Building A Successful Web Site For Your Shop

| Friday, January 21st, 2011 | No Comments »

building a successful website for your shopWhen so much shopping is done on the internet, every business no matter how small needs a website. I was looking for a place to take the in-laws once for lunch, I knew there was a good restaurant in the neighbouring village but try as I might I couldn’t find them on the internet. What I was looking for was a telephone number, sample menu, prices and opening hours but the restaurant didn’t have a web site so I took the in-laws to one that did.

These days people use the internet much as they used to use the Yellow Pages. If looking for say, a plumber or dentist, they’ll search for one on the internet and if you’re not listed then you miss out. Even if you just have a basic site with your address, phone number and opening hours you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors who don’t.

Now only those who are adept at using the internet should attempt building their own website, it’s far easier to get someone to build one for you using a simple content management system such as Word Press, which will then enable you to edit and add content yourself. You can buy a name for your site from around £10 and having someone build it and register it to yourself can cost upwards from £200 depending on what you want. Then monthly hosting costs are around £10 per month. Most shops just want to attract local hits for which you’ll only need a basic site.

So what should you have on your site? A good web site builder should take your business into consideration and tailor it to your needs. But some basic information should always be on the site:

  • Directions of how to reach you.
  • Opening hours.
  • Address and telephone number.
  • Details of your product range.
  • Photographs of some of your products.

Some website builders will also offer Search Engine Optimisation. This is all about making your site search friendly and using all the relevant keywords and phrases to push the site further up the search terms. This is essential for huge sites who have a lot of competition but for a local shop that doesn’t have aspirations for world domination, it is really up to you if you want to pay for this service.

You may also want to give customers the option of ordering online. Consider getting a PayPal account or a secure page for credit card payments.

Once you have your website up and running you’ll need to advertise it locally. Put it up in your shop window and have it printed on till receipts. It should be on every poster and leaflet you hand out and on business cards.

Update your site. There is nothing worse than visiting a site which contains last year’s information and clearly hasn’t been updated in a while. Change your featured products, advertise new lines and upload new photos. Give customers a reason to visit it often and perhaps even send out a newsletter informing customers of new additions to the site.

Getting Local Hits

The plan isn’t to be top of Google for the whole of the UK under ‘bakeries’, but you can certainly improve your local rating. Make your site informative and interesting for local people by including local news and happenings relevant to your business. For instance, if you are a local bakery then you can do a feature on French bread or an article on serving fresh cream cakes at weddings. That should draw in the kind of customer you need to attract. Your articles don’t always need to be self promotion, just make them informative, interesting and relevant and you’ll score highly on those local search terms and draw in those vital links.

Remember that customers aren’t looking for a piece of creative artwork when they find your site, they just want a site that is easy to use and serves it purpose. Don’t get too caught up in fancy graphics, drop down menus and sound. Whilst all of this is very nice, if a customer can’t find your opening hours they’ll soon lose interest. Make sure that it’s user friendly.

Having a good website won’t make or break your business but it can bring you new custom in the form of internet shoppers who rarely step out onto the high street. These are tough times for the high street and shops need to use every method at their disposal to increase their business and stay ahead of the competition. The internet is just one method, but it’s a huge one so don’t overlook it.

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