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Many set out with the assumption that setting up an online business is affordable, easier than running an actual business premises, and once the site is live, the hard work is over. However in reality, the cost of running and online business and getting it set up to begin with can be hugely costly depending on the type of business you run. The hidden costs include photography, SEO, web design and development, and model photography.

If you do take the plunge, you can expect hard work, months/years of testing and tweaking and you will have to continually update your website.

If you find your website is making you very little return, it is time to stop and investigate what exactly if going on.

Is your website easy to navigate?


Every time you explore your website, you must imagine you are visiting it for the first time and that you don’t know the products.  In your honest opinion is it easy to find your way around the site? Can you find the delivery information easily or is it hidden away? Do you have a returns section so that doubtful customers have their questions answered?

It is essential you cover any and all potential questions. In a shop customers can wander over to the retail assistant and easily gain an answer. With an online shop, there is no one to ask, and emails take time, and it is likely your customer will go elsewhere if they can’t find the answer to their questions.

Not only that, you must make it obvious where they will find this information on your site. Ambiguously named menus and poor layout leads to frustration and customer drop offs. People have very little spare time to give so make sure you make it easy to get around your website with easy menus, well labelled, and well categorized so that it makes sense.

If you aren’t sure if your site is clear enough, look into user testing. A user tester can be set challenges by you, and as they complete their challenge, they will film their screen and narrate as they navigate around your site so you can understand if they are having trouble, or have some better suggestions. Challenges can be anything from find out the delivery costs to your address, or find a specific product, to sign up for our mailing list.

Is your photography strong?

Photography is often not addressed with as much effort and time and it should be given. Photography is often your only way to promote and show your products. It is amazing the amount of websites which show their product in a tiny thumbnail, at one angle only, in a pixelated form.

Give photography a strong push. Spend some money on getting it done professionally if you lack skill and time, and really consider the composition of your product, make sure the images are large enough for the customer to clearly establish what they are being offered, and show the product at multiple angles so they can gain a true understanding of it.

For example, if you sell fridges, show a few shots of the fridge open with groceries in it, a shot of the inside empty, a shot of the fridge with the door closed etc. This means the customer can really assess the product and removes and doubt. If you were going to really do it well, and image with a person standing next to it can really help show size and proportions of your product too.

Remember your customer can’t hold, touch, or see the product in the flesh, so you must make up for this with strong photography.

Have you addressed SEO?

SEO is something you can invest thousand in, but it can be something you can address yourself. Write regular blog posts, connect to others on social media, write unique content, and make sure your site isn’t simple imaged based and that there is actual text for Google to ‘read’. There are several SEO guides online, take time to research and work hard to get traffic to your site so people know you exist.

Is your checkout system secure and clear?


Your checkout system must be secure no matter what. If you are handling money you must make sure your site can protect this valuable information. Let your customers know it is secure by showing the secure payment logos, to make them feel at ease.

Checkouts are the vital point where you can lose customers. Make your checkout really easy to navigate, only take the information you need so they don’t feel they have to spend too much time going through your checkout system, and make sure it looks professional. Would you trust your site? Be objective and really think how you can entice those customers to part with their money.

Do you have reliable hosting?

Hosting is something that isn’t often mentioned or highlighted as much as it should be. Really consider your hosting package, a slow loading site, or a site that regularly goes down only frustrates customers, and makes you look unprofessional, so make sure your hosting isn’t letting you down.

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Posted by Kirsten

Kirsten works for and works with new businesses taking the steps to set up online.

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