If you’ve decided to launch an e-commerce store this year, you’ll be joining a booming market that doesn’t seem set to slow down anytime soon. However, because of this growth and the current ease of entry into the field, this also means you will have a competition to contend with.

To ensure your business makes a profit as soon as possible and achieves other results you’re after, you need to be proactive and smart in the strategies you implement. Read on for some tips you can follow today to help you grow your online store now and in the future.

Ensure You Have a Point of Difference
Ask yourself: What can your store provide that others can’t? Do you operate in a particular niche, selling products that haven’t been available online before or selling to a target market that has so far been underserved? Are you able to provide products at a much cheaper price than competitors, or do you have amazing customer service or sell items in a particular way that hasn’t been done before?

Do your research to learn about what’s already being done in the market and deviate from this. You need to know who your competitors are (directly and indirectly), what they do and don’t offer and at what price points.

Once you have a unique selling proposition (USP), you will have a way of standing out from the crowd. Just make sure that your point of difference is one that people actually want and will pay for in large enough quantities for you to make your business viable in the long term. There’s no point going after a niche so tiny that you’ll never get enough sales to make ends meet, and you will waste your time trying to serve a demographic that isn’t interested in buying your products.

Your Website Must be Effective
There are various factors to consider regarding your website’s effectiveness, and they’re all important if you don’t want people to click away and shop elsewhere. For instance, your site needs to be professional-looking, so when people arrive on the landing page, they feel they’ve found a legitimate operator. You need to use a clear, easy-to-read font in a decent size, so no one squints to read the information in front of them. Also, include a variety of quality graphics (such as photos, illustrations, logos and the like) to break up the page and make it more scannable for busy consumers as well as to help convey information quickly and clearly.

Make sure there is plenty of white space on each page of the site, so it doesn’t look too busy and cluttered. Your website must be fast-loading and reliable. If it takes forever for a page to load, or if browsers find that the site crashes often, you will lose shoppers and sales.

In addition, the navigation on your eCommerce store must be user-friendly. You want it to be easy for people with no or little experience buying online to be able to get from page to page, add things to their cart, find the information and checkout without a problem. Buttons need to be invisible, easy-to-find places, and pages should be linked in a logical way.

Good website design also conveys your brand and is consistent with your advertising, social media posts and more. An effective website builds trust with shoppers. You need to display logos, information, pictures, site seals and other things that will help people to see that your venture is credible, trustworthy and selling quality goods.
Display testimonials and product reviews from other customers and publish anything you can to show you’re a part of trusted clubs, associations and the like. Since people can’t see items in person or see customer service staff face-to-face, you need to make them feel as comfortable as possible in other ways.

Make it easy for people to discover essential shopping information, such as shipping costs and timeframes, refund policies and acceptable forms of payment. Also provide plenty of details and pictures of your wares, so people feel comfortable knowing what they’re going to get if they place an order. Plus, provide direct contact details so people can call, email or live chat with you if they need to ask questions.

Don’t forget to be sure your website displays properly and is easy for people to use on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. These days, increasing numbers of consumers are browsing and buying on mobile tech, so you don’t want to miss out on sales from this avenue.

Choose a Good Merchant Services Provider
With so many online scams floating around the web and hackers more active than ever, consumers are naturally concerned about theft of their credit card details and other sensitive information when shopping online. As such, it’s important to choose a trusted merchant services provider that takes security seriously and will ensure that none of your clients’ (or your own) data is compromised.

You need to look for online credit card processing firms that make it easy for you to integrate their systems with yours and that has a 99 percent or higher uptime guarantee for services. Furthermore, choose a company that provides value for money services and that can grow with you as your business improves over time. Compare fees and features carefully to be sure you know what you’re getting and for what cost and be on the lookout for “hidden” fees such as cancellation charges, installation and set up costs and the like.

It’s important to offer numerous payment options to shoppers. Consumers expect to be able to choose the transaction type that suits them best when they check out. This means you need to accept more than just Visa and MasterCard payments. Think about offering things like Discover and American Express card payments as well as PayPal, Apple Pay, direct debit (for recurring purchases such as monthly subscriptions) and even gift cards and payment using loyalty points. This will help you convert more sales and get more repeat business, positive reviews and referrals as time goes on.