The Strategy Behind Building an Online Shop
It used to be that having the sales idea was the easy part of setting up an online business, putting together the sales platform was the difficult (and costly) part. The dynamics have now totally changed; there are many off the shelf options available for building your e-commerce site, but coming up with a novel market area is trickier. The route you take can be varied but there are some factors that hold true whichever path you choose.
Be the customer
Carry out some research before you start; simply have a look at what other people are doing; not just the successful ones. It is very easy to get wrapped up in your own ideas, and forget about who it is aimed at. Make a list of what you consider to be positive aspects in an online shop, and what turn you off.
Use off the peg solutions
Setting up your shop should take a minimum amount of time, as the bulk of your efforts need to go in to marketing. Unless you are particularly tech savvy, pick up the components you need as complete and ready to go packages; this cuts down on the time you need to spend tinkering.
The more that you do yourself to put your site together, the cheaper it will be; but also, the more you will understand how it works. As soon as you launch and start to get feedback you will want to incorporate changes and improvements. It is a lot easier if you have the knowhow, rather than trying to contact a developer who may or may not be available to take your call.
Keep It Simple
If you do not have an elderly, relative to hand to try out the purchase process, put yourself in their shoes. Make all the steps logical and easy to follow, use large buttons when you want someone to press them; and avoid small font sizes. Include a progress indicator so that they can see where they are, it drastically reduces dropped sales; and give them help options, ideally an 0800 phone number, or a chat facility, or email contact.
Develop a dialogue
Capture email addresses and invite visitors to like and follow your site with a blog. When someone makes a purchase send them a thank you message and ask for their comments.
Basically, if you design a site that you would be happy to use you should not go too far wrong; but then encourage, and follow up on, customer feedback. Use the tools that are available to you and put your efforts into spreading the word.