Your guide to a successful online business!

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?

  • Check out the 123-reg ecommerce packages. They include everything you need to build an online shop. They integrate with marketplaces like eBay and Kelkoo and offer multiple payment methods such as PayPal along with marketing options.
  • Find out more about PayPal. This secure payment system is fully integrated into the 123-reg ecommerce packages and you can take advantage of a £120 cashback offer until the end of July.
  • You can read more advice from us about running an ecommerce store, staying legal and selling internationally.

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