Nowadays the easiest way to boost the business is to pair it with a powerful and functional shopping cart. There’re plenty of them on the market to suit any taste and any budget. The quicker you launch it the sooner you’ll sell to online customers all over the globe. To customers who would have never come to your brick-and-mortar shop because of their geographical location. Internet shopping makes world-wide sales possible. The most important decision you should make is the choice of your ecommerce website builder. Among the dozens available on the market you need to find the only one that suits you. To make things easier for you, write down a list of must-have features of your future web store. Take your time and don’t hurry because you’re choosing the functionality of your major selling instrument. The success of online selling business largely depends upon the selling platform and its usability.
Enumerate all the characteristics you think desirable for a customer-friendly and profitable online shop. When finished, surf the Internet in the search of solutions that meet the needs from your list. You’ll certainly find several or even many of them, so the second step will be a more difficult one – to select the only one, the best. Here testing comes. Every shopping cart store builder offers a free trial period of 14 to 30 days. Usually it’s more than enough to understand how it works and whether it suits you. Before analyzing the market, ask yourself if you’re ready to spend time and efforts on building and supporting your own solution. It goes without saying, that you’ll need some tech skills and experience with HTML and CSS coding. If you’ve got all this, think about various open source e-commerce solutions – you’ll pay less as far as you develop the program yourself, and you’ll get more control over your online store. Keep looking till you find the best mix of features, loading speed and scalability.
Be ready to spend hours on code forums trying to find answers to dozens of technical questions. You’ll probably prefer to hire a coder who’ll take into account all the aspects of your future web shop. In this case an open source platform might be a right choice for you. Whatever will be your choice, don’t forget about data and transactions security for you and your customers. Reliable and well-protected hosting together with an appropriate SSL certificate can solve this problem. Self-hosting is a decent choice for a well-equipped tech savvy.
PHP shopping cart scriptHigh speed connection is also very important for impatient modern customers. 2 or 3 extra seconds’ delay for page or image load can scare away prospects – they’ll close your shop page and go to a quicker shop. Take care of customers with low-speed Internet – they’ll surely appreciate a “light” version without uploaded graphics. Mobile users will also be grateful for an adapted version, with reduced screen size. All these useful features aren’t always included in basic commercial packages but you’ll certainly manage to create them with a PHP shopping cart script. The same thing is about image previews. Prospects with low Internet speed would prefer rapid uploading of a small preview instead of a full product picture. Often the same is true for customers with good Internet connection because previews give a quick but clear idea of the product, enough to understand if it interests them or not.
As far as first impression is half the battle, attractive design templates, neat photos, intuitive menus and filtering options can help you to draw prospects and turn them into loyal customers. Don’t forget that a smoothed ordering and payment processes are also crucial for a successful e-shop. One-page checkup is very convenient, as well as automatic address substitution option for registered customers. A disorganized and cluttered shop can frustrate prospects, so they will leave empty-handed and never come back. Don’t forget to offer numerous payment methods, like cash for local customers, credit cards and cheques for remote ones, and gift certificates and promo codes for both. The choice of credit cards is very important and depends on your sales location – VISA and Mastercard are more popular in Europe and Asia, Diners Club and American Express – in both Americas. Customers all over the world frequently use digital wallets and electronic money like PayPal and WebMoney. Banking transfers and mail orders are a little bit less common but useful.
Correct and just-in-time delivery is crucial for customer satisfaction. Usually e-commerce start-ups offer at least two options – customer pick-up or courier delivery for local buyers, and postal delivery for others. Be sure that customers receive their orders completely and in time. Otherwise they should have a possibility to place a claim and get their money back/receive the missing part of the order. Customer support service is absolutely indispensable for any online selling activity, whatever you sell – physical or digital products, services or subscriptions.
Every e-store has the other side of the coin – administration and site management. Streamlined admin processes are very important for you because they save your time (which is also money) and provide you with valuable statistics about sales geography, popular products, product image uploads and others. It can help you to launch promotion actions, discounts and seasonal sales, because customer registration data would give you a lot of necessary details about your clients. Finally, the most important thing is to launch the web shop and start selling. The fine tuning afterwards should be done, when it is possible.
Besides CS-Cart, you can find out more about a cloud platform that we develop - Merchium as well as a smart search for online stores - Searchanise.