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Things To Check Before Launching Your Online Store

So you’re ready to launch your online store soon, but you want to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. We handle a lot of these launches and migrations, and have come up with this checklist to help you make sure you’ve covered all the bases.

Make Sure Your Data Is In Place

You would be surprised at how many stores will get a good portion of the way through the launch process without having products on the site. Does your store have your products entered into the system and properly categorized into categories? If not, take a little time to make sure that you have that in place. It will also help you get a feel for the system if you’re not already familiar with it.

Do you have any information pages on your site? You should, and here’s why it’s important. Even if you aren’t ready to be worrying about Search Engine Optimization and driving additional traffic to your site in the very beginning, you probably want to tell a little bit of your story. Your business is something to be proud of, and your site is a great place to tell the world about it. An “About Us” page is almost standard for websites these days, and people do actually read them. It’s important for establishing trust and professionalism for your brand.

Customers and Orders

 

If you are starting a brand new business online for the first time, this may apply only partly to you. Many businesses, however, go online after a period of doing business in person either via brick-and-mortar storefronts or face-to-face sales to consumers directly. If you’ve already got a customer base and other types of records that you’d like to have in one central place, it’s a good idea to migrate that date into your new system.

Many times this can be as easy as a properly formatted spreadsheet file, while in other cases you may wish to get some help from a team with experience in doing data conversions. Whichever situation you find yourself in, you’ll be glad you got all the data in one place when you need it.

Shipping and Restrictions

Your business may ship all over the world, but that still means you will want to come up with some shipping settings and restrictions. Some stores only ship to their local areas, particularly if they carry perishable goods. Others will only ship to carriers in North America, or have different rates and availability for shipping methods depending on the destination.

Maybe your business offers free shipping with a coupon or over a certain total – but does that hold true with every location on the planet? If you are planning to only ship to US addresses, does that include overseas territories and military bases? Shipping is a hard problem, but thankfully a lot of people have already solved most of the truly difficult parts. It’s best to start with a few simple rules in place and expand your shipping settings as you need to.

Payment Gateway

If you’re an already established business, you probably already have a way to take credit and debit card payments. If so, it’s always a good idea to check and make sure that your platform works with the Payment Gateway that you have an existing relationship with. Sometimes this will not be the case, particularly if you use an unusual payment provider. In cases like this it can be a good idea to check with your platform and find out what they recommend, as they often have good suggestions.


If you’re just starting out, you will likely want something simple but flexible to start off with before determining what your business’ specific needs are. Many people choose to set up two or three simple methods, for example PayPal and a credit card processor. For many small to medium sized businesses, this may be all that is needed indefinitely. Spend some time looking at your options and deciding, however. It can be important to every aspect of your site’s daily functioning.

Taxes

One of the two certainties in the world, according to some. If there’s any part of this process you don’t want to make any large mistakes in, it is of course setting up taxes. Every major ecommerce platform has the systems in place to make this a little bit easier for you, and in some cases even partner with apps that automate large amounts of the process so that you don’t have to worry about incorrectly creating a setting somewhere important.

If you already have a platform in mind, and you haven’t set up taxes yet, we definitely recommend you discuss this with your platform so that they can walk you through the usual risks and pitfalls. They often have a lot of experience with this, and sometimes have good suggestions you might not have otherwise considered.

Promotional Offers

Everybody loves a bargain! If you’re running sales, you want to feature that prominently on your homepage. Setting up deals like “buy one, get one” or bulk discounts is a great way to carry over your existing policies if you are starting from an established business. If you’re brand-new, it’s a great way to entice customers to make additional purchases.


There are also coupon codes to consider. Coupons are so versatile that they’re used in all kinds of ways. Sending them out as part of your email marketing campaign is one popular use. You could also have ones that you give out to special groups, like members of a forum for enthusiasts of your type of product, or organizations you want to support and develop a relationship with. Versatile and powerful, making sure you’ve got your coupons ready for launch is a great idea.

Contact Information

You’d be surprised how often people will launch their site, but forget to add the necessary contact information to the page. This is an important part of establishing trust and seeming professional. It can make a difference in other ways, as well. Say a customer is ordering something from you in Georgia and they want the product quickly, so they take a look and see that your store is located in Alaska. This tells them that if they want to get the product as fast as possible, they’d better spring for a premium type of shipping rather than simply choosing standard shipping and hoping for the best.

