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March 27, 2017 | Categories: ecommerce Back to list

Getting Started As An Ecommerce Newbie

Getting Started As An Ecommerce Newbie

If you’re thinking of setting up an ecommerce business, there’s never been a better time. Ecommerce sales are stronger than ever and it looks like there’s going to be no end to this demand in the near future as the adoption of mobile and smart devices continues to grow.

Most businesses can benefit from an online presence, even if it is just to raise their profile, and if you’re not online already, this article will help you get started.

Begin with the Basics

Start with some research. If you’re setting up a new enterprise, is there a demand for your product/service that would make setting up your ecommerce store a worthwhile venture? Test this out by speaking to your target audience and starting discussions on related forums to assess demand.

If you have an existing business, then it’s easier as you’ll have a ready customer base you can market to. However, wherever you are starting from, make sure you have a solid online business model that will work for your company.

If you think there is potential, then you need to start thinking about a domain name and finding out if it’s available.

When choosing a domain name, it is often recommended that you incorporate keywords, make it memorable, and keep it short. However, remember that it will be part of your branding as well so it must be in keeping with your overall image. If you need further tips on how to choose a good domain name, there’s some useful advice here.

Which Platform Will You Sell From?

Next, you’ll need to find a suitable platform. Your main choices are to go for a free of paid for option. Some of the best-known names are Shopify, WordPress and WooCommerce.

There are plenty of platforms to choose from, so if you are finding it difficult to narrow one down, speak to your payment processing company about the platforms they offer, and which would be best suited for your needs.

Choosing a free option might be OK for testing when starting out, however, it’s generally advised that you don’t to this is your intention is to set up a professional business.

Processing Payments

Now you’ve decided which platform you’re going to sell from, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to process payments.

Many merchants choose PayPal because it’s free to get started and easy to setup. However, many consumers aren’t signed up for to it so you’re going to need to offer other options, such as credit card payments through a payment gateway or ACH payments/electronic checks too.

Usually, it’s suggested that you offer the broadest range of payments possible to attract the widest range of customers, and you should also be set up for international payments, so that you can meet the growing demand from global consumers.

However, when you select a payment method, make sure that it suits the nature of your business and the type of the customer you wish to attract. For instance, if you’re in a high-risk business, selling high value goods, then you’ll want to offer the convenience/security of paying by credit card, or if you’re going to take a lot of reoccurring payments as part of a subscription business, you might prefer to offer ACH payments.

Whichever payment method you choose, make sure it’s user-friendly, secure and easy to setup.

Legal Compliance

As a business owner, legal compliance is vital, and keeping customers’ data safe will be one of the biggest concerns for business owners.

Just like a physical store, any sensitive data like credit card details has to be stored in compliance with PCI DSS guidelines, but you can limit your PCI responsibilities by checking that your payment processor is PCI compliant and that the data is stored on their server. However, you’ll still be responsible for any sensitive data that you store yourself.

There are other legal requirements too. For instance, you are  obliged to have a privacy policy, and it is also advisable that you set up terms and conditions, shipping and delivery and refunds policies in case of a dispute. You may also be obliged to collect sales tax online, depending on the state where your physical business is based.

The list of legal requirements detailed in this section isn’t exhaustive, and depending on the type of products you are selling and state you are selling/based in, there might be individual guidelines you must adhere to. Your local Chamber of Commerce and the FTC are good starting places if you need further advice.

Marketing Your Store

With the store up and running, it’s time to start marketing to bring in customers, but don’t be too disheartened if it takes time to start attracting regular traffic to your website and making sales.

New website owners often underestimate how difficult it can be to gain traction, standout among competitors and convert visitors into customers, when they first start selling online.

Your online marketing might consist of SEO, guest posting on high profile websites in your niche, social media marketing, writing blog posts with targeted keywords, content marketing, paid advertising like Facebook adverts on Google AdWords, and using analytic tools so you can see which keywords people are using to find your website, and which other methods people are using to find your site.

And don’t forget offline marketing, either. Although online marketing is arguably more cost effective, it doesn’t mean that you should ignore offline marketing, especially if you are trying to reach a specific audience.

Off-line marketing might include local media and radio interviews, attending local events, trade shows, handing out flyers and business cards, or hosting a giveaway to raise awareness and drive traffic to your website.

Conclusion

Internet shopping is booming and consumers are buying more online than ever before. The increasing popularity of ecommerce looks like it is here to stay and this had led to new opportunities for both existing and new business owners to set up a retail enterprise without some of the costs associated with a traditional bricks and mortar store.

However, it takes careful research to establish that there is a market for the product you want to sell online, a clear business model and a marketing plan to help an ecommerce business get noticed, build a loyal customer base and start making regular sales.

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