It's no secret that the future of retail is trending toward online shopping. If you haven't done so already, you're probably considering taking your business to the Web by launching an e-commerce website and online storefront.

If so, here are some facets to the process that you need to consider if you hope to maximize your investment.

The state of online shopping

According to available research and data, Americans spent $222.5 billion online in 2012 (the last year for which numbers are available), and are expected to spend around $347.3 billion this year. By 2018, that number is projected to reach nearly a half trillion dollars.

E-commerce sales in the U.S. have seen year-over-year growth over the past decade and a half. It's becoming increasingly clear that any retail business's long-term success will be dependent on how well it's able to incorporate an e-commerce capability into the business plan.

Other research has indicated that about 71 percent of shoppers believe they get better deals when they shop online, 80 percent of consumers have used the internet to make a purchase, and 50 percent of online consumers are return shoppers.

As a business owner, are you taking advantage of these shifts in the retail industry? Unless you already have an e-commerce site or are preparing to launch one, you're probably not doing everything you can to position your business for future success.

Below are eight tips designed to help you maximize the performance of your e-commerce site:

Focus on personalization and user experience.
Find ways to integrate social media.
Invest heavily in advertising.
Use visual content strategically.
Utilize A/B testing.
Seek out customer feedback.
Pay attention to navigation.
Don't forget about mobile users.

Position your business for future success

Every business with a physical retail location should at least consider launching an e-commerce website in the coming year. While there's a possibility your business may be better served by focusing on your existing format, most companies will likely enjoy moderate to substantial success by adding an entirely new market.

Use these eight tips to guide you through the process and continue to focus on meeting the ever-changing expectations of your customers.

Published on: Mar 23, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.