Laptop with small shopping cart and a hand with credit card symbolizing online shopping.

You’re satisfied with the job your website has done in raising the profile of your business and now you’ve decided to take the next step and start taking orders online. That’s a natural next step, but to do it well, you’ll need to plan strategically and then track the right metrics after the launch. Here are five tips for how to run a successful online store. 

Make your store user-friendly

Before you dismiss this basic tip with a “duh”, consider all the factors that go into making a store user-friendly. You need a good design, one that’s visually appealing and yet not too cluttered. If you choose to select a template, you’ll need to decide if you want to self-host your store or sign up with a hosting service.

Tools like WooCommerce, which works through WordPress, are self-hosted. Shopify, a popular e-commerce store, is run through an outside service. You have to decide based on your current Content Management System, as well as how you want your store to function.

You’ll also need to think through your customer service plans. Let’s say you run a local hardware store. The website has been a tremendous boon for keeping current customers aware of promotions and your local SEO strategies have boosted walk-in traffic.

But your online store is a new ballgame. Now you could be selling products to people anywhere in the country—people who don’t know you—and you need to make them feel comfortable. A chatbot, one that works 24/7, is a good idea and you’ll need to work out a plan with your staff for in-person online customer service.

Your website is probably already mobile-responsive. You’ll need to continue to test the store for its “friendliness” on mobile devices. This is more than a simple “Yes” or “No” to the question of responsive design. It’s about getting real people—presumably your staff, family and friends, and preferably the ones who do most of their shopping online—to use your store on a variety of devices and report on how it looks and functions.

Finally, keep the payment process as simple as possible. Most platforms are good with this, so if you use a pre-designed template, you’re probably in good shape.

Prep your inventory

Your current inventory software might be inadequate to handle what we hope are a surge of orders that are going to come online. If you don’t currently use a bar code system, you may find that’s an option that makes inventory organization easier.

How will your deliver process work? If you have the staff, doing it on-site won’t be a problem. However, many small businesses are strapped for personnel and time. Fortunately you can probably find a reliable dropshipper to handle your orders. But make sure you’ve thought it through.

Optimize your product pages

You’ve done all this work to provide shoppers with a pleasant experience, so let’s not forget core SEO basics that helped you establish your digital presence to begin with. Make sure all of your products have their own page within the store, and that each page is optimized with an appropriate keyword, title and description. You want to get as much relevant website traffic to each page as you can. 

Configure Google Analytics

The world of Google Analytics just got dramatically more complex. The basics you need to address are setting up your Goals to track visits to product pages and visits to the thank-you page where people go after they have purchased something on your site. Then it’s time to sit down and figure out how to set up a funnel to track the typical paths users take to purchase a product. You want to know where people are dropping off so you can figure out how to get them back in the store.

Ask for reviews

Leave room for customers to write product reviews and be bold about asking for them. Don’t worry about prompting someone who then writes a bad review. As you already know from your in-person business, unhappy customers rarely need encouragement to express themselves. But the satisfied customer does need a little reminding. And with so much more of your traffic now being people who might not know your local brand, those reviews will go a long way in building trust. 

Need help making your online store successful? Call us at (443) 475-0787.  Contact us today!