16 Tips to Start an Online Business

When you think about starting an online business it can be quite intimidating. There are alot of questions; What do I sell? Which platform do I sell on? How will the payment process work? And many more questions. Here are tips on starting an online business.

1. Find your Niche

When considering an online business you need to think about what your niche is and whether you are launching the right type of business. The online market is competitive with thousands of other stores and you need to conduct market research into the type of business you are entering into. Once you know your market you can build a unique presence online by targeting the right audience with the right product and offering something different from your competition.

2. Choose the right Platform

Choosing the right E-Commerce platform is the first thing that you need to do to start your online store.  An E-Commerce platform allows people to buy your products or services from your small business. There are a number of E-Commerce platforms; WooCommerce, Shopify, SquareSpace, Wix and many more. You have to choose the right E-Commerce platform for your online store to succeed. 

3. Website design should be Responsive

Many customers are shopping online using different devices. Your online store should be responsive on all devices desktop, tablet and mobile. Whichever platform you use to design your website or whether you get someone to design it the website should be optimised.

4. Improve Navigation

User experience determines how users  feel when they are browsing through the website. A website that looks good but isn’t easy to navigate will make you lose customers, if you can’t find it you won’t be able to buy it.  Your online store should allow users to easily find what they are looking for by having best sellers or new categories, recently viewed features and using drop-down menus.

5. Develop a SEO Strategy

You need to think about how you can bring your target market to your website using SEO (search engine optimization). The tips to using SEO is by optimising your products by using keywords, using friendly URLs, user-generated content by adding social media to allow product reviews, avoiding duplicate content, keeping pages with out of stock items, linking to other internet sites and using analytics.

6. First impression Matters

First impression matters and your online store should be memorable and unique to keep users engaged.  Your design is important, from the header on the home page, the home page, content, colours and more tells a story about who you are and what you sell.  Think about your niche and options of the design of the online store.

7. Use high quality Photos

One of the most important ways you can boost chances of conversion is having high quality images showcasing your products.  According to statistics, customers will remember 80% of what they see and a staggering 20% of what they read. Take good photos of your products from all angles, enable zooming for customers to see every little detail and use a white background for your products to stand out. This is a great way to make your online business ideas to stand out with something unique.

8. Include a Blog

Blogging can help increase visitors to your website each month. If you don’t have enough time you can try publishing one new article once a week. When you have time you can’t draft about 5 posts and schedule them so that you don’t have to deal with blogging for a couple of weeks. There are different subjects you can publish i.e from tips from your niche, personal experiences so your customers get to know you or  something in your online store. You can also start building an email list and start using email marketing.

9. Create a great About Us Page

Your About Us page is the window into your business and should be honest, updated, well designed and appealing. When people visit your website they are curious about your business, who you are and what you offer. This page should have the story of your brand, photos or videos about your brand, your team or partners, testimonials and links to other information about you such as your socials.

10. Use Live Chat

Using live chat on your website is a great way to interact with customers online. There are a number of benefits to live chat; respond to customers prominently, increase sales, resolve any complaints, increase web conversions, prevent cart abandonment, improve customer service and loyalty. 

11. Use Coupons

Using coupons can generate business especially when you have a new online store and during quiet periods. You will need to determine what coupons you will use and how much the discount value will be. There are different types of coupons you can use; first time buyer, bulk discount, member discount, free shipping and returning customer discount.

12. Improve shopping Cart Experience

Some users like to browse or window shop and end up adding products to the baskets only to abandon their cart at checkout.  A few reasons why cart abandonment might happen; high shipping/delivery costs, slow website or time-out, not enough payment options or having to sign up for an account before paying. You will need to find ways to improve shopping cart experience to reduce cart abandonment. Try shopping on your website to  find the pros and cons, make changes accordingly and do market research in other businesses like yours to see how they deliver their checkout experience.

13. Develop a Shipping/Delivery Strategy

A successful shipping/delivery strategy will encourage customer loyalty, increase sales, reduce cart abandonment and have repeat customers. Nowadays more online stores offer ‘Free shipping/delivery’ and customers expect this message on the banners of your online store. Besides free shipping/delivery these are the other strategies you can use; free delivery over a certain order amount, flat rate shipping and shipping rates based on weight, order total or distance.

14. Ask for Reviews

It is important to know what your customers feel about your business whether the feedback is positive or negative. Give customers the options of reviewing your products by having this option on all products categories on your website. Other potential customers read reviews before they intend to buy and make their decision based on what they read. You should go through positive and negative reviews on your website and social media platforms. No product/service is perfect, if you have negative reviews don’t ignore them, respond promptly and use these reviews to improve.

15. Your website should be Secure

Your website should be secure and trustworthy. Online data is sensitive and people are careful about entering information such as bank card details before placing an order. There these techniques will help you reduce online fraud; use a secure platform, your site should have SSL authentication, track your orders and use strong passwords on the website.

16. Use social media to Promote Yourself

If you are dropshipping, affiliate marketing or building an online business you should have a social media strategy. Social media is huge and you can promote your business online by reaching more people globally and maximising your sales. You have to choose the right social media platform for your business and be as active on them as possible. Avoid overselling, your audience wants to know the history behind your brand and to build a personal connection with you.