Do you want to improve the sales figures for your small business? Try going online.

With more and more people becoming internet friendly, setting up an online store, or an e-commerce site, is one of the best ways to expand your customer base and improve sales. Taking your business online is a great way to reach out to customers, and deliver your services even at locations where you thought you couldn't. Here are 7 tips on how you should create an e-commerce site for your small business.

Include photographs

When customers visit your online store, they will not be able to touch or feel the product you are selling. Clearly, nobody would want to buy your product if they don't know how it looks. So to compensate for this, you need to ensure that all the products you sell are photographed by professionals, in different angles, to give the buyer a good idea of what to expect when he or she purchases it. The product photographs you post on the website should include both the individual shots of the product and shots of the product being used or worn by a model, so that the user will also get an idea about the dimensions of the product.

On the other hand, avoid using too much graphics when not needed to prevent your site from slowing down. Considering that most customers who shop online are pressed for time, you need to make sure that the site is fast enough to retain them long enough to make a purchase.

Product description

The images on your site would make sense only when they have a description to go with. So, be sure to have a description for every product that you are selling online. The description should be as detailed as possible, so that the customer has a clear idea about it before purchasing.

Keep in mind that the tone of the description should match the product you are selling. For instance, if you are selling electronics or other gadgets through your site, descriptions should be mostly technical and should focus on the specifications. On the other hand, when you are an online florist, the tone should be more about the feel or the occasion that the flowers would be most suited for. Also, be sure that these descriptions, and other text on the website, have popular keywords that your potential customers are most likely to use on search engines.

Choose the best layout

The layout of your e-commerce site should be simple and easy to navigate. Hire professional designers to create different templates for the site and test them out individually. Keep a track of the site traffic and check the conversion rates for each of the layouts and choose one that is best.

Selecting a payment gateway

When it comes to e-commerce, selecting a payment gateway that is both popular and safe is very important. Even today, a number of people are wary when it comes to using their credit cards for online shopping. So along with credit and debit cards, you should also allow payments through secure third-party vendors like PayPal. While this may require you to set up individual merchant accounts with credit card companies and other vendors, it will allow your customers to choose from diverse options and make their payments comfortably.

Make online shopping personal

Adding a personal touch to your online shopping site can make the customers feel like they are interacting with a real salesperson. For example, before the customer checks out to make the payment, have check-box questions asking them about packaging or gift wrapping the product, adding hand written notes for the receiver etc.

Market your e-commerce site

Creating the perfect e-commerce site is one thing, diverting traffic to it another. To boost your sales through your e-commerce site, you need to promote it on social networking sites and the web. Create your business page on Facebook and Twitter and interact with your customers, to keep them updated about new products and the discounts that they can get on the site. From time to time, you should also offer exclusive discount coupon codes for all those who 'follow' you or 'like' you on the social networking site. This encourages them to be loyal to you and purchase more from your site.

In case you have a local business, you can also have signs in your store informing your customers about your online portal.

Optimizing the site for mobile users

With more number of people using smartphones, websites and e-commerce sites are compelled to optimize their website for mobile users. If you want to stay in the race, you should e ready to make it easier for your customers to reach you and make a purchase. So, make the necessary changes in the existing design or create a new website design that allows easy access through mobiles or tablet computers. Also, be sure to offer secure payment options like PayPal and other online payment services even for mobile users, rather than restricting them to debit or credit cards.