The Web is full of stores, ranging from major, household-name retailers to small, home-based businesses selling one type of item. When you use a web store builder and establish your online presence, it’s not enough to just expect customers to come to you. You have to find creative ways to make your online store stand out. Thankfully, there are some easy ways to do this — without spending thousands of dollars or devoting your entire life to marketing your merchandise.
Have a Site That’s Easy to Use
It sounds simple, but consider how many times you’ve visited online stores that haven’t been easy to use. Make it easy for your customers to find what they are looking for on your site with clear navigation and a visible search box. Use headings to mark what customers can find when they click on that page, and don’t forget to include complete product information, along with a photograph when appropriate.
Make Your Customers Feel Secure
One reason that the major retailers receive such a huge portion of the online market is that they are known commodities. People feel secure ordering from them. You can make your customers feel secure by displaying badges indicating your security precautions, requiring authentication via passwords and/or credit card verification when orders are placed. After the customer places his or her order, there should be a confirmation page. These steps help create a sense of security for customers.
Allow Customers to Interact With You — and Each Other
When you use a website builder, take advantage of features that allow you to link your page to social media, add a blog, have your customers sign up for a newsletter and provide a means of easy contact. Visitors shouldn’t have to search for an email or phone number to contact you with any questions or concerns. Connecting via newsletters and social media keeps your business in front of existing customers who are likely to buy again, and it builds a community of people who are likely to spread the word to new customers. Avoid using the community solely to sell, though. Repeatedly sending ads or only focusing on your specials will alienate customers. Instead, use your social media feeds, newsletter and blog to share useful information and relevant content.
Highlight the Features That Distinguish You
As a small retailer, you may not be able to compete with the larger sites on price; however, you can compete when it comes to service and benefits. Highlight your “no questions asked” return policy, shipping discounts or personal shopping services as benefits to buying from you instead of somewhere else. Do you offer a loyal customer program that gives customers free shipping, discounts or other perks? Include that information where it’s easy to find. Many customers are willing to pay a little more for personalized service.
Use High-Quality Photography and Professional Copy
Have you ever visited a website that features blurry photos (or no photos at all), poorly written copy or product descriptions that are vague, full of grammatical errors and misspellings, and just not compelling? Chances are you have — and chances are you didn’t make a purchase. Learn from others’ mistakes and take time to carefully photograph and describe your product or service. Hire a professional photographer or copywriter if necessary to ensure that your site looks professional so customers can feel confident ordering from you.
Building a successful Web business requires more than creating a website and sending it out into cyberspace. Unless you make your store stand out, your site will languish, unvisited, not making you any money. By thinking of your customers, and their wants and needs, you’ll create a site that is easy-to-use, effective and profitable.
About the Author: Betsy Parkhill is a Web development advisor for small businesses. She recommends her clients investigate the selection of quality website builders available today, such as that found at www.ebizwebpages.com.