Quick, easy ways to open an online store
Now, more than ever is the perfect time to begin selling online and building your own ecommerce store. Ecommerce sales hit a staggering $791 billion in 2020, up 32.4% from $598 billion in 2019, according to the Commerce Department. Fueled of course by the pandemic and people shopping from home, it’s the largest annual growth since they began tracking the number. And while the sales might not grow as much in 2021 as people start reopening storefronts, the country has gotten even more comfortable shopping from home and online sales will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.
Diversifying your sales efforts now will give you more ways to generate income and reach new customers in the future. Whether you already sell products in an online marketplace or a storefront location, or you want to launch a new online store as your entry into the market, we’ve put together some easy ways to start selling online and building an ecommerce store in just a few days.
Benefits of selling online
Having your own online store is a great idea for many businesses. When you sell online and have your own ecommerce store, you can also control your brand. Online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy put their branding front and center, not yours. And while a marketplace like Amazon provides many businesses with the fastest growth opportunity, having your own e-commerce store lets you target your specific customer demographic and create a website journey and consumer experience focused on them.
There are numerous benefits to selling online and building an e-commerce store versus having a storefront. First and foremost, there’s no expensive rent. You also don’t need permits and licensing, utilities, furnishings and decor, maintenance and cleaning, or staff to be onsite during operating hours.
Another thing to consider is whether or not you ever plan on selling your business. With your own online store and its consumer database, you can command a higher sale price as potential buyers can step in and have immediate direct engagement with your consumers.
How to build an ecommerce store
If you already have a website or a point-of-sale (POS) system it’s possible those platforms already offer a simple plugin for you to add e-commerce to your site. Your first step should be to reach out to either your web hosting company or your POS operator and see if they offer a simple solution for adding sales to your existing website.
If you need to start from scratch, we’ve put together some tips to help you get your online store working fast.
Pick a website builder for your online store
When choosing your ecommerce website builder you want one that will let you not only create a beautiful online experience but one that can also manage your orders and sales. Some features you should look for when picking your builder are drag-and-drop tools, easy-to-use templates, mobile responsiveness, and domain names.
Most experts agree, that for online boutiques and small businesses, Wix is the best website builder out there right now. Wix offers all features above and more. But check out websitebuilderexpert.com for a great list of recommended e-commerce website builders to find the perfect fit for your business and budget.
Choose your domain name
With the right domain name, you can drive web traffic from search engines as well as pique consumer interest. The name of your domain is often the first thing customers see and the first chance you have to make a good impression.
Google Domains offers some great advice for choosing a domain name. An important note: make sure your domain name is registered under the business owner’s name. Consider your website a piece of property that goes where the business goes.
Pick and personalize your website template
It’s easy to create a beautiful consumer experience using the templates provided by your website builder. Most of the top-rated website builders offer their templates based on categories like blogging, services, or online sales.
Make sure the website template you choose lets customers immediately know what type of business you own. Make a list of the features you need for your site, then you can easily search through the templates to find the best one for your needs. Your homepage should be clean, simple, and easy for customers to find what they need.
Add your products, images and descriptions
Website builders offer different limits on the number of products you can upload so make sure the platform you choose can handle the number of products you want to sell.
Write your product descriptions not only for customers but also for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is how your web pages are found by people using search engines like Google or Bing.
Your descriptions should be:
- Detailed but easy to read
- Short, clear sentences
- Simple, easy-to-understand words
Neil Patel, an expert on SEO and driving traffic to websites, offers great advice on how to write a product description optimized for search.
Almost as important as your product descriptions are your images. They need to accurately display what you’re selling. We’ve put together some Tips for Effective Inexpensive Product Photography that can help you take product photos from your home or workspace without hiring a professional photographer. One thing to keep in mind, while images are pretty and great to look at, they can also slow down your site speed. So only use what you really need.
Connect your payment options
Having a seamless payment process for your products is crucial to selling on an e-commerce site. Consumers today want everything quick and easy and secure.
Your website builder should provide various options for you to easily connect to your chosen payment methods like PayPal, Apple Pay, American Express, Visa, and Mastercard. Quicksprout helps you understand payment processing and what solution might work best for you. Every customer has a different preferred payment method so you should offer multiple options.
Get an SSL certificate
Security is key for your customers when visiting your online store. A Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encrypts your customers’ data and lets them know their shopping experience is secure.
While most website builders offer SSL certificates, it’s a good idea to shop around for the best option. TechRadar provides its top choices for SSL certificates when you’re ready to start selling on your own website.
Set up your shipping
Again, your website builder should walk you through your shipping options. You’ll need to set your origin address and decide what zones you’ll be shipping to. Since rates are different depending on where you ship to, your website builder should let you charge different rates to ship to different zones.
Consider the shipping options you want to offer such as flat-rate shipping, free shipping, and in-store pickup. At this time you’ll also need to pick your courier like UPS, FedEx, or the USPS. Depending on the website builder you are using, they’ll likely have a partner you can work with.
Ready set publish
Before you take your site live, make sure and preview and test everything. Have friends, family and staff go through your site. Check for spelling errors, broken links, or things that don’t make sense in the user experience.
Confirm all your pricing, promotions, and shipping offers. Place orders using each of your payment methods and try out all your different shipping options. Once you’ve added items to your cart, make sure taxes apply correctly. Then place your orders and apply for a refund to confirm that process is working as well.
It’s also a good idea to spend a few minutes testing it on different browsers. While Chrome is by far the most popular, customers are also using Safari, Firefox, and Edge, as well as numerous new up and comers. Open your site on different browsers and on different devices like cell phones and tablets to make sure it’s working in all environments, especially mobile.
Once you’ve done your testing and confirmed all your site settings, it’s time to publish and start selling on your own website. See How to Turn Website Visits into Customers and 6 Ways to Attract New Customers for more ideas on generating more sales and driving more customers to your store.
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