Looking to take your business online? If you want to expand your reach, this is a smart move – more than 86% of Australian consumers search for products and services online.
According to a 2016 Sensis eBusiness report, 60% of small businesses with websites believe that having an online presence has improved their overall effectiveness, primarily by increasing their exposure, followed by being able to provide customers with valuable information.
Whether you’re transitioning your bricks-and-mortar to an online-only business, or embracing online as an extension of your physical store, you can never be too prepared, says ANZs Head of Digital and Data Driven Marketing, Brendan Cooling.
“With a physical store, naturally you’d be required to learn about leases, staff and stock, but as an online retailer you also need to think about visual design, usability, navigation, and SEO tactics, to begin with.”
Here is a quick checklist to ensure you set yourself up for success:
Register a website domain name
“Your domain name is your website address or url that gives you an online identity,” says Cooling. “Ensure your domain name is original and represents your brand and your business.”
You’ll need to check it’s availability before your register it.
Select the right online selling platform
If your website is functioning not just as an advertising tool, but as an online store, here’s how to decide on the right selling platform, according to Cooling.
- The cost: Calculate how much you can afford to pay for basic software each month, including account-related expenses such as hosting fees.
- Ongoing maintenance: Do you have the time and money to build and manage an eCommerce site, or are you planning to have it maintained by a third party? Hosting your store on your own website gives you more control, but also requires the most maintenance and security to protect your customer data. If you can’t see yourself running an eCommerce store, consider joining a marketplace like Etsy, Amazon or eBay.
- Payment gateways: Check that the eCommerce platform will allow for your preferred payment method.
First impressions matter: Establish a stellar customer experience
Imagine walking into a store to find the products thrown about, the paint peeling off the walls and the staff looking bored and disinterested. What would your first impression be?
Being online doesn’t always mean you plan on selling. If you are creating a website to act as an online shop front, the number-one consideration is still your customer, says Cooling.
That means showcasing your services or products with high quality photography, engaging content and information to build confidence and trust.
If you are selling, encourage the path to purchase by ensuring fast page loading times on all devices, easy returns and great customer support, he/she advises.
“Rather than crowding your web pages with the entire product range and multiple categories, every page should be intuitively easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing.”
Provide reassurances on privacy
“If you want to boost growth and reduce cart abandonment, anticipate and reduce frustration from errors at checkout time. This means good UX [user experience]!” Cooling says.
Make it clear that you use a secure online checkout service by using strong SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) authentication. Adding a trust seal can also increase your conversions.
Secure a high ranking
Once your website is in good shape, ensure customers can find you in the first place by devising a search engine strategy from day one. SEO increases your website’s traffic leading to a growth in your customer base.
Spend some time determining your site’s keywords and keyword phrases so it attracts relevant traffic, advises Cooling.
This will save you time later on and avoid you having to redevelop elements of your website in order to be found and ranked highly according to Google’s ever-changing search engine algorithms.
Written by: Thea Christie
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