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A Beginners Guide To Setting Up A Successful Online Store
A beginner's guide to setting up a successful online store
Online selling is by no means a simple task. To sell products online not only requires making use of high end marketing strategies but also involves lots of planning. This article is meant for those of you who intent to start an online store. It is intended to give you a fair idea of what you would need to do and what you need to avoid while planning an online selling business.
The following are the various steps that you would need to take in order to open a successful online store
1.) Designing a website that sells
The first most important aspect of online selling is to have a professional looking website that is designed to sell. You can go about creating the website from code up using web designers or simply go for readymade website templates. If you are purchasing website templates, be sure to go for templates that are professionally designed and have the option of shopping carts. Buying templates from providers who offer allied services like template customization, web hosting; SEO etc would be even better. Some template providers like 'buytemplates.net' offer allied services irrespective of where you actually purchased the template from. To get a rough idea of how your site should be designed you can take hints from successful discount online stores like http://www.ishopage.com, 'gap.com' and 'bestbuy.com'.
2.) Hosting your store online
There are many factors that you need to take into consideration before selecting your web host when it comes to online selling. Some of the major factors are discussed as follows.
a.) Secure servