Nowadays, some of the most profitable businesses are the online stores. They don’t require a big investment and they can start making money after a short period. Additionally, more and more people are opting for online shopping, so this industry is expected to continue growing in the coming years.
If you want to set up your own online store, but you have no idea where to start from, we can help you. The following article will serve as a top-level overview of your first steps for establishing your own online store.
1) Your First 3 Steps
Assuming that you already have a business plan and you know what category of products you’re going to sell, you will first need to take care of the initial setup work.
For starters, you will need a domain for your store. Don’t go with a free domain, because it will diminish your store’s credibility. Your very own custom domain name will cost you less than $20 a year and will make your site seem much more credible.
After you select your domain name, you will need a host unless you choose a managed website platform. Choose a reliable host, with good security and additional assistance. You can find one for as little as $72 a year.
Now that you have the foundation of your future store, you need to establish a payment gateway. Considering that most shoppers will want to pay with debit or credit cards, you will definitely need an online payment processor. Some common processors worth checking out are:
When deciding which processor to use, you should compare processing fees, fixed monthly fees, and chargeback protection in addition to typical deposit timeframes.
2) Setting Up Your Platform
The setup of your storefront will differ greatly depending on whether you choose a hosted or self-hosted e-commerce platform.
If you are using something like SiteGround, the domain name registration, website hosting and platform setup can all be done from one location.
If you opt for something like WordPress you will have to setup hosting, register and point your domain name to that hosting, and then install the WordPress CMS onto your hosting to establish your storefront.
Normally, modern hosts provide some tools, which will help you with the WordPress install. automatically.
Aside from WordPress, there are several other e-commerce platforms that you could choose. Here are some other common options if you don’t think the first two are what you need.
- Open Cart
- Big Commerce
Once you settle on a platform, you will be ready to start editing your new site.
3) Customizing Your Website
This is the part where you put your imagination to work and create a customized online store. Many of the e-commerce platforms offer standard templates that can be used to create the basic layout of your store.
If you don’t want a standard template, you will most likely need to hire a web developer to help you customize an existing template or build a custom one for you.
Whenever you are setting up your site, you need to make sure the finished product has a professional appearance.
In addition, incorporating known trust-building elements will help you make a great first impression, which goes a long way in earning a new customer.
Once you have the basic elements in place, branding your store is your next step.
4) Create a Logo
The logo will represent the identity of your business, so make it a strong one. However, many young entrepreneurs tend to exaggerate and make logos too flashy or they end up with an otherwise horrible logo.
Remember that you’re making a logo for an online store, not for a heavy-metal band. So make it simple, but yet engaging.
If you don’t know how to make a logo, you can always contract a graphic designer for that. Go to a freelance site, hire a designer and you can end up with a great logo for under $100 in many cases.
5) Set up Your Categories and Products
Adding products to your site is important but making sure people can easily find them is equally critical.
If you are new to selling products, the first few months will be a learning curve but as you collect data about which items are most popular, you will be able to refine your site layout to highlight them.
Before you collect data, you will need to guesstimate which items are likely to be your best sellers and organize the site accordingly. Thankfully, keyword research will help you make a more accurate guess as to which item are most in demand.
In addition to individual items, keyword data can also help you organize your store.
Let’s say for example that you sell self-defense equipment.
Keyword research would reveal that people search for taser guns and key chain weapons.
This would be a good indicator that one of your top level categories should be tasers and the other key chains.
6) Setting Up Shipping Details
Believe it or not, shipping costs can be the sole deciding factor in which store a consumer buys from.
In order to capture as many sales as possible, it is best to offer a couple shipping options so that consumers can get the best shipping rates for you, not the competition.
If you are just getting started, sometimes free shipping can be incentive enough for a consumer to purchase from you.
It can cut into your profits but over the long term, the added customer base can more than cover the upfront loss.
Setting up a new online store might seem like a complicated task for you. However, if you follow our simple tips and you stay persistent, you have a great shot at success.
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