How to take your business online and start making online sales

A 7-step guide on how to take your business online

To say that 2020 has changed our lives forever due to the COVID-19 pandemic is an understatement. In terms of business owners, there has been a big shift from physical stores to eCommerce sites due to the need for physical distancing. According to popular CRM platform, Klaviyo, 2020 was such a big year for online sales that even Amazon had to close its doors to sellers more than once.

Moreover, it is online where most of your customers are probably spending most of their time nowadays.

So, if you haven’t taken that route yet, then you’ve chanced upon this article at the right time. How to get started, then? Here are seven simple steps that you can do.

Related: Building your presence, brand and product

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1. Let’s talk social media

Social media presents a massive opportunity for eCommerce sites as an extension platform of the business. It is important to note that social media should not serve as your primary shop; rather, think of social media as a jump-off point that you can use to lead your customers to your eCommerce site.

Establishing your business presence in social media is key, as this is where most of your customers are.

This is also where your competitors make their presence known and felt  the most through attractive visuals, witty copy, and the occasional giveaway or contest.

Setting up the social media platforms that complement your eCommerce site is pretty straightforward. Simply create an account that’s linked to your business email address and populate it with content.

While Facebook and Instagram are where most of the internet’s action’s at, other social media networks such as Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn, could also be useful, depending on your target market and business objectives. 

The great thing about social media is you get to foster community, build relationships, and eventually drive business to your eCommerce site. Tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer can help save you the time when it comes to uploading and publishing your social media content. However, do keep an eye out as privacy issues are rising social media channels these days, so remember not to put all your eggs in this basket! 

2. Choosing a domain name and content management system (CMS)

The first thing you need in order to sell items online is a domain name. Preferably, one that matches your business name. Required for any type of website, a domain name will serve as your online address or URL. You can also use your domain name to create business email addresses that reinforce your business name.

Here are a few tips on choosing a domain name:  

Keep it simple. One of the best practices in choosing a domain name for your eCommerce site is to ensure that it rolls off the tongue smoothly. Try saying it a few times — is it too complicated to pronounce and decipher? Also make sure that your social media handles are consistent with it. 

Register multiple domain names. Especially if you are planning to expand your business and groom it for growth, registering multiple domain names can help you protect your online property. Get more tips on choosing a domain name in this post.

Content management systems. Finding a reliable content management system (CMS) for your eCommerce site is also a must. WordPress is one of the most popular platforms out there because it offers high levels of customisation, with a wide variety of free and paid themes to choose from. If you’re not a fan of routine maintenance like upgrades and security patches, consider GoDaddy’s WordPress package. Want something a little simpler to build your eCommerce shop? Try GoDaddy’s Online Store — absolutely no technical skills needed! 

Secure payment systems. Online commerce was once notorious for payment-related scams, so having a built-in payment processing system protected by SSL security gives customers peace of mind that their sensitive data will be processed securely. Both are included with GoDaddy’s WordPress and Online Store builders. 

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3. Designing your eCommerce site

First of all, make sure that your eCommerce site is mobile-friendly. That means choosing a WordPress theme that is responsive or using any of the dozens of templates provided with GoDaddy’s Online Store.

Having a mobile-friendly eCommerce site makes shopping so much more convenient and accessible.

Now, here comes the fun part — letting your creativity run wild! Design is one of the key elements in creating a successful eCommerce site. Think of design as the clothing your brand wears.

  1. Are the colors in line with the theme?
  2. Does the font match your brand’s identity?

There are also other tools out there such as Over by GoDaddy that can easily enhance your website’s look.

If your eCommerce site’s overall design is beyond your skills, it might be a good idea to hire a website designer who can help fulfill your creative vision and bring it to life. 

4. Creating content that sticks

Content is one of the driving forces of any eCommerce site. Customers are looking for good stories nowadays, and hard selling is a definite turnoff. 

Apart from the essentials such as your Homepage, About page, Products page, Contact page, and Feedback page, there are other ways to catch your audience’s attention. Many business owners add a Blog to their websites to share tips and advice.  

Word-of-mouth continues to be the most effective form of marketing, and with that comes an interest in the story behind the product. 

If you are a small ice cream business, for example, you could write blog posts about:

  1. The source of your ingredients
  2. The story behind your bestseller’s recipe
  3. Answers to your customers’ most often-asked questions

A good story not only attracts interest, but it strengthens your brand’s appeal and could potentially lead to conversions. 

Of course, don’t forget to also include photos and images that complement your eCommerce site’s content. Through the use of quality stock images and graphics, you’re sure to create a library of content that’s both engaging and compelling to your customers.

Don’t forget that your content sharing doesn’t stop once it’s been published in your eCommerce site. Chop it down into digestible pieces and spread it across your social media channels as well. 

5. A crash course in SEO

You might be wondering, “With so many eCommerce sites out there, how will customers find mine?” One of the things that can help is having good SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it makes use primarily of keywords that match a potential customer’s query when it is typed into a search engine. 

A search engine is a platform that people on the Internet use to find something.

Google, Yahoo, and Bing are examples of search engines — all scan and analyze the world wide web and match a website’s content to a query. 

Basically, SEO is the act of refining your eCommerce site’s content in order to appear higher in search rankings for the keywords related to your business. Strategies that apply to this include having the relevant page content, meta tags, and keywords. 

Lastly, ensure that there are no broken links in your website and encourage other relevant websites to link to yours. These are called backlinks and help signal to search engines that your website is credible and worth sending people to.  

 

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6. Think like your customer

At the end of the day, the objective of every eCommerce site is to lead to conversions. A conversion is when a casual browser becomes a committed buyer. So it is important to wear your customer’s hat and reflect on two things:

  1. First, would you buy from your business? 
  2. How foolproof is your eCommerce site’s customer journey?

Given that we are talking about setting up your eCommerce site, the latter is more relevant to this discussion. Your eCommerce site’s user-friendliness is key to closing that sale. One of the biggest barriers of conversion is the website’s functionality. 

How many clicks does it take to get from product selection to checkout? Is there so much text that customers drop off my eCommerce site? An inefficient customer flow could equate to a missed opportunity, and this is something we want to avoid. 

Don’t forget to add a human voice to your brand. With the prevalence of artificial intelligence, most customers appreciate a relatable and engaging tone. One great way to learn about this is to check out what your competitors are doing in social media and in their respective eCommerce sites. 

Lastly, good customer service is what will give you loyal customers. Being able to answer queries and handle mishaps with grace is an acquired skill, but this is one of the best ways to foster loyal customers. Tools such as Zendesk can help streamline customer complaints and queries to ensure consistency and a centralized system. 

7. Measuring efforts and building growth

Here we are! The final online sales tip. Metrics are key to determining the growth and effectiveness of your eCommerce site. Depending on the goals you have set for your business, this can be measured in a number of ways such a:

  1. Number of website visits
  2. Conversion rate
  3. Returning customer rates
  4. Average order size
  5. Return/exchange rates

When it comes to social media, watch your metrics to determine which posts received the most positive response, and which ones received the highest engagement (e.g. likes, shares). You can also use this opportunity to decide whether it’s time to invest in paid social media ads.  

Now, measuring all these numbers takes time, but it’s time well spent.

Again, there are a number of tools available that can help you with this such as Google Analytics for your website and the built-in reporting features of most social platforms.

Different brands have different objectives, so deep dive into the metrics that are most relevant to your brand and find out how you’re doing and where you can improve.

Conclusion 

We hope that the seven tips above helped you boost your knowledge of online sales! We don’t see eCommerce slowing down anytime soon, so if you’ve been waiting for a sign to jump on the bandwagon, this is it.