Web Business Monthly
The 5 Habits of Highly Effective eCommerce Stores
1. Think like a consumer, and put your products in more than one category. The online businesses that make their goods and services easy to find reap rewards in two ways: People purchase more and they experience greater overall satisfaction with the Web site. Consider up sell and cross sell opportunities by offering products that make logical sense together. If you sell paintings and frames, show the frames that best complement the paintings. If you sell a line of products that have a wide range of prices, show the progression from the least expensive to the most expensive. Customers may choose to purchase the higher priced items if they're presented as options.
2. Keep it simple. Many people cite overly complicated navigation or too many pages in the purchase path as reasons they don't complete their online sale or abandon their shopping cart. Successful eCommerce sites simplify the checkout process and display clear pricing and shipping information. They also post clear return policies and access to customer service. Putting your brick and mortar store's phone number in a visible place on your Web site is a good idea. Studies suggest that consumers feel more confident knowing you're just a phone call away if they have a question or if there's a problem with their order.
3. A picture really is worth a thousand words, so use photos of your products and go easy on the text. Online usability studies suggest that people do not read; they scan. It's 25% harder to read on the Web, so keep these guidelines in mind for optimum readability: Headlines should be 8 words or less, shoot for 9-12 words on a line (people don't want to read across the entire screen), keep sentences short (15-20 words) and try to keep summaries under 30 words and hold paragraphs to 40-70 words. In this way you can maintain compelling product descriptions alongside your product offerings.
4. Market your site once it's live. It's not enough to just build a Web site. You need to make an effort to market and promote your Web site to new and existing customers. Collect email addresses on your site to help you keep in touch with customers and consider creating a newsletter. Seek links from other sites that complement yours. Optimize your site's content for relevance and submit it to the major search engines. With ProStore, you've got an incredible built-in marketing opportunity in that you can promote your products to millions of eBay customers. Take advantage of this capability to reach a whole new set of customers.
5. Make payment processing easy. Online shoppers need a way to give you money online. That's easy these days. You can accept credit card payments with either a PayPal account or an online merchant account. PayPal is ideal for anyone trying out the eCommerce waters since there's less of an upfront commitment, but you may end up paying more per transaction. If you know from the beginning you're going to have strong sales and lots of online transactions each month, you may want to consider setting up an online merchant account. The thing to note about PayPal is that both the buyer and the seller need a PayPal account, but that's hardly a barrier to entry. It's so easy to create a PayPal account that more than 96 million consumer accounts have been created at PayPal since it was founded in 1998 and it's estimated that PayPal has a 24% share of all U.S. online payments.
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