This post is by Verizon’s small business team working hard every day to bring small businesses relevant, useful and helpful information which we hope will help you run your business better. We know you are busy and we are here to help with many of our free resources.
You’ve got a great product or service and you’ve got a website, so of course the next logical thing to do would be to sell it online. Unfortunately, the world of ecommerce can be a tricky one. That’s why we’ve organized a couple of “Dos” and “Don’ts” to help you navigate the business of selling on the Internet.
Take Some Time to Sort Out the User Experience
User experience is perhaps the most important characteristic about a website. Is it easy to find what you’re looking for? Is it easy to navigate around the site? Will your shopping cart be lost if you click the wrong button? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, find a friend or two – who will give you honest feedback – and ask them to go through the process of purchasing something on your site.
Don’t guide them through the process. Just tell them to get to the point where they enter their payment information and then report back to you. You’ll be sure to get a lot of useful feedback from the experience. Be sure to try it with different people, especially with people who aren’t the most tech savvy. That’ll be the true test that your website is user friendly; and it needs to be for you to easily sell your products or services online.
Make Purchasing Easy and Safe
You need to provide a safe online experience to your online visitors, because the Internet can be a dangerous place. You’ve heard about identity theft and this can be a huge barrier for some online shoppers—especially when dealing with unknown merchants. One way that you can make your customers feel like your website is a safe place is by offering an easy payment service option. One example is PayPal with an account an individual doesn’t need to provide you with their credit card information directly or worry about how many sites or merchants have their detailed credit information. They just shop--then log into their PayPal account—and the purchase is made, with a few clicks.
Leave Your Customers in the Dark
A prospective customer has found your site amongst thousands of others. They’ve searched through it and found a product or service that they might want to buy from you. This is not the time to leave them with questions. Be sure to include all of the product specifications you can think of, and include in your descriptions: size, weight, color, durability, what it does, what it doesn’t do, etc. You really can’t include enough product information and photographs of the product. All these helpful information will give your shopper a real view of what they will get and making them comfortable to click “purchase!” And consider including a phone number to answer questions or provide help with their shopping experience if your website doesn’t offer the online chat capability.
One of the most annoying things a customer can experience is buying something online only to find out it’s nothing like you thought it would be (e.g. too big, too small, wrong color). You are much better off not selling it than having someone buy it and tell all their friends about the bad experience…how misleading your website is and how disappointing the product was. Even if you have a return policy, the customer will usually have to pay for returning the merchandise. So provide them with accurate information upfront to ensure a pleasant online experience.
Use Existing eCommerce Sites
For quite a while, if you had goods that you wanted to sell on the Internet, the best way to sell them was to piggyback on existing ecommerce websites like eBay. Now that small business sites can be easily found on search engines, it is much easier for smaller, local businesses to be found by prospective customers. There are even social shopping sites like ShopSocially and Kaboodle that are designed to help people share good buys with their friends.
That’s why you need to be involved in social networks like Facebook, possibly Google+ and Twitter – to make sure there’s a positive conversation going on about your company. (If you need help with how to build your business on these platforms check out our library of on-demand webinars available for free! Click here or go to http://bit.ly/MDfJuB.)
While you’re on Facebook, be sure to check out WeCommerce on the Verizon Small Business Facebook page. It’s a business-to-business free online community we created to allow small business owners to work together three ways: buying, selling and partnering. No matter what your need, this free online community will allow you to connect with businesses in your area and around the country to find the deals, opportunities and partnerships that work for you and your business.
We hope these were good pointers about selling your products and/or services online. And if you are one of the 40% of small business who still don’t have a website, please get one! In our fast paced world, your business is not competitive if it does not have an online presence. There are many software that allows you to create your own website and we here at Verizon we offer such a service too… starting at $4.99 per month. We do recommend that you take some time and do your homework to find the best option to get a website up for your business. No matter what you decide… do-it-yourself or hire someone to do it for you, your business’ website needs to be designed with your customers in mind. If you build it right—they will come!
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