Even without much consideration, it is easy to see how selling online can be hugely beneficial in terms of both costs and time saved. With an online shop, you are effectively open 24 hours a day and do not need to pay sales assistants to wait around for your next customer. Having said this, there are skills required to run an online shop or business successfully that should not be overlooked.
It is not simply a case of setting up a website and watching the cash roll in!
Unless you are particularly knowledgeable about website design, you will almost certainly have to get assistance with setting up your online business. Essentially, you want to make sure that your website offers the necessary information for your customers to be able to complete the transaction online. This information will include product details and specifications as well as pricing and delivery information.
Ideally, a customer should be able to find any piece of information that they are looking for in less than 4 clicks from your home page. It should also be very clear to a customer what they are purchasing and what the terms and conditions of the contract are. Bear in mind that not all customers have fast internet connections, so eye catching graphics may not always be particularly pleasing and may, in fact, ruin the shopping experience for some people. Keep it simple and keep it efficient.
When setting up an online business, it is vital to ensure that you have the infrastructure in place to deal with ordering process. People order online because of the convenience and the instant nature of the transaction; this will be lost if you then take a particularly long time to deliver the ordered goods.
In theory, with an online business, there is no limit to the number of people who could be placing an order, at any given time. Make sure that you have the system infrastructure in place to deal with these orders. This may require additional staff or alternatively you could ensure that the website has an automatic cut off after a certain number of items have been sold, to prevent overselling.
It is also important that you consider the safety of your site in terms of security of payments and customer details. Most customers are reasonably confident that bank details remain secure online; however, you have a duty to ensure that this is in fact the case with your website. It is advisable to ask an expert, when they are setting up your site, to make sure that the personal details of your customers cannot be stolen, by having some sort of access protection and encryption of details that are being sent over the internet.
Finally, it should always be made clear to your customers how they can contact you if they have any queries or problems. As this is an online business, it makes perfect sense to have email as the main point of contact, but you should also include a postal address and a telephone number.
Setting up an effective and workable website is a skill and it is well worth paying for professional advice;
Make sure that you have the staff and stock available to respond promptly to orders;
Always ensure that security and safety of details is maintained and that your customers are confident in your safety procedures;
Include a clear contact page that allows customers the option of speaking to you in person if they wish.