In this blog post, we will focus on the necessary components of eCommerce What you need to Build an Online Store:
What You Need to Build an Online Store:
Number One: You Need a Product or Products:
- You need to have a viable product or a viable service, some thing or service a person can purchase.
- Every product or service needs a product name, product description, product price, item number (optional), category (for website seo and organization), and a list of variables (small, medium or large; red, yellow or blue, etc)
- Every product will need a method and price of delivery; for example: online courses are downloaded, while widgets are packaged, shipped and mailed. (Most eCommerce designers will be able to guide you on the many shipping and downloading choices)
- It is also best to decide ahead of time how you will access and use client/customer information that is gathered in the purchasing process in email marketing going forward.
Number Two: Choose an eCommerce Platform:
Every online store needs an eCommerce platform, a system of gathering ordering information on the website, relaying the payment information through merchant account (paypal, authorize.net, shopify, etc.), adding that information to your own database for future access, and thanking the customer and sending them either back to the website or back to a thank you page.
eCommerce Platforms need to be “managed”. You may have changes on products, need to add new products and remove old products, plan sales and specials, add holiday coupons and this is why your eCommerce website will need to be managed.
If price is not an issue and you have some capital to invest in the building of your website, you may want to build on Shopify. This link will give you a 14 day free trial so you can get a feel for how it works. Their system is build with website management in mind. They offer various packages and it will run anywhere from $10 up to $100 a month, depending upon how many products you have and what type of service you want.
If you are starting small with limited investment, you may want to think about Paypal.com. You can open an Paypal.com account for free, and you only pay a commission on items that you sell. It is still the most popular option out there today. It is very easy to hook up and most website development systems have a pretty easy setup to add paypal merchant accounts to a website.
If you will only have a few items for sale, you can use paypal buttons on any standard website and they will work. In other words, paypal has an option where you can copy html code for each product and put it on any web page and it will work. This is a great option for someone who wants to sell a small menu of services or products and is building and managing their own websites.
Other Merchant Account Choices:
The amount of other choices is long and could become pretty complicated. Google wallet, authorize.net, bitcoin, etc. Just search “merchant accounts” and you will come up with lots of them. Bear in mind that they will all need to be added to your website. If you plan to contact a web designer to build your web store, hold off and go with one of the choices that your web designer is familiar and comfortable with. Otherwise, if you open your merchant account on your own, you may create a situation where you have the account, but lack the know-how or professional to make it work.
Number Three – Every Online Web Store Needs to be Hosted:
Every website or online store needs to be hosted. Web hosting companies pay for, maintain and troubleshoot multiple “servers” that you rent out on a yearly basis. They advertise a monthly price, but hosting always has to be paid by the year – at least all professional web hosting companies work that way.
As part of your hosting package, you will get to host your website on that server where it will be delivered by anyone who types in your address, and also, anytime a search engine pulls it into its search results.
The hosting package also offers many other perks like the ability to create emails with names that match your website. For example: If you purchase the name www.mynewbusiness.com, you can set up multiple emails like this: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, whatever you want.
The hosting package also “hosts” all of your pictures and documents that you will be linking to from your eCommerce or blog.
Number Four – Security – SSL Certificate – It’s Almost Mandatory:
SSL Certificates used to be optional, but they are really mandatory right now. Google Search gives precedence to websites that are mobile-optimized as well as have the added security layer of an SSL certificate. Facebook requires an SSL certificate to pull in your store onto Facebook. Since Google and Facebook are both the largest search options out there today, it makes sent to add the SSL certificate to your cart when opening your hosting account. You will be very glad you did. They can be free (as of this writing, bluehost.com is offering free ssl certificates with their hosting packages) to $80 to $100 a year.
Number Five – Pick a Powerful URL Name:
The days of naming a business Atlas Products or Destiny Travels are gone. Both of these names do not contain one clue as to what type of business they really do. You need to choose a keyword-laden name. For example: If Atlas Products is in the automobile tire business, a better name would be Atlas Tires or Atlas Car Tires. Destiny Travels may be a travel agency that specializes in cruises and vacation packages. Their name would be better as Destiny Cruises or Destiny Cruise and Vacation Packages. You get the picture.
Choose your eCommerce business name and website address smartly. Use descriptive keywords and a descriptive url address. For absolute beginners a URL address is your web address, for example: www.mynewbusiness.com.