8 Tips to Building a Successful Online Store
Building a successful online store might be tricky. Have a look at our 8 tips how to make a superb online store. Some of the tips are developer oriented, some are business oriented. Nevertheless, it is our guide for building an online store for developers.
1. Solid E-commerce Platform
The key feature to building a successful online store is a rock solid e-commerce platform. Depending on a particular project, the e-commerce platfrom has to have sufficient features such as discount, customer groups, online payments, etc. However, at the same time, is mustn't be over-complicated in order to make it fast enough. I would recommend using Virtuemart, running on Joomla! CMS. It is the best e-commerce platform for Joomla! which gives you handy features mentioned above.
2. Clear and User-friendly Design
Once you have a platform, you have to create (or have created) a design. Users do not like to be confused, especially these days, when they can just close the window and go somewhere else. Make a clear, user-friendly design. Users must know where exactly they are > tell them by placing some business claims onto the homepage: "perfumes for the whole family", "we care for your PC, you care for business"... Something like this. Also, a key feature is a navigation > the navigation has to be: visible and clear > make it as easy as possible: only big players can afford to have complicated menus. For the rest of us, 8 - 10 menu items is a MAX.
3. The Magic of Home Page
Home pages are usually the first obstacle for customers to actually purchase something... Sounds weird but it's true. Make use of the home page for discount banners, business claims, featured products, etc. Customers love when there is a discount. They love it even more when they see the original price :-) Also, a home page is a good place for your top sellling products: don't make your regular customers click through the whole website to get to the product they want > just give the best selling product on the home page, along with the featured ones.
4. Conversion Oriented Features
Conversion is what you need. You need to turn your visitor into a customer. I have mentioned one conversion feature already: the home page. But that is not all. You need to build trust and action (according to the AITA approach). Trust can be built by implementing an online chat, a contact / question form, a money-back guarantee banner, a product video, quality product photos, information such as "when will the product be delivered", true info about the stock level, etc. Once you have their trust (or interest), action is just a click away. Make everything clickable > guide them to product you promote.
5. Lucid product page
Once the visitor has ended up on a product page, you are half-way through. Make the page simple, clear, nice.... There should be quality photos, preferably more than one, big and visible "Add to cart button", all the other information about the stock, discount, loan etc. should be neatly organised. The product should have a relevant title containing keywords and its purpose. You will not succeed with a title such as "Shovel" or "Jacket". A better way is "Metal shovel, 30x30 cm" or "Leather jacket, black - for men". You get it. The product description should be unique, clearly desribing the purpose of the product, its parameters and additional photos. There should definitely be product reviews. To sum up, all should lead to clicking that "Add to cart" button.
6. Upsale features
It is a good idea to implement some upsale features such as "Others also bought" or "Related products" - both into the product detail and the cart view. Two reasons: you will increase your client's revenues and the customers will be happier. I personally can't stand when I buy an electronic product that runs on batteries and there are no batteries included in the package, no one has told me and no one has offered me to buy them. Also, some products are nicely connected with each other: electronic devices + batteries, candle stands + candles, perfume + shower gels, etc. Make it easier for the visitors and earn more money, that is the idea behind it.
7. User-friendly Checkout
The checkout is a key step towards finishing the order. Sadly, a lot of e-commerce platforms have terrible checkouts and the bounce rate is very high: it is confusing, too many steps or one step only (depending on the area of business), the price is increasing due to VAT, the shipping price is absurdly high, confusing shipping / billing address, etc. To avoid this, you need to pick the right e-commerce platform and give your checkout process a nice look & feel. Everything should be clear, discount should apply as well as shopper groups. If you do not put any obstacles into the cart, you have the order.
8. Testing, testing, testing
Last but no least, everything must be double checked. An online store is a complex thing because there are many features that can go wrong - discounts, calculating prices, shoppers groups, orders, VAT. Since this is also a legal thing, you must make sure everything is OK. You should devote at least 25% of the total project time to testing. The more, the better.
Hope it helped. Good luck with building a great online store!