*Thank you to Jessica for sharing these tips with our readers.
Running a small business isn’t easy and often it’s very hard to compete in the online shopping world. It can be frustrating and difficult to launch a small business or to find innovative ways to improve sales. If you don’t have a brick and mortar location, your online store is most likely your entire source of revenue. You can often improve business and avoid common pitfalls by just making a few simple changes to your online shop.
Make Purchasing Easy
If you’re online store isn’t bringing in the business you’d like it to, take a good look at the checkout process. This simple detail, the most important component aside from the merchandise, could be designed poorly and costing you business. Shoppers have a lot of options these days and your competitor is just one click away. Make purchases as quick and simple as possible. Avoid asking your customers to register, as research shows that this causes 23 percent of users to abandon their online carts, according to Mashable. The same study indicated that as many as 74 percent of shoppers left their carts behind because shipping costs weren’t made clear until the very end of the checkout process. Prevent this by adding a link to shipping and handling rates in every product listing.
Engage with Social Media
Small businesses don’t have the marketing budgets of major retailers and are often at a loss to find ways to advertise without shelling out a lot of money. Social media is an excellent avenue for free advertising and also engaging with customers and fans on a more personal level. Pick a few platforms that you’re comfortable with, sign up and start adding followers starting with friends and family. Ask your social circle and existing fans to re-post to build up your networks. Offer coupon codes, promotions and giveaways on your various accounts to draw people in and increase the amount of people posting and sharing your updates. Add links to social media on every product page so customers can share their favorite items easily.
Provide Clear and Detailed Descriptions
Besides having a simple checkout process, the most important elements on your site are the product listings. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to provide customers with the information they need to make a purchase. Take high quality images of your merchandise, offer different views, angles and close-ups and a zoom function. Don’t forget to include detailed written copy about each item including materials and measurements. Shoppers need all this information when they can’t see products in person and may not want to purchase something without knowing all the facts.
Use Streamlined Layout
Keep your website clean and simple, suggests Entrepreneur, too much information will overwhelm customers. Find the right balance between text and images and make sure all tabs are clear and easy to find. People are not going to hunt around the site looking for information, so make sure everything important pops out right away. If you’re having trouble with your layout, it may be a good idea to use a design template from sites like Shopify. Look to websites you love for help and inspiration. It’s easy to find the right layout that will work perfectly to showcase your product or service.
Be Easy to Find
Ensure that your site is showing up in web searches by using a simple URL. Avoid hyphens and too many words. It’s best to have something that’s as short as possible while still being memorable and interesting. With so many domain names already in use, it can be frustrating when something you’d like isn’t available. Take advantage of new domain name extensions that are now being offered. A domain name extension is whatever word comes after the dot in your web address, with .com being the most common. If you have been using an unwieldy and less than desirable web address taking advantage of these new extensions could work to your favor, says Businessweek. They do caution to be conservative in choosing an extension because not all domain name extensions will catch on.
A quick way to improve your website is to add fresh content as much as possible. Update merchandise seasonally or add a few fresh details every few months. A site that stays stagnant can bore customers, warns Entrepreneur, leaving them feeling that there’s nothing new being offered. A great idea to keep things new is to feature a product of the week or month, on the homepage. This can grab the attention of both new and old customers by highlighting popular or new items at the same time as updating your page with new content. For an added incentive, offer a different sale or promotion every couple of weeks, which gives people a reason to check in often.
Following these tips to improving your website can help you increase sales, gain a loyal customer base and improve your web visibility. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or totally revamp your website, the more fresh content you have the better chance you’ll have of bringing in customers and making sales.