We see many startup online ecommerce businesses, some successful, some not. What makes a successful online business?

Type of business

There is no doubt that some products and services are easier to sell online than others. Consumables with popular brand names, products that every body knows, are easier to sell online. Unknown products are harder to sell. Consumables bring repeat business because they always need to be replaced.

Domain names

Names that include a search word relating to the products have a better chance of being on page 1 of Google than others. Domain names like tbc.com won’t rank as high as texasbabyclothing.com even though the initials mean something to the owners.

Domain names should be easy to remember, but not just to the owners. Names like jhmtoys.com are not as easy for a visitor to remember as jackstoys.com. It’s better if the names can be pronounced.

Visitors talk to other potential visitors.

As well as being easy to remember for a visitor, domain names that include search words help Google to list them higher for a search.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Some factors that Google uses to rank web pages are:
1) Domain name.
2) Search word in the meta title.
3) The number of times the search word is on the web page.
4) Whether the search word is also in a heading or hyperlink.
5) The quantity of information on the web page.
6) The quality of information.
7) The time it takes to load the web page.
8) Whether the page is responsive to all devices including phones.
9) How popular the website is. That means how many other relevant quality websites are linked to it.

Search engines are there to provide visitors a list of web pages in order of relevance to a search query.

The position of a website in a search can make the difference between success and failure of an online business. A website on page 4 of Google is unlikely to be even visited if its competitors are on page 1

Website layout

The layout of the website should help visitors find information that they want quickly. Some have the product categories on the home page. Some have only specials on the home page with product categories on the first inside page.

The customer’s attention must be quickly gained and held. A menu of product categories and other information like delivery charges should be at the top and sides. Duplicate menus can be also at the bottom of a page.

The norm is to have categories click through to products. Then a click on the product should open to a larger picture and a full description.

There should also be a search box for customers to find the product they want quickly. Product details

Some products are easier to sell online than others. If customers can see exactly what they are looking for, that’s a good start.

Products are easy to sell if popular and can be seen in stores on the street. It’s only the price and delivery that need to be compared.

It’s not so easy if the product is specially designed and only available online. That means full and exact descriptions with good quality photos.

An example that puzzled us was a website selling wedding gowns with descriptions as little as four words and just a small picture, with prices ranging up to nine hundred dollars. Surely a customer would want more information before spending that amount of money.

A better example we know, also clothing, has descriptions of a hundred and forty words per product. They get eight hundred visitors per day and a high sales volume.

Product images should be sharp with a clear background, preferably white. They should not be fuzzy. They should not have a background that distracts from the product.

We recommend business owners look at their websites from the point of view of a customer. Customers are looking for information. Each product is an opportunity for a sales pitch.

Business owners should also know their products sufficiently well to give very full descriptions that answer all possible customer questions.

Online customers can get frustrated and go elsewhere very quickly.

Customer Service

The quality of interface with the customers helps make an online business successful.

Customers must know that they can easily get answers to their queries. This can be by a chat dialog box, an FAQ section, prompt email responses and general attitudes to customers. It’s important to have a local phone number prominent on the web page.

Personal service to customers can be a critical difference between online businesses.


Successful online ecommerce businesses are those that:
1) Are on page one of Google through good SEO.
2) Sell consumables.
3) Have popular products.
4) Show large product descriptions.
5) Have good website navigation.
6) Have good customer service.

These articles were first published on www.platywebs.com.au and have been re-published on many other websites and ezines over the years. New readers are still finding them to be of value and up to date with today’s conditions. We believe they illustrate common sense and the value of thinking through situations. Please check out the other articles advising on small business, web design, search engine optimisation, web hosting and domain names