GUIDE: GET MY BUSINESS ONLINE | STEP THREE:
Create an Online Store for your Iowa Business
Starting your online store doesn’t have to be a hassle. There are so many tools and resources out there for free or extremely affordable to help you start and manage your online store. Whether you are building your own website, or setting up a store on websites like Amazon or Etsy, make sure you follow these helpful tips to build a successful ecommerce website.
Support & FAQ
Nothing is more annoying than when you are shopping online and can’t find the answers you are looking for. Perhaps it’s a shipping policy, or maybe you just want to know more about the sizes of a shirt or if the product comes in a different color. Whatever the reason, we expect there to be information on the website that will answer our questions. If the information doesn’t answer our questions, we tend to search for a way to speak with a representative. If there isn’t a simple way to ask your question to a representative, we typically will leave the website frustrated and will spend our money elsewhere.
When building your online store, make sure you provide plenty of information, including an FAQ section, to better inform your customers of your products and services. If you can’t answer every question, it’s important to provide ways to communicate with your customers in a stress-free way. Providing a chat feature allows you to connect with your customers in real-time. However, you can’t be online and ready to chat 24-7. Because of this, you could invest in something like a chatbot. A chatbot is a robot that can help answer common questions your customers may have. If a chatbot is out of the budget, then you should make sure that there are plenty of other ways to reach out, like a listed phone number and email.
Incentives and advertising go hand-in-hand when promoting your online store, as well as getting your customers to come back time and time again. Consider an incentive program, like referral codes, to credit customer accounts who have their friends buy from you using their referral code. You can also offer discounts to first time customers, or run daily, weekly, or quarterly deals. Just keep in mind that these incentives need to be attractive to your customers, but shouldn’t be too much of a loss to your bottom line.
Offering different ways to pay for your products and services prevents customers from having a reason not to buy. If you only offer PayPal as a payment method, and the customer doesn’t have a PayPal account, you run the risk of them leaving your website entirely because they don’t want to go through the hassle. If you also offer Visa or Mastercard options, they can use the card(s) they already have without issue. When building your store, make sure you look into what kind of payment methods you can connect to your site, and if there will be any potential issues.
Product reviews are word-of-mouth marketing in the digital realm. If you don’t have product reviews, it makes it harder to convince a new customer to buy your product. Make sure you include a way for your customers to leave reviews somewhere on each product/service page. If you can’t do this, have a page dedicated to reviews of your products, services, and company as a whole. When you are just starting out and haven’t sold anything yet, try lowering your prices to entice customers to buy. After they buy, offer incentives if they leave a review, like a free product or shipping on their next order.
High Resolution Photos
Having high quality products and services are key to a successful business. But, if the images and videos you use on your website to show off your products and services are of low quality, a customer may not believe your offerings are of great quality. Creating high quality images and videos on-the-cheap is no longer an issue considering many of us have great cameras right in our pockets (smartphones).
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have questions about setting up your online store? You should consider checking out our Resource Navigator. It houses the contact information of 400 of our most helpful partners from across the state who provide free to low-cost assistance to Iowa entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Q: Are FAQs really that helpful?
A: That depends entirely on what questions you answer! Listen to your customers and answer their questions directly on your website. FAQs can help remove uncertainty from unsure customers and can also help improve your traffic through better SEO practices.
Q: Is one payment method any better than the other?
A: This depends entirely on who your customer is, what your product or service is. If you are selling a product online to someone across the world, using a credit card makes a lot of sense. If someone orders a custom pool installation, it may make more sense to accept cash or check in person since you will be in person doing the installation. So, consider the context of the sale and when it is appropriate to collect payment before deciding which payment method to go with.
Q: Is there an alternative to product reviews I can use?
A: Yes, it’s called “social proof”. This essentially means that a customer’s peers think highly of the company or their products as a whole. If you position certain reviews of you, your team, or products/services you offer throughout the buying process, a customer may be convinced to buy despite not having a review of the actual product or service they are buying.
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NOTICE: The information included on this website is to be used only as a guide. It is not intended to cover all provisions of the law or every taxpayer's specific circumstances.
GUIDE: START AN ONLINE BUSINESS
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