An ecommerce site is another name for an online store. If you have a product or service which you think would sell well online, an online shop is the right direction for you. What used to be an expensive solution, affordable only by few, is now open to practically everyone.
The easy (and costly) way
Beside hiring someone to build the entire site for you (for several thousands of dollars, most likely), many offer you a ready-to-go installation of a shop for an affordable price. All you need to do is create your products, enter your account information for collecting money (e.g. bank account into which funds will flow, PayPal account that will receive the money), and start selling.
The disadvantage is the price, and the fact that most plans will limit you to a predefined number of products. The more products you wish to sell, the higher the plan’s price will jump. If you want full control over your shop and complete product flexibility, you might want to invest the time in installing your own software.
Using independent software
1. Choose your ecommerce software. You don’t really need to know programming in order to set up shop on the Internet. There are many programs that will simplify the process for you to a series of point-and-click operations. Some are very expensive, some are affordable, and some are even available for free. Choose one that you can afford and that offers you all the features you need.
2. Select a hosting provider that supports every technical requirement of your chosen shopping cart. Double check with him that:
a. All necessary programming languages and scripts are supported;
b. The hosting plan includes the right kind of database for your cart;
c. The hosting plan includes (or you can add) a dedicated , which you’ll need for security reason;
d. You’re allowed to install on your site (which again is part of your security), or your provider can do it for you.
3. Choose a good that says something about your products. It’s more important for a domain name to be meaningful than to be “cool”.
4. Sign up with whatever third parties you’ll need in order to process payments: PayPal, Good Checkout, credit card companies, etc.. Keep your account details safe, and have them at hand when you’re ready to install your cart.
5. Install the shopping cart and your SSL certificate. If possible, run as many tests as you can to see that everything’s working all right. You’ll be dealing with sensitive information, and a glitch in the middle of a transaction can cost you a client!
6. Choose a look for your site that resonates well with the nature of your products, but also one that projects professionalism and credibility. Make it friendly and easy on the eyes.
7. You’re ready to start adding products! Organize them in a way that will make sense to the user and never make him feel lost. For each product, give as much information as you can about it. Make it sound attractive, but don’t jump down the visitor’s throat trying to convince him to buy.
8. Promote your site everywhere you can: submit it to search engines, link to it from forums and message boards, blog about it, etc.. The more inbound links, the better, but be careful not to spam—that will eventually cost you more than benefit you.
9. Increase sales by offering special discounts, cross-selling (“people who bought what’s in your cart were also interested in . . .), and other marketing tactics. If you’re out of ideas, visit online shops like Amazon.com and see how they do it.
10. Always be on the lookout for new opportunities: new products to add, affiliate programs you can join, new popular payment methods, new marketing venues . . . The secret to a long-living online store is constantly renewing quality!
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