We’ve outlined a list below of frequently asked questions about creating and running a web store:
What is a web store?
With the dramatic growth in Internet usage, many companies and entrepreneurs are setting up sites on the World Wide Web to pitch for orders, accept orders, process payment and sometimes ship orders – these are known as Web stores.
What are the advantages of a web store?
A Web store has significantly lower set up and running costs than a bricks-and-mortar store and customers are able to place orders 24hrs a day from anywhere in the world. Additionally, if you are selling a service, information or software then you can deliver it straight from your Web site.
How do I create a Web store?
A basic Web store can be created by simply offer goods or services for sale on a secured part of a Web site. However, once you move beyond the most rudimentary of Web stores, software products to support e-commerce applications require a great deal of customisation, and many sellers chose to outsource all or part of their Web store. How much of your store you chose to outsource will depend on the nature of your business and the availability of relevant skills within your organisation.
How do I design the store to maximize order intake?
To a large extent the design of Web stores is still a new science (or art??) and much experimentation is still needed before it is possible to establish exactly what does and doesn’t work. And what will work for you may be totally different from everyone else depending on the unique nature of your business.
However, it is possible to lay down some guidelines that will help you design an effective Web store:
- Ensure it loads fast
- Keep it simple
- Use a shopping cart
- Have clear navigation
- Remember that the Web is a global market
- Maximize ways to order and ways to pay
- Establish credibility
- Offer a personalised service
- Offer good pre-sales support
- Offer good post-sales support
- Price your products or services realistically
- Remember to sell
How do I accept orders?
Although most Web stores are probably set up with the expectation that the majority of orders will be received through the Web, the reality is that many customers prefer to use the Web to aid in the selection of a product and then to order by more traditional methods. You therefore need to ensure you are able to accept orders in as many different ways as possible:
- Secure order form
- Snail Mail
How do I get paid? Can I accept credit cards?
Although the majority of payments in Web stores are made through traditional credit card transactions, you need to be in a position to accept payment in as many ways as possible in order to maximize your sales, for example:
- Credit cards
- Digital cash
- Electronic Checking
- Traditional payment methods
How do I promote my store?
Once you have built your Web store you need to work hard to entice customers to enter.
Here is your “To Do” List:
- Search engine and directory submittal
- Negotiate cross-links with other sites
- Build links from other sites
- Set up affiliate programs
- Researching and posting to relevant newsgroups
- Keep refreshing your content
- Online advertising via banners
- E-mail marketing
- Create a signature file
- Issue press releases
- Print your URL everywhere