E-Commerce 101: How to Get Started
By: Robert Spence
With online shopping skyrocketing, the e-commerce market is red hot. In fact, it’s scorching with lighter fluid. Earlier this year, Global research and advisory firm Forrester released a report predicting e-commerce sales will increased by 13 percent in 2013. That’s a whopping 31 billion dollars more than the $262 billion raked in last year from online sale. And while you may have a great idea for an online store, getting started is another story. We break down the first three steps every future entrepreneur should do to start an e-commerce.
Finding Your Brand Domain Name
First things first, get your domain name. The first step in creating your e-commerce store is finding a suitable domain name for your store, preferably something associated with your keyword. Because Google uses keywords to rank specific websites, selecting the right keywords in your domain name is important. Your link popularity and branding will be based on the domain name you’ve chosen, so make sure you choose accordingly.
In addition to purchasing a domain name, you’re going to need hosting. Hosting allows your website to be accessible via the world wide web. It’s a crucial component and should be the second thing you purchase after your domain name.
Building your Storefront
This is where the magic happens. Depending on the type of product or service you’re selling online, the storefront or “theme” is vital to your success. This is the first impression visitors will see and when choosing your theme it’s important to make sure the theme showcases your business correctly. Additionally, the e-commerce theme you decide on will cover many aspects of your store including inventory settings, managing orders from customers, shipping settings, and payment gateway. These functions are essential to running a successful online store so take a deep breath, slow down, and make the best decision. You can also use a handful of e-commerce shopping cart software that incorporate everything you need (e-commerce theme, hosting, shopping cart) in one service.
Last but least, make sure your storefront is easy on the eyes, easy to navigate, and easy to understand. Nobody likes purchasing from a complicated website, especially if it takes 30 minutes to checkout.
Sourcing Products to Sell
This is the make it or break it factor for any online store. To have a successful e-commerce website you have to have quality products people want to buy. While it may sound easy to do, finding products that are in high-demand at lower than retail costs can be a challenge. The first thing to do is figure out your budget for new products. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to create a list of the products you want to carry and finding pricing. We recommend locating 3-5 prices per item. Sites like Alibaba and Aliexpress are great stepping stones for businesses to find products and even find manufacturers to create products for you. Just make sure the bottom line is your profit margins are high and your products are made with quality material. Last thing you want is being inundated with returns because the product you’re selling is cheap and fell apart. Spend a little more and go quality.
Just remember, starting an e-commerce takes time, energy and effort. It won’t happen overnight but eventually you’ll get there.