10 Tips to Start Your Online Store from Joy


1. Study and learn from others

It is important as a new merchant to learn as much as possible and stay current online. Fortunately, there are many great resources available online. One great place to start is CNET—you don’t need to be a technical expert to run a successful online store, but you do need to understand how online stores work. Also, look at other online stores for ideas.

2. Plan carefully and be realistic

You need to have a business and a marketing plan. Be realistic about the time and money it takes to build your business. You need to estimate the number of visits
you think you’ll receive on your website, and the percentage of visitors who will make a purchase.

3. Choose your shopping cart carefully

Create a business map that defines plans for now and the future and then incorporate a shopping cart that reflects these plans. Be realistic by planning 18 to 24 month ahead.

4. Selecting a vendor to build your store

There are numerous vendors available who can build and promote your store for you. If you know people who have an online store, ask for recommendations. Or, if you see a website you like, contact the owners and ask who built the site. When you find a vendor you like, always check their references. Make sure this person is timely and is available when there are problems. If you want to personally update your store, make sure your host site is easily manageable for you. Remember to check if maintenance is included in your fees when comparing vendor prices and packages.

5. Design your store well and with good functionality

Keep the site simple and the graphics small. Create a website with good, clear navigation. The navigation tabs should either at the top of the page or on the left hand side. People will enter your store from different links (not just your homepage), so make sure all the pages have navigation tabs or links to the homepage. Look at other ecommerce sites for the locations of shopping carts and other vital information—web viewers are used to having these elements in the same location.

6. Accept credit cards

While there are many methods of paying online, credit card is the most common. It is vital to accept credit cards on your site in order to maximize sales. From your customer’s point of view, privacy and security are most important.

7. Having postage information upfront

The longer a customer waits for an order to process, the more anxious he or she will become. An anxious customer is more likely to abandon their shopping cart and the sale. Have postage information upfront to maximize speed in checkout.

8. Promote your store

You can promote your store for free by submitting your URLs to search engines, soliciting links from other sites and posting information to bloggers. Some paid methods include search engine advertising (keywords), banner ads, public relations and advertising with media. Make sure you know your customers and how to reach them. Your website vendor might offer promoting services.

9. Listen to your customers

The most important data you will receive is feedback from your customers. Reply to inquiries, complaints, etc. in a timely manner.

10. Analyze your data

You need to have an analytics package to process information and data quickly and easily. You need to gather data, analyze data, and make and test changes. Data will track the path customers take through your store and the pages they buy from. You also want to know how they found your site.

Joy Thompson is one of PHXFW’s Branding Directors. Outside of PHXFW, Joy is a photographer of both fashion and life. One of her favorite quotes is, “A lot of it’s experimental, spontaneous. It’s about knocking about in the studio and bumping into things,” by Richard Prince. View her bio to learn more about our loved PHXFW director!

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