5 beginner tips for setting up an online store
Although some ecommerce platforms make starting an online boutique easier and less costly for those who are inexperienced in the online selling business, you may wonder if using an online store yourself could help further the success of your venture. An online store can increase the flexibility and control over your company, and can enable you to be creative with marketing and customer outreach. However, doing so requires you to follow some steps and be responsible for finding the best tools and platforms for your business. This article lists a few tips to help setting up your online store faster, cheaper, and keep the process stress-free.
Gather Your Tools
According to Lifehacker.com, you will need to purchase a few ecommerce items before you can start setting up an online store. Start by looking for an available domain name for your business, then choose a web host as well as a payment portal, shopping cart software, and a IP/SSL protocol (to protect customer information from outside threats.) These tools will be the basic structure to your website and therefore need to be chosen wisely. The cost of purchase for such items can vary but will probably stay around $100. Be aware of some expenses, such as the domain name or web host, because they might charge you a yearly fee. You may not find the domain name you would like at first, but as long as it is creative, short, catchy, and close to your business name you will be able to attract many potential customers. The simpler – the better. A rule of thumb is that visitors should be able to easily remember your website’s name.
Design Your Site
Once you have purchased the basic tools to start your website, you can actually start creating a home page and design your content. Purchasing a Content Management System (CMS) may help you modify and update your website as well as upload graphics and set up an original theme for your online boutique. If you don’t feel experienced enough to do it yourself, you can hire a web designer or web developer to do it for you. Keep in mind that the simpler the design the better. The site should be consistent in its content and format, and the customer should be able to find his or her way easily. Some platforms like Shopify do offer pre-set CMS systems to make editing, revising and updating your website easier than with a ‘traditional’ do-it-yourself program. If you don’t have the experience or the time to manage your site, purchasing on these systems may be the best option for you.
Customize Your Catalog
After your website’s basic design has been determined, start creating categories and separate pages for your products. Make sure to include several quality pictures and a detailed description for each item. These steps require some basic database and programming skills, so make sure to contact a professional if needed. A web designer may be helpful to organize the content and present it in an attractive and creative manner. However, make sure that he or she has the necessary coding skills to manage your website properly. The key to a quality website is organization, quality, and simplicity. A fancy design may be a great addition to your site but you should focus on creating a simple and easy visitor experience.
Set Up Your Payment Portal
The next step is to set up your payment platform. To avoid high cart abandonment rates, make sure to offer a variety of payment and shipping options. If you sell high-priced products, you might be able to absorb the price of shipping and offer ‘free shipping.’ If not, offer a standard as well as faster shipping options. The choice of the shopping cart module is crucial when setting up an online boutique. Your customer should be able to checkout, enter payment information, and modify his or her order as easily as possible.
Maintain and Control
The last step is to maintain your online store is to take advantage of forums and surveys to ask feedback to your customers about your website. These tools can be valuable to understand what can be done to make navigating your store easier and more effective.
Starting an online store may seem challenging, but with the right tools and resources, you can create a successful online boutique. Always research different ecommerce platforms, hosts and other related products before purchasing specific software. Sometimes online forums, reviews and other community feedback can offer great advice on which tools work and which ones don’t. Never be afraid to ask for professional help if you feel uncomfortable with the idea of setting your online store yourself. It will probably not be free but can help make your online experience easier.