Online sales are a massive part of global business, so it’s not surprising that so many people are keen to claim their own slice. It doesn’t matter if you’re preparing to join a virtual marketplace, hoping to leverage a social media platform to sell some goodies or planning to start a dedicated eCommerce-based website – everyone has to begin somewhere.

Setting up your shop and attracting customers is just some of what it takes to develop a successful business. Don’t think that the hard work ends when your customer hits “buy”. The transaction doesn’t truly end until your customer not only receives their purchase, but unwraps it tries it, decides to keep it, uses it and eventually discards it.

How can you make sure that the entire journey is memorable for all the right reasons?

  1. Sell quality items

It might sound obvious, but for the best possible customer journey, you should be delivering items that exceed your customer’s expectations (or at the very least, meet them). Buying products online always involves an element of the unknown, as the customer can’t feel the quality of your materials or see the craftsmanship for themselves. The simplest way to build up a good reputation and relationship with your customer is to send them something they’re pleased to have purchased.

  1. Be descriptive

It never hurts to give too much detail in an online description. The more information you provide, the more certain your potential customers can be about your item being the thing they need. You might think the worst-case scenario is that they choose not to buy your goods, but actually, that’s better than them being disappointed by receiving an item that doesn’t meet their requirements.

Be as accurate as possible about colours, sizes, functionality and any other relevant information. If you’re selling vintage or second-hand items, be upfront about the level of wear, tear and damage an item has – nobody expects old things to be immaculate, and buyers will appreciate your honesty. Shopify has some more tips about product descriptions, here.

  1. Use a reputable courier service

When you’ve ordered something online, there’s little more frustrating than paying extortionate shipping costs and then waiting around for it to arrive. As a seller, the least you can do is charge a fair price and use a reputable courier to get your goods to your customers as promptly as possible. This can be increasingly tricky the further you’re shipping, but using an established courier broker such as Rand Logistics can help you to consistently find the best deals, no matter what you’re sending.

If you can’t be totally accurate about when your shipment should arrive, at least err on the side of caution with your estimates. Most people will be frustrated by a late parcel but should be pleasantly surprised by one that arrives early.

  1. Show yourself

There are hundreds of independent sellers online, so what makes you different? By attaching a personality to your shop – perhaps in the way you describe your items, or by using a short biography / about section to introduce yourself – you’re giving potential customers a reason to identify with you above all others. It doesn’t have to be an amazing sales pitch or fantastic poetry. A few short sentences about how you got into making things or reselling things, would be fine, or a little bit about the brand you want to create or the people you hope to reach. Just a hundred words or so is better than nothing. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  1. Take care over the packaging

When an online order arrives at the door, it can often feel like a present to yourself. Depending on what you’re selling, you may want to play this up. For example, could you afford to upgrade your outer packaging from a bland brown box to a coloured one? What about wrapping the item in a layer of bright tissue paper? If you’re only selling something small, even including a handwritten thank you note plays into the uniqueness of your brand and sends a nice gesture to your customers. Birchbox are leaders at this – take a look at their style for inspiration.

When it comes to building an online shop, it’s unlikely that you can compete with the giant online retailers – but that doesn’t mean you can’t carve out a little bit of success for yourself. A key aspect is simply making your customers feel valued, highlighting your unique features (that’s you) and sending them a product that meets their expectations. Simple.