How New Online Stores Can Make That First Sale

By Christina

Dec 16, 2020

Making that first sale is a major milestone for any business, but it can take a little bit of time to get there, plus lots of hard work.  We try to take some of the hard work out of it for our customers who want to sell online but don't have the time or inclination to set up an ecommerce website.  We can create a digital store front that is optimised for ecommerce for even the smallest businesses.

This guide will give any one who is setting up an online store an insight into what is needed to make it to that first sale.

Set up your ecommerce website

Before you can sell online you'll need an ecommerce website. 

There are various options available, use someone else's ecommerce platform such as Etsy or Amazon.  Do all the work yourself and use Square Space or Wix websites.  Or ask someone like us at DR Adept (DRA) to produce a website with all your products ready to sell.

With Etsy and Amazon you'll need to learn how to upload product photos, input product descriptions etc, but they usually guide you through the process.  With Square Space and Wix you'll also need to learn how to put a website together on their systems, it will be beneficial to understand design and selling to customers through a website.  The last option, using a designer/developer like DRA means you don't have to think about it, and let the experts get on with the job. 

The most important aspect of any website design is that it showcases the products at their best.  High resolution images and videos should always be used.  Great product descriptions will help customers learn more about each item, and customer reviews will help them to make that final decision to buy from you.

Further Reading:
How small retailers can take advantage of the changes coming to ecommerce

Step by step guide to how to make a professional website

Make your website secure

It's important to have a secure website, best known as SSL certification.  This should be purchased and in place by the time you want to sell or collect customer data.  Being secure is easy, if you are using someone else's sales platform they will be secure.  Square Space and Wix will have this option available to you.  Any good web design/developer will also do this for you.

Connect a payment processor

Now you will need a payment processor to securely take payments from the customers via credit or debit cards.  Etsy and Amazon do this all for you, but when designing and building a website yourself you'll also have to work out how to connect a payment processor to your website.

Again this is something we do all the time.  Some of the payment processors that are available are Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay, Sage Pay to name a few.

Which payment system you choose will depend on where you live, and what you sell.

Test, test again, then test some more

Test everything works, spend at least a week doing this, ask friends and family to also test the system.  Ask them for feed back, if something is irritating them within the payment processing forms, or they didn't understand something, it's likely your customers will have the same problem.  Iron out all the issues.

Time for your website to go live

It's time to let your website loose on the internet.

Let your friends and family know it's live and ask them to tell their friends and extended family about it.

Add a discount

I'm really not into the whole discounting thing, I think it makes too many people wait around until a discount is on offer before they buy, which has killed many businesses.

However, new companies make offers when they don't have a track record and are unknown, this can encourage consumers to make that first purchase.

Boost your online store with SEO

There is no way around it, people can't find your online store unless you tell the search engines what your shop is about.  That's what SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) does.

The first place to start is with the title tag and meta description, these appear in the search engine results. 

title tag = Retro Sweets: Mouthwatering Sweets At The Best Prices

meta description = Retro Sweets: Where Does The Love Come From? We love old fashioned sweets UK style! Can you tell? There's something undeniably delightful in finding...

You will need to write 60 characters to describe your page - title tag.  Then a further 160 characters to give a bit more info and entice the consumer into your website - meta description.  This has to be carried out for every single page.  Most CMS's will have an easy to use feature for this so you won't have to learn coding.

Optimisation also covers the on page aspects of a website, including product descriptions, blogs, and video; really any content that needs to be placed on your website.

SEO is simply optimising your website so it gets seen in the right place by the right people, then encouraging them to click into your website, share your content and buy from you.

Further reading:
Understanding search engine optimisation and why businesses need it

We are still hosting hundreds of websites, which we've been doing for over 20 years, we've implemented various strategies to help our customers to appear high in the search engine results, but more importantly to get sales or enquires through their websites.  SEO is time consuming, if you're already busy trying to run your new online store, then outsource your SEO requirements to someone like us which is a faster way of getting those sales through the door.  Remember to stay away from anyone who promises top positions in Google, only Google can make that decision and it can take years to earn the right to be at the top of the search engines for the most popular keywords.

Spread the word about your website

Like all businesses, you can't sit around waiting for people to come to you.  You need to shout about yourself.  Let the local newspapers and radio stations know you have started a new online store.

Get social...  Use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others to show off your products, your blogs and anything else that may be of interest to your potential customers.

Build a customer email list

Add a form to your website where customers can leave their email details.  Our CMS stores customer details to enable you to send out newsletters, invoices, order confirmation and delivery details.

Building your own email list from customers that actually want to hear from you is one of the best and cheapest ways to bring in repeat business.

When a customer first signs up send an introductory email welcoming your new customer and letting them know a bit about you.  You can then go on to building powerful email marketing content with your existing products, blogs, and videos so your messaging is consistent and effective.

Once people have signed up for your emails, you'll be able to communicate with them about sales, discounts, special offers, and new products.

Drive people to your website

One way to increase the number of visitors to your online stores in a relatively quick period of time is to advertise within your social media accounts and the search engines. 

All advertising platforms are making their systems easier for non-advertisers to be able to advertise without needing professional help.  The adverts are easy to set up, but to stand out you'll need some good art work, product photos and great wording to get people to buy from you, this is where you may need an experts help.

Further reading:
How to generate greater engagement in Facebook

Use website statistics (analytics) to gain insights

In order to continue to grow your customer base, it's important to understand certain aspects of their buying habits.

Our CMS collects enough information for any business to make informed decisions about their customers buying habits.  A website can also be connected to external analytics programs like Google's Analytics or Search Console.

When you know where your customers are coming from, you know where to spend your money and time advertising to get more people in.

You'll also want to know what terminology customers use to find you and what they are searching for in your website, and how many pages each visitor looks at before they leave, or purchase a product. 

Information such as conversions, sales, referrers and best content all help managers make vital decisions about changes to products, website pages and where to advertise.

The internet is a far bigger market place then trading in a local high street.  This means you are going to have a lot more competition.  But being online faces the same problems as being on the high street - visibility.  You have to work hard to make yourself visible and attractive to enough people to bring them into your store, it won't happen over night but will be a long hard slog.  The more effort and time you put in, making the right decisions at the right time will see your online store flourish and grow. 

Just think, even Amazon started out small, by selling books from the owners garage at his rented house - only you can hold yourself back from achieving greatness...

Further Reading:
Understanding the process of how to launch a website

Website Design and Development

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