A Beginner’s Guide To Setting Up A Successful Online Store
1.) Designing a website that sells
The first most important aspect of
There are many factors that you need to take into consideration before selecting your web host when it comes to online selling. Some of the major factors are discussed as follows.
a.) Secure servers
Firstly you got to make sure if your web host offers you with SSL encryption which is very important for secure money transactions online. Most web hosting companies would offer you with SSL secure server facilities along with a regular package whereas a few would charge you an extra amount for the service.
b.) Up time guarantees
Your business is only as good as it remains online. Make sure to go for web hosting service providers who promise you an uptime guarantee of 99 %. Also check to see as to how they back up their data and what kind of back up systems they have in place in case of emergencies.
c.) Private CGI-BIN
A CGI-BIN directory is a location on your web server where you can upload your binary scripts or interactive programs. This is very important for payment processing and shopping cart
management. So be sure that the hosing company gives you a private CGI BIN directory.
d.) Web logs and web statistics
Web logs and statistics are vital for your online business. Studying the web logs can give you much needed information about your customers and your sales records. Understanding your customer behavior can help you retain customers and attract new customers.
e.) Customer support
Get as much information about the hosting company’s support policies and the type of support they offer. Go for web hosting companies that offer 24/7 customer support.
Most web hosts promise you lots of goodies but may not live up to it. Make sure to test the web host’s credibility by asking them for references. The existing customers of the hosting company can give your first hand information on the service that you can expect to get.
In addition to this you should also look for services that offer you Mysql database and PHP scripting, unlimited emails and a minimum space of 10GB.
3.) Deciding on shopping carts
If you are selling more than a handful of products then having a shopping cart on your site is a good idea. You have three major options of getting yourself an online shopping cart. First one is buying a shopping cart software program; the second is using services of an ASP and the third is programming it yourself.
Your best option as a beginner would be to go for ASP services. These services are cheap and come with flexible options. As time passes and you
Shopping cart software programs are a costly option for beginners and can cost you anything between $ 150 – $ 800. Some good shopping cart software programs are ‘shopfactory 6’ (shopfactory.com) and ‘storefront’ (strorefront.net)
One more option as already discussed above is making use of ecommerce website templates. These ecommerce templates have pre installed shopping cart systems and can help you set up a
4.) Deciding on how to accept payments
No matter what the speculation, credit cards are still the best way to accept payments. So make sure that your online business has facilities to accept credit cards. There was a time when you had to have a merchant account from a bank or financial institution to process credit card payments. But today there are enough options available that allow you to accept credit card payments even without a merchant account.
Paypal (paypal.com) is perhaps the best payment gateway and has no initial joining fees. Their service fees, per-transaction is very low and they allow you to accept payments from all over the world. In addition to Paypal some other good payment gateways are ‘2checkout’ (2checkout.com), ‘clickbank’ (clickbank.com) and ‘paysystems’ (paysystems.com).
Payment options other than credit cards
It is by no means necessary that all your customers will have credit cards. As a matter of fact many of your customers don’t have credit cards, many don’t like to use credit cards, many have credit card phobias and the remaining may not wish to share their credit card information online. Under such a situation it would be best for you to provide alternate payment options.
Internet checks are as popular as credit cards when it comes to paying online. Internet checks are comparatively safer and are best if your customers are from international destinations. This technique would involve your customer’s to make payments by an online blank check provided by an internet check service provider. This information is sent to the service provider for authorization. The merchant can also print the check on his printer immediately afterwards. Some good service providers who can offer you internet check services are paybycheck (paybycheck.com) and cross-check (cross-check.com).
In addition to internet checks there are some other options of accepting
The best way to decide your payment options is analyzing your customer behaviors. You can also have
No promotion equals to no sales. You can promote your
6.) Assuring your Customers
The customer is the king and just as in any other type of business here again you need to give your customer what he wants. To do this you got to be sure of your customer’s preferences. Basically you need to address the following doubts that your customers are likely to have in their mind while buying
a.) Is my credit information safe?
b.) How will the products be delivered to me and how long will it take?
c.) Are their any additional costs associated with the item?
d.) What kind of guarantees come with the product?
e.) Are there any discounts if I purchase multiple goods?
f.) What kind of customer service does the
g.) What happens in case the goods are damaged or of low quality?
These questions in particular and many more questions in general can arise in the minds of your customers depending on the type of your products and your
Even after all this is over there is no word like ‘remaining stagnant’ in online marketing. You got to keep on moving and adapting yourself to newer technologies and better marketing techniques to stay ahead and abreast of all those pesky competitors.