This year, there are an estimated 2.05 billion online shoppers. Due to the pandemic, the convenience and safety of shopping online appeals to consumers across the globe. As a site owner, it can be both exciting and exhausting to create a successful online store that is competitive, easy to use, and continually drives more traffic and sales.

While marketplaces like Amazon and eBay make it easy to sell products and services, it comes with some negatives. For example, these online sites control how sellers’ pages look and how customers use the site. This limitation and lack of freedom may be ideal for a small seller, but can become an issue for larger sellers that have multiple products and services, unique branding, and a need for expansion.

Indeed, businesses with their own online store have complete freedom over their site. This includes everything from their store’s site design and branding to site hosting and their customers’ user experience. If you need an online store that will grow with your business, owning your own online store is the best choice.

Keep reading for ten tips to take your online store to the next level of amazing.

1. Create a Visually Appealing Web Design

Having a visually attractive web design is crucial for a successful online store. Don’t believe it? Consider that 93% of online customers view visual appearance as the most essential factor when making a purchase. Even if you have great products and customer service, you still need to have a beautiful storefront design for your customers. After all, most customers are more likely to shop from physical stores that are organized, well-lit, and visually appealing compared to messy, poorly lit, and dirty stores. It’s the same idea for online stores.

How to design a beautiful store:

  • Hire web design experts to design a custom store, design a site yourself (if you have coding experience), or choose an e-commerce store theme.
  • Capture your customers’ interest by using full-width images, minimal text, and CTA (call-to-action) buttons that pop with contrasting colors.
  • Use a consistent color scheme based on relevant images that will be used on your site. Too many colors overwhelm people, but too little can be dull. Strike a balance with 3-4 colors to create a unified design.

2. Your Store Must Be Mobile-Responsive

If your online store isn’t mobile-responsive, this can significantly harm your site’s overall success and lead to missed opportunities for new customers. Not surprisingly, almost half of online sales are made through mobile devices thus far in 2020. As online shopping makes it convenient to browse and shop from any device, customers expect your online store to be accessible and functional regardless of the device they are using.

Here are some tips for ensuring your site is mobile-friendly:

  • Choose a store design theme that is labeled as mobile-friendly from the start.
  • Choose vertical site designs, which are easier to scroll and view content on mobile devices than horizontal designs.
  • Test and browse your store’s design on mobile devices to identify any errors, such as content not displaying correctly.

3. Craft an Awesome “About Us” Page

When site visitors click on your “About Us” page, this is a great sign. They are interested in learning more about you. This is the perfect place to answer their top questions – who are you, what you do, why you do it, and what you offer to customers. Also, you can include social proof that customers appreciate, such as customer testimonials or company achievements.

To ensure customers can reach you easily, make sure your contact information is easy to find on this page, along with on every page of your store. At a minimum, it’s recommended to include your contact email, address, and social media channels.

Be careful not to cram too much information on this page. Most people don’t have the time or patience to read pages about your company.

Tips for creating an epic “About Us” page:

  • Add basic information about your store, such as your contact information and social media links.
  • Avoid adding too much information on this page, so you can keep visitors engaged and willing to explore your products and services.

4. Provide Amazing Online Support

Ever wonder how big e-commerce stores like Amazon are so popular? Among other factors, a huge factor is their ability to offer amazing online support for their customers. Need to return or exchange an item, no problem. Just chat with a customer support tech for a few minutes and then they will give you specific, easy steps to solve your problem. Amazon makes it easy to return an item – just drop it off at a select store and receive your refund or exchange at lightning-fast speeds. Pretty amazing, right?

You can provide amazing online support for your customers too. After all, customers want to know that if they have issues, they can easily contact you for help. One of the most effective ways to offer great support is to implement a 24/7 live-chat for your customers. Even if you don’t have the resources for this, you can still provide online support with a chat box that is always available to customers.

Tips for offering great online support:

  • Provide online support at every step of the online experience, which encourages new customers to make a purchase and repeat customers to continue shopping from you.
  • Ensure your customer support features are easily found and always visible on your store homepage. This can be a phone line or live chat box, for example.

5. Offer Popular Payment Options

Look at popular online stores, and you will notice that they typically offer popular payment options for customers. The last thing any business wants is for customers to abandon their carts because they don’t offer a payment option they prefer or need to use. To no surprise, PayPal is a popular, go-to option within the e-commerce market. It’s important to offer a variety of payment options, so your customers will be able to pay using their preferred method.

