With the current pandemic ravaging the job market around the world, people might be considering how they can make a little bit of side money online. Building an online e-Commerce site is a great way to build a side hustle in a thriving industry.
Regardless of whether you are a brick-and-mortar store that is trying to move its inventory online or you are creating a brand new online-only business, this step-by-step guide will walk you through everything you need to know to get started on building an online store today.
Step 1: Choose An e-Commerce Hosting Plan
The first step is to choose a hosting plan, which will power your site and allows your customers to find your products. Here are a few factors you should consider before choosing your e-Commerce hosting plan:
- SSL (Secure Socket Layer) protections - This helps to protect the sensitive data will your customers share on your site.
- High uptime guarantee - Find a provider that has an uptime guarantee of at least 99.9%. The closer to 100%, the less time your website will be down, meaning potentially more money in your pocket!
- Scalable – When you first start, your store might sell only a limited selection of products to a smaller audience. As time goes by, hopefully, your business will grow, and you need a hosting provider that can scale with you as your site expands.
- Compatible with third-party apps and CMS software – Your e-Commerce site will likely need to integrate with third-party apps like shopping cart apps or an e-Commerce software like WooCommerce.
- 24/7 customer service – If something goes wrong, you want to make sure that the problem is resolved quickly.
Before committing to a plan, read e-Commerce hosting reviews of past customers to determine which hosting plan is right for you. Your hosting provider plays a huge role in your success, so thoroughly vet your e-Commerce hosting provider first.
Step 2: Select Your Domain Name
A domain name is what your visitors will enter online to find your store. Once you have established what you are planning on selling, you should select a domain name that is appropriate, easy to spell, and memorable. Often, you can purchase your domain name directly through your hosting plan or through a domain registrar.
Step 3: Choose An e-Commerce Platform
Next, you need to choose another essential component of your site: the e-Commerce platform. You’ll want to select an e-Commerce platform that fits your current needs as well as your future plans for your site. Changing e-Commerce platforms can be time consuming and expensive, so you want to choose correctly the first time.
When you are searching for the right e-Commerce platform, here are a few things you should look for:
- Website performance statistics
- Shopping cart features
- Payment options
Read a breakdown of two popular e-Commerce platforms: WordPress WooCommerce vs Shopify.
Step 4: Ensure Your Site Is Secure
Your customers will be sharing their personal details like credit card details, emails, and billing address. Gain their trust by taking the security of your website seriously. If your e-Commerce hosting provider doesn’t offer a free SSL Certificate, purchase one. This helps to encrypt and protect your customer’s personal data.
Step 5: Create A Well-Designed e-Commerce Site
Even if you aren’t an expert website developer, you can still create a clean, easy to navigate website thanks to pre-designed themes and website builders. Make it easy for your customers to find your products and navigate to the purchase screen.
When creating your website, include a contact page that contains your phone number, email address, and a contact form so people can get quick answers to their questions. You might even want to include an FAQ to answer commonly asked questions.
As for your product names and product descriptions, try to be as clear and concise as possible. Each product description should be one or two paragraphs that describe your products uniquely and shows what the product will do for the customer or how it will make it feel. Your product photos should also be well-shot and show the product in action. For example, if you are selling T-shirts, use someone to model it. If you are selling a tent, set up it outside in the woods and then take a picture of it.
Your website should also be optimized for mobile devices. More people shop via their phone now; don’t lose the sale because of a clunky mobile site design.
Step 6: Choose Your Payment Methods
To run a successful e-Commerce business, you’ll need some way to receive payments. An internet merchant account (IMA) is the best way to do it. When choosing your e-Commerce platform, select one that has a wide variety of payment options or that can integrate with your preferred payment gateways.
In addition, you should ensure that your site meets the correct level of Payment Card Industry Security Standard Council (PCI SSC) compliance.
Step 7: Start Marketing Your e-Commerce Site!
Now, you are ready to publish your site and begin to drive customers to your page. To do so, create a marketing strategy and utilize tools like Google Adwords, social media ads, and plugins to optimize your page. You can also start to create content and blog to help encourage more people to visit your e-Commerce site.
Starting an e-Commerce site doesn’t have to be overly complicated. You could get one up and running this week! Once you find the right e-Commerce hosting provider and e-Commerce platform, simply pick your theme, and your products, and begin marketing your site. And, even better, you don’t have to be a web developer to make a successful e-Commerce website as long as you follow these steps.
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