Adding clickable phone numbers, full address, and email contact information in the footer is a part of your design that you don’t want to neglect. If anything goes wrong with an order, customers want to know that they will have a way to reach you to resolve these issues. Help ease their concerns in advance by making this information available to them from the beginning.

Reminders and Notifications

When your customer places an order with your site, there are a number of things you want to have happen from this. First, you want your customer to be notified that their order is received. You will, of course, want to notify them with shipping and tracking information once their parcel is on its way. Then, of course, there’s the other side of this you want to consider which is notifying you and your team that an order has come in so that you can get it processed and out the door as quickly as possible.


Most ecommerce systems have the capability to do this built in to their platforms, but it’s always a good idea to place a few test orders to make sure that everything is working the way you know it should be.

Connecting to the Rest Of Your Online Presence

If your business has a Facebook page, or a Twitter or Instagram account, you will definitely want to make sure that everything is connected. That way your outreach to your customers will send them to your store, and you can encourage them to like and follow you on social media, expanding your reach.


Additionally, if you also sell your products on eBay or through Amazon Marketplace, the right platform will help you integrate all of these sales channels allowing you to keep track of everything from a central location. If you need help with these integrations, you can talk to your ecommerce platform or talk to our team of dedicated professionals – we’re always happy to help!

Make Sure Your Apps Are Connected

connected-dim

If you are moving from another platform, or if you’ve been doing your business online manually, there’s a good chance that you’ve already got a few apps that you rely on to make things run smoothly. Getting these integrated into your new site will be very helpful, to say the least!


It’s a good idea to check out your platform’s app integrations to see if you can easily include the apps you already use in your new site’s functions. Usually, this is fairly simple or only involves a few steps. In some cases, it can require design help to make a few minor adjustments.

Check Your Design

Make sure that all the elements are lining up in more than one browser. Check it on some mobile devices, as well, to make sure everything is behaving properly. Can you navigate categories properly in all of them?

Be sure to check your text, as well. Any typos or errors can make people have second thoughts about your site. If you are concerned about this, you can call in some experts to check everything over and make sure there are no problems with grammar or spelling.

Content

We’ve covered the importance of user-generated content before. Content is what makes your site popular with search engines and leads new people to discover your site for the first time. It’s an essential part of having a modern online business. If you don’t have time to make content yourself, consider hiring a professional team to create some for you.

Set Up Users

If you’re a one-person operation, you’re already set. If you’ve got a team working with you, however, you’ll want to set up a login for each of them. This way you can see who has made what changes, and be able to set permissions so that your salesperson doesn’t accidentally alter your homepage!


Having these in place before you launch will save you a lot of headaches later, when you’re up and running and have a lot on your plate already.

Test Everything

Test your site! Check out the design, place a few test orders. Create a real product for $1 and purchase it using a card, to make sure that everything is actually working at every step of the way. Make sure your payment gateway is set to “live” and not “test” – the last thing you want is to be shipping people orders only to realize that you haven’t actually been getting paid!

Announce Launch!

Launch time! Let your friends and family know. Reach out on your business’ social media accounts, and consider offering a limited-time Grand Opening coupon or discount. Get that traffic coming to your online store, and then sit back and rest for a little while. You’re going to be busy for the foreseeable future, so this might be your last chance to take pride in your accomplishments for a while. And remember, you can always reach out to your platform or a team of designers and developers if you run into trouble.

A Satisfied Customer Is The Best Business Strategy of All

15 Ways to Improve Your Ecommerce Customer’s Experience

A Satisfied Customer Is The Best Business Strategy of All

Once you’ve got your business up and running online, it’s time to start getting more people to your site. If you don’t have people visiting, after all, you won’t have sales. Usually this is something people understand intuitively, however there are some other factors that are equally important to your business success. Once you’ve got people coming to your store, you want to make sure they stay there and shop. You also want them to actually make purchases from your store. It’s important to make sure that your customer experience is smooth and seamless.

“But my business is different!”

It’s true that there is no one-size-fits-all secret to improving the customer experience for every type of online business, but if your business model is selling retail goods – or even selling wholesale – on your ecommerce site, here are a some points to consider to ensure your customers have a pleasant time on your online store.

 

1 – Have Great Photography

Creating Quality Product Photography

When it comes to online shopping, photographs are at the heart of the process. Without the ability to see the product in a good quality photograph, your prospective customer may decide they’d rather buy from somewhere else – or even pick it up locally so they can hold it in their hands and examine it. Here [ http://bit.ly/2ExaoZg ] is a good infographic that helps cover some of the basics.

