onlineThis is a guest post by Shopify.

Are you contemplating the creation of your own online store but are afraid of the pitfalls that can be associated with such stores? If so then this guide will help you to avoid some of the difficulties that can arise during the creation process!

Setting up an online store can be a daunting task. The process of setting up has gotten much simpler over the years but with simplicity comes the added opportunity for problems to arise.

One small problem can render your store obsolete before you even get a chance to fully spread your wings, as your reputation in the market will be tarnished. By meticulously following the tips below entrepreneurs would be able to avoid most of the common problems that can cause a business to fail.

1. Logistics

Insufficient logistic preparation is one of the main reasons new online stores fail in less than a year. Ideally, you will want to have your logistics worked out before you attempt to publish your website and make your products available.

Logistics covers many areas that are very important if you are to have a successful online store. One of the main areas under logistics is stock and stock control, and it would be good practice to have these things in place before you go live on the internet.

You will need a place to safely store your merchandise. You will need all the materials to package and post items sold in your online store. Remember items need to be sent in a reasonable time in order to keep your customers happy, and it would be a good idea to put a cut-off time on your website to let customers know the daily deadline for posting.

2. User testing

Testing of your finished online store should also be thoroughly done before you launch to the public. This will ensure that customers are not faced with any nasty surprises such as blank pages or dead links.

During testing a proofread is also a good option as you do not want your site going live with spelling and grammatical errors intertwined over the pages.

You should also include a contact information page that will allow customers to contact you directly in case something goes wrong with their order.

Programs are even available that will allow you to chat to your customers in real time. These programs come as part of many Content Management Systems, which are an excellent choice as they give you the opportunity to gather real-time feedback from actual visitors/prospective customers to your online store.

3. Security

Security is also an area that entrepreneurs want to research before attempting to sell products online. Without a secure website potential customer will be wary of using their credit and debit card information to place orders from your store.

For websites, encryption is what makes them safe, and you need to ensure that you have a certifiable encrypted area on your website where you can accept payments. If you plan on also accepting payments offline you must ensure that the facilities are in place before they are offered to the public.

Along with the encryption, a firewall and virus-scanning software will be needed, as it will keep your website, including customer details, safe from hackers and other malicious activity that happens online.

4. Design

The design of your website is also very important and should be your main focus after you have organized all the security and logistical issues.

Your website should look as professional as possible, as this inspires customer confidence.

Customers are more likely to feel safe using their banking information on a professionally designed website as compared to a shabby website that looks as though it was created in a matter of minutes with the sole intention of defrauding unsuspecting members of the public.

5. Marketing

After implementing all the above tips/guidelines you should be ready to sell products online in your web store, and now the most important thing for you to focus on are your marketing tactics as these are what attract new customers.

Your tactics can be varied, but you must ensure that customers are aware of your particular tactic or promotion. Simple tactics that you can use are things like offering free shipping for orders above a set threshold, or you could sign up to relevant forums and offer forum members special discount codes for purchases in your online store.

About the author: This article is brought to you by Shopify who are providers of the best hosting solutions and ecommerce cms available on the internet.

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