With the huge and rapid growth of the internet more and more people are discovering how easy it is to set up their own online shop, selling products directly to customers from the comfort of their own homes.
Choose your products
Whether you?ve seen a gap in the market for a product that you think will have customers flocking, or you manufacture your own goods, you need to work out what you are going to sell and how you will target your chosen market. Time taken doing all the appropriate research at this stage will reap dividends later on, so ask everyone you can what they think of your idea and listen to the feedback they provide.
Buy a domain name
Your domain name is the website address and you will need to check that the name is available for purchase. Try to choose something short, snappy and relevant to your products as this will make it easier for search engines to identify your site. Beginners should consider choosing an online company that provides everything from the domain name, to hosting, to website templates in order to keep everything in one place, with plenty of help and assistance if you require it. Handling the software involved in an on-site shopping cart for example, can be time consuming and complicated without the help of a tried and trusted company experienced in the problems for new online shopkeepers.
Build your site
Once you have purchased your domain name and arranged for hosting (this is done by a company which keeps your website operating on its own server) it?s time to start building your website. Most hosting companies offer some sort of website-building templates that are simple to use through a ?drag and drop? system. Add your own text, pictures and photographs to show off your products to their best advantage. Make it easy for visitors to access the pages they are looking for, with tools to let them see your products in greater detail so they can study prospective purchases more closely. A simple and effective shopping cart will entice customers to purchase products, so spend time considering the best and most effective way to appeal to your potential market.
A good hosting and template site will offer you a number of ways to collect payment from your customers, via PayPal or credit cards for example. Add on other extras which allow you to view statistics from your site and you can see how many unique visitors you are attracting and how many people who view your site go on to complete a purchase. This information can be extremely valuable in allowing you to identify ways to increase your conversion rate to actual sales.
You can have the most all-singing, all-dancing website selling the most fabulous products, but unless your prospective customers can find you there is no hope of making sales. Your hosting company should provide you with a number of options to increase sales drive your business forward and make sure that you feature highly in search engine rankings. Link your site to social media networks so that new customers can find you easily and brush up on SEO (search engine optimization) techniques that will push your site higher.
Now your biggest worry is making sure you have enough stock to fulfill the orders that are about to start rolling in. Keep your website updated regularly and perhaps incorporate a newsletter to tell new and existing customers about special offers, discounts and promotions to increase sales even further.
Emily Hall writes regularly on consumer issues for a range of shopping and lifestyle websites and blogs. A former programmer, Sandra enjoys freelancing in a range of skills including writing, website creation and helping clients to understand the workings of ecommerce, particularly how to create a more interactive shopping cart.
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