitive markets and carve out space for your online store.
To get you started on the right path, here are four tips you should consider that are sure to make your efforts much more likely to pay off.
Build an App for Your Ecommerce Store
No store owner that wants to have any chance of success online can afford to ignore its mobile audience – with the majority of all online traffic now coming from mobile devices, this is the segment of shoppers that will ultimately dictate whether a store is successful or not.
And while having a website with responsive web design is a good start, most sites already have it, and that’s not enough for ecommerce stores that want to provide the best possible experience to their mobile users.
The solution? Develop a mobile app for your store.
An app provides unique opportunities for broadening your reach, increasing sales, and gaining another platform to engage and nurture your leads.
Ecommerce has completely revolutionized how people shop, with retail stores being rapidly replaced by online stores that allow users to get everything they need with just a few clicks of a button, from the comfort of their own home.
The next step of the evolution is not even having to turn on your computer, and shopping using your smartphone wherever you might be – at home, on a bus, or whenever you have a free moment.
If the user experience of your mobile users isn’t seamless and feels unnatural, they won’t stick around because today, there are plenty of stores ready to step in if you fail to deliver.
Since mobile is the main growth driver of the U.S. digital audiences, with desktop becoming a “secondary touch point,” your best bet is to develop a mobile app that will give you new opportunities to enhance the experience of your shoppers and provide a customized experience that’s tailor-made for convenience on a mobile device.
And the good news is, developing an app doesn’t have to be a complicated process.
There are many tools that allow you to convert your website to a mobile app without the need for advanced coding experience. You can create a custom app that’s on-brand with your store and make it an extension that offers your visitors added functionality and hassle-free shopping experience.
You could even use the app to develop customized loyalty programs based on transaction histories, send reminders of abandoned carts, and make sure that your users are always aware of special promotions.
Offer Multiple Payment Options
One of the worst things you could do as an online store owner is to limit people’s ability to buy from you. It’s hard enough to get leads to your site, so when some of them decide they want to buy something, you better be sure that you offer their preferred payment method and that checkout goes as smoothly as possible.
Obviously, you won’t be able to keep up with every new e-wallet service that pops up, but at the same time, if you’re just offering payment by credit card, it’s likely you’re leaving a big chunk of potential profits on the table.
A good motto to follow is that paying for your products should be the easiest step in your customer’s journey, so you should research and monitor the types of payment methods that are popular among your target audience and take steps to add them to your site.
But how many payment methods should you have?
Well, although having every single one available is humanly impossible, don’t be afraid to add as many as you think might be necessary to satisfy the large majority of your users.
Adding credit card payments are a given, but you should also have PayPal, Square, and Google Wallet for mobile users, just to name a few. If possible, you should also strongly consider cash on delivery option – many users are still hesitant about paying online, so you might be able to increase sales if you allow paying upon receiving the items.
In the end, the specific options that you decide to go with should be selected based on what your users prefer because that’s the only thing that really determines your bottom line.
Consider the Best Shipping Options
Shoppers dread having to wait for their orders to arrive – it’s no accident that the big online retail shops such as Amazon place such high importance on offering same day delivery and try to cut down the time it takes to ship to a minimum.
Therefore, if you want to have any chance of competing in your market, you need to have an ecommerce shipping fulfillment system that gets the products out of your warehouse as quickly as possible after they have been ordered.
You should also consider the different needs of your shoppers – some of them will want the item delivered as quickly as possible, while others may want a cheaper or free shipping option, even if that means they have to wait a little longer.
In other words, you should have more than one shipping option, and make sure that the shipping is as affordable and efficient as possible. In fact, you might even consider increasing product prices by a little if that helps to offer free shipping, although that should be decided on an individual basis.
There are a few shipping payment plans that you could offer, and each of them provides its own benefits. Let’s explore them.
- Real-Time Shipping Quotes. If you want to be transparent and clear about the shipping costs with your audience, real-time shipping quotes allow you to provide custom pricing based on a number of factors such as shipping location and the size of the package. The drawback is that customers won’t know the price of the shipping until they go through the checkout, which may deter some buyers.
- Fixed Shipping Price. Another popular model used by many online stores is the fixed shipping price approach. This approach works well if you don’t have a large variety of product sizes and don’t ship to remote international locations – just come up with a shipping price that’s not cutting into your profits while still being fair to the prospects and you’re set to go.
- Free Shipping. If you’re able to offer free shipping while still offering competitive prices of your products, you can gain a huge advantage over the competitors and significantly increase your conversion rate. For this approach to work, you need to have good profit margins on your products, because free shipping will cut into them, but if you can remain profitable while reasonably pricing your products, you may become quickly see yourself become the go-to online store in your niche.
Be Ready to Answer Customer Questions
Success online in 2019 and beyond will be all about providing top-quality customer service to your target audience, and that includes attentive and quick support that’s able to answer all questions and offer helpful solutions immediately.
The good news is, there are solutions that can make the task easier – using technology, you can optimize a lot of customer support tasks and reduce the manual responsibilities of responding to queries. Tools like knowledge base software help provide quality assistance to your audience and make sure that no question is left unanswered.
With knowledge base software, you can create an information hub that allows users to get answers to common questions and learn more about the technical side of using your products.
Having a knowledge base will also allow your team to focus more time on unique support cases, and if you integrate your knowledge base tool with apps like Slack, you can enhance communication between support staff and other employees to find a real-time solution to any unique problem that the support staff can’t handle on their own.