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A 7 Step Guide To Start An Online Store

Online Store

Having an online store has turned from being a good idea into a necessity over the past decade. You may be thinking of turning your physical store into an online store, setting up from scratch, or working a physical store with an online version too. You’ve got the vague plan, the ideas, the motivation, and the reasons. But, the most important thing that you need to know is ‘How to execute?’. You could, of course, sell things directly from an online store or social media and send out via delivery services, it is certainly not unheard of for people to make a decent living this way. There are, however, a number of options to consider when starting an online store. In this article, we will cover the seven most critical steps for starting an online store, which will get you going.

1. Choose a CMS Platform

The first step is to decide if you’re going to design and develop your own website or use one of the many specialized e-commerce platforms available to sell your products? Please do some research, think about it, and analyze your options thoroughly. Which content management system is going to meet your needs best, both in the short and longer-term. Are you going to use a general website CMS like WordPress or Drupal or an E-commerce CMS such as Shopify or Magento? The general things to consider while choosing the CMS includes – 

  • Set up cost and maintenance
  • Ease of use
  • Features
  • Transactions costs
  • Hosting costs
  • Support

2. Choose a Domain

You will need a domain name, the web address for your web store. It doesn’t have to be your brand name, but that helps. There are tools online for you to check name availability and price. Availability tools such as, GoDaddy are easy to use. You simply type in your chosen name to see if it’s already been registered and if not what are the price ranges of different options. You will be presented with variations too.

Your domain name should be as short as possible, easy to remember and to associate with your business. The domain extension is also important (.com, .net, .ai, as they add some authenticity and trust to your store. However, they are usually more expensive.

3. Choose a Design or Create Custom Design

You’ve got to get your store designed, developed, and up and selling. There are basically two options, you can either make it yourself or go for custom professional design? It will depend on cost and your technical abilities and time constraints too.

If you decide to go for the DIY approach, there are templates that you can use, depending on the platform you’ve chosen. This will, without a doubt, make your life easier. However, you are going to be more limited and will still need technical skills and flair. 

If you go for custom design and/or development you can then decide if you are going to go down the professional agency route or the freelancer route. You will get a professional-looking, functional online store that will satisfy your needs. 

4. Add Products

So once, you’ve got the online store planned you need to get your products uploaded onto it. If you’ve gone down the professional route then you will be guided every step of the way and supported. If you’ve chosen the DIY route then follow the specific CMS guide for your store. Unfortunately, it isn’t just as simple as listing the products. You’ll need quality images, detail essential information, good layout and space, organization, and categorization. Part of this will have hopefully been achieved in combination with your design decisions.

The web store needs to be easy to navigate, customers don’t want, indeed won’t spend time trying to figure out where to look for what they want. They’ll move on – lost sale. It needs to be clear, clean, functional, filtered, and fast. Look at the stores you like to shop on, look at your competition, what do you like? What do they do? Get feedback from friends, colleagues- and more importantly listen to it. There is simply no point in spending time, effort, and money on a site where people can’t access what they want to buy.

5. Optimize Your Website

Search Engine Optimization is one of the ways people will find your online store. Until you are a global brand until your marketing or reputation is dragging people in, then you want to get the customers who aren’t specifically looking for you by name; so you want your store to be high in the search engine ratings. There are techniques that will help: site speed, keywords, page titles, snippets (the things that show in a box in google search results like a review, rating, etc.) all come together to boost your online store. Professional developers and designers will give you great tips and guidance here, they know the importance.

6. Set Up Payment and Shipment Process

Choose the payment methods and system wisely, read their terms and conditions, fees, etc; account for it in your costings. Assess the importance of a well known, well-trusted payment system, or systems for your store. Unless you accept the customer’s card, they are likely to find someone else who will.

Think carefully about how you are going to get your product to the customer and at what cost. Customers demand timely delivery and quality service. The last thing you need is poor feedback and reviews in this particular area.

Be honest and upfront about your terms and conditions, spell them out for the customer. Great customer service generates trust, return business and word of mouth spread plus those reviews that you are going to rely on.

7. Start Marketing and Selling

So it’s all in place. Now you need to really push the word, get your profile out there, and show the competition what you are about. You could hire an agency or adviser – there are specialists in all fields. You could do it yourself. 

Social media is one of the best, cheapest, and easiest ways of getting your brand out to the masses. Create profiles on all the major social media platforms don’t just rely on one or two. Create links to and from your online store, create regular and interesting content to build a following, keep it updated. 
We hope that these steps help you in setting your store online. In case you wish to get more details, please get in touch with our team.

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