Building a Web store seems simple at first. All you need is a list of your products or services and a way for customers to purchase them. But setting up a successful Web store that generates satisfied customers and repeat orders is becoming its own art. Here, learn the essential elements your Web store must have to successfully fill its role.
Web Store Defined
A Web store is simply a place where your customers can go to purchase items or services online. When you hear the term “ecommerce,” often it is the Web store being referred to. Many companies find it easier to use a Web store builder to set up their online store. This tool helps them set up a Web store that contains some or all essential elements.
Importance of a Web Store
The Wall Street Journal recently reported online spending has grown to more than 300 billion dollars annually. Today’s Web store can represent big business — or not, depending on how well it is designed. By 2016, it’s estimated 58 percent of Americans will regularly or occasionally shop for products and services online.
Essential Web StoreElements
When you get ready to build your own Web store, follow these recommendations:
- Simple site navigation. If customers cannot easily and quickly navigate your site, they are likely to shop elsewhere.
- Secure transactions. Customers today are more aware of the danger of submitting sensitive financial data online. Use of SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption and a professional antivirus program can successfully address any security concerns.
- Several payment options. Some customers may have a PayPal account while others may not. Some customers may want to pay by credit card or online (Internet) check only. Offering several payment options is best.
- Option to purchase without registration. Many Web stores today require a shopper to register, or create an online account, before they can make a purchase. Some customers do not want to submit additional personal data. If you offer an option to purchase without registering, you can ensure you capture both sets of customers — those who want to have an online account and those who do not.
- Easy search feature. If your customers cannot find what they want, you are unlikely to win the sale. One of your Web store’s most important features is to provide an easy search feature to minimize frustration and search time.
- Rate and review functions. Customers value other customer’s opinions over professional testimonials. When you allow your customers to rate and review what they buy, you open yourself to potential criticism as well as praise, but you offer customers a way to help you improve. Thus, you can retain their loyalty.
- Clearly displayed logo.If your Web store is popular, an Internet scam artist may try to launch an imitation website to fraudulently collect payments as your company. One way to combat this is to have your company logo clearly displayed along with an authentication notice.
- A “less is more” approach to text. Because research shows online shoppers use a “visual scanning” approach rather than reading word by word, try to keep text to a minimum. Instead, choosegraphics, like pictures from different angles, to showcase your products.
- Hands-on customer support.Be sure your Web store has hands-on customer support, preferably via chat, email and phone. Some customers may not be familiar with online shopping and may need help placing their order. Other customers may not see what they want and need help finding their item. Yet other customers may have a concern they need resolved. By treating online customers with the same high-quality service you would offer if they were standing in front of you, you are more likely to win their repeat business and positive referrals.
Adding each of these essential elements to your Web store can ensure your customers enjoy shopping with you and will return.
About the Author
Morton Smith began his career in Web design by designing a Web store for his family business using www.ebizwebpages.com.