If you don’t already have great product photographs, you might want to consider hiring a professional photographer. While it does cost more than taking the photographs yourself, the skill and training that they have will definitely make a difference in your final result. So now that you’ve got quality product photographs, what about the rest of the images on your site? Do you have banners, or promotions prominently featured? Does your homepage have a carousel or slider that displays selected products or specials? If you’re working with a design team, they can often help you clean up your product photos or select stock photography for these purposes. For example, adjusting the color balance, and removing the background from a photo can make the image really “pop”, and draw the emphasis to what you’re wanting the customer to see.

 

2 – Make Sure Your Site Has A Clear Interface

Does your page have a lot of visual clutter? When someone goes to your site, what catches their eye first? What about second? After that? People are going to look over a site fairly quickly when they come to it, to decide whether or not they want to continue to look over the site or move on. If you have an eye-catching graphic or image, it should be a call to action. “Shop Now” or “Learn More”, or even “Check Out” or “Add to Cart” are good examples.

The parts of the page you want your customers to interact with should be obvious and prominent. If you’ve got too many elements cluttering their at-a-glance view of the page, your design is competing with itself and working against your goals. This can be easy to do even without meaning to, so it never hurts to consult someone or get a fresh pair of eyes to look things over.

 

3 – Simple Category Structure

This is going to be easier for some businesses than others, of course. When someone comes to your store, there’s a good chance they’re looking for something. They may not be looking to make a purchase right this second, but if they can’t even find the item they’re looking for then the chances they’ll buy something are zero.

Making your categories easy to navigate helps your customers tremendously. Most online clothing stores, for example, tend to organize into a just a few top-level categories: Men’s, Women’s, Kids’, Accessories, etc. For most clothing stores, this is the best way to make sure people find what they’re looking for. That way your customers know which category is going to have the clothes they’re looking to find.

Another way to organize your categories would be by material or by brand. For example if you were selling countertops you might choose “Marble”, “Granite”, “Stainless Steel”, and “Tile” as your top categories. If you were selling computer accessories the brand might be the obvious choice, “Samsung”, “Apple”, “Dell”, etc.

 

4 – User-generated Content

User Generated Content Model

We’ve gone into this in depth here [ http://bit.ly/2BvRAuJ ] but it is important enough to give a brief refresher. Do your customers give you reviews? Feature them on the site. That’s additional information for future customers, and extra content for your site that’s original and free. Do you have customer testimonials or tips? Find a way to feature those as well! The more content your site has, the more likely it will be considered a useful resource, both by search engines and by your site’s visitors.

 

5 – Showcase Positive Reviews

We’ve covered before [http://bit.ly/2BvRAuJ ] why it’s important to not delete all negative reviews. After all, you want customers to recognize that you’re honest! That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t feature the positive reviews. As long as they’re not the majority of reviews, it balances out in the favor of more free “user-generated content”.

Does your site have a carousel/slideshow on the home page? If so, you can use a positive review to promote one of your popular products. Alternatively, you could add a few stellar reviews to the bottom of the page, or your category pages. If you do email marketing you could even add them to your next round of emails. This can be just the thing to help someone who is on the fence about making a purchase decide to go ahead with their decision.

 

6 – Consistent Branding

Make sure your look is professional and consistent. Is your page’s color scheme compatible with your company’s logo? It needs to be the same on every page unless you’ve got a really specific reason why there needs to be an exception Make certain that you can easily determine what site you’re on no matter what page you’re viewing. Your text should be the same font across all pages or your site will look messy and unprofessional. What about sizes and colors, are they consistently the same? This reassures the customer that you’re a professional retailer who will reliably fill their orders and provide good customer service if needed.

 

7 – Live Chat

Women's hand typing on keyboard laptop with mobile smartphone

Many retailers will benefit from having this on their store, in fact many stores have found it invaluable. It can give you the ability to answer customer questions as soon as they have them. The personal touch this can provide makes a huge difference to your customers’ decision to purchase in your store instead of waiting.

If you’re using Bigcommerce [ https://www.bigcommerce.com/ ] as your shopping cart platform, there are a number of chat apps you can integrate into your store, or include in your next site design request if you’re using a design and development service.

 

8 – Let Customers Know How to Reach You

It is surprising how many online stores still don’t have basic contact information available on their site. One can find sites that lack any sort of contact information, not even an email address or phone number! If your customer has a reason to reach out to you about a past or future order and they are unable to find a way to reach you, it’s a sure bet they won’t be making their next purchase through you.

