Enter the World of eCommerce: Ultimate Guide to Set Up Your First Online Store
E-commerce is one of the most promising and rising business trends in today’s time. Needless to say, it is the fastest growing market segment too, especially in North America and Europe. Online sales in Germany, UK, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain, Poland and Italy grew from $183.39 billion in 2015 to $216.32 billion in 2016, and it is expected to reach $250.28 billion in 2017.
With 2017 just round the corner, e-commerce business profiles seem to be improving a lot. So, if you are planning to start up an online store in the coming year, it is certainly the best time. However, I can predict a tough competition as small and big brands would ramp up much faster than the overall market growth. So, it could get really tough to acquire customers and win their hearts; whereas, it could get easier to lose customers.
In order to make sure you don’t fall behind with the new setup and fierce competition, try to take optimum advantage of the latest e-commerce trends. It takes proper planning and execution. Note that 77% marketing experts believe that a planned and step-by-step approach focusing on the basic analytic and consistent optimization is the key to success, while 14% believe in taking the unplanned or reactive approach.
So, here’s how I would suggest a novice begin e-commerce:
Step#1: Building the Idea
It is crucial to spend the time to think and build an idea. What is the e-commerce business all about? What kind of products/services you want to offer? Why would people buy your product? Do you have any competitors in the niche? What should be the look of the e-commerce website?
Well, these are a few very important topics to be discussed deeply with experts before starting. It would also ensure that the business develops a brand name and image in the very early stage of development. When all the ideas are in place, think of a domain name to secure the company and create a logo.
To make sure the new corporation is visible to the world, use a Google Account on multiple levels. With the help of Google, the brand becomes more visible to users. Use Google Analytic, Docs, and YouTube.
Step#2: Domain Registration and Hosting
Once the idea is ready, it’s time for domain registration and finding the perfect web host. While these are not difficult tasks, it is monumentally imperative in the process of launching an e-commerce site.
Spend some time to choose a domain. The domain name should speak about your business. Make it catchy, transparent and self-explanatory.
Next, you have to choose the hosting service – server settings, backend languages, PHP, and many more important factors are involved. I recommend PHP because it is open source and it is supported by over 99% of the server environments. However, ensure that the hosting account also supports MySQL database.
#3: Choose Ecommerce Package
This can be a tough choice. For an online shop, there are 2 different categories of e-commerce packages – hosted solutions and licensed scripts. The choice is yours depending on the pros and cons of both.
Hosted solutions provide everything needed for backend jobs to host an e-commerce script on the servers. So, you need not perform any additional tasks like file uploading or programming. However, a domain name is still needed to redirect and give a distinct URL to the online store.
On the other hand, licensed scripts are both open source and paid. These are customizable e-commerce systems that make up for the majority of online stores. For the non-programmers, this is the easiest way to download and upload script files onto the hosting server and move on.
However, when payments are considered, there are certain security risk factors to consider, especially in the case of licensed scripts. To ensure overall safe and secure experience for customers, hosted solutions offer EV SSL certificate for secure payment.
Some of the best examples of hosted solutions are Shopify, Yahoo Merchant Solution, and Big Commerce. When custom-owned scripted solutions are concerned, there are options like Zen Cart, Magento, WordPress eShop and Interspire Shopping Cart.
#4: Online Merchant Payments
For any online store, it is very important to have the facility of online payments. Credit cards are the most frequently used mode of payment, though digital sources like PayPal and Google Wallet are also available. Nonetheless, credit cards are always feasible.
To have payment facility, the business should have a merchant account for receiving funds over the web for services/goods. Similarly, a payment provider or payment gateway is needed to connect the store with the merchant account so that instant payment can be accepted via credit cards. There are several popular merchants to choose from, just in case you are not fond of a bank.
#5: Product and Content
After getting a domain, hosting and payment issues sorted, it’s time to list the products and services for the online store. For an e-commerce setup, you must have the administration panel sorted and learn how to use the pages. Viewers should receive class user experience on the website and convert into a sale.
Now that the online store is ready, it’s time to promote the store before getting orders. Start with Google Analytic that provides free tracking software and boasts incredible features. With the tools available, you can find the biggest reference websites and high trafficked pages. For professional results, you can try Google, Yahoo and Microsoft marketing strategies.
Google AdWords can also be a useful tool to draw large traffic numbers to your business.
#7: Alternative Methods of Payment
In case the website doesn’t offer direct payments, it’s often easier to work with digital wallets like PayPal. Digital wallets can be featured in any online store to make it easier to work and accept payments globally. Some of the online giants like eBay and Amazon are using these methods of payment since the beginning.
With this guide, it would be possible to take the key steps to creating the first ever e-commerce store. While the process is not easy or a clear start-to-finish method it can be achieved with the help of professionals. Following the aforementioned methods, one can always start planning an online business or e-commerce store, and reach the global market smoothly.
March 22, 2017
March 2, 2017