You've had a big idea for a while now. It may have started as a hobby or a pastime but you discovered that others share your interest too. Your creation is now more than just something they enjoy – they are willing to pay for it. You may have accidentally created a business, but now is the time to take advantage of this opportunity while also having some fun. The good news is that the days when you needed a physical location to sell to customers are long gone.
More people are shopping online than ever and having an online store is your ticket to success. An eCommerce site means your business is always open and customers can buy from you anytime, anywhere – all your customers need is an internet connection. You may not think of yourself as a business owner but that’s OK. You have unique talents that, along with our five eCommerce tips, will help you build on your passion.
Your eCommerce store needs somewhere to live online; that's where your new website comes in. Before we get to that, you’ll need to select and register a domain name. This is the web address that people will type into a web browser to find your site. It should reflect the name of your business, be short, simple to spell and easy to remember. This is an important step and should not be taken lightly as it will help to set the tone and style of your website and business.
As you can guess from our name, Register.com knows a thing or two about selecting and registering domain names. In fact, we were the original domain name registration company and we’ll use our experience to make it fast and easy for you to choose the web address that’s right for you then secure it so no other individual or company can have it – it’s all yours. Check out this blog for details on domain names and what you need to know to get started.
After you’ve chosen and registered your domain name, you’re ready to build your website. If you have little to no experience with websites, don't sweat it. Today’s technology makes it simple with hundreds of web page templates and drag-and-drop technology that empowers you to create a site quickly and easily. Check out these Register.com web builder packages that include valuable add-ons like a free domain name and a stock image library with hundreds of free photos you can use to customize your website design.
With the Register.com web builder, you can create your website in an hour or less. If at any point you need guidance, our experts are standing by to support you every step of the way.
Just as you have a home for yourself and your family, your website needs a place to live as well. All of the files, images and lines of code that make up your website take up space and must be stored securely so that people can access your site on the internet. When you rent space from a web hosting provider, they will store all of your website files on a dedicated computer server or series of servers.
They are also responsible for making your website files available to anyone who types in your website address (domain name) on a web browser. You can expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $25 a month for web hosting services depending on your preferred features and options. You can learn more about web hosting plans and find out how to choose the one that’s best for your business needs in this helpful blog.
Once you have taken the steps to post your website online, it’s time to set up the eCommerce elements of your site. This is everything you need to do to make it possible for customers to buy from you online.
Add new products to your site and be sure to give them descriptive names – this is where search engine optimization (SEO) keywords come in. Let’s say you are selling knit scarfs. Check with a few of your competitors to see how they are describing similar products. Are they listing them as “knit scarfs,” “winter scarfs” or something else? You’ll want to carefully choose your title description as you need to find a term that most online shoppers will type into an online search directory like Google, Yelp or Bing when looking for your product. Register.com can also help you develop and refine your SEO strategies.
You’ll want to add your products to collections to make them easier to find in your online store, set prices, write your descriptions and include photos and videos if possible. Your web builder should also have the capability for you to list the product size options, color choices and inventory tracking (to show how many of the items you have left in stock). Consider marking your latest products as new arrivals and spotlight your discounted items with on-sale banners to attract attention and generate sales and revenue.
Next, you’ll need to set up shipping guidelines. Determine what regions of the country (or world) you will ship to and be sure you are charging enough shipping costs to cover your expenses. Some online stores offer free shipping on purchases over a certain amount and shoppers typically respond well to offers like these. Consider doing this if you can remain profitable with each transaction. Be sure to clearly display shipping options on your home page and on the transaction page when a customer is ready to place an order.
To get paid, you need to establish your accepted payment methods. Most shoppers favor all major credit cards and online payment services like PayPal. Be sure to understand the terms and costs of offering each credit option as they typically require a percentage of your sales. For example, an average credit card processing rate is 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per transaction. While this may seem like a big cut of your sale, it can make the difference in gaining customers. Convenience is key when it comes to online shopping.
Customers need to feel safe on your website before deciding to offer their credit card information for a purchase. One way you can earn their trust is by including a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate with your website. This encrypts all of your customers' personal and credit card data when they make a purchase and protects the transaction from cyber attacks. When you add this to your website you will have the familiar padlock logo displayed on your web page and in your browser which indicates to shoppers that you have taken precautions to protect their transactions.
Adding a professional email address to your eCommerce page is an important necessity for keeping your customers happy. With every purchase, a customer should receive an automated bounce-back email detailing the terms of their purchase, along with your contact information should they have questions or need support. A professional email also makes it possible to follow up with your customers and send them surveys and incentives to ensure that they are well satisfied and stay loyal to your brand.
Now that you have followed all of these directions, your site is ready to go live. So take a deep breath, get ready and hit that publish button. Now your website and eCommerce store are live. What next? Don’t tell everyone just yet. Check your eCommerce page carefully, clicking around on it to make sure everything works properly and all sections and products are easy to see and read. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression with your customers – make it a good one.
Once you have reviewed everything and are happy with it, spread the word. Promote your new online store on social media and through emails. Incentivize prospects to make their first purchase with a discount offer and encourage them to leave positive online reviews – the best advertising you can have for your new business. Congrats, your store is open and you’re well on your way to turning your passion project into a money-making venture. Good luck!