With time at a premium and customers looking for more and more variety—all at a bargain price, of course—starting a web commerce business is a one way ticket to small business success. However, many people are intimidated because they don’t even know where to start. Ecommerce is not as complicated as it looks; in fact, you can build your empire in these five simple steps.
Establish a professional, polished web site
. This is one of the most crucial parts of this process, a component that is so important that a wise entrepreneur would seriously consider outsourcing this task to a professional. Your website design is not just a convenient online information storage site; to internet traffic, it is your marketing department, storefront, and service personnel all rolled into one tidy HTML package. Having a messy website is like sending out an ad with rampant misspellings or letting your sales staff wear cut-off denim shorts. If your website is not well-run and professional, customers are just a click away from your competition.
Market your web site
. One obvious way of doing this is by buying advertising on popular search engines such as Google. You can choose keywords that are tailored to your product and place your company name and website solidly at the top of those results. Web advertising is the best media for website marketing because it is so tailored and so easy for customers to access your sites. Once potential customers search for a relevant keyword—indicating that they are interested in your product and perhaps actively seeking to buy it—your website is a mere click away. If you don’t want to spend money on an ongoing basis, you can also choose to have an expert in search engine optimization reconfigure your website so it shows up higher in search results even without paid spots.
Get involved in the web community
. From YouTube to Facebook, there are a variety of social networking sites where you can sign up for free and quickly build a profile that will get your business added exposure. If you regularly post videos or articles related to your business in visible places, you will also be building a public perception of you as a web expert, increasing the likelihood that they will buy from you by using social media to promote you website. Read more about 5 ways social media can help build your small business.
Evaluate your data
. If you are purchasing advertising from a search engine or other internet advertising company, they will likely provide you with tools to run reports detailing what keywords lead customers to visit your site and which bring customers that actually purchase a product. The last set of numbers is crucial, because foot traffic that isn’t buying won’t earn the income you need to keep going. Read more advertising tips and common advertising mistakes by startups.
Make it easy to buy—and to keep buying
. Customers should find shopping at your site simple, straightforward, and intuitive. Part of this consumer-friendly design falls under the first step—website building—but there are a few things you can do to make customers enjoy shopping with you. Giving customers a percentage off with a large purchase or free shipping encourages them to fill their virtual shopping cart while reducing their fear that shipping and handling will double the cost of their product. Similarly, sending former customers a coupon may encourage them to come back in the future.
Why is there no discussion of product on this list? While an innovative and high value product is important to a web commerce business, customers will never see your product unless and until you follow the above five steps. Webpreneurs are a driving force in the small business community. You could be just a few days away from joining these ranks.