Find a product and sell it online. The concept may appear simple, but one mistake and you can easily find yourself back at the drawing board wondering where it all went wrong.

Internet-retailing is an almost saturated marketplace, where entrepreneurs from all over the world can profit if they remain focused on the business at hand. When starting up it’s imperative that you make your business stand out from its competitors and encourage potential customers to put their trust in you when making a purchase. This can be done in many ways, but the tips below offer a good starting point.

Don’t try to be a ‘Jack of all trades’

When initialising an online retail start-up, it’s vital that you’re passionate about the product you’re selling so always keep that vision at the forefront of your mind. Starting up as a clothing retailer and branching out into tech in your first year may seem like the obvious move to you, but it’s a guaranteed way to confuse your customers and put them off from returning.

Don’t try to be a ‘Jack of all trades’; focus on your specialism and make sure you don’t veer off track.

Become an expert

As a general rule, the public (your customers) will have more trust in your business if they can clearly see the benefits of buying from you. If your website visibly shows your experience and knowledge, then you’re already one step ahead of your competitors.

Creating an onsite blog or advice section is a great way to do this. Update it regularly with industry news and tips for people relating to your business; if you sell beauty products, offer advice on makeup trends, similarly if you sell wallpaper, keep customers up to date with home interiors news. It’s one of the best ways to sell yourself to your customers and start to build up a reputation as a genuinely useful resource as well as a respected business.

Keep it clear and simple

Your website is the only point of contact you will have with your customers so you need to make it as clear and easy to use as possible. Give your customers one bad user experience and they will inevitably look elsewhere.

One way to look at it is to think of your homepage as your shop window. When walking down the local high-street, your customers will make a split second decision whether or not to go into a shop, purely based on the way it looks. First impressions count just as much when it comes to an online store.

Don’t give your competitors a chance to convert your potential customers. Give your website a clear layout, and make the user experience as simple as possible to turn window shoppers into customers and minimise bounce backs.

Perfect quality vs price formula

Regardless of your website, expertise or business acumen, set your price point too high and customers will be immediately put off, but set the price too low, and customers looking to make their first purchase might start to question the quality of the products.

This again comes down to research and knowing the market inside and out. Selling the best quality products at reasonable prices will keep customers coming back time and time again. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to build a reputation for your brand. If customers are getting a good deal and the best quality products they are always going to recommend your products to friends.

And finally… never forget the importance of excellent customer service

The final rule to live by, is to always make it clear what your customer is getting and let them know what they can do if they’re unhappy in any way. The way you deal with complaints and how quickly you rectify the problem is key to keeping customers happy and rebuilding relationships with customers that have been damaged.

Starting up online may seem like a no-brainer in today’s time-conscious society, but keep in mind that word of mouth can tarnish a reputation just as easily as it can build it. Know your products, respect your customers and most importantly, don’t lose sight of why you went into business in the first place.

By Tom Obbard, Founder of Furniture Choice