Back to Basics: What You Should Know as a Start-Up E-Commerce Merchant - Part 2

Back to Basics: What You Should Know as a Start-Up E-Commerce Merchant - Part 2

We love helping start-up e-commerce merchants succeed in their new business endeavors. Last week, we talked about the risks involved in e-commerce businesses, including credit card fraud prevention and cyber attacks. Part 2 of the Back to Basics trilogy will cover the different written aspects of your website.

Part 2: Website Content for the Startup E-Commerce Merchant

When it comes to writing content for your website, whether it be a return policy or a description of your goods, you should always write in a clear, conversational voice (unless you often use big, verbose words when talking with others!) to avoid confusion. As a start-up e-commerce merchant, you want your customers to feel like friends. Here are a few tips on how to write great website content for your online store.

Privacy Policy

Including a privacy policy on your website is a must as an e-commerce merchant. When you require your customers to provide personally identifiable information or sensitive credit card data, you need to reassure them that you’ll do everything you must (according to PCI compliances) and can do (we all hate spam!) to keep their info safe and secure.

Now that you know why you need to write a privacy policy, you need to learn how to write one that people will understand. A standard e-commerce website privacy policy should include the following:

  • Let your website visitors know what information you may need to collect from them, including:
    • First and last name
    • Billing and shipping addresses
    • Payment information (debit card, credit card, or e-check)
    • Email address
    • Telephone number
  • You also need to let your visitors know how you’ll be using their information
  • If you’ll be sharing their information with anyone else
  • Explain to your visitors what choices they have in how you use and distribute their information
  • Tell them how they can edit their information that’s on your e-commerce website

Return Policy

A common question among customers of e-commerce stores is how you handle returns. Including a clear return policy will let your customers know that you’re serious about their happiness. Things you should include in an e-commerce website return policy are:

  • The timeframe customers have to return items (e.g. 30, 60, 90 days)
  • If they have to pay any fees or charges to return items
  • How the customer will get their money back, whether it be store credit or a cash refund
  • What requirements they must follow in order to return the item for a refund
    • Does the item have to be in its original packaging?
    • Can customers open the package before returning it to you?
    • Should they include the original receipt?
    • Where do they ship the returned package?

You should also be sure to put your return policy in several places. Of course you want your return policy on your e-commerce website, but where else should you include it to make sure customers see it? Think about including your return policy on your online transaction receipt and also a printed version sent along with the shipped item.

Shipping Policy

When you sell tangible goods on your e-commerce website, you should let your customers know when they can expect their purchase. Here are some things to include in your shipping policy:

  • What shipping options do you offer?
  • How much do you charge for shipping for each option?
  • When do you ship out items?
  • Approximately how many days should it take for your customer to receive their goods?
  • If you sell to customers all over the world, acknowledge that international shipping will take longer than shipping within the same country.

Terms and Conditions

The terms and conditions section of your website may be the most difficult to write. Evaluate your online business and think about what problems your website’s visitors may encounter. Look at the terms and conditions pages on websites your industry for inspiration. If you offer services, you may want to include that prices may change. Additional topics you should consider covering are:

  • Your website’s copyright information
  • Your business’s contact information
  • Product and service warranties
  • Liability disclaimer
  • Data and security
  • Any applicable laws related to your industry enforced by your country or state
  • Where your customers should direct any complaints
  • Partners and affiliations to your website

Contact Page

Having a contact page on your website not only lets your customers know how to reach you with any problems (or praises!), but it also helps build trust between you and your customers. When you’re running an e-commerce business, it’s important to do all you can to ensure your customers that you’re an honest businessperson. Along with a toll-free customer service number, other information you should have on your Contact Page includes:

  • Your business’s physical address
  • An international telephone number
  • Your business’s fax number, if applicable
  • Your business’s office hours

About Us Page

Another way to help boost customer confidence is by including an About Us page. Share the history of your e-commerce business with the world. What trials and tribulations did you have to endure in order to serve your dedicated customers? Let your customers know how much you appreciate their loyalty. Is there a funny story associated with how your business began? Write a lighthearted anecdote about your business’s background.

FAQ Page

To help mitigate the number of customer service calls, include a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Page. Do customers seem to ask the same basic questions? Write a clear and informative FAQ page and insist your customers reference their question online before contacting you directly. Let your customers know that you’re not trying to avoid them (after all, you value and love helping all of your customers!), but a FAQ page will answer their questions much quicker than waiting for the next available representative.

Write Clear, Unique Product and Service Descriptions

Let’s face it: Out of the thousands of e-commerce websites on the Internet, you’re more than likely not the only startup e-commerce merchant selling the products or services you offer on your site. When you write a description of what you’re selling, make sure it’s clear and descriptive, but also unique so it turns your website visitors into customers. An enticing product description can really make or break the sale.

Writing a misleading product description will probably result in a return or even a chargeback. Let’s say Suzie orders a pair of jeans from your online clothing store. Your product description should be so on point that when she gets the jeans in the mail, she’ll say, “This is exactly what I was expecting!” Satisfied customers most often turn into returning customers, which should always be a goal for e-commerce merchants.

But Wait, There’s More!

Make sure you check back at our blog for our third and final installment of the Back to Basics blog posts. Part 3 will cover how to find the right payment processor for your e-commerce business.

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