Online Stores

10 Things to Consider

Before you get started building your first online store, I've put together a ten point checklist to consider before you start.

In no particular order of importance.


How many different products will you be selling?

Simple question but a relevant one, the amount of actual items for sale may be crucial for your online store success. If you only have 5 to 10 items for sale, is that enough for potential customers to get excited about?

Shopping online is still very similar to our every day shopping, I would be hesitant to walk into a shop that has only 5 items on display. Although there is always exceptions to the rule, if the 5 items you have are unique or highly sort after then maybe you'll be able to satisfy your customer's needs.


Are the products variable?

Variable products are when you have the same item available in different sizes, colours, scents, etc...

Creating an online shop with variable products can be very satisfying for your customers, they can choose an item and then tailor it to their needs. Grouping items into variable items will also save precious screen room. The more different items that can be seen on the screen will keep the customer interested, especially on mobile devices.

If you do have variable products then you will need to identify them and list down all the variables. WooCommerce allows you to have multiple variables on a single base product, a very powerful tool in creating a seamless sale.


Photographs & videos.

As you can imagine very few sales are made without the customer viewing the product.

Photographs should be taken with a consistent background. Generally a background which allows for your products to stand out and not get lost in a cluttered background, an off-white or similar normally suffices. You can achieve this by either using a light box when taking your photos or you can edit out the background using Photoshop or like. Image size should be uniform, whatever size or dimensions you choose it should be consistent, otherwise your products will be displayed out of alignment.

The use of video is also a helpful tool when creating a need for your products. If your product actually does something then a video would be great to show how it works.


Do items require detailed information?

Information can be crucial for closing a sale. Some products require very little information, while others require more. For example if your selling fruit & veg then just stating the type of apple your selling is generally enough information, if your selling a cosmetic cream then you may have to list down, container size, application rate, ingredients and the benefits of using this cream.

If you do have to give detailed information on the product keep it simple to read at the start (dot form is great), then go into more detailed information as required. WooCommerce generally allows separate tabs on each product so you can list down all the information and it can be easily accessed by clicking a tab, i.e. Weight, Specifications, General information, extra pics and video.


Can the items be separate into categories?

When planning the layout of your online shop it's always beneficial for your customers if it's well organised and easy to navigate around your website. By bundling your products into categories it will increase the usability of your website. It could also increase your sales as the customer will be drawn to other product categories they maybe unaware of, more products in the cart will increase your chance of success.

When bundling products into categories you can tier the categories for even greater usability. The main or parent category could be Cleaning Products, then within "Cleaning Products" you could have "Inside your Home" and "Outside your Home". Your customer was drawn to "cleaning products" as that's why they have come to your website, and now they can choose to view either "inside" or "outside". This will create a better customer experience rather that just having random items for sale across your website.


How will the items be sent to the customer?

Freight is the cornerstone of any successful online store, what your selling generally has to be freighted to your customer. Freight of your product may be very cheap as there is a host of companies within Australia offering freight services or freight could cripple your ability for a sale.

The first question to be answered is, will the freight cost over-price my product to the point of not being competitive. If your selling products that are generally available to customers from other sources, do the sums and make sure your price with freight is competitive.

If you've ticked the box on the freight cost, then you'll need to consider the actual process of freighting the product. Can you process orders every day, will you be offering freight insurance, is volume of your product override the weight of the product, etc. If your unsure or you need some clarification then I would recommend visiting Australia Post Website, here you can find the answers to most of your questions.

Remember whether you include freight on your products or the customer pays the freight on check-out, freight cost is still an important factor to consider as it will increase your products end sale price. It's not all doom and gloom, remember freight is generally by weight so the more items that you can sell to a single customer the price of freight will be shared across multiple products.


How will customers be paying for the items?

There are lots of ways in WooCommerce that allows for customer payment.

The most common/popular way is to have credit card payments via PayPal, there is advantages of using PayPal compared to self hosted credit card payments. Using PayPal will create trust with your new customer, their first and subsequent transactions are protected with PayPal's consumer guarantee, if they don't receive the products PayPal will refund them the money. Also using PayPal for credit card transactions your website will not have to run the very highest of security protocols, this can be expensive to set up and maintain. 

Other available payment options can be C.O.D, Bank Transfer or Invoice, depending on your relationship with your customers you can choose a payment that best suits you and the customer.


Do you have a marketing plan?

Although a well crafted website will attract customers by simply being found by Google, it is very wise to have a marketing plan to create interest around your products and then direct potential customers to your website.

Using social media is without doubt the most cost effective solution, creating a buzz using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or like can expose your products to a larger audience.

Remember building an online shop just by itself is not a guarantee of success, marketing your products is the key and connecting your customers to a well laid-out website to close the sale.


Why should customers buy your products?

Big question and it's one that's best answered as honestly as possible, why choose my products or items?

To be a success, what your offering needs to fulfill the customers wants, is it the price, service, uniqueness, well-being, status, etc..? Whatever your selling know your market, who am I selling too and what features and benefits do my products have that will create the sale?

Once you've answered those questions not only will you know how to convert your products into a sale, you will also have more of an idea of your website layout. Whatever your key or point of difference is, then you need to convey that message on your online shop.


Who and where are you selling to?

Not all online shops sell across the world, world-wide sales can be tedious to set up and maintain and your marketing strategy may not work well in different cultures or countries.

Select your area of sales that suit your business model, it may be just local, larger items that are expensive to freight may be better sold by you personally delivering them. Whatever your products are take time and consider who are you selling your items too and where do they live, WooCommerce allows you to define where you sell your products.