Tips for offering various payment options:

  • Provide a variety of popular payment methods, so the shopping experience is seamless and pain-free for customers.
  • Give customers the option to create an online account to store their payment and personal information for easy future checkout experiences. Everyone loves to save time!

6. Connect via Social Media

As an online store, you have a huge opportunity to connect on a deeper level with your customers. Even though your customers are most likely geographically dispersed, social media allows you to connect with them in creative, ongoing ways. For example, you can regularly post product or service updates, such as when a new line is coming out. Or, you can reach out to your customers and ask them for input about current products, such as “How would you improve this product?” Customers love when they feel valued and appreciated, so take advantage of social media to reach them in positive ways.

Tips for connecting via social media:

  • Regularly post high-quality content that your customers will be interested in, whether it’s product updates, company mission efforts, giveaways, or customer feedback requests.
  • Get creative by encouraging customers to not only engage with you, but also with each other. For example, encourage company FB group pages for customers to discuss your products, company, and even sell or trade items. This also helps you get the word out about your site and brings in potentially new customers.

7. Write a Blog

Need to bring in more traffic to your site? One effective approach is to regularly publish blog posts that will be relevant to your store’s customer base. You can also incorporate SEO keywords to help boost your store’s search engine optimization (SEO) rankings.

Indeed, blog posts that rank well for useful, high-quality content will show up on search engines as top results. In turn, customers searching for keywords that relate to your products will find your store, explore your blog, and eventually, your product pages. This can help bring in more sales as visitors enjoy purchasing from sites that are knowledgeable about their specific industry.

How to write fantastic blog content:

  • Publish a few posts a week about relevant topics, such as product reviews, helpful advice about using your products, or even testimonials from happy customers.
  • Keep track of customers’ blog comments as these are a great indicator of how happy your customers are and whether your products are meeting their wants and needs.

8. Establish Buyer Trust with Product Reviews

Online customers rely on other customers’ product reviews when deciding on whether to purchase a product or service. These reviews not only help customers determine whether they want to buy a product, but also what the customers’ user experiences are like through your store. Therefore, encouraging customers to write product reviews will help you establish a successful store.

After customers make a purchase, send out an email asking them to write a review and share their experiences. Customers are more willing to trust product reviews when there are enough reviews to gain an average rating, such as 50 or more.

Tips for establishing buyer trust with reviews:

  • Show the average product rating and number of reviews on the top of each product page and where you display the reviews, so customers can easily find this content.
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews by offering incentives, such as discounts for next purchases or entering for a weekly or monthly product giveaway. Who doesn’t love free products?

9. Ensure Your Store is Optimized

If your store isn’t optimized for search engines, this can prevent new customers from finding your products and services via search engines. That wouldn’t be good! You can avoid this by ensuring that your store pages have relevant SEO keywords added to your product titles and meta descriptions. This will help your store rank higher on search engines, so more customers will visit your site and increase conversions.

How to optimize your site:

  • Use SEO resources to find relevant keywords that will strike a balance between having enough monthly search volumes and not being too competitive for your store to rank well.
  • Hire SEO experts to ensure your store ranks highly and continues to grow its site traffic and sales.

10. Reach Customers with Email Marketing

In today’s digital age, it’s hard to captivate customers’ attention amidst all the websites vying for their time. However, email marketing is an effective way to establish a relationship with customers. For example, you can send specific types of emails to different groups of your customers based on their needs. If half of your customers want to be the first to learn about store discounts and upcoming products, this is a great opportunity to send out emails to them. Not only will they receive relevant email messages, but will be more willing to check out your products and make purchases.

Tips to reach customers via email marketing:

  • Ask customers to sign up for email notifications during the checkout process and/or when they visit your homepage as a CTA button.
  • Offer options for what type of email marketing they want to receive, such as discounts, new products, new blog content, etc. Customers appreciate receiving only the emails they are interested in, rather than receiving messages that don’t appeal to their needs.

I hope you found this week’s article helpful as you start or continue building a successful online store. It can be overwhelming when trying to create a store that is relevant, useful, optimized, and competitive. However, I hope these tips make the site process a bit easier to manage. Good luck!