Starting an ecommerce business isn’t as complicated as you may think. Whether you are looking to make hefty profits or some money on the side, there are plenty of opportunities to do both on the internet. Here’s some advice on where to begin and what you will need to start your business.
You could easily sell your goods on dedicated websites such as Ebay. However you will receive less profit when compared to selling these goods on your own website.
Hosting your own website means that you will have complete authority over your shop front and how your products are represented.
Start with the Basics
Assuming you’ve already figured out what you’re selling, for how much and what your budget is like – then you can start planning your next steps to getting online. You will need to register a domain name – aim to keep it the same as your company’s name. Unless you’re a huge company to begin with,it will be harder to be find if your domain varies from your business name. Keep it simple.
Compare and find a good webhost. Look at their prices, payment plans, reliability and speed of access, data transfer rates, disk space, technical support offered, a control panel, email and other users reviews.
Decide whether you want to purchase a private SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate or use the SSL certificate from your webhost. SSL encrypts the data between your web server and the browser, protecting your customer’s details. If you choose your webhost’s SSL certificate, your customers might receive a security warning stating that the SSL certificate does not match your domain name – and that means they may abort the purchase. However if you opt for the private SSL, you must also purchase a dedicated IP address, as the private SSL won’t work without it. You may be able to find a better deal when purchasing this and your domain name from your domain name provider.
A payment gateway will be needed to process credit card payments quickly and easily. A popular one is PayPal, however offering more than one option for your customers would be helpful.
Lastly don’t forget to add a shopping cart. You want your customers to be able to buy more than one product. You can use the one offered by your web host, however it’s worth having a look around at the different options available.
Create Your Website
Now that you have the basics, you can begin to add content to your website. Add information about yourself, your company and what makes you different from other similar online stores. Keep it light, entertaining and informative. If you are unsure about how you want your website to look, go to other websites selling similar products and see if any inspires you. Your aim is to make your website professional, memorable and customised to reflect your brand. There are a multitude of free resources online to help you with website design if you need it.
When listing information on your products and/or services, try to use clear and concise sentences or bullet points. If you are selling large amounts of products, sort them into categories. Make sure you add a search option on your website so customers can find what they need quickly. In addition to this, add a sort field so they can choose specific details about the product. And make sure it works!
Add Shipping Costs and Payment Methods
Create a page explaining your shipping costs, including prices per item, multiple items and national/international shipping prices. Customers appreciate it when their goods are shipped as soon as possible, so try to post your products ASAP.
Install your payment gateways. When a customer checks out, they will be sent to the appropriate secure payment site to complete payment. You will then receive confirmation from the payment gateway that the payment has been received, and then you can ship the product/s.
Add Extra Features
Now you can add extra customised features such as subcategories, social media buttons, discounts, upsells and featured products, for example. There are literally thousands to choose from.
Remember that there are a lot of free resources online if you need them. Good luck and happy selling!