May 8, 2018 | By:

6 Essential Things To Do When Starting an Online Store

In recent years, eCommerce has been on the rise. With the increasing number of mobile users worldwide and the availability of so much advanced technology in today’s digital age, it’s no wonder why many businesses are leaning towards digitization—and this includes focusing retail efforts online.

The rise of online shopping has threatened many brick and mortar businesses all over the world. With the growing acceptance of eCommerce as a convenient way to shop and make purchases, having your own online store is worth consideration, either as an adjunct to your physical retail store or as a starting point for your new business.

When you’re starting an online store, it is important to treat it as seriously as you would if were opening a physical store. Often, even businesses with physical locations will generate a large part of their revenue through their online store. This allows people who aren’t in close proximity to the physical store to still buy the goods you’re selling online.

While you can register yourself as a seller through established online shopping sites such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Alibaba, it’s often a better alternative to create your own online store if you’re looking into establishing your own online identity.

The great news is, there are plenty of one-stop-shop eCommerce platforms available that can help you easily create your online shop. Here’s how to create an online store from scratch and a list of essential things to do:

1. Choose your eCommerce platform or online store builder

Among the top eCommerce platforms available are Shopify, BigCommerce, and Volusion. Each of these platforms offer unique features, and their pricing scheme and settings all vary from one another. It is, therefore, essential for you to determine what sort of feature you’re looking for in a platform. It’s also important to consider your level of knowledge in the technicalities of creating an online store from scratch, as well as the type of store and business model you have in mind.

Another alternative to one-stop-shop eCommerce platforms are website builders like Magento and WooCommerce, an open source plugin for WordPress. These are general content management systems (CMS), or website builders, that also provide comprehensive eCommerce features, but it may need some degree of coding knowledge to create an online store from scratch. You can opt for a CMS if you’re considering to incorporate your online store within your business website, and if you need more room for customization.

2. Buy or map your store’s domain name

A distinct and unique domain name is key to a successful online store and is also essential in establishing your identity. If you have already purchased a custom domain name, you only need to connect it to your chosen platform. Most eCommerce platforms support free web hosting and, for a fee, mapping to your domain provider.

If you haven’t bought a custom domain name, you can buy through domain providers like GoDaddy, HostGator, and Google Domains, and then have it mapped to your eCommerce platform.

Additionally, depending on your chosen plan, your platform may be able to provide you with a custom domain as well. The free plans, while able to provide web hosting, only provide the bare minimum of a subdomain (example.myshopify.com). Using a subdomain not only makes your online store URL a mouthful to remember, it may also hurt the credibility of your website. Additionally, search engines like Google favor indexing custom domains (example.com) compared to subdomains (example.myshopify.com).

3. Customize a theme or template

Most eCommerce platforms offer both free and paid themes/templates that you can conveniently tweak to your liking. The most important consideration here is your branding—that is, your brand colors, font styles, graphics and photography, web copy, and the general look and feel of your website. It’s also essential to consider SEO, the navigation, and the widgets you want to include in your site.

You may want to work with an experienced web designer for this purpose. They will be able to provide you with professional advice on how best to portray your brand through your website. Establishing your brand identity is important, and in the saturated world of the Internet, it’s crucial to make a good first impression.

4. Add your products and product descriptions

While it’s pretty obvious that adding your products to your online store is a basic step, many new entrepreneurs make the common mistake of taking this for granted. When adding your products, professional product photography is essential, as well as providing different angles of your products and photos of product variants (that is, color options, design, etc.).

Product descriptions are also essential for SEO. Be sure to include relevant keyword phrases in your descriptions. Steer clear from technical jargon or marketing fluff. Be as succinct and descriptive as possible. It’s also important to include pertinent product information such as the price, dimension and weight, availability, options (size, color, etc.), and the category it belongs to.

5. Set up your payment method

Providing easy and convenient payment methods is a crucial part in converting your visitors to paying customers. Customers like to choose how they pay, so it’s best to provide them with as many options as you can offer. Most eCommerce platforms provide seamless integration with various payment options, such as PayPal, banks, and major credit cards like Mastercard, Visa, and Amex.

Security is extremely important when setting up your payment method. Your customers should feel safe when spending their money on your online store. The good news is, eCommerce platforms and many eCommerce-supporting CMS supply SSL certificates to make sure that all sensitive data and transactions are handled securely.

6. Set up your shipping options

Online stores rely heavily on shipping more than anything, and it’s essential for customers to have as much freedom as they want in choosing how their purchases are delivered. It’s an important step to partner with major delivery companies such as FedEx and UPS, if you’re going for both US-based and international shipping. You can also partner with local delivery companies depending on your location.

You also need to factor in the shipping zones (or locations) that you’re targeting; shipping rates, after all, vary per country and region you’re delivering to. If you can afford it, providing free shipping is an excellent idea to further encourage your customers to buy again from you. Of course, you can also stipulate that free shipping is only available over a certain amount or for certain locations. You can also provide flat rate shipping within a certain region, or better yet, provide an option for local pickup points.

Your online store is a crucial part of the sales funnel. Setting it up and launching it is just the first step in the long and arduous journey of conversion. Always make it a point to monitor your online store, inventory, and other sales channels to ensure that everything is maintained well. It’s also equally important to pair your online store with active promotion online and offline; offer discounts when you can, as well as other treats to entice not only new customers to buy from you, but also your existing customers.

If you want to know more about eCommerce and digital marketing, or if you’re interested to work with Ilfusion to help you with your sales and marketing efforts, give us a call at 888-420-5115, or send us an email to creative@ilfusion.com.

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