According the U.S Small Business Administration, online business is growing much faster than traditional brick and mortar business. It’s no wonder that more and more traditional businesses are bringing their products and services online. Here’s how to get your own ecommerce website up and running.
STEP 1: Set a goal.
Since your website will be the hub of your online marketing efforts, you should set a goal for it. As Google’s guide to building your online marketing plan states, a goal can be anything from making a sale, promoting a discount, spreading the word about your business, or reaching more people with your website. Just make sure they are S.M.A.R.T goals: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-based.
STEP 2: Choose a domain name.
Your domain name is the address that people identify you by, so choose it carefully. A domain name should be tied to your brand, and it should be memorable. It should be self-explanatory. Don’t worry too much about including relevant keywords in your domain name. This doesn’t matter as much for SEO as other factors like website content and backlinks. Also, take care not to infringe on anyone’s copyright with your domain. Use copyright.gov to verify whether or not your domain is safe to use before you register it.
STEP 3: Set up a merchant account.
A merchant account allows a seller to clear debit and credit card payments made online. You can set up a merchant account either through your bank or through an ecommerce institution liked Paypal or Authorize.net. However, if you don’t have an established sales history, you might need to set up a merchant account through an independent sales organization (ISO). When a bank takes on a new account through an ISO, it reduces the financial risk posed to the bank. The downside is that joining an ISO can be expensive. Whichever solution sounds right for you, be sure to do your research. There are many online merchant account providers, and not all of them are legitimate.
STEP 4: Create your website.
HostGator provides many options for creating your website. WordPress and Joomla are popular (and easily installed via QuickInstall within your cPanel), and Weebly makes it easier than ever before to build a website with little-or-no prior site building experience. Of course, you can also hire a web designer to custom build an ecommerce site for you. When it comes to building your actual website, the options are virtually limitless relative to the time and budget you have to complete this task.
STEP 5: Install analytics.
Analytics software gives you important information on how your website is performing. It gauges metrics that include your number of monthly unique visitors, conversion rate, bounce rate, and which pages on your website are most popular. It’s important to have these numbers so that you know what is working and what needs tweaking. Google Analytics is widely considered the best free analytics solution
STEP 6: Populate your site.
Once you set up your site, you have to do more than just add your products. You should have a home page, About page, Contact page, and a blog to post updates, industry news, and helpful tidbits. An ecommerce website usually features certain products on the home page such as weekly deals and sale items. Be sure to include an About page with a brief description of what you do, as well as a contact/customer service page. It’s also a great idea to display your contact information in the header so that your customers can easily reach you without needing to search for your contact details.
Brick and mortar business will likely always be around, but the internet gives users access to a larger selection of products and services. Once your website is set up, the only thing left is to drive traffic to it. There are plenty of ways to do that, including participating in social media, guest blogging, and using SEO best practices. Statistics say that over half of small businesses lack a website, so getting online gives your business a competitive edge.
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