Setting up an online store is a popular side hustle for many people. It can be easy to do, especially if you decide to use dropshipping and don’t need to handle your products. But there’s always a potential for a side hustle to become a proper business if you want it to.
If you have an online store, one of the best ways to start taking it more seriously is to ensure your store is professional. It’s easy to set up a small store on Etsy or eBay, but it takes more work to set up and run an independent online store.
When you think you’re ready to start growing your e-commerce side hustle and turn it into a full business, there are plenty of things you can do to make it happen. Use this guide to check off some of the most important tasks for creating a more professional store.
Set Up an Independent Store
The first thing that you might want to do is set up an independent online store. Instead of using a third-party website, which often has limited ways for you to customize your store, you can create a standalone store that you can make your own.
There can be pros and cons to doing this for a small business, but it often gives you many benefits that you might not be able to get from a third-party e-commerce website. You can choose a hosting option that works for you and build your website in whichever way you prefer.
Some excellent website-building platforms are available to make it easier.
Perfect Your Photos and Descriptions
If you want to make your online store more professional, better photos and product descriptions could really help you. You might currently be using some stock photos if you have bought wholesale products, or perhaps you quickly took some photos with your phone.
However, if you take some time to get some product photography that works for your brand, it can make your store look a whole lot better. Additionally, if you write new product descriptions in the style of your brand, it can be a lot more engaging for your customers.
You can also use your product descriptions to help improve SEO for your store.
Secure Your Internet
One of the most important things you can do for your online store is to ensure that it’s secure. You don’t want any sensitive customer data stolen, potentially ruining your business. Invest in a good web hosting service and make sure that you install an SSL certificate, which ensures data sent between customers and the store is encrypted. You could also research internet options by address to ensure that you have the best service for your store.
Focus on Improving SEO
Search engine optimization is key for any online store. You want your store and its products to show up in search engine results, which can require a lot of work. There are many ways to work on SEO for your store so that your brand gets noticed.
Optimizing your product descriptions is just one way to improve SEO. You can use both on-page and off-page SEO techniques to make your brand more visible. Ecommerce content marketing is an excellent way to help your products and store stand out too. You can guarantee that smaller and less serious online stores are not making use of content marketing.
You can gain a competitive edge by ensuring you are using it with blogging, video content, and other engaging options.
It’s a good idea to look into making your individual products show up in search results too. You can get your products to show in the Google Shopping tab, but you have to set it all up first. To do this, you need to use Google Merchant Center, which allows you to list your products for free.
You can automatically sync your products with some e-commerce platforms, which makes it a lot easier because you won’t need to manually add your products.
Make Use of PPC Ads
In addition to using SEO techniques to promote your online store, you might also want to look into PPC ads. These can be combined with your organic product listings to get your products even more exposure. With paid product listing promotions, you can reach more people by making your products more prominent.
These will appear as sponsored products in Google Shopping results and show at the top of each page of search results. They also appear in general search results, before the user has clicked on the Shopping tab.
You could also use PPC ads for general store promotion. Text ads can promote your store as a whole, appearing in some of the top results when people perform a search. You could also use them to promote specific landing pages, which you can use as part of wider marketing campaigns.
PPC ads can be pretty cost-effective if you use the right strategy, and can help you to get more traffic to your online store.
Set Up a Newsletter
Creating a newsletter is another marketing tactic that you might want to employ to make your online store more professional. It’s a good way to capture more leads and create loyal customers. When you set up your newsletter or mailing list, you can offer different ways to sign up.
Include a signup form in the footer of your website, use a pop-up to prompt people to sign up, and ask them to do it during the checkout process too. Providing extra incentives can encourage people to join your mailing list. For example, you can offer a 10% discount on their first purchase to entice them to sign up.
You can use your mailing list to continue to promote your store. Let your mailing list know about new products, sales, special offers just for them, and more. It can keep people coming back and ensure you have loyal customers who continually spend money with you.
Continue the Experience After Ordering
Creating a great experience with your online store has to extend beyond the online part. Once your customers place an order, you still have to ensure they receive an excellent customer experience. This includes sending their order out promptly, using a reliable delivery service, giving them a good unboxing experience, and handling returns well.
You need to continue to provide them with customer service and resolve any problems that they might experience.
It’s necessary to build a great online store, but make sure you’re also crafting a good customer experience from start to finish. This includes ensuring your products live up to your customer’s expectations.
Know How to Handle Customer Feedback
Being able to handle customer feedback is a must if you want to make your online store more professional. This can include responding to customer correspondence through email and other private channels, as well as responding to customers in public through channels such as social media or review sites.
Being able to respond to customer feedback professionally is important, whether it’s positive or negative feedback. Although there could be times when you need to correct a customer or make it clear you are not at fault, there are also times when you might need to take responsibility if you receive negative feedback.
Update Your Store Regularly
Keeping your store updated will help to continue making it look professional. If your website looks like it hasn’t received any updates in a while, it can be off-putting to any potential customers. They want to see that your store is kept updated, whether that means adding new products occasionally or just ensuring all of the information is still correct. It’s also helpful to publish new content, such as blog posts, or to make changes to promote your latest offers and sales events.
By turning your online store into something more professional, you could take your ecommerce side hustle and turn it into a more serious business that turns a bigger profit.