Great online businesses don’t just appear out of nowhere, there’s much work involved with setting up your website and getting started. If you’re selling a product, you’ll need ecommerce shop software. Don’t forget that you’ll need Web and email hosting as well as a domain name. These are important even for smaller businesses to help you build a professional image. Finally, arranging payment processing will allow you to get paid. Learn more about each of these steps and start planning for the success of your new online business.
Selecting Ecommerce Software
When you’re planning to sell a product online, you need a way to offer them in a way that makes it simple for your customers to make a purchase. Ecommerce software also creates the structure of your site — including categories, detail pages and a checkout system.
If you’re just getting started, you may consider working through an online marketplace like eBay or Etsy. You’ll pay a fee per sale to list there and you may not have the flexibility that selling independently would give you; however, it’s a good way to test the waters. Hosted ecommerce software usually has a monthly or yearly charge, but it bridges the gap between working with a marketplace and hosting your own software. You’ll likely have access to plenty of tech support to help you get your products listed and ready to sell. Once you’re established, you may consider self-hosted solutions. These may only have a one-time fee for the software, but you’ll have to provide server space and keep things up and running yourself.
After you’ve decided on the right software for your website, you need to find a host. There are full-service hosts that package Web space, domain names and email together. If you don’t have extensive needs and you’re not very familiar with running a server this may be a good option. However, if you already have an IT team in place, you can host the site yourself without too much effort or find a powerful cloud Web host to let your IT team focus solely on your site, not on the underlying server. In either case, you should pick a domain name to coincide with your business name. Also very important is email hosting. If you’re serious about your business, you need a customized email address and the ability to handle high- volume email. Using a private email host, instead of Gmail, another similar service or even Exchange, offers far-reaching benefits.
If you want to make the most sales, you need a payment process that is simple for your customers. There are a number of different options available. You may wish to offer multiple methods to customers to ensure you make the sale. For instance, you may consider using a standard credit card processor as well as offering payment by PayPal. That enables customers who wish to pay with a bank account the chance to use an online check too. It’s important to find the balance between offering a number of options and keeping the process simple.
As you can see, you have many things to think about when you’re setting up your business. Even when you have the initial setup complete, it’s vital that you continue to revisit the decisions you’ve made. The things that work well for your business today may not work tomorrow. Stay ahead of the curve and make sure you don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. The result will be a great business website that fills the needs of your customers for years to come.
Amy Bishop works in marketing and digital strategy for a startup in Indianapolis. You can connect with Amy on Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.
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