Just as more and more consumers are getting comfortable with shopping online, more and more businesses are building and launching an eCommerce website to reach a wider audience for their products or services. But creating and marketing that online store can be a daunting task for many small business owners.
For starters, an eCommerce website needs to be visually appealing, easy to navigate, and secure for online shopping. Consumers want to be confident that they’re sharing credit card information or other personal data with a trustworthy company online.
For the small business owner who’s ready to build and maintain a storefront on the web, the following elements offer a framework for establishing an online presence and conducting an online business:
Website design: Along with a visually appealing layout, eCommerce websites need straightforward navigation that leads shoppers along the search and purchase path — whether they’re visiting via desktop or mobile devices. If they get confused or frustrated during their shopping or checkout experiences, visitors will most likely bounce to a competitor’s site as a next step.
Search engine optimization (SEO): Even with the most professionally designed storefront stocked with high-value, high-quality products, success won’t come easy if shoppers can’t find the website during their online searches. That’s why an eCommerce website — like all other websites — needs to be optimized to increase or improve rankings on search engines.
Payment methods: To operate an online storefront, small businesses need the capability to accept credit card transactions and other forms of payment online. By offering a variety of these options geared to their target audiences, business owners help to streamline the checkout process for desktop and mobile shoppers alike. And securing the lowest processing fees available is one way to save on this needed business expense.
Security tools: With online fraud top-of-mind for many consumers, it’s essential for an eCommerce website to employ security tools, such as SSL Certificates, and display trust symbols, such as BBB accreditation. Allaying shoppers’ fears about sharing private information online is fundamental to building a business relationship based on trust and respect.
Customer service: Online shoppers often have product or service questions, and they’re frequently looking for more than the answers on an FAQs page. Providing customer service via phone, live chat, or email helps to address visitors’ questions or concerns in a timely manner, and it helps to guide them along the search and purchase path to the ultimate stopping point: the checkout confirmation.
Maintain an eCommerce website by regularly updating content, tools, and testimonials
Once an online store is open for business, small business owners need an action plan that:
Keeps the website fresh and appealing by adding new copy, images, products, or features.
Upgrades payment methods and security tools to maintain industry-standard compliance and ensure secure transactions online.
Adds testimonials from happy customers who generate positive word of mouth for small business owners and reinforce the value of their products or services.