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6 Steps to Start Selling Online

6 Steps to Start Selling Online

What better way to kickstart the new financial year by making your first online sale? If you’re not already selling online you could be missing nearly two-thirds of your customer base.

This is because 71% of shoppers believe they will get a better deal if they shop online than if they shop in a store. Don’t let this year be the year you miss out on sales.

eCommerce is big business. Online sales reached over $1.95 trillion in 2016 and sales are predicted to reach over $4.058 trillion by 2020.

One of the many reasons why online sales are continuing to skyrocket is convenience. Customers can purchase products anytime and anywhere (including from the comfort of their own home in their PJs). Customers don’t want to worry about trading hours or logistics.

Despite this, currently over half of all Australian retailers don’t have an online store. And one of the main reasons many retailers don’t get their idea off the ground is because they’re overwhelmed or don’t know where to start.

Thankfully, getting started doesn’t have to be a hard task. Here are six simple steps to getting your first ecommerce business up and running.

Step 1: Choose a Website Platform

The first step in setting up an online shop is selecting an ecommerce platform to run your business from. There are a few things you need to consider:

  • Hosting solutions – Will you need to host your site separately or is hosting provided? For easier setup, opt for a platform that provides hosting.
  • Setup time – Does the ecommerce platform provide easy-to-use design solutions or ready-made themes? If you don’t want to expend a lot of energy on that yourself, it’s best to select a platform that offers in-house design services for consistency and to save you time.
  • Features – What do you want to be able to do with your online store? Consider integrations, add-ons, and features, and whether the ecommerce platform can support these.
  • Support – When getting started it’s important to have support along the way. Consider if the ecommerce platform offers email and phone support.
  • Cost - Platforms vary in price make sure your opt for one that offers a free trial to make sure it meets your needs. Consider what plans include so that you can scale up as your business grows.

Image Source: Neto Onboarding Guide

If you consider yourself to be non-technical but still want to run your own store, Neto is a great solution, as we offer managed solutions as well as tonnes of training and support. And if you are a designer or developer, you still have full access to the HTML, CSS, and JS of your store, making it easy to customise every aspect of your website and shopping cart. It’s the best of both worlds.

Step 2: Design your store

After choosing a platform and setting up the basic structure of your site, you need to focus on the design and branding of your store. The design of your site should help customers find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.

The best ecommerce shops should be simple and easy to navigate so that your customer has a great experience, which increases your chance of conversion. Some design best practices to keep in mind include:

  • Site speed – Your site must load quickly on both desktop and mobiles. Neto designs for responsiveness which means it loads quickly (and looks great) on both desktop and mobiles.
  • Navigation and search – It’s really important that your customers can easily find what they want so make categories and search bars prominent.
  • Include high-quality images – Images can make or break whether a customer will buy from you as they’re often the first thing they see.
  • Keep it clean – Remove clutter and unnecessary content. Too much text, unrelated images, flashy animations, fonts and colours can be distracting and may even turn away business.
  • Use white space - Creating white space helps separate paragraphs of text, graphics, and other sections of your site to enhance the user experience and create a clean look and feel. Plus it makes your site easier to read and interact with.

Image Source: Maison Blanche

Your home page is your ‘shop front’ so keep it clutter-free and sleek. This will often be your customer’s first impression of your brand so make it a good one.

Step 3: Build your products

After your site is designed, you need to start building product pages and adding product information. The goal of each product page is to entice the buyer to make a purchase. You can do that by including the following things on each product page:

  • Compelling headlines – Headlines should include searchable keywords by brand, gender, product, colour, and size (e.g. Nike Women’s Running Shoes Blue/Gray)
  • Bullet points – List the most important product specs or benefits for the customer
  • Detailed product description - Anticipate your customer’s question and answer them
  • Testimonials or customer reviews - This shows that other people trust and recommend your products
  • 2-3 high-quality images – Add photos from multiple angles or show the product in use

To ease any customer concerns or doubts it’s a good idea to link to the following pages:

  • Buying/sizing guides
  • FAQ page
  • Shipping prices and information

If you need inspiration for your product pages, check out HubSpot’s list of high-converting product pages.

Step 4: Set up shipping options

The next step in the process is to set up your shipping options. Shipping is an extremely important component for online stores.

You need to plan how to handle the various costs and logistics involved in the shipping process including timing, cost and international shipping.

When deciding on a shipping carrier there are a few things to consider:

  • Where are most of your shoppers located?
  • What type of products will you be shipping?
  • How will weight and shape impact prices?
  • Will the carrier pick up products?

From here you can research which carrier will provide the best shipping options for your business.

A few popular Australian shipping carriers include Australia Post eParcel, Startrack, Couriers Please, Toll Priority, Fastway Couriers and Sendle.

Neto integrates with all of these carriers, making shipping your products hassle-free.

Step 5: Set up payment gateways

You can’t make sales without getting paid! It’s important to work out what the best payment gateway is for your business. A payment gateway is an ecommerce service that processes credit card payments for both online and traditional brick-and-mortar stores. They securely transfer financial data between your website and the customer’s bank.

A few of the most popular payment gateways in Australia include:

  • eWay
  • eWay Rapid 3.1
  • Braintree
  • Stripe
  • PayPal
  • Secure Pay

The more payment options you offer, the better as this caters for different types of customers. Neto integrates with many payment gateways and allows you to offer multiple payment gateway options.

Image source: Shutterstock

Each gateway comes with processing requirements and fees, so be sure to research different options to see what best fits your needs.

Step 6: Set up automation

Once you have the bulk of your store up and running, you can then integrate with other services to automate tasks and process. Automation can help with things like:

  • Cart abandonment campaigns – Send email reminders about products and purchases that weren’t completed.
  • Analytics and website tracking – See who’s clicking on your site, how long they’re staying, and where they’re going in real time.
  • SEO tracking – Find out what your customers are searching for and what they’re typing into search engines to find your store.
  • Social media monitoring – Automatically post to any social media channel and track interactions with your customers in real time.
  • Email list segmentation – Easily market to specific customers and demographics.
  • A/B testing – Test out variations of your website, homepage, product pages, and more to see what converts better.

By adding these solutions to your website you can optimise your sales funnel and automate tedious processes. Neto integrates with a wide variety of add-ons to help you get the best results.

Where to from here?

One of the biggest challenges for many new sellers is getting their store up and running. Following the above steps will help you get started and take the first step towards making a sale online.

Download the Omni-channel Sales Guide

Today we've covered off way to get started off selling online, but if you're ready to really scale your business it's time to think about your omni-channel retail strategy. Download our comprehensive guide to find out how to expand your empire.

If you’re ready to start the year with a bang and make 2017 the year you sell online, try Neto for free.

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