Here are 10 TOP TIPS on how to create a successful online business

As the pandemic has hit the economy hard this year, it’s no surprise the many shops are desperately asking for the public to shop local. However, with lockdown 2.0 now upon us and all essential shops have been forced to close, shoppers must purchase online. 

Unfortunately many businesses have not yet moved online, and rely heavily on footfall rather than clicks and online ads. It’s now time for many businesses to start up websites and avoid getting hit by the current recession and be forced to shut for good.

Here’s how you can make the steps to becoming a successful online shop:

1. Engaging Web Design

The fact of the matter is.. you’re not going to get anywhere with a lousy web design. Whether you’re starting a brand new website, or if you already have one but it’s severely outdated, it’s time to think about how you can engage your customers. According to a Kissmetrics study, 93% of buyers consider visual appearance to be the most important factor when making a purchase.

An important element of web design is not just looks but navigation. You have have 15 seconds to engage your customer before they click that big red cross and forget all about your website. Make sure they can easily move from page to page without having to really search for it. A search bar is a great element to have to help customers get to exactly what they need within seconds.

If you’re not very creative or you’re not confident creating your own website, hire a web designer! Hiring a professional will ensure your website is visually appealing, optimised for search engines, and easy to navigate. It will be worth every penny.

2. Partner with other brands

Teaming up with other local businesses can be a great way to grab the attention of new customers. Pick a business that compliments your product! For example Lytham’s Tom Tower’s Tasty Cheese Shop, partnered up with Strongs Fruit and Veg shop, to sell his excellent cheeses during the first lockdown. This was a very successful move and caught the attention of new shoppers.

3. Offer a click and collect service, and free delivery option

Offering a free online click and collect service will allow customers to pick up their products saving you the hassle of posting and packaging. This will enable you to meet the customers face to (socially distanced) face, connect and give them an excellent shopping experience. This will help them form a great attitude towards your business and ensure they make future purchases.

In addition, free delivery is a very smart move for businesses as Amazon Prime is taking over online shopping. The fast and reliable service is a hit with customers that they are starting to buy elsewhere. If you can offer free delivery, especially if you’re selling to locals, make sure you advertise this as soon as customers see your site!

4. Offer an online discount off their first purchase

A lot of people browse online, but how do they go from browsing to purchasing? Using an online discount off the first purchase will ensure the customer makes that all important first purchase. Even a 10% discount can make up someone’s mind!

You can get them to sign up to a newsletter and then email them the discount. We recommend using MailChimp to monitor your audience and send out that discount code! You can then send them offers and updates with the easy-to-use service.

5. Offer fast online support

If you’re sat at home waiting for orders to come in, a way to busy yourself is to make sure you’re available to answer any and every query your potential customers might have. You should also keep your customers happy with a refunds/exchanges policy.

Make sure you offer support via email, Facebook messenger and better still.. a website chat window!

6. Make sure your website offers SECURE payments

Making a first online purchase is quite a daunting prospect to some people, so you need to make sure your website offers secure payments so the customer knows that they are not falling victim to a scam:

a) Make sure your website has an SSL certificate. This means your website is secure and the owner cannot collect any details illegally.

b) Use a popular online payment module such as PayPal. Using PayPal will give your customers peace of mind as they are not directly putting their details into the website.

c) Provide a privacy policy – this will help customers understand how their details and data are processed, and what you do with it. This is usually a legal requirement under recent GDPR laws.

7. Ensure your store is mobile responsive

An enormous 45% of customers make purchases on their mobile phone. This number is increasing every year, with fast Apple/Google payments and autofill card details, it’s easier than every to buy online with your phone, anywhere you want.

Mobile responsiveness is how your website changes on a mobile phone. It’s great having a website that looks amazing on a computer/laptop, but if 45% or more of your customers are using their phone and it doesn’t work.. what’s the point?

Web designers will always make sure your website is mobile friendly, but if you’re creating a website yourself, make sure you do tests and use a mobile responsive theme!

8. Use high resolution images

When creating a website, you must make sure your images are high quality. If you have low quality images your website may run faster but your customers will see it as a sign of unprofessionalism and choose not to purchase. They may also not be able to see every detail of the product and decide not to purchase on this basis. Understanding how images reduce in size is so important.. here’s how:

a) Keep original image files!!!! The best way to ensure your images stay high quality is keeping backups of the ORIGINAL image shots, straight from the photographer/camera.

b) Don’t transport your images via Facebook or Whatsapp. Social media is not an efficient way to send high resolution images – firstly they take ages to upload, and secondly they reduce the file size in order to upload.. just don’t do it okay?! We recommend using WeTransfer. This program is specifically designed to transport images using zip files to ensure your images don’t suffer any loss in quality.

c) Try not to use or convert JPG/JPEG files until you have to. Try to use TIFF or PNG to ensure your images stay high quality, and then when you upload to the website you may use jpg/jpeg files (It’s complicated but basically your website will take forever to load with too many png files).

9. Social Media Marketing is key

Back in the day, traditional forms of marketing could be expensive and difficult to understand the analytics and statistics. Using social media marketing to its full potential is a no-brainer. First step is to understand who your target audience are, then you can use social media to advertising and techniques to capture their attention. Odds are nearly all your customers will have at least one form of social media.

If you aren’t confident with social media marketing, hiring a professional can hugely benefit your business. Another option is to take a course or use online resources to learn how to market it yourself.

10. And finally… encourage online sharing

Rather than paying for constant online advertising and trying to force people to look at your page.. online shares can be an excellent and FREE way of getting your business noticed. This is called Word-of mouth (WOM) or Electronic-word-of-mouth (E-WOM), a key feature of customer analysis. Coming up with a unique and interesting marketing campaign can be a way to get clicks and shares without hassle.

Use Hashtags to your advantage – Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are all big on using hashtags to help users find posts. Creating a campaign with hashtags and enabling people to share it will help get your business recognised internationally.

Think about why they will want to share with their friends? Offer a voucher or discount to friend referrals, host a competition or raffle and get people to share in order to enter.. there are many ways to get people talking about your product. You just need to be creative enough to think of them!

We hope this helped spark some ideas on how to update your online business. We offer a website design service starting at only £350. If you’re struggling with any of these tips, don’t hesitate to get in touch and we will get your online shop ready for you.

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