4 Steps to Building a Successful Online Store

building an online store

There is a lot to consider when you are trying to figure out how to build an online store. You want to find balance between your branding and the actual functionality of your site. As retail trends continue to shift to digital realms, a successful online store has become vital to a retailer’s success. Getting people to click on a product photo is just step one – so how can you guide consumers through the buying process all the way to the point of payment?

Take a look at some suggestions on how to build an online store that actually sells for you:

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Make it Image Heavy

Did you know that the brain processes images at a rate 60,000 times faster than text alone? Visually-appealing content will help you sell more, period. Think of your website as a digital catalogue that helps potential buyers see how your products would look in their possession. Remember to incorporate videos that highlight your products as well. You don’t have to hire a graphic designer to take advantage of consumers’ love for all things photo related. Showcase your items prominently through photos and then support those visuals with text information. When you market your products on social media, be sure the images are also strong.

Consider Your Customers

Visuals are not the only thing you need to consider when building a successful online store. It’s incredibly important to consider the aesthetic branding of your online store but not if it gets in the way of the site’s function (which is to actually sell your products). Make sure the steps from picking out an item to checkout completion are seamless – and as simple as possible. Consider integrating payment options like PayPal or Visa Checkout to make it easier for customers to click and buy, without needing to track down a credit card and type in all the numbers. Ask yourself what the simplest steps are from first arriving at the site to completing a purchase, and then put those steps into action.

Allow Reviews

BrightLocal reports that 88 percent of consumers trust product reviews as much as personal recommendations so let potential customers hear from others who have used your products. If you are afraid that the negative could outweigh the positive in an open-review format, ask your customers for feedback through an email form and then use the best responses under the appropriate products. Consumers do not want to just take your word for it – they want to hear what their peers have to say.

Watch Your Competitors

You know the saying that you should keep your friends close, and your enemies closer? That’s especially true when it comes to having the best online store in your niche. Start by identifying who your major competitors are and then visit their website.

Explore it and even go through the process of picking out a product and putting it in your online shopping cart. Is there any part of that process that is better than what you offer? How are the images on the site? What tactics is the online store using to get people to click, save and ultimately buy the items it promotes? It may also help to follow competitors on social media to see how they are promoting products outside of the main site.

Platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are increasingly driving more sales through their image-friendly formats, so see if that is a strategy your competitors use and one you could put into play for your own online store.

There is a lot to consider when it comes to selling online and it certainly takes some strategizing. With the right plan in place, though, you can host a thriving online store.

Online Shoe Store Photo via Shutterstock


Megan Totka Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for Chamber of Commerce. Chamber specializes in helping SMB's grow their business on the Web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. Megan specializes in reporting the latest business news, helpful tips and reliable resources and provides advice through her column on the Chamber blog.

5 Reactions
  1. While making your site image heavy, ensure that calls-to-action (CTAs) are still visually prominent so that customers know the next step to take in the purchase process. Usually that will mean using a contrasting color or placing them wisely.

  2. Thank you Robert – very good point! Without a prominent call to action, customers can’t buy from your online store.

  3. It’s true that visually appealing content will help you sell more. I like it when you provided suggestions on how to make your online store more accessible and appealing to your buyers. If ever that I will own a business with an online store someday, I will make sure to prioritize good imagery interface. I will also look for reputable website designers to make everything perfect.

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