Adding clickable phone numbers, full address, and email contact information in the footer is crucial to assisting customers to engage with you. Even if a customer doesn’t need to contact you, seeing that they can is a confidence booster in your brand.

 

9 – Keep Them Coming Back

Do you reach out to former customers with sales or specials? Maybe offer seasonal coupon codes, or tell them about upcoming specials on popular products? A good email marketing setup can help you with that.

Apart from getting your emails to be automatic and match your branding, you can also add the ability to save wishlists, or loyalty programs where people can earn points with each purchase towards some sort of reward.

 

10 – Keep Them Updated

Make sure to let customers know when their package has shipped. Try to give tracking information, when available. If they email with a question about shipping, reply promptly. Sure, this is basic customer service advice – but we have all experienced what happens when something goes wrong and one of the links in this chain breaks. It can sour your relationship with a customer quickly.

 

11 – Feature Sales and Promotions Prominently

Are you having a sale, or just want to feature some of your products? Holiday special deals, new items, or having a clearance on backstocked items are all deals that customers love to shop for – but they’ve got to know about it! If you’ve got a homepage carousel or slideshow, that’s a great place to feature your deals and promotions. Or perhaps you’d rather have a banner across the top or bottom of a page, or all of your pages, to let people know about the deals they could be getting for a limited time only.


An eye-catching graphic to promote your specials will go a long way toward helping increase the average number of items per purchase. If you do email marketing, you can also include your specials in your targeted sales emails.

 

12 – Offer Targeted Upsells and Promotions

Great Discounts

Have you ever added an item to your cart when shopping online only to have it provide you with a list of suggestions? “You may also like” or “People who bought this also bought” are a couple of examples of this. These are built-in features of BigCommerce.

Similarly, upsell suggestions are common with many online retailers. Buy an air freshener and get 10% off a pack of refills, or buy a coffee maker and get a free sample of a premium house blend of coffee, these are all targeted to the specific purchase or display of interest on the customer’s part. With the right platform, implementing something like this into your store can be easy and effective. oBundle can help with adding these types of customizations to your cart page.

 

13 – Establish Trust

Does your site have a dedicated SSL certificate or other form of secure checkout? Do you have a badge from your payment providers and security certificate issuers visible at the bottom of your page?

Websites that have these things tend to have much higher conversion from visitors to actual sales than sites that do not have these displayed. In some cases up to 70% more! The more you can do to ease people’s fears of making purchases through your business online, the more likely they are to shop with you.

 

14 – Spellcheck and Grammar Check

Sure, this one seems like a really obvious one to most people, but there are still many ecommerce businesses out there with noticeable misspellings or errors that can really stand out to your customer. Even if you’ve gone over everything carefully and double-checked every bit of text on every part of your site, it’s a good idea to have a few other people look over it and point out any spelling or grammar mistakes you might have missed. It can take a little time and maybe even be a little embarrassing, but remember that this is your business – you can’t afford to have potential customers getting a negative impression right from the start! A simple wrong “your” can lead to a customer leaving the store.

 

15 – Content

One phrase you’ll often hear on the Internet when talking about marketing or having a successful website of any kind is “Content is King”. You might not think this matters as much for an online storefront as it would for, say, a popular gossip blog or news site, but make no mistake – content is important to any website that wants visitors to go to it!

The range of things you can do to increase your content is very wide. You can do something as simple as expanding your product descriptions and category or brand information. You can increase the related information about your business and what differentiates you from your competition using your “About Us” page or have a Frequently Asked Questions page for common questions that you receive about some of your products or services. You could even go the extra step of having a blog on your store for providing information, advice, and announcements about specials or new products.

This can be a lot of effort to go through if you’re doing it by yourself, if it seems to daunting there are professionals out there who can find specialists in your industry to handle the tedious writing process. In addition this means that you can also use that text in your email marketing mailers. Having content is a great way to attract people to your site who weren’t otherwise going to visit it.

 

Conclusion

An online business can be tough to manage sometimes, but you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting by yourself. If you’re like many small to medium businesses you are limited on time, money, or both. Many times, updating your website or improving the customer experience while shopping is something that you know is important, but you just don’t know where to get started with only a limited amount of time and money to spend on the project, for more of the latest tips on ecommerce, check out this guide to IRCE 2018.

Some of the points mentioned in this article are quick and easy enough that you can probably tackle them on your own without much fuss. Some tasks may be better to delegate or hire someone to take care of for you. Either way, streamlining your customer experience is always going to make a difference in your bottom line.