Want to create an ecommerce website and sell products to customers online? Follow these six steps to get started.
Decide What to Sell – This is kind of a no-brainer, but every business needs to start somewhere, right? Whether it’s selling your skills, services, content, merchandise, or products, make sure you know exactly what it is that you specialize in and that you are trying to sell to your customers. Doing this will help you to differentiate your company from the competition, and it will serve as the foundation for everything else that comes later.
Create a Website – There are numerous ways you can go about creating a website, such as using Wix, Squarspace, Weebly, and other website builders. If you really know what you’re doing, you may want to use DreamWeaver or other software that lets you get into the finer details of Web design. Put the effort in at the very beginning. Build product pages that explain what your products are. You may even want to write blog posts, film videos, and/or generate other content that will help you establish your brand in the eyes of consumers and build your site’s SEO among search engines.
Choose a Web Hosting Provider – Even the prettiest website will not do any good if it’s not hosted online for people to find. Thus, you should shop around to find a Web hosting provider. There’s HostGator, GoDaddy, TMDHosting, Hostwinds, WordPress, and many other options. They all get the job done. This should go without saying, but don’t forget to purchase the domain name you’re looking for as soon as possible, if it’s available.
Get a Payment Processor – A big part of any business is accepting customers’ payments. On an ecommerce website, this must be done digitally using a customer’s credit card or debit card. Obviously you can’t use cash or checks. There are plenty of payment processors you can use to get the job done. Authorize.Net, CardConnect, Stripe, and PayPal are all solid options for your merchant services. Compare their rates to see if you’re getting the best deal possible.
Set Up a Supply Chain – Choose if you are going to drop ship items to your customers or if you are going to store in a warehouse all of the goods you sell and ship them to your customers yourself. Once you make this choice, commit yourself to it fully. Establish firm financial agreements with vendors so that both of you know the payment terms, delivery terms, and other important information that will make it possible for you to get the right items into the right hands on time and on budget. If you plan to work with a big retailer, make sure you have an electronic data interchange (EDI) so that you can send orders to them in the proper format.
Manage Your Inventory – Once you have your supply chain set up, you will need to find a way to keep track of all of the inventory moving from one location to another and being stored at each location. Many startups begin by using Excel spreadsheets to contain data on product names, locations, and quantities. Unfortunately, it’s practically impossible to automatically update these records, so someone will have to manually change them each time a purchase order goes out and a sales order comes in. A better way to manage inventory is to use free inventory software that integrates with a payment processor and an accounting solution like QuickBooks Online. That way, you can automate your inventory management and avoid a lot of double data entry and other data management issues that ecommerce companies frequently face.