February 25, 2010

Plan Your Retail Web Site for Success


Hostway Team

By Joyce V. Harrison

You want the sweat equity that you put into your retail Web site to pay off in profitability. Read on for some best practices to follow that may improve the ROI of your online business.

1. Make Your Web Site User-Friendly

The design of your landing page should appeal to your target market. Make it easy for them to find what they want with a search box and a menu that takes no effort to read. No confusing clutter.

2. Be Considerate of Shoppers’ Time

You may like Flash animation or music on your site, but online retail shoppers don’t like to wait, especially if they’re at work. That also means you need a reliable web hosting company to make the pages load fast.

3. Keep It Personal

Include an 800 number to make customers feel reassured that, if needed, they could talk to a real person.

4. Change Is Good

Changing prices or merchandise frequently not only gives the shopper a reason to return, it also gets the spiders crawling more often.

5. Monitor Your Competition

Selection, prices, and images all matter. Regularly check the sites of competitive Web retailers to compare your online store to theirs.

6. Provide Extra Incentives to Buy

Offer coupons to customers for their next purchases. Offering free shipping at a specific price point can also encourage shoppers to buy more.

7. Deliver on Your Promise

If you have an item in your inventory, ship it promptly. If you have limited choices of an item, be specific in your product description. If an item is out of stock or back ordered, give your customer an expected date of delivery.

8. Build Your Database

Save information on customers so you can follow up with emails of special offers or promotions.

9. Check Credit to Reduce Returns

State your policy on returns. Sometimes, you may want to confirm that credit information on an order is valid.

10. Promote Your Site

Research which advertising option is more effective for your business: start a pay-per-click campaign or paid SEO. Take advantage of the social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter or start a free blog.

By applying these best practices, you can help boost the retail success of your business's Web site.

About the Author

An independent freelance writer, Joyce V. Harrison has had a long career in advertising, broadcasting and music. Her Web site is www.joyceonthekeys.com.

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