Online businesses need not pay rent for a storefront, hire workers to operate the cash register or foot the bill for a host of other brick-and-mortar business costs. However, operating a business with cyberspace as marketplace introduces other issues. Develop a strategy that preempts and overcomes these issues to allow for a smooth start to your online business.
Design a user-friendly, visually attractive website. For the best readability, keep all tabs on the top vertical plane of the website, where the eye naturally scans. Or place them vertically on the left-hand side of the page. Choose a website style based on the industry and product offered. A photographer, graphic designer or fashion designer may design a more cutting-edge website that uses flash-based programming. Businesses that sell practical items such as tools, cell phones or medical equipment may choose a basic, straightforward CSS or XHTML-constructed website. Ensure that the consumer knows exactly what you are selling on the homepage by displaying an image of the product or strategically displaying a logo. Place a two-sentence business objective under the top header as well.
Secure Payment Options
Take online security measures to ensure that customers trust you enough to do business on your website. Melissa Campanelli, in her book, “Open an Online Business in 10 Days” says that during the holiday season, 49 percent of consumers stated their reticence to shop online because of identity theft; 39 percent of respondents checked credit card theft as a concerning factor. The use of SSL encryption technology, a service offered by many online checkout security providers, is one way to mitigate the risk of identity theft and credit card fraud. Google checkout and PayPal are two reputable providers of this service. Ensure that consumers are aware of the precautions taken by your business by showing the emblem of the reputable provider on your website’s checkout page.
When your customers want to ask a question, seek a refund or inquire about shipping, they need a way to contact someone from your business. Stay on top of these requests by maintaining a meticulously organized email system that sorts inquiries into files upon hitting your inbox. Provide a phone number for customers to call during normal business hours. Additionally, record a personalized message with your full name and business name. Hearing a human voice with a name on the answering machine is a refreshing alternative for many who are accustomed to an impersonal automated operating system.
Marketing and SEO
Make your online presence known.The primary way by which people visit your website is seeing it on the first pages of a search engine. Businesses engage in search engine optimization, or SEO, to achieve this task. First and foremost, register your pages with search engines as soon as possible, because it can take a few weeks for search engines to index your pages. Increase traffic and draw potential customers to your website by creating keyword-rich web pages related to the product. For instance, if you run a canned goods business, then research high-ranking key words pertaining to canned goods. If “how to can tomatoes” is a high-ranking phrase, include information on your website on how to can tomatoes. On the page, include numerous links to your product.
Since 2008 Catherine Capozzi has been writing business, finance and economics-related articles from her home in the sunny state of Arizona. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in economics from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, which has given her a love of spreadsheets and corporate life.