“Setting up an eCommerce store” would be a common dream for many aspiring entrepreneurs. With easy accessibility to internet using broadband and 3G/4G internet services, eCommerce industry is booming! Variety of online payment options & specialized logistics services for eCommerce business has set a wonderful platform for business owners to get their store online. Although complexity of setting up and running an online store has decreased, increasing cases of online fraud requires careful planning & execution in store setup. Using this post, we would like to provide you a complete guidance for setting up an eCommerce store.
The first step in this process would be to identify the products you would like to sell online and your potentials buyers/market for the same. It is also a good idea to check your competitors in this segment and know about their strength and weakness.
Deciding a business name & purchasing a domain name
After this initial study it is time to decide about your online business name and to purchase a suitable domain name for your store. For the online business it is advisable to go with “.com” domain as compared to any other extension. In exceptional cases you can go with country specific domain (that too if you are planning to sell in that country only and .com domain is not available). There are many online services which sales domain name, one of the popular one is namecheap.com. Even many hosting providers offers a free domain with hosting package so you may like to consider that offer too. It is also advisable to secure profile name on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Google Plus with your business name as that will be needed for social media marketing activities.
Selecting a Web Hosting Provider
You will need a hosting provider if you are not going for “hosted eCommerce solution” (we will discuss about it later in the article). For this purpose you need to identify if you would like to go with Windows based eCommerce solution or Linux/Open Source based solution. If there is no preference then I would recommend to go with Linux/Open source based solution as it is bit cheaper and there are variety of PHP based eCommerce solutions available which you can use. For hosting you can consider popular hosting solutions like HostGator.com or JustHost.com.
Selecting an eCommerce Solution
For eCommerce, there are many free/open source and paid scripts available which we can consider for the store. One of the most popular is Magento which comes in both free/open source and paid version. Other popular solutions are WooCommerce (free – integrates with WordPress), OpenCart, ZenCart etc. Please do note that to setup, configure and customize these stores you may need assistance from Web Development Company like us.
In case of hosted solutions, you won’t need a hosting provider as the solution is hosted on solution provider’s server only. You will get ready to use store with already setup back-end. In case you need a standard eCommerce store with possibly zero customization then you can go with Hosted Solution. Generally these solutions are on subscription basis. Popular solutions in this category are Shopify and BigCommerce.
Accepting Payment Online
You’ll need Internet Merchant Account and take a service from payment gateway providers to receive online payment on your store. Most common and obvious way is through “Credit Card”. There are companies like Authorize.net and many others who not only provide Credit Card processing but in many cases provide Debit Card and Bank-to-Bank transfers also. For accepting the payments within your store you will also need to purchase a valid SSL certificate as that will encrypt the data being passed between your store and payment gateway server. Also having SSL certificate adds credibility to your website as general internet user prefers to work with site running on SSL as compared to normal non-ssl websites.
In case you are looking for relatively easy and cheaper (at start up level) then you can consider payment methods like PayPal also. It provides relatively hassle free ways to setup a payment processing feature.
Above all you should also provide one of the popular options in emerging countries i.e. “Cash on Delivery”. There are many logistic providers who provide this service as an add-on to their service.
Adding Products & Contents
Promoting a Store
If you have reach upto this store then Congratulations! Since you have completed most crucial and complex steps. Now your job is to promote your website to your target audience. There are variety of online and offline ways to promote your store. For online promotions you should market it over social networks by spreading news, promotional offers and discounts. Also, you can run paid advertisement campaign through tools like Google AdWords. You should also integrate Google Analytics with your store to track visitors and know popularity of your products.
Setting up and running a eCommerce store is not trivial process, although with the help of modern tools & technologies it has become pain free. It is always advisable that you take guidance from a professional company for setting up and promoting an eCommerce store. In case you have any tips to add to this topic then please feel free to share it in comment box.