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Eight Tips to Take Into Account When Building an E-Commerce Website

Diary entry: Build my website
Plan carefully before you start building your e-commerce site

1) Plan your site carefully

Planning is probably the most important thing in the whole process of setting up an online shopping site, so take time to think it through. Decide how you want the site to work and what the navigation and structure should be. Make sure visitors know how to get from one page of the site to another, because quite often people will arrive at a page different from the home page.

Ensure that you have a search facility if you have lots of products so that people can easily find what they are looking for.

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2) Get the right e-commerce package

Unless you have the budget to design a purpose-built site from scratch, you will need to buy or lease an off-the-shelf shopping cart. Make sure that it has facilities for displaying, selecting and paying for products that are right for you.

3) Choose products and product categories

It makes sense to group together products which are likely to be bought together. If you have stand-alone ranges of products, you might want to consider separating them up into different sites.

Take attractive pictures of the products, and if necessary give different angles so people can see what they are buying.

4) Establish your pricing policy

If you are selling to businesses, you should display prices without VAT – but make this clear – whereas consumer prices should include VAT. Your confirmation invoices, however, should always show VAT as a separate amount.

Decide on whether to offer volume discounts, free delivery (perhaps over a certain order value), loyalty rewards, special online deals or other incentives.

5) Provide the right level of support

Establish a returns/complaints service, so that if a buyer has a problem you can deal with it promptly. Make sure visitors understand your guarantee and warranty terms, and make sure they know you are there to help if they have problems.

6) Fulfilling orders

Orders placed online will need to be delivered to the customer safely, reliably and promptly – which you may not have done before from a physical shop. Unless you have the staff and facilities, use a reputable and reliable fulfilment company to handle packaging and delivery.

7) Interact with visitors

Encourage registration even if browsing visitors don’t buy, and incorporate feedback facilities such as a forum and/or reviews. Use social media to improve interaction and increase the chances of interested visitors returning to buy.

8) Marketing

Find out about search engine optimisation and web analytics – this will enable you to improve search results, increase visitor numbers and encourage customer registrations.

Use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google Plus or a blog to promote special offers and new products and drive people to your online store.

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