How to create a simple eCommerce website

Guidance for setting up your online shop

According to data from the British Retail Consortium and KPMG, consumer spending slowed sharply in September, falling to the weakest level in almost a year (excluding Easter distortions).

With the high street facing continuing challenges, online shopping continues to grow. So, if you don’t have the option for customers to look at and buy your products online, you’re missing a trick.

Creating an eCommerce site from scratch isn’t as difficult as you might think.

Let’s take a look.

Make sure the site is easy to navigate

If you walked into a shop and there were clothes everywhere it would put you off. Going in to buy a new pair of jeans and then finding that you can’t even work out which clothes are for men and which are for women would mean no new jeans.

An online shop is the same. You need to have a clear menu which shows people the product categories and who the products are suitable for. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling jeans or cakes, the process is the same.

Make sure your site is mobile friendly

According to BrightEdge, more than half (57%) of web traffic now comes from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, so it’s essential to use a mobile-friendly template when developing your ecommerce website.

Tell people where you are

Yes, we’re talking about people being able to buy online but if you have a physical store too, you should include its location and opening times. If you make your products at home, you should tell people as homemade is a great selling point. You might not want to put your home address down though and that’s fine.

Include contact details

If people are going to part with their hard-earned cash they’re more likely to do it if there are contact details available on the website. It gives the customer piece of mind that if they have any concerns or questions about the product or purchase of it then they can speak to a real person.

An email address and or a phone number should be included. Ideally this should be present on every page of the website, but definitely on the home page and product pages.

A picture tells a thousand words

Obviously, you want to show your products in their best light. People want to look before they buy and the downside of online is that you only have a picture to go on. So, that picture has to be the best picture it can be.

There is plenty of guidance out there about taking good product photos. Some of the main considerations are:

  • Background
  • Lighting
  • Filters
  • Props
  • Alt text

 

The final point here is important because Google and Co. can’t actually ‘see’ what your image is all about, so you need to explain it by adding alt text. This can be a short description of the product along with some relevant keywords.

You also need to think about how you describe your products. If you can’t rave about them and highlight their best and most useful features then who will?

Sell yourself

The world of retail, online or not, is highly competitive, so if you have something which makes you stand out from your competitors then make sure people know about it. You might have won an award, might have styled royalty or you might offer free local delivery. Whatever it is, shout about it. It could make the difference between a sale or non-sale.

Customer testimonials

Studies tell us that we’re much more likely to go ahead with a purchase if we can see positive feedback from other customers. If you give customers the option of leaving feedback, you can then use any glowing testimonials on your website. It’s also a good way of finding out about a problem before it becomes a disaster. An unhappy customer can hopefully be a happy one again.

Policy information

Now, let’s face it, the T’s & C’s of any website aren’t the most exciting read, but it’s important that for eCommerce sites they’re clearly laid out. Before you buy online, you want to make sure you have the right to send it back, and know if you’ll need to pay for the delivery and returns.

There’s no point trying to make your T’s & C’s sound better than they are either. If people have to pay for delivery then ok, but make sure they know that before they click ‘buy’.

Promotions

It’s human nature to relish a bargain. We all want to feel that we’ve got a good deal, so make any promotions or special offers stand out. Include them in your menu under product categories or have a separate tab at the top.

If you have extra stock to clear, highlight a product on your home page using a coloured box to make it stand out.

Make it personal

Although you’re not meeting your customers face to face, you can still make sure they have a good shopping experience with a few little touches such as adding a live chat option to your site for example.

A chatbot, as it’s called, is the box that appears on some websites to ask if you need any help with anything.

Often, if we can’t find what we’re looking for online, we’ll just go to another website (your competitor). The chatbot is a chance for them to ask a question, such as; “Does this shoe come in half sizes” or “Could you make this chocolate cake but with white icing instead”?

When someone has made a purchase, make sure you say thank you.

Customers can be directed to a page after they’ve paid which says, thank you for shopping with us today, we hope you enjoy your sofa (if you sell sofas, otherwise edit where appropriate).

The tools to get the job done

There are lots of companies providing eCommerce software, some of it free.

Before you decide which one to use though, consider if:

  • It offers your customers different ways to pay
  • It provides a secure payment option
  • Pages can be easily customised
  • There is a 24-hour support service
  • There are multiple language options for overseas customers

 

The finances to support your online emporium

Selling goods and services doesn’t come without its financial responsibilities and sorting this side of the business out can be really time-consuming.

At THP, we love working with businesses and helping them to grow and reach more customers.

So why not give us a call or come and visit us at one of our THP offices located in ChelmsfordCheamSaffron WaldenWanstead and London City.

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