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How to Start an eCommerce Business

Learn how to set up your own online ecommerce business and start selling online. In this article I’ll provide the basis for starting up your own e-commerce business. Learn the basics about hosting plans, merchants Paypal, Domain names and e-commerce software.

People want to make money online and there are plenty of ways to do it. Many of them can truly be considered successful in terms of revenue, not to mention the change in lifestyle that many online businesses enjoy.

But for every new online business idea, there are thousands of articles and tips on how to do it.

This article will make your job of starting your own online business in e-commerce easy. No non-sense – just the facts. So, off we go…

Setting up your Home Office
If you plan to work from home, and you plan to sell stock from home then the first thing you need to do is considered space.

You’re going to need enough space to house your e-commerce goods and you’re going to need adequate space for an office. if you’re reading this then I assume you already have a computer or a laptop to work from and an Internet connection.

I think having a business phone line is really wise as it allows customers to get in touch with you. It builds trust and it legitimises you as a serious business. So, finding a decent telephone system , fax system, a reliable modem and printing equipment is fairly basic home office fair. Make sure you have all these things sorted before you start to trade.

When I started out in business I just went to an Office furniture and supply centre like Office National Office Supplies and picked up everything I thought I would need to set up my home office including my very comfortable desk chair and all the bits of stationary I thought I would need.

build an online storeChoose Your Domain Name.
I am going to assume you have a product and that you have already done your product research to determine its viability online. Now, you want to know how to get that product before an online audience. Well, first, you need a place to call home.

Your small business needs a domain name.

“They say, keep it short. I say, make it descriptive.”

Now, you are probably looking up at the top of this page and saying to yourself, Mallee Blue Media, what gives? What does that have to do with business?”

We started online in around 2004 and we have built up a brand name for ourselves. Those who matter to us know where to find us. You found us. You matter. We did stick the word, “media” on the end eventually. It helps.

But if you are going to be selling tangible products it’s going to help you even more to get a foot in the Search Engine door, and, more importantly, it’s going to make immediate sense to your prospective customer if you use descriptive branding.

Here’s a tip, Do everything you can to make it easy for your customers to understand who you are and what you are offering.

Unless you are already well established in the market place, (like IBM), don’t go for clever or cute: Aim at making sense. Board Game Geek is not short, but it is the number one online site for Board Game enthusiasts. We all know what a board game is.

My first e-commerce website was called Games from Everywhere. It’s still kicking around today somewhere on the web. We had 33% growth every year from the first and eventually had to give it up after our fourth kid was born. It just go to big and too busy – a nice problem to have.

It’s not short but in under two years it became one of Australia’s Premier sites for Deluxe Chess Sets, and high quality Fair Trade Board Games.

Make sure the name you choose for your online store explains what you do and what you sell. Our games came from all over the world, thus the name.

creating an online businessPay for Your Domain Name. Pay for Hosting
Free hosting sites that put your name in at the end of their own domain name are not going to spell, “Confidence” for your customers, so don’t do it. Go to a reputable Domain website and buy your domain. It’s your brand and you want to own it outright.

I have to recommend People’s Host (That’s our affiliate link) when it comes to domain name purchasing and Web Host Services. They are an affiliate of mine and what they provide is exceptional phone service (Yes, they answer their phones!) and excellent resources. What’s more, my sites stay live.

They offer low cost stater packages right through to your own server. These are the guys I use for my main websites.

If you follow this brief how-to, you are hardly going to spend another cent starting your online store. But this is one place where the money is truly worth it. If you want customers to find you, buy a domain name specific to your country. Have it hosted on a shared server, and keep it.

If you want to be online, stay online, get support when there are problems, don’t look for a free place to put (host) your domain name.

starting a website businessChoose Your E-Commerce Software.
“Ever been to a site, couldn’t find where to click, didn’t see the very thing you searched for? What did you do? You shut the site. Customer gone!”

Your e-commerce software or platform is the thing that will connect you to the customer. It will drive your store, enable you to sell online and keep track of your business. That makes your decision about e-commerce software critical.

Want the good news? You can get it first class and for free!

I have used both Woo Commerce and Magento in the past to showcase the products I have sold through any e-commerce business and have done since they opened their French doors. Woo Commerce in particular is light, fast, fully functional, search engines like Google love it and it’s free.

The Magento Community is very helpful and will assist you in setting up your store. Being Open-Source, everyone pitches in to give you a hand.

The only expense you might anticipate is a decent theme. But Magento Themes are fairly cheap and if you use a reputable Theme Store you can get free upgrades for life, great customer support and a finely tuned, flash fast store. That said, you get what you pay for. Magento offer a full suite eCommerce solution and if you are serious about your store it is well worth considering.

I also recommend WordPress and its mighty range of software and themes, including Woo-Commerce. There is so much that you can do with WordPress that it’s hard to go past it. Again, it’s totally free and your only expense will be finding a suitable theme or a cheap plugin to run your store.

Visiting Magento and WordPress is also a great way to generate a good lists of business ideas.

Check out the article about online business ideas by Cassandra Campbell for an even bigger set of tools to help you refine your niche. Most of the software you will need can be installed in a click once you have purchased your hosting plan. But, if you want to have a closer look when your done here, you can find them here and here.

Both Magento and WordPress are great options for a small start up. Both are easy to use and can have your online business up in a day.

Once you have the software on your site and you want to go looking for a good theme or hire someone to develop and customise a them for you. For WordPress I recommend Theme Forest in the Envato Marketplace Store.

The themes there are top notch and every industry is covered.

Go there and navigate to either the e-commerce menu or the WordPress menu, depending on your software decision.

Magento have good landing pages (the place you want Google to send your customers to) and a great range of themes for every kind of e-commerce business. WordPress has the same, but with the added functionality of a high quality blogging platform.

The pages for both WordPress and Magento are clean, clutter free and your customers should find it to get around your site.

Prestashop and WordPress are also very good at being noticed by Google. They are Google friendly, which means that search engines are going to find and index your store easily. Also, when you need to upgrade (and you will. Live with it), you don’t need to pay a team of technicians to upgrade your site. You can do it yourself with a couple of clicks!

starting a business onlineMerchant facility
You want to get paid, don’t you? Do you need special security (SSL) set up on your site? No, not necessarily. however, they do engender trust with users (we are talking about the https at the front of a URL instead of the ordinary http.

For a good chat about SSL, go here. It isn’t free, it can help, but it isn’t necessary to begin.

Instead, for start ups on a tight budget, I recommend Paypal Business or a similar free merchant facility (like Skrill) as your Merchant Gateway to process all your credit cards and payment for you.

Both these Services are good value. You only pay for transactions, you have security, reputation and reliability. Three important things to have.

If you think that having everything take place on site is important, you can integrate Paypal in to your site. Whatever you decide regarding payment gateways, I would choose a Bank Merchant last. They are expensive and complex.

Using Prestashop or WordPress, your customers can pay by Cash, Credit Card, Bank Transfer Cheque.. and on it goes. Both Skrill and Paypal work seamlessly with these two platforms.

Once you have your Domain Name bought, your Software and theme chosen and installed, and your Merchant facility, you are ready to stock your online Business with product descriptions and start trading. Product description, site payout and graphics are going to be very important for this step.

Knowing how to write well and what to write about is an art. but it is an art quickly learned by most people.

How to Start Your Ecommerce Business

Is that it? No, there is plenty more to learn, but as far as getting yourself up and running, this is all you need to know for now.

And, if you are totally new at all this, it is plenty enough for you to think about.

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