There are many traders who have a physical store and doubt if they should have a virtual store to sell their products. A virtual store is not a website that gives you a lot of money by magic. You must make a constant investment in time and money to make it so. So, is it interesting in all cases to have a virtual store? The answer is that it depends on many variables. In this article we will try to clarify what are the most important points when deciding whether to take the step forward to start making online sale.
The first important question is whether the owner of the physical store relies on the potential of online sales for their products and is willing to assume the workload involved. An online store generates an important workload, which must be done in order to be profitable. Some of these tasks would be: updating the product catalog, resolving incidents with customers, resolving incidents with carriers, answering queries that come from the online store … if all this workload is not manageable, it is better not to start the project, because it could even harm the physical part of the business.
Another important issue is the initial and periodic investment that a virtual store needs. On the one hand we have the cost of creating the virtual store, its design, configuration, catalog entry … On the other hand we have the maintenance costs: hosting, domain, possible necessary updates … and finally the cost of promotion of the online business that due to the large number of options we will talk about in another article.
If these two conditions can be met, an online store project can be possible. From here, where do we start? Well, from Net Engineer, we propose to do it considering the following points:
Domain name: the virtual store will be accessible from a url. The domain name is usually the trademark and an extension, usually .com. Because perhaps the desired domain is not free and if the domain includes search keywords the position in Google will be better, the choice of one domain or another will condition the future success of the page among search engines when positioning and between users when it comes to remembering it and the confidence it conveys.
Structure of the product catalog: The most important thing of a virtual store is its products and they must be easy to find. A good catalog of products must be well structured in categories and subcategories (more or less depending on the number of references) and list of products. The number of elements in each of them should be around 10 or 15. It is not good to have a category or 1 or 2 elements or have 300 if there is no additional filtering system.
Contents: The products must have a product file with a clear name, an adequate description, that resolves all the doubts that a potential buyer may have, images of the product in particular and if you have videos then much better.
Conditions of sale: It is very important to define the sales conditions and return policy of the company. Usually these texts are “copied” from other stores modifying some concept. It is a practice not recommendable since each product can have some characteristic that is unique and that it is important to clarify in the conditions.
Price policy: The Internet is a sales channel where, due to the great offer if we talk about standard products, there is a great price competition. That is why the pricing policy is very important to be able to succeed in the network. Likewise, the pricing policy on the Internet and in the physical store should be consistent, so that there are no conflicts with the customers of the physical store.
Price of delivery: Being a non-contact sale, the product is sent most of the times (although you can activate the option of collection in store). Carrier rates, when initially there is not a high volume of shipments, are usually quite complex, depending on area, weight, volume … It is advisable to define a simplified shipping policy that is an average of the shipping costs plus a certain cost of preparation of the order. In this way the user will more easily understand the price of the shipment. It is also advisable to have a free shipping price from a certain order amount, as buyers will try to arrive by adding products in the basket that they might not buy.
Payment systems: The payment systems to be used must be decided. The most common is the payment by credit card that is made through a virtual gateway.
Other options would be Paypal, which also allows payment by credit card, transfer or cash on delivery.
Virtual store software: A virtual store is a page with a CMS content manager, to manage mainly the product catalog, the orders received, and the configuration of store parameters (payment methods, postage …). Mainly we can use standard store software, such as Prestashop or carry out custom programming. The recommendation of Net Engineer, to begin with, is to use a Prestashop, since if the client can adapt to the way the software works, it is the option with the best quality / price ratio. If instead the store should have specifications that go out of the ordinary, for example, a simulator of how a textile product fits in a photo of a person, or a piece of furniture in a room, the best option is to customize. Taking into account all these variables, we would have structured the store, in order to be able to carry out. But when I have it, what do we do to get visitors? And to get better orders?And to leave the online store in the best positions of search engines? And to sell abroad ??? All these questions will be part of a new entry in our blog. Staytuned: D
By: Net Engineer