Whether you have a brick and mortar store or not, e-commerce is a major part of being a modern entrepreneur. And just as you want to have the best storefront on the block, you want to make sure that your website looks beautiful and works smoothly. A lot of business owners are still writing off websites as extraneous and unimportant in the grand scheme of things; in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. If your website still looks like it was coded by hand back in the 1990s, then it can be almost guaranteed that you are losing sales. People are increasingly shopping online and through mobile devices, and if you can’t deliver then they will move on to a competitor. We’ve written about e-commerce misconceptions in the past, and how they end up costing business owners very real sums of money each year.
The solution is to go all-out and make your website as e-commerce friendly as possible. Embrace the importance of your website and make it an integral part of your business model. We’ve gathered our four best tips on how to have the best website possible. Go forth, redesign, and hop on that information superhighway.
1: Pick an Effective Website Theme
It can be overwhelming to try to pick a website theme; there are literally thousands of options. But if you’re running an online store, you need to pick a design that’ll work with you–a theme that is built for e-commerce, rather than for personal blogging or photo sharing.
If you’ve chosen WordPress as your content management system, be sure to also read our list of 3 must-have plugins for your WordPress site; they will make your site better, faster, and easier to use.
2: Make it Mobile-Friendly
Mobile shopping becomes more popular with every passing year, as tablets and phones become part of everyday life. If your website isn’t responsive, it will look terrible on smaller screens; it may be almost impossible to read and navigate. Customers on mobile devices will look elsewhere to get their needs met; they want an easy-to-use experience that looks streamlined and functions just as well on their phones as on their desktop computers. So yes, Virginia, it is absolutely vital for you to have a mobile-friendly website. Luckily most modern website templates come with mobile options. If you’re using a booking system like Checkfront or some other inventory manager, that should be optimized for mobile as well. In fact, responsive capability should be one of the major factors in making a decision about a management application like Checkfront.
3: Make it Secure and Trustworthy
Buying stuff on the internet has never been easier, but it does carry some degree of risk. You’re handing over sensitive payment information and virtually anyone could be on the other side, including hackers and thieves. The onus is on the website owners to make their sites as safe and trustworthy as possible, and back up their claims with real security measures. We’ve written a post on five quick ways that all sites can build trust, as well as a WordPress-specific list of tips to keep both you and your customers safe. If you’ll be taking payments on your website, choose a payment gateway that is trustworthy and secure. Our extensive guide will take you through everything you need to know about payment systems. Finally, apply for an organizationally validated SSL certificate; Google recommends that all e-commerce websites be SSL certified, and it will help prevent accidental information breaches.
4: Go Social
No man is an island, and no business can function in a vacuum—especially online. Your first step should be to establish yourself in local listings, like the four business listings we’ve recommended here. Having a local business listing can have a significant impact on your search engine rankings, as well as your traffic in general; people are going to be using Google, Bing, Yelp, and the Yellow Pages to find businesses just like yours.
After you’ve done that, be sure to sign up for a few social media accounts. It’s absolutely vital to at least have a Facebook account, and a Twitter stream won’t hurt either. Social media is how you connect with your audience; it allows you to build a relationship with fans and reach new markets in a vibrant, organic way. A good Facebook business page can even get you more bookings; we have a plugin that allows people to book directly from the page, and there are lots of advertising and marketing tools at your disposal. Check out our tips on how to leverage Facebook for bookings and make the best of the social network.
Selling your services or products online can transform your business, and it’s very important to have a well-designed and appealing website. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to managing the best e-commerce store around.