You wouldn’t show up to build a house armed with an apron and a spatula. Don’t begin building an online store without the right tools, either. It’s likely you’re already operating with some of these tools in place, so go forth and make online store-building happen.
Start with a great name for your online store. Let it strongly and uniquely identify your offerings and services, and don’t underestimate the power of a name. The domain name is the cue that allows your site to secure page hits and ranking. It’s more than a name; it’s a key part of your brand and a marketing tool you can’t overlook. Check out online domain registries to see if what you’re after is available, or to find a close match.
Next, select your web site host, a key factor in your online store success. Your host will ensure customers have round-the-clock access to your site and your ecommerce options. Be certain your host has SSL (secure socket layer) capability so that your shoppers can feel confident when they enter personal information and you can keep that information secure. No organization is able to keep buyers’ information 100 percent secure, but using SSL encryption means that their critical data should be unreadable as it passes through the Internet.
How will you stock the shelves in your online store? Find out from your host how you will make changes and updates to your online store, so that you can keep your products as current and enticing as you would in an actual retail setting. Many SaaS deployment models of ecommerce software and on-premise models give you the simplicity of moving objects and cutting and pasting text right on your screen, taking away any intimidation factor you may be experiencing.
Want to accept shoppers’ money? You need to establish a merchant account so that you can process credit cards or other transactions on your online store. A merchant account is a lot like a typical checking account, but they permit your shoppers to use credit card payments. There may be some fees associated with your merchant account set-up, but with smooth interfacing and a crisp look, your online store sales can more than make up for this expense.
Set up a payment gateway, which serves as the bridge between your online ecommerce store and your merchant. Customer information moves from the online store to the SSL gateway, and then the validity of your buyers’ credit card, debit card or other source of payment is checked. If the purchase receives approval, the gateway lets your online store software know that this is a successful purchase. Next the payment gateway handles the message going to your merchant account that the funds should be transferred. If the transaction doesn’t work out, the payment gateway can let a customer know with a declined response and help them address payment in another way.
A great name. A web host. A way of updating the online store to keep it appealing. A merchant account, a security gateway and a payment gateway. What sounds like a long list for setting up your online store can be handled efficiently and swiftly with all-in-one vendors, like NetSuite, VCommerce and Jagged Peak or Volusion.
Setting up your online store also requires another element—innovation. Think about how your product brand imaging, your product descriptions and your pages flow together to create a shopping experience that’s enjoyable, unique and inspiring to your customers. You would use the same thought process for a retail store, so apply it to your online store to create a world of ecommerce sales that always has the “open” sign flashing.