Creating an online store can be a great way to increase exposure and your profit margin. There are a few steps to creating an online store and knowing what they are ahead of time can help you avoid costly mistakes revealed at a later date. You can create an online store easily with these five basic steps.
- Step One: Product and Sourcing
Making the determination as what to sell on an online store is an imperative step. It is better to start with fewer products that are high quality and fill a need rather than a high quantity of less quality goods. If you already have a good idea of what you want to sell, consider different sources to provide your merchandise. Have an action plan ready for a situation in which your main supplier becomes unavailable. If you make your own products, have a contingency plan in place in case you unable to meet your orders.
- Step Two: Pick a Host
You will need a hosting service for your actual online store. You will want to find one that has good customer service and technical support while being easy to use and maintain. You can go to sites like iPage.com, Hostgator.com or GoDaddy.com and have a website launched in no time at all. There are many free and pay themes that will make your site look professional and attractive to prospective customers.
- Step Three: Choose a Shopping Cart Software
Depending on the type of site you wish to launch and which hosted site you chose, you may have to install separate shopping cart software. The shopping cart will allow your customers to view items, add items to buy and itemize them for the final sale. There are hundreds of options available, some are free and others are licensed software. Look for software that is easy for your customer to use, the easier you make shopping for them, the more likely they are to buy from you rather than your competitor.
- Step Four: Select a Merchant Account and Payment Gateway
In order to process credit or debit cards and e-checks, you will need to have a merchant account. If you wish to accept mobile money as well, you will need to find a mobile merchant service provider. Many times you can get a merchant account that will allow for all forms of e- or m-commerce. A payment gateway such as Authorize.net, PayPal, Google Checkout, 2Checkout, CyberSource and Link Point is also necessary to process and receive payments.
- Step Five: Marketing
The last step is letting know customers that you are open for business. Take advantage of free social media sites and plan your marketing campaign carefully for the biggest impact.
Shannon Martin is a writer for MerchantSeek.com. She has over 10 years of experience in executive management, corporate governance and business development.