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The e-commerce industry continued its unstoppable growth in 2020. A magnitude of factors sparked this explosive growth, including COVID-19, that reportedly accelerated E-commerce growth 4 to 6 years. The estimated total of online spending reached almost $83 billion in May, a 77% increase from the previous year. If you don’t already own an online store, now is the perfect time to take the dive. However, you’re not the only one looking to capitalize on this enormous growth, and the abundance of rival stores can be overwhelming. If you are planning on creating a successful online marketplace, take note of the following points to put you a cut above the rest.

1. Create an engaging website

Your store having the best products and prices simply isn’t good enough – if your website’s design looks terrible, your store’s presence will be non-existent. Most customers consider your website’s appearance the most important factor before purchasing a product. Commissioning a talented web designer for your store is well worth it.

2. Provide outstanding customer support

Ensure your customers that your store’s support doesn’t end as soon as they check out. Providing good customer support shows customers that they can trust your business, leading to them recommending your store to others. Quality customer support breaches the gap between you and your customers, addressing their concerns and collecting their feedback - then using this feedback to identify problematic parts of your store. 

3. Offer a variety of payment options

Giving customers a variety of ways to pay, ensures that they can check out without hassle. Although PayPal reigns supreme as the most used payment option, but customers may prefer other options based on their location. Grant customers the option to create an account on your website that saves their payment info, encouraging them to use your site again and making their next purchase even more seamless. 

Popular payment gateways in South Africa include Payfast, Paygate, Peach Payments etc.

4. Have a strong social media presence

Social media is the pulse of your online store. Hiring a social media manager can prove useful, but it’s important that you’re also involved with it. Advertising on social media is a great way to interact with potential customers in creative ways. Research about your demographic to determine which social media platform is most prevalent among them, and then focus on creating targeted content there.

5. Capitalize on SEO

For you to sell products, customers need to find your website first. The key to generating traffic to your website is Search Engine Optimization. SEO means that your store will be at the top of your customer’s Google searches, and not on the third page. The most common way to implement SEO in your store is by adding SEO keywords into your product names and descriptions. Using only this SEO tip will greatly increase website visits and conversion rates. If you’re about how to generate SEO-friendly keywords, or how to incorporate them into your store, contact us for Search Engine Optimization.

6. Use quality imagery  

A pixelated image stretching across your website’s landing page gives customers an awful first impression. This quality reflects on your business and sales, customers are less likely to choose you as a merchant when your quality is sub-par. Customers expect high-quality product images, showing off the product from different angles.  

7. Accumulate customer information 

Customer information is an invaluable resource. This information is crucial for elevating your sales to the next level. An example of using your customer information is to see who your demographic is. Knowing your demographic, your business can make use of targeted advertisements. Customer information can also be used in future launches, giving you a head start. 

8. Build your website with mobile in mind 

Many e-commerce store owners succumb to the pitfall of only optimizing their site for desktop use. Mobile browsing cannot be ignored, a large chunk of your customers will be visiting your store from their mobile devices. Fortunately, pre-configured themes on e-commerce platforms like Shopify, ensure that your site will be equally optimized across all devices. 

9. Determine the best software for your business 

E-commerce sites rely on software to function. Software is used to address SEO, scalability, security concerns, and much more. The lack of –or incorrect usage of software severely stunts your site's growth. Choosing the right software means identifying problems that you have, then researching for the best software to solve them. 

10. Never stagnate 

“Stagnation is death. If you don't change, you die. It's that simple. It's that scary.” – Leonard Sweet. 

As time goes by, your customers, trends, and technology will change. You will need to be able to adapt and mold your business around what’s working now.  

If you haven’t started setting up your e-commerce website yet, these tips will help you get off on the right foot. Remember, the internet is a vastly overcrowded and volatile ecosystem. But using these ten tips, you can ensure that your e-commerce business not only survives, but thrives.