If you’re launching your ecommerce site on a shoestring budget, like many of us have, then here is a list of 5 inexpensive tips to help make your site look and feel more professional in the eyes of customers.
1. Get a Decent Telephone Number
Unless your business is targeting a specific geographic region then you should put on a national phone number on the site.
Don’t put your home phone number on it as you don’t want the kids answering the phone to customers, and certainly don’t make the cardinal sin of putting your mobile number online, this is wrong in so many ways.
Using VOIP technologies you can easily and cheaply get an 0845 number and then divert it to any other number you want, including your mobile. These cost as little as £2 per month to rent and can be setup within minutes.
For an even better customer experience use a Freephone 0800 number, these cost from £5 a month and are billed at just 3p per minute to you when receiving calls.
There are loads of businesses offering these services now a days, we use and recommend Voipfone, you also get a ton of extra features such as call recording, switchboards, out of hours answerphones, so you can really set them up exactly how you want them.
2. Call Answering Service
Following on from point 1, having a decent phone number is important but not much use if you can’t answer it at all times. This is particularly an issue for people whose ecommerce sites begin life as a side line business.
Call answering services do exactly as the name suggests. For a monthly fee you get a small team of people who will answer your calls in your company name, take messages, and can even answer basic questions which customers may have.
Messages can then be emailed or sent as a txt which you can deal with when you can get to a phone.
We have used a few different vendors for this service and found them all pretty similar to be honest, you can get them more involved with your business and even taking orders for you if you wanted to, obviously there could be addition fees and things to consider before doing this but it may be a good route for you.
Charges depend on your call volume really but start from as little as £50 per month, a relatively inexpensive way to add a layer of professionalism to your business.
3. Professional Legal Documents
While this should be a basic prerequisite for a new ecommerce website I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen sites with no T&C’s or have ones which have been blatantly copied from a competitor.
It’s important to have these in place for both you and your customer’s protection should anything go wrong, and trust me, at some point it will!
Also, you’d be surprised at how many customers now actually check through these before making a purchase so it’s best to get them sorted straight away.
Getting hold of them is easier than ever, simply type ‘terms and conditions’ into Google and you’ll find a few vendors offering them. You simply enter a few details such as your business name and address and the documents are instantly downloadable.
4. Business Address
If you’re running your business from home then do you want your home address listed on the site?
By law you have to display an address and again, this is something people look for before buying.
If you don’t want you home address then you need to use some kind of virtual office service which lets you use their address with your business name on top.
Google ‘Virtual Office Address’ to find a host of companies offering this service, costs start at just £20 per month and you can ask them to forward any mail on to you. Some will even open up letters, scan them in and email them across to you so there are no delays in receiving mail.
Often you can link up this with a call answering service and get a better bundle price on them both together.
5. Helpdesk Ticketing System
When things invariable go wrong then you need some way of handling customers support calls, be it for missed deliveries, returns or just general customer support.
You can try and handle all this by phone or email but if the volume gets too much then you run the risk of missing something important which will infuriate your customers.
I think a good way of handling this is by using some helpdesk software, this is where people can log issues or enquiries with you and they get put onto a ticketing system. You generally get an email notification when there is a new problem and can respond via email or through the software itself.
The benefits are that it keeps track of everything that’s going on and keeps a record of everything that is said by both parties.
You can also setup automatic responses to certain types of queries and add notes or guides to the system so it can grow into a kind of self-service portal.
I trialled a few different systems but eventually went for Zendesk, it’s a hosted service so you pay a monthly fee depending on your usage but it starts from less than £20 per month and again it gives a nice professional feel to your customers.
Following the above 5 tips will instantly raise your new online business head and shoulders above many other new sites.
What do you think? Have I missed anything out? Why not let me know what works for you in the comments!