A friend of mine has just signed the lease on a real life bricks and mortar store. When I say ‘just signed the lease’, I mean that she signed it 9 weeks ago. Every day she’s in there making it ready. It’s important to get it right, she says, because people will be walking past, looking in the window, and judging her by what they see. This all makes sense and is not surprising. What is surprising is that people think an online store can be up and running in a day. That’s the first tip. Just because the store is ‘virtual’, it demands as much care and attention as a physical store. People will judge you by what they see.
A store needs a great name, a great logo, a great shop window, excellent customer care and intelligent after sales follow-up. The name for an ecommerce store should be chosen with the domain name in mind. It’s no good coming up with the perfect name, printing your stationary, then finding that the domain is unavailable. True, it’s possible that .net or .biz is available for your chosen name, but searchers still go straight for .com and that’s the one you should be registering. Shorter names are better, but don’t abandon the perfect name just because it’s long.
Your logo should be professionally designed. Logo design is a science, so get someone else to do it. Branding of your name is much easier with a well designed logo. Think of great stores in major cities and imagine how many had their logos designed by the sales staff. None of them. The shop window is the same; it’s appearance is an indicator of your level of professionalism and investment. An ecommerce shop window takes the form of photographs, other graphics, and textual descriptions. Photographs should be professionally produced, or at least look as though they were. People judge the quality of the product by the quality of the photograph.
Potential customers will decide the quality of products, and the quality of the store itself, by your product descriptions. Get the spelling and grammar checked. Just because words like “alot” appear all over the internet doesn’t mean that they are correct. Customers will think that sloppy use of language will extend to sloppy treatment of customers. Don’t oversell your products in the descriptions. Customers will respect you more if they get exactly what you said they would get.
You can care for your customers by taking care with the design of your store. Make the navigation easy and intuitive. Keep very specific hyperlinks away from the front pages and allow people to easily flow from the front page to the products to the checkout. Bricks and mortar stores invest a great deal of time and money guiding their customers through the shopping process and you should too. When you do get customers they will return if their experience was an easy one.
Imagine your ecommerce store is a real world environment. Try to think of the effort and attention to detail that a real world store would entail, and devote that much to your store online. You should be looking for repeat business from more than ten percent of your customers, and if that isn’t happening, work out why and change it.