It would seem justifiable to think that when we take to web sales or just intend to start it, we should have a detailed plan or strategy.

There is a general belief, although the scale is diminishing, that running a web shop is limited to publishing information about it on the Internet – that everything will sell itself.

The reality quickly verifies this opinion. Nothing can be sold because it is saleable. Our shop will be known to us, our family and friends. In order to go beyond these circles, it is worth asking the following question: “How to run an e-shop?” This question should render sleepless all who want to start their own e-business. See what you have to remember in order to become successful.

How to run an e-shop?

It is a question without a definitive answer. You can only try to come close to the ideal – and you should keep trying for as long as you intend to keep the online shop. It is so because the online reality is very dynamic. We have trends today which change tomorrow. However, some activities of the online shop should be constant:

  • Consistency – it is a virtue in any e-business. We have to be patient and consistently pursue our assumed goals. On this path, we will trip every now and then but it is essential to draw conclusion from multi-channel campaigns. Social media, paid ads (Google, Facebook, YouTube), affiliate networks or marketplaces require our attention. We need to analyse the effects which these forms of offer presentation bring to us. Check conversion rates, shopper behaviours, places where they usually abandon their baskets and let us optimize the shop so as to monetise the traffic in the most efficient way possible.

  • Honesty – is a generally desired feature in any business regardless of whether it is offline or online. Let us be honest in our online shop. If we send an incomplete order or if for any reason the product reaches the client in a damaged condition, let us face the problem. Let resolve it to customer’s advantage. Such behaviour will be much more beneficial for the e-shop. Why? Because if we deny it, we can surely expect „black PR” which will be very difficult to be rid of. Social media do not forgive easily. A positive approach will prove the shop to be e-shoppers friendly and efficient at solving problems which, as we all know, cane and will occur.

  • Transparency – in other words transparency – so trendy today. This phenomenon concerns many aspects of online shop, which should be clearly presented on the e-shop site. What we should clearly state:

    • Delivery terms – let all types of deliveries be available and make sure information on the shopping amount authorizing consumers to free deliveries is presented,

    • Complaints and return terms,

    • Rules and privacy policy,

    • Promotions available at a particular period,

    • Basket – should finish with the order summary and the total purchase and transport amounts,

    • Customer opinions.

  • Collecting opinions – it is one of the key elements of an online shop which builds confidence in its brand. Let us collect opinions; make sure you are not too pushy asking customers for their opinion about the shopping they just did. Do not delete negative opinions (see: “transparency”), their presence means that we take critical opinions seriously.

  • Visibility – visibility is key in shop’s development. One could say that visibility boils down to multi-channel strategy (Google, social media, marketplaces, blogosphere, content and influencer marketing, etc.). In the beginning of the adventure, it may be difficult to evaluate which traffic sources are the best but make sure you are as visible as possible. With time, having collected some data and having analysed them, you will be able to redirect the traffic to the sources which, for example are better at converting.

  • Speed – in the time of more and more efficiently realised orders we should also think about a possibility of goods being ordered with the delivery realized within the “same day delivery” model. IF we use services of logistics operator (fulfilment), it will be simple; if you have your own warehouse (cross-dock), it is doable, too. It may be a little more difficult with the drop shipping model.

Online shop service – how does it work?

There is no one online shop service. We should be prepared to serve customers in any possible form. Let us provide contact numbers – best to a particular person so shoppers know that there are living people working at the shop. The shop needs an email. Beside the general shop’s e-mail, publish e-mail address of your staff. Make sure alternative forms of contact with the online shop service are available. You can implement live chats which facilitate consumer online service.

E-shop software – how to choose it?

A wide selection is available. As regards online shop software we have engines using the SaaS (Service as a Support) and OS (Open Source) models. In the SaaS model, we will be required to pay a monthly subscription fee but we can always count on the support of the engine developer. It will also be easy to choose relevant functionality. If we are a little more literate in the e-commerce technology, we can use the OS (Open Source) engine. We can configure everything ourselves starting with the software installation on the server up to choosing a template for each function.