Catering to customers online is a huge benefit to retail store owners.  However, e-tailing is different from in-store retailing, and store owners need to stay aware of the differences in order to maximize the benefit of selling online.  To ensure the best online shopping experience possible for your customers, take into consideration these seven tried and true techniques.

1. Make it easy for customers to find your website. Improve your marketing both online and off. Make sure you understand how to use your site analytics to find out more about how users are finding your site – is it through Google or other search engines? Referrals from other websites? Analyze how customers are finding you and compare your search engine ranking for various terms to that of your competition. Consider using AdWords or other advertising, email marketing, and social media marketing to ensure you get your target audience to your website.

2. Create a great website design and user experience. Once users have found your site, do what you can to keep them there by making your website pleasing to look at, interactive and helpful. Make it easy for customers to navigate your site with a clean layout and design. Study how other online stores organize their websites, and use their sites as a model. Differentiate yourself through your content, not your user interface.

3. Ensure that your customers know they can trust your site’s security. Display privacy policies, security badges, anything that shows that your site is trustworthy and safe to log into and save information on. After all, your website is trustworthy, right?

4. Make products easy to find. If your site is well-organized and you include a search bar, customers will be able to easily find what they need (and maybe items they didn’t know they were looking for!) Make searching the site as easy as possible so potential customers don’t leave and go somewhere else.

5. Include useful product descriptions and reviews. The great thing about a brick-and-mortar store is that customers can hold your products in their hands to get a feel for the item and its size and weight and even try them out to make sure they work as expected. If you want to hold customers’ attention online, make them feel like they’re trying out a product in the store: Give a brief but detailed and accurate description, including size, weight, color and functionality of the product, and add the ability to leave behind user reviews complete with pictures for customers to browse through.

6. Give them a deal they can’t resist. Want free shipping? A complimentary sample? Batteries included with a product that specifies batteries are not included? Often customers do their research on multiple sites before making a purchase, so once they’ve landed on your site, offer them a great deal to ensure they make their purchase there rather than moving on to see what the competition has to offer.

7. Offer great customer support. Some customers may want to buy from you, but have problems when it comes to checkout. Others may have questions about a product that are not answered on your website. Still others may buy a product and be dissatisfied with it. If you offer great customer support with the option to call or email in the event of a problem, not only will you gain more customers, you’ll retain these customers and get their positive recommendations. Users will continue to come back to your site again and again if they know you’re responsive to their needs.

About the Author:
Valerie Cecil is a research coordinator, marketing specialist and writer for Her work allows her to investigate many topics, ranging from online consumer relations to effective communication in the workplace. When she is not working, she enjoys kayaking, watercolor, and scouting out the cutest Gift Boxes From Retail Packaging she can find.