Launching your online store 101

Zoé Kahn

An online store is a perfect way to gain custom and open your business up to a wider range of potential custom. Creating an online store takes planning and forethought. It should not be a rushed process and you should try and consider every eventuality before revealing your store to the public. Creating an Ecommerce store requires knowing how to create a new and successful marketplace. The pointers listed below will provide a solid basis from which to launch your online store.

Choose a domain name and web hosting

Once you have chosen an E-commerce package, you will need to pick a domain name and a web hosting package. Some E-commerce platforms may provide this as part of their service. If not, you will have to use a web hosting company such as One.com or OVH. A domain name (your website address) should reflect your business name, and also try and incorporate some aspect of the industry you are part of. For example, if you are a fashion designer with the last name Smith, you could pick the domain name smithsfashion.com.

What payment methods can you offer?

Establishing the payment methods your store offers is vital. Customers like flexibility and they like to pay in ways they are comfortable with. What payment methods are included with the Ecommerce package? Are there any plugins you can install to accept more payment methods? Do you need any special accounts creating such as Paypal? Ensure you offer as many payment methods as possible, but the most important are undoubtedly Credit and Debit cards.

How will you ship your products?

What shipping options are available through your online store? What options can a customer choose when purchasing a product? Is there any next day availability or premium services? How will you achieve the shipping terms your store offers? How will you charge customers for shipping? Careful consideration is required to create a shipping policy that is both reasonable to the customer but cost effective to your business.

Is there any built-in accounting and invoicing features?

Many E-commerce platforms provide additional accounting and invoicing packages. It is advisable to check this out beforehand and see what is offered. If you have your own accounting department then fine. But, if you are a startup, it may be beneficial to take advantage of these features.

Ensure your store is aesthetically pleasing

Your store may function perfectly, but if it is hard to navigate, customers will get annoyed. Create a store that is logical and easy to follow. Can you navigate to each part of the store? Are the product listings easy to find? Is it clear how to make a purchase? Are the product listings detailed and informative? Do you have any space for customer reviews? A store that is intuitive and aesthetically pleasing will always perform well.

Promotion is key

Once you have established your online store, you now need to successfully promote it to bring in the business – In the early stage, until you have great search engine rankings and a reputation, you will need to work hard to promote your store. Use as many media outlets as possible and make use of free social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Once you have taken all of the above steps and started promoting your store the real business begins. As the orders flow through and you pick up business, it is important to monitor the success of your store; perform detailed analysis and make changes as you see fit. An online store is a continually evolving platform for your business.


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