For any online store startup, getting your website launched and your business off the ground is hard work, especially during the first year when your brand is still finding its way. To help make things go as smoothly as possible, here are some important tips that can improve your chance of success.
- Build a solid hosting foundation
The success of your online store depends on how good your web hosting is. You need a hosting solution that offers high uptime, so your site stays online; fast loading times, to rank well in search engines and prevent users from leaving; and robust security, to keep your website and your customers’ data safe.
In addition, you’ll want the storage and performance to install and deploy some of the eCommerce apps that are driving growth in today’s market, for example, personalisation software, product recommendation engines and augmented reality apps. You’ll also want a hosting solution that makes it easy to scale up should you find that your traffic has unexpected spikes or that it grows quicker than anticipated. Finally, you want a solution that is managed for you and has an easy-to-use control panel, so that the time and effort needed to keep it working can be kept to a minimum.
With these hosting features in place, your site will have the solid foundations it needs to perform at its best, leaving you the time to focus on running the business.
- Define your audience
While the products your online store sells might appeal to lots of different people, long-term success is more likely when you create a brand that focuses on a specific niche. To do this, you have to understand that niche audience. Who are they, what are their values, needs and aspirations, and what emotional requirements do you need to satisfy to convince them to buy? Only by researching at such a deep level can you ensure your brand can have meaning for these customers.
- Benefits over features
When promoting your products, it’s all too easy to concentrate on their features or technical specification. While it’s helpful to mention these, what’s really going to sell the products is making these features relate to the customer. The way to do this is to discuss the benefits of the features for your brand’s audience. For example, rather than just stating that a laptop has a 1Tb SSD hard drive, say something like, ‘It’s 1Tb of SSD storage is great for storing large numbers of games, videos and music, and lets you access them much faster.’ Of course, the benefit you mention has to be linked to the specific niche audience you are targeting. If you were selling laptops to business users, you might say, ‘Its 1Tb of SSD storage is great for storing all your work apps and files and its blistering speed helps improve productivity.
By linking the benefit to your audience’s values, needs and aspirations, you are better able to satisfy the emotional requirements, mentioned above, that are key to them making a purchase.
- Make promises to your customers
One of the ways to make your brand stand out and help people identify with it is to make promises or commitments to your customers. Rule number one, of course, is that you should never make promises you can’t keep. However, if you are in a position to make promises, doing so can go a long way to attracting new and retaining existing customers.
In a market where consumers have high expectations from a brand, what promises do is give assurances about the quality of the service they can expect. Examples of effective promises include:
- No-quibble returns
- Free deliveries on everything
- 24/7 customer service availability
- Plastic-free product packaging
- Only genuine, handmade products
- Offer great customer experience
In a market where competition is high and margins are narrow, it’s worth knowing that 84% of today’s consumers are willing to pay up to 16% more for great customer experience. For online stores, this includes everything from the experience of shopping on the website, to delivery and aftersales.
The key requirements for the website are that the shopping experience is as simple and enjoyable as possible. Personalisation and product recommendations are important, as is the ease at which customers can find and compare products. Crucial too are website security and the ability to check out quickly. There are various plugins and tools you can use to add these features to your website.
Other things you should consider are the look and design of the website, the cost and speed of delivery, the quality and eco-friendliness of your packaging and your ability to resolve customer issues quickly and without fuss. Rewarding customers for their loyalty can also make shopping with you a better experience.
Startup online stores face lots of challenges, especially during the first year while they find their feet. Hopefully, you’ll find the tips above useful and that they help you on the path to success. If you are seeking fast, reliable and secure hosting for your online store, visit our homepage to see our range of hosting solutions.