Are you starting an online store (also known as an e-commerce or web store) and but don’t know where to start? If you’re reading this article, this is probably a rhetorical question. But there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to the Internet to find these answers.
After all, a lot goes into starting a business, and it can seem more complicated when the business is an online store. And unless you plan on accepting checks or I.O.U.s, your business must have the ability to accept credit card payments from customers online.
This article will discuss the basic steps to set up a website or online store, including one of the most critical steps (step 5); finding a credit card processor.
Getting Started Online
Buy a domain name that is not already taken. Ideally, the name should be your brand and/or contain a keyword relating to your product or service. Domain names typically cost about $12/year to register, but are sometimes offered discounted for the 1st year. Search for promotion codes to save a little money upon checkout. Due to their intense marketing efforts, Go Daddy seems to be the most popular. Other companies, such as Namecheap.com and Register.com, offer domains at slightly lower prices.
Find a hosting provider. HostGator and Bluehost are good options. Hosting prices will vary, but are usually about $9/month. In order to protect your customers’ information, you should also purchase a private SSL certificate from the hosting provider (about $2 extra per month). SSL encrypts the data between the browser and website server. Once your hosting is set up, you’ll be provided with the hosting providers name servers. You’ll then have to point the name servers from the registrar to the new hosting provider. Instructions for this easy step should be provided by your hosting provider.
Have your website created. There are many companies that offer these services and are easy to find with a basic search. Some companies offer all-in-one services that include most if not all pieces of the web store. Although it sounds like this would be the way to go simply for ease of set up, your customization is very limited.
A website built on a platform like WordPress makes it easy to add content and handle updates, and most importantly, optimize for the search engines (also known as SEO or search engine optimization). Good optimization will cause your site to show up in search results when someone searches for keywords relating to your product or service. This will ultimately bring traffic to your site, or in other words, customers to your store.
These 3 steps should keep you occupied for a little while. As soon as you get your website created, you’ll be ready for the last two steps in setting up your web store; configuring the online shopping cart and setting up the payment gateway and merchant account. Check out Part 2 of this 2 part series here.