How to build an online store for your business
Do you want to start an online business but aren’t sure where to begin? Good news – selling online is both great for your business and much less technical than you’d think.
We all remember the massive increase in e-commerce triggered by the pandemic. Customers who migrated online quickly found that online stores were more convenient places to shop. After all, who wants to be tied to a physical location when you can find anything online with a few taps of your phone?
Who is your customer?
A few things are needed before you can set up an online store. You should know what your business will be, the items you’ll sell, and the niche you’ll appeal to.
One tool you can use for that is keyword research. A simple way to do this is to enter search terms into Google, or another search engine, and check the results. Which keywords show up in the top search results? Which alternative search phrases are recommended?
Keyword search tools are very useful for this kind of thing. You won’t have to comb the internet yourself and these tools also let you assess keyword difficulty, or how difficult it will be to ‘rank’ for search terms. That will give you a good idea of keywords to emphasise in your store.
Using an online store builder
Once you know all that, you’ll need to build the store itself. There are lots of online store building platforms available, including ones that don’t require much technical know-how. Try the SumUp Online Store and start selling online for free.
You could also opt to build the site yourself or hire a professional to build your store for you. Whichever option you choose, your online store needs the same basic things:
Items: This is what your store is there to showcase. The ‘add products’ screen is where you’ll put in the title, description, and pricing of your items, so it will often be the centrepiece of your store’s design.
Visuals: Since your customers aren’t in-store, having clear visuals is essential to get them to understand what they’re buying and make them excited about it.
Good user interface: Your store should make it easy to navigate through your items. It should be easy to find anything just by naturally scrolling down the page. Consistency in how you present items is key here.
Contact page: This is to give your customers a way to reach out to you on other platforms.
Checkout page: Where customers can place their orders and select delivery and shipping options. Do you offer same-day delivery, pickup or priority shipping? Let your customers know how flexible and accommodating you are.
How to promote your online store
You’ll start making sales when people know about your store. Once everything’s set up, the most important thing you can do to help your store succeed is market it.
You can do this in a few different ways. Promoting it on your social media channels is important, but what about people who don’t already follow you? They might be looking for exactly what you’re selling and not realise it.
That’s why you should be mindful of search engine optimisation – gearing your content towards search results – whenever you add content to your store. Remember those searches you did to find keywords in your niche? Include those search terms throughout your online store pages, but especially in:
URL and meta tags
The two best social media platforms for online store marketing are Facebook and Instagram; Facebook because of its size and range of business tools and Instagram for its focus on visuals.
When you’re advertising your store on Facebook, the first thing you can do is add a button or a link to the store on your business page, and this lets your followers know you’re now online.
If you’re looking to reach new people, you can make use of Facebook Ads. Facebook Ads target people based on what they have expressed interest in; so someone who has liked a page will get ads related to the content of that page. Facebook’s guide to the tool will help you get the most from it.
The highly visual orientation of Instagram allows you to show off your items in all their glory. And thanks to stories, going live, and Instagram TV, you can demo your items and show off their features.
Instagram also lets you create ads that you can use to target customers who don’t follow you yet. You can even turn existing posts into ads, which is useful if you notice one of your posts getting a lot of engagement.
Doing the research to find your marketing strategy, the right online store builder for you, and places where your audience congregates will be great steps toward your goal of selling online.
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