High street shops have been having a tough time of it recently with lots of chains going to the wall. On the online side of things however sales have increased again this year. As shoppers have become more comfortable with buying online and ecommerce shops more sophisticated it has become a very handy way to buy.
If you are thinking about setting up a shop but need some help in figuring out how to sell online and how to do it well then this post should give you lots to think about and plenty of work to do. Selling online makes sense as a way to start a business as the barrier to entry is much lower than renting a shop front and buying in a lot of stock. While it can be easy to start selling online there is a huge amount of work that needs to be done if you are going to be successful at it.
What you first of all need to accept is that in most niches you will not be the first so there will be competition that is potentially better funded and more knowledgeable in how to sell online. Here are seven ecommerce advice tips to give you the best possible chance of competing. Why seven? Well either I ran out of tips or it’s just a very lucky number. I’ll let you decide.
If you are looking to start a business it is advised that you find out how big your market is and what the strength of the competition is. Getting that information can take a lot of work but you can use Googles keyword amount tool to give you a quick indication of keyword search amounts and competition levels before you take your master plan any further. Quick tip. Make sure you only select Exact match type. It will still be useful to do a full analysis of the market you want to break into but by looking at keywords at the start you can make more educated decisions about what to sell. It’s a great tool to identify if you are wasting your time selling something nobody wants. If you take only one bit of ecommerce advice with you it should be this.
2.Get online early
If you have an idea and you are serious about wanting to sell online get yourself a holding page up as soon as possible. Ask us for a quick quote. Google is all about trust and they don’t trust new kids on the block. Get a holding page online with lots of content and get included in relevant business / shopping directories and start up your social media accounts. That way when you are ready to launch your shop to the world your site won’t be a total stranger to Google.
Also, bare in mind that exact match keyword domain names can be very powerful for ranking in Google. e.g. Mynewshop.com would rank well for the keyword ‘my new shop’. Your keyword research will help you spot opportunities.
Add lots of original text to every product in your shop. It is common for shop owners to just copy and paste the promotional text that comes with their products. If you do this you have just made your product pages very similar to every other site that sells those products. You need to show Google that your site has original content worthy of inclusion in its search results. Your customers too will want to see well written text to explain the product in detail. This may seem obvious but it’s surprising how much copying and pasting goes on. Writing your own scintillating copy for a hundred products may take a lot of time but it’s worth it.
This is another obvious point but again you would be surprised at the amount of unsuitable photos used on ecommerce sites. From images that are too small to give a good impression of the photo to not enough photos to just plain unprofessional photos. This isn’t ebay. Either invest in professional photos or learn to do it yourself. Remember that when selling online a picture could be a thousand sales!
5.SEO friendly cart
When choosing a shopping cart system there is a lot to consider. Does the cart have SEO friendly URLs, Meta Titles, Meta Descriptions and H1 headers separate from titles? Does the cart pump out lots of on page code that interferes with Googles crawlers? Does the cart produce multiple URLs for each product page? Ask these questions at the start or you could have a mess to deal with later on. If you are selling online SEO is a must. You can get traffic from PPC but that’s expensive. A cart set up for SEO will save and make you money.
Google has a shopping section that allows you to upload a feed of your products for free. I’ll say that another way. You can get your products into the most popular search engine in the world for free. If you only have a few products you can do this manually by creating either a CSV or XML list of your products which adheres to the Google Merchant centre specifications. If you have hundreds of products then you are going to need a shopping cart that produces a Merchant Centre ready feed. Most modern carts will have that feature but check just in case.
When selling online trust is a big deal. You need Google to trust your site so that it is happy to send you traffic and you need your customers to trust your site so that they are prepared to spend money with you. You can get Google to trust your site through longevity, signing up to the appropriate sites to show that you are a real business and by developing a link profile that shows your site to be popular.
Getting your customers to trust you is crucial. To spend money online customers need to have faith that the payment process is secure, that the product is as described and that delivery will be efficient. The catch is that you have to get these things across to customers extremely quickly. If your design isn’t up to scratch it can make visitors hit the back button fast. Good design can go a long way to making your customer trust you instantly. Your domain name can also go some way to help Google and your customers trust you. My-new-shop.com may have the right keywords in it but hyphenated domain names don’t look or sound as good. It makes you look like you’re joining the online party late and can come across as spammy.
If you would like more ecommerce advice or you’ve got any questions about selling online drop us an email and we’d be glad to help you.