- Ask yourself if a website is the right sales channel for your business. Weigh up what you are trying to achieve — for example, do you want your site to sell goods directly, offer post-sales support or act more as a marketing tool for your products and services?
- Consider setting up an eBay shop to keep costs down and to test out your market before committing to the expense of a bespoke website.
- Explore whether you can use an off-the-shelf software package to get a website up-and-running economically. Alternatively, employ a web designer to set up a basic ‘shell’ site.
- Make sure you are able to update the site’s content yourself — you don't want to have to pay someone every time you need to post new items, add special offers or sales information.
- Choose the right internet service provider. Your web hosting service will affect the connection speed and reliability of your website so it’s vital you find reliable web hosting, with good technical support and security.
Selling online tips:
- Work out exactly what you want from your site
- Choose the right web host
- Make your site easy to navigate
- Neglect website security
- Let your website get stale
- Forget to market your website
- Assess how user friendly your site is — make it easy to navigate each page and include a comprehensive search function. Always aim for the eight-second rule – people unable to find the product within this time are likely to go elsewhere.
- Work out your payment function — established businesses which receive a high number of transactions often use an internet merchant account (IMA) from their bank to accept card payments online. Alternatively, ecommerce packages often include payment processing services, albeit at a higher rate of commission.
- Consider whether to use a payment processing company, such as PayPal, particularly if you don’t already accept card payments. But make sure you check the fees — some payment providers charge a percentage of each transaction, while others charge a set-up fee and transaction costs.
- Make sure your website is secure and you reassure customers paying online you have taken adequate security precautions — for safe ecommerce transactions your site should use SSL encryption technology, anti-virus software and be firewall protected.
- Think about web marketing, and how to drive traffic to your site. Use keywords to improve your search engine ranking, rather than paying a search engine optimisation (SEO) specialist.
- Consider order fulfilment — processing orders promptly and guaranteeing a prompt, efficient delivery service is vital for any online business.
- Encourage feedback. Successful websites build a dialogue with customers — consider user ratings or a comments facility. Alternatively, creating a regular email newsletter with special offers and details of new products will also persuade visitors to revisit your site.
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