The first 5 things you should do when building your online store

August 22, 2017

Having a great online store is no longer a luxury for a small business—it’s a necessity. Studies show that people now buy more online than they do in physical stores. If you don’t have an online store, you’re missing out on a great way to draw new customers into your store, sell beyond your immediate location, and provide a convenient service for your best customers.

Setting up a killer website may sound difficult, but these days, technology has made it easier than you think. If you’ve set up a Facebook profile, you’ve got the technical skills you need to make a great website and sell your products online.

Here are the first 5 things you should do when building your online store:

1. Choose a platform that makes your job easy.

As a small business owner, you’ve got more than enough to do—you don’t need to spend hours getting your online store up and running. There are plenty of platforms available today that automate a lot of the process of setting up a site, without sacrificing quality. If you use the Clover Online Store, for example, you can choose to have all your inventory information automatically imported into your new store. That means you don’t have to take the time to manually create product pages for everything you sell.

2. Optimize it for mobile.

People now spend about five hours a day on their mobile devices. Think about your own experience—how often do you search for a product or a brand while you’re sitting on your couch, watching TV? Making sure your site loads quickly and looks great on a smartphone is crucial, as it’s very likely to be the first way your customer encounters your site. Using Clover Online is a great way to make sure your mobile site works perfectly—any template you use is automatically designed to load quickly and look great on any device. But whatever service you use, you’ll want to test your site on different devices and browsers just to make sure it works smoothly for all your customers.

3. Make security a top priority.

Half of all small businesses in the U.S. have been hacked in the past year. If you’re selling online, you need a way to securely accept payments. Clover Online uses Clover Payments, so it’s just as secure as your Clover POS system. Top-notch online security also means training your staff—and yourself—to take basic precautions to avoid falling victim to hackers. You can also buy a cyber liability policy to insure you against potential losses from a data breach—but of course, the best way to avoid any such losses is to avoid breaches in the first place.

4. Offer free shipping and returns, if you can.

Online shoppers hate paying too much for shipping. One survey found that 44% of people who abandoned an online shopping cart did it because the shipping costs were too high. Do some math and see if you can afford to offer free shipping, or free shipping for orders over a certain dollar amount—it’ll make a big difference to your customers. Returns are key, too, because returns are fairly common for online purchases. Making returns easy makes customers more likely to keep shopping with you. Clover Online can automatically generate a return policy if you just answer a few simple questions.

5. Get social.

About three-quarters of consumers use social media to help them make buying decisions. Today, if you’re not interacting with your customers online, you’re not participating in the most important conversations they’re having. Keeping up with social media can be a full-time job if you let it, but it doesn’t have to be. Look for tools that will streamline and automate the process as much as possible. A new update coming to Clover Online will soon automate the process of listing your business on multiple social media sites—you’ll be able to create a Facebook page, list your business’s correct contact information on Yelp and Google, and more. The site will also give you analytics for all these sites in one convenient dashboard.

A killer online store is a key way to attract new customers and provide a convenient service for your current customers. Customers today have high expectations—they’re used to buying almost anything online with just a few clicks. But the good news is, there are tools available that will enable you to set up a store that looks as good and works as smoothly as any major company’s.

[image: VPN & Internet Security on Your Computer for Online Privacy by Mike MacKenzie on flickr]

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