Did you know that in the fourth quarter of the year 2016, online stores sold goods worth a staggering $102.7 billion? The Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce releasing these figures also reported that the total online sales for the year 2016 totaled $394.9 billion.
As the owner of a brick and mortar small business or an entrepreneur thinking of starting up a new company, you absolutely need to harness the online avenue of sales if you want to remain competitive in your sphere. In other words, you need to start an eCommerce business.
Why is having an eCommerce Business so Important?
In today’s fast-paced world, people are increasingly opting to purchase the goods they need by placing orders online rather than visiting physical stores. They would prefer to do their shopping on the go from mobile phones or from the comfort of their homes in place of traveling long distances to different malls and shopping centers. Not only can they compare prices and features, but they can order and receive even those items that are not available in the stores close to them. And, as a smart business owner, you need to make your products available to the buyers wherever they are. The solution – have an eCommerce website that potential buyers can visit and place orders.
The First Steps You Need to Take – Buy a Computer
Starting your eCommerce business is really not all that difficult. Nor, will you have you invest a whole lot into it. Start by purchasing a computer. Should you check out online stores like eBay, Amazon, Newegg, ReUseTek or any other, you’ll find that they stock refurbished laptops at prices lower than $100. With a little research, you should be able to buy a little-used device that has all the features you need. As your company grows, you can always invest in more advanced equipment.
Buy a Domain Name and Hosting Server
The domain name is the website of your name that users type into search engines. You’ll have to buy and register the domain name and find an affordable server for your eCommerce business.
Typically, the annual charge for a new domain name is around $10, and you have the option of buying an already registered domain name. Make sure you get an SSL (secure sockets layer) Certificate. This add-on will encrypt the data that customers and business partners share with you. In this way, you can indemnify your business from the risk of data breaches and leaks of personal information including credit card numbers, expiry dates, and birth dates, among others.
Download the Website Template
Check the internet, and you can find thousands of website templates that you can download without any cost. Select the one you like best and look for what previous users have to say about it. Once you’ve made your choice, you’ll also find online communities that can help you set it up and direct you on how to remove bugs. Should you pick templates from companies like WordPress, you’ll also receive updates from time to time that you can download and install without any problem. Of course, if you prefer to buy paid templates for your eCommerce business, you’ll find that they have more features and better customer support. The starting prices of such templates are $35 onwards and very affordable.
Get a Smart Logo
A small and seemingly insignificant feature of your website is the logo. However, you must understand the importance of this little detail. The logo has the potential to become the brand and identity of your eCommerce business. Customers will identify your products by the logo and may even form an opinion about your company by looking at the logo. The design has to convey everything your business is all about and should be versatile enough to stand the test of time. Considering the significance of this feature, you’ll find that you can get one for very economical prices.
Check out websites like 19 Dollar Logos and 99Designs for logos as low as $19.
Set Up the Other Features of the Website
Once you’ve downloaded the website template and installed the logo, you’ll find that the next steps of designing the website for your eCommerce business are self-explanatory and streamlined. You only need to follow the instructions you receive and keep downloading the plugins as and when you need them. Each time you need directions and information, you only need to type the query into the search bar of your browser, and you’ll find everything you need. Make sure your website has all the essential features like:
- High-quality images and detailed product descriptions (customers should have a fair idea of what the product is all about)
- Search bars so customers can look for and find what they need instantly
- Easy to order and pay system so you can make sales quickly
- Customer service facilities and an easy to find “Contact Us” button
- Opt-in monsters where customers can add their email IDs (you’ll need them to contact buyers with information of new products and promotional campaigns.)
- Blog pages where you provide useful information about your eCommerce website and related products and services
- SEO buttons so customers can like your pages and share them with their friends and family
- Compatibility with all kinds of electronic devices including laptops, mobile phones, desktop computers, and tablets.
The eCommerce business could be your chosen method of operating your company, or it could be an extension of your brick and mortar store. You may find that it takes a few months before you start to get traffic on the website and make real sales. But, soon you’ll develop a dedicated customer base that prefers your products over those of your competitors. And, as most business owners are discovering, in coming times, it may be well become impossible to stay in operation without tapping into the immense potential of online shopping.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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