An online storefront is an eCommerce solution to host a website for a business or is the online representation of your business in the online space. The online storefront is also referred to as the electronic storefront or e-storefront. In simple words, an online storefront is an online representation or the address of the retail store or the business on the internet. It can either be the first page, or home page, of a retailer's Internet store, or the entire store's website.
The online storefronts are the cornerstone of your brand, just like your physical stores. You need to focus on the presence of the store, its location, how customers can browse through the store, the arrangement of the products, and the placement of check-out or payment counters. Similarly, when you set up an online business, you need to take care of the online address of the online store, its hosting, homepage, digital catalog, online support, payment gateways, and other important elements. A digital storefront comprises all the elements that support your online business and allows you to sell your products and services over the internet.
Various online solutions are available on the internet which can help you to set up your online storefront/business and equip you to start selling online. One of the best and easiest options to start your online business is Shopify.
Online storefronts work exactly like your bricks and mortar stores. The only difference here is that you don't have to move or be physically present at the store.
- You search for the store on the search engine, either on your mobile phone or computer screen, and the internet connects you with a web server that manages the store's website.
- You browse through the webpages/products and add them to the cart. The order manager at the backend queries a database to find out whether what the customer wants is actually in stock. The central servers see orders/products and accept your order request.
- The stock database either confirms that the item is in stock or provides an estimated delivery date for when supplies arrive from the manufacturer.
- The system generates the bill and displays delivery time and other related information on the screen and prompts customers to continue with the payment process.
- The order manager asks you to choose a payment method and redirects you to the payment gateway.
- The transaction is approved by the merchant system, though funds will not be completely transferred for several days. The order manager notifies the Web server that the transaction has been completed successfully.
- The customer sees a confirmation page from the Web server that her order has been processed and the transaction is complete.
- Later, the order manager sends the requirements to the warehouse to dispatch the order and sends updates to the customer about their order and delivery time.
- Once you receive your order, it instantly reflects on your account on the company store/website.
- Last but not least, is the feedback loop. You can provide feedback about the product, service, and the entire process and let your service provider know if there's scope for improvement.
As the internet has given a boost to online commerce, there's immense competition between online stores. Companies are investing in creating and growing their online storefronts to attract more customers, improve customer experience and increase revenues. The following are a few important elements to consider while building an online storefront.
1. Brand name, the logo, and domain name
These are the most important factors while transitioning your business online. The logo of the brand should be unique and in sync with the brand name as people will recognize your brand with the logo if not with the name. The domain name is the address of your store. Therefore, it needs to be simple and searchable. It's always wiser to use your brand name as your domain name.
2. Catalog and placement of products
The arrangement of the product needs to be strategic and objective-driven. You can either place the most selling products, new arrivals, or best-rated products at the top and rest in the second fold of the page.
3. Online help/ chatbots
Having a chatbot on your website to engage and interact with customers can boost conversions and improve the quality of customer support drastically. You can use Engati automation to integrate with your website and social media and convert every visitor into a customer.
4. CTA, login, sign-up, and cart
You must have a signup and cart option on your website in order to create an online store. Signup, shopping cart features, and call-to-action buttons should be side by side for easy access. Regular customers can be given a login and password so that they can save their previous orders and leave feedback on your products.
5. Payment option
Customers now find online payments to be safe and convenient. You should make it clear what types of payments you accept. Not all cards are accepted by all online stores. Some places accept international cards, while others don't. Display a list of the cards you accept in the website's footer or on the payment page.
6. Social media links
Displaying social links on your website allows your customers to quickly connect with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and others. Customers can be asked to leave reviews on your service or products on social media sites, which can be used as self-promotional sites.
7. Social proofing and trust-marks
Accreditation certificates from Network Solutions, McAfee, and other reputable companies will provide customers with a sense of security when making payments. At the same time, you can add other certifications related to your products, reviews, and testimonials to win over the trust.
Learn how you can set up your Shopify store in just 11 steps:
Here's an article on how to transfer your website from Wix to Shopify!