PayPal is one of the world’s biggest and well-known online payment systems. Thousands of online shops use the company’s services to allow people to make purchases online, so they should know a thing or two about what makes an ecommerce site successful.

We asked John-Paul Savant, Director of Product and Strategy for PayPal, for his tips on ecommerce and how to build an online shop.

What sort of planning do you need to do before launching an online store?

“You need to consider how your business works and how you’re going to build and update your website. You also have to think about how you’ll take payment.

“If you’re starting out, it’s often easier to go with a proven, off-the-shelf package. These can be very cost effective and generally give you immediate access to templated designs and shopping cart features.

“Alternatively, you can build your own site from scratch. This is likely to work out to be more expensive and take much longer to implement, but if you need very advanced functions it can be the way to go.”

What about the design of the site? How important is that?

“If your product range is poor or overpriced then it’s unlikely a good design will lead to higher conversion. But if your range is good and prices competitive, the design can really affect how many sales you make.

“It’s important to remember that design is not just the product pages. Rather, it’s the end-to-end experience that you offer your customers from search to selection to checkout. The combination of these will heavily influence how people perceive your business.

“These days, people are more familiar with and adept at shopping on the web. Many know exactly what they want, so you don’t get much time to win them over. Your website is just like a real shop, where potential buyers will browse your products and purchase if the process is simple.

“To make the process as easy as possible, most off-the-shelf ecommerce packages come with a range of designs that provide simple and logical product categories. People are more comfortable using sites they feel familiar with, so use an intuitive design which follows the conventions of other online shops.”

What can you do to encourage people to buy from a site?

“Along with a well designed shopping section of your website, you need to ensure that the checkout process is as user friendly and simple as possible. You want to minimise hassle for the buyers to help increase conversion, turning browsers into buyers.

“A good example can be seen with PayPal’s Express Checkout. It lets customers move from checkout to completion in just three clicks. Buyer use data stored with PayPal to complete the purchase quickly and securely, avoiding the hassle and security risk of entering repetitive personal and financial information.”

What’s the best way to promote an ecommerce website?

“There is no single ‘best way’. You should use a range of methods to drive traffic to your site.You can use paid advertising on search engines (called pay per click) to get people to your site. Many off-the-shelf ecommerce packages will be designed to rank well in Google.

“There are lots of online directories and market places where people might be interested in your products. These are high-traffic sites which can push interested buyers your way.

“If you’re buying an ecommerce package, check to see if it allows you to submit your products to shopping comparison or marketplace sites. This can give your traffic a boost and save you a lot of effort.”

What next?

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Boost your online shop with business advice from one of the UK's biggest websites, 5.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

Comment

6 Responses

  • Laurence Payne

    The web commerce packages offered by 123-Reg are doubtless fine value. But let’s not forget to mention that Pay-Pal offer free tools that insert even quite sophisticated “Pay by Pay-Pal” facilities onto your existing site. It would only cause bad feeling if a customer discovered this AFTER paying for similar facilities.

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    July 18, 2008 at 4:21 pm
  • John

    Hi Laurence,

    Thanks for dropping by.

    What you say is absolutely correct. However, one of the benefits of opting for a solution like our ecommerce package is that the set up process is all taken care of for you.

    As long as you have a PayPal account (which, I believe, you need no matter how you plan to use PayPal!), you can integrate the system into your shop with just a few clicks.

    And of course you get all the other benefits of a ready-to-go ecommerce package too, like a product catalogue system, shopping cart … and the rest.

    It’s not that you have to buy an ecommerce package to start trading online, but for many people it’s by far the best way to get started.

    Thanks,

    John.

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    July 18, 2008 at 5:12 pm
  • Steve Proudfoot

    Hi,
    As still very much a novice on e-commerce the 123 e-commerce sites seem a really good, low risk introduction to trading on-line.

    However, are there any example sites (ideally real) that can be viewed to see how other companies are doing with the package?

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    July 21, 2008 at 10:36 am
  • John

    @Steve,

    Sure, have a look at Boutique Feet. This online shop runs on our ecommerce package. We’re hoping to feature the site on the blog shortly too.

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    July 21, 2008 at 5:08 pm
  • Peter Harbord

    After only having a computer for 16 months [a slow starter],i decided to see how i could make money [with less than £60 to spare],i joined up with ebay and got involved with paypal,after 3 months i got my first shop on ebay and this showed me how to deal with customers on the net,and how to sell worldwide [all within the last 12 months],with being one of paypals highest band customers i decided to take this to a new level,i heard how good 123-Reg was and decided to take the plunge [starting small of course].i did this at the end of febuary,playing around with the design until i was happy with the look of the shop,and i must admit,it has changed my life .There is no hidden fees to worry about,no extra charges taken out,and on my first sale i made enough profit to pay for my 123-Reg site for a whole year [all this in the quite period of selling,and still to come is xmas],i can not stress enough to people how powerful [and easy]it is to set up with 123-Reg,and already we are rubbing shoulders with Argos, samuels, Geraldonline.I am not writing this to plug our site ,or to say what i do,i write this to show everyone out there,that with very little outlay,if you have an idea and you get help from a company as good as 123-Reg [and their support team],it is amazing how far you can go [but you will need to be dedicated to it to succeed]in such a short space of time, take care and good luck to all pete.

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    July 22, 2008 at 1:14 am
  • ryan

    just bought my url http://www.lakeland-furniture.co.uk from 123. some good infor in the blogs as i am new to this and want to set up a web page and its good to find reliable information

    ryan

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    August 8, 2008 at 7:44 pm