A Beginner’s Guide To Setting Up A Successful Online Store
A beginner’s guide to setting up a successful online store
Online selling is by no method a simple task. To sell products online not only requires making use of high end marketing strategies but also involves lots of planning. This article is meant for those of you who intent to start an online store. It is intended to give you a fair idea of what you would need to do and what you need to avoid while planning an online selling business.
The following are the various steps that you would need to take in order to open a successful online store
1.) Designing a website that sells
The first most important aspect of online selling is to have a specialized looking website that is designed to sell. You can go about creating the website from code up using web designers or simply go for readymade website templates. If you are purchasing website templates, be sure to go for templates that are professionally designed and have the option of shopping carts. Buying templates from providers who offer allied sets like template customization, web hosting; SEO etc would be already better. Some template providers like ‘buytemplates.net’ offer allied sets irrespective of where you truly purchased the template from. To get a rough idea of how your site should be designed you can take hints from successful discount online stores like http://www.ishopage.com, ‘gap.com’ and ‘bestbuy.com’.
2.) Hosting your store online
There are many factors that you need to take into consideration before selecting your web great number when it comes to online selling. Some of the major factors are discussed as follows.
a.) obtain servers
Firstly you got to make sure if your web great number offers you with SSL encryption which is very important for obtain money transactions online. Most web hosting companies would offer you with SSL obtain server facilities along with a regular package while a few would charge you an additional amount for the service.
b.) Up time guarantees
Your business is only as good as it remains online. Make sure to go for web hosting service providers who potential you an uptime guarantee of 99 %. Also check to see as to how they back up their data and what kind of back up systems they have in place in case of emergencies.
c.) Private CGI-BIN
A CGI-BIN directory is a location on your web server where you can upload your binary scripts or interactive programs. This is very important for payment processing and shopping cart
management. So be sure that the hosing company gives you a private CGI BIN directory.
d.) Web logs and web statistics
Web logs and statistics are vital for your online business. Studying the web logs can give you much needed information about your customers and your sales records. Understanding your customer behavior can help you retain customers and attract new customers.
e.) Customer sustain
Get as much information about the hosting company’s sustain policies and the kind of sustain they offer. Go for web hosting companies that offer 24/7 customer sustain.
Most web hosts potential you lots of goodies but may not live up to it. Make sure to test the web great number’s credibility by asking them for references. The existing customers of the hosting company can give your first hand information on the service that you can expect to get.
In addition to this you should also look for sets that offer you Mysql database and PHP scripting, unlimited emails and a minimum space of 10GB.
3.) Deciding on shopping carts
If you are selling more than a handful of products then having a shopping cart on your site is a good idea. You have three major options of getting yourself an online shopping cart. First one is buying a shopping cart software program; the second is using sets of an ASP and the third is programming it yourself.
Your best option as a beginner would be to go for ASP sets. These sets are cheap and come with flexible options. As time passes and you online business develops, you can hire programmers to design yourself a customized shopping cart or buy shopping cart software programs that can be set up in your server. Some good ASP’s that offer shopping cart sets are ‘SecureNetShop’ (SecureNetShop.com) and ‘GoEmerchant’ (GoEmerchant.com).
Shopping cart software programs are a costly option for beginners and can cost you anything between $ 150 – $ 800. Some good shopping cart software programs are ‘shopfactory 6’ (shopfactory.com) and ‘storefront’ (strorefront.net)
One more option as already discussed above is making use of ecommerce website templates. These ecommerce templates have pre installed shopping cart systems and can help you set up a store in minutes. Some of these template providers also offer template customization sets that would allow you to get your ordinary templates in selling modules.
4.) Deciding on how to accept payments
No matter what the speculation, credit cards are nevertheless the best way to accept payments. So make sure that your online business has facilities to accept credit cards. There was a time when you had to have a merchant account from a bank or financial institution to course of action credit card payments. But today there are enough options obtainable that allow you to accept credit card payments already without a merchant account.
Paypal (paypal.com) is perhaps the best payment gateway and has no initial joining fees. Their service fees, per-transaction is very low and they allow you to accept payments from all over the world. In addition to Paypal some other good payment gateways are ‘2checkout’ (2checkout.com), ‘clickbank’ (clickbank.com) and ‘paysystems’ (paysystems.com).
Payment options other than credit cards
It is by no method necessary that all your customers will have credit cards. As a matter of fact many of your customers don’t have credit cards, many don’t like to use credit cards, many have credit card phobias and the remaining may not wish to proportion their credit card information online. Under such a situation it would be best for you to provide alternate payment options.
Internet checks are as popular as credit cards when it comes to paying online. Internet checks are comparatively safer and are best if your customers are from international destinations. This technique would include your customer’s to make payments by an online blank check provided by an internet check service provider. This information is sent to the service provider for authorization. The merchant can also print the check on his printer closest afterwards. Some good service providers who can offer you internet check sets are paybycheck (paybycheck.com) and cross-check (cross-check.com).
In addition to internet checks there are some other options of accepting online payments like money orders and electronic checks. But these methods are appropriate only if your customers are from nearby locations.
The best way to decide your payment options is analyzing your customer behaviors. You can also have online check boxes or feedback forms on your website to collect information about your customer’s payment preferences and act consequently.
5.) Promoting your online store
No promotion equals to no sales. You can promote your store using online marketing strategies like search engine optimization, email marketing, banner advertisements and affiliate marketing among others. While promoting your business you got to make sure to stay clear of any kind of illegal methods like spamming, cloaking etc. Your promotion activities should create a positive awareness about your online store that leads to trust building.
6.) Assuring your Customers
The customer is the king and just as in any other kind of business here again you need to give your customer what he wants. To do this you got to be sure of your customer’s preferences. Basically you need to address the following doubts that your customers are likely to have in their mind while buying online
a.) Is my credit information safe?
b.) How will the products be delivered to me and how long will it take?
c.) Are their any additional costs associated with the item?
d.) What kind of guarantees come with the product?
e.) Are there any discounts if I buy multiple goods?
f.) What kind of customer service does the online shop have?
g.) What happens in case the goods are damaged or of low quality?
These questions in particular and many more questions in general can arise in the minds of your customers depending on the kind of your products and your online store reputation. You can address these issues by providing valuable information in your FAQ section. Providing an online live chat on your website would be a great way to deal with your customer queries. There are many sets that offer free online chat software programs; for example ‘boldchat’ (boldchat.com).
already after all this is over there is no information like ‘remaining stagnant’ in online marketing. You got to keep on moving and adapting yourself to newer technologies and better marketing techniques to stay ahead and abreast of all those pesky competitors.