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5 Ways to Expand Your Online Store’s Functionality

If you are using any of the top e-commerce platforms including Shopify, Bigcommerce, and Magento, then you can do much more than simply add products to your website and manage your sales.

To prepare for a profitable 2014 for your business, here are five ways to expand your online store setup to benefit you and your customers.

Offer More Payment Options

Most e-commerce platforms offer their own proprietary payment system that can process Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and Discover, and chances are, this is what most of your customers want to use anyway. But remember that some customers may feel more comfortable using a payment system they are familiar with, such as Paypal or Amazon payments. Find out what payment gateways your e-commerce platform works with (see lists from Shopify, Bigcommerce, and Magento) and determine whether you can add an additional option or two to your payment options. Your customers will thank you!

Get Customers on Your Mailing List

Want to turn a first time buyer into a loyal customer? If the answer is yes, make sure it is easy for buyers to sign up for your mailing list when they check out. A quick search on Google for your e-mail marketing service provider + your e-commerce platform (for example, Aweber + Shopify) should result in a list of apps and/or integration instructions to help you turn first time customers into subscribers. This way, you can keep them up to date about your latest products and deals, making them much more likely to purchase from you again. You can also browse the marketplace for e-mail marketing apps and extensions from Shopify, Bigcommerce, and Magento to find even more options.

Integrate Social Media Sharing into Your Store

It’s no secret that word of mouth referrals through social media can equal sales for your business. Help visitors to your website share their favorite products from your website on social media by integrating social media sharing buttons onto your product pages. At the very least, you should have a Facebook and Pinterest button on each page as these are the networks that drive the most sales to retailers. It can be as simple as adding social sharing buttons to your product pages with the help of apps like AddThis for Shopify, offering a coupon code in exchange for a social share with apps like Justuno Social Bribery for Bigcommerce, or adding open graph support to your store for custom social sharing details with apps like SocialShare for Magento.

Improve Your Customer Relations

One thing that helps breed loyal customers and raving fans of your business is building great customer relationships. Allowing your customers to offer their feedback, both publicly and privately will make them feel like you care about what they have to say. Consider adding apps and extensions that allow your customers to leave product reviews to help others make purchasing decisions and answer survey questions about their shopping experience to help you to continue to improve the process. You can find a wide variety of options that will allow you to do these things and more by looking at customer service apps on Shopify, customer feedback apps on Bigcommerce, and customer experience extensions on Magento.

Find Out What Converts

Do you ever wonder if adding videos to your product pages helps or hurt sales, or if showing a piece of clothing on a real model vs. a mannequin makes people more or less likely to buy? Split testing is a great way to find out these answers and more by showing some customers one version of a page while showing other customers another version, then measuring the results. It can help you modify your sales copy, improve your product visualization, and make other changes that will increase your conversion rates, making each customer more likely to buy. Check out split testing apps and extensions from Shopify, Bigcommerce, and Magento to learn more.

What changes do you plan on making to your online store to grow your success in 2014?

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Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. You can follow her on Twitter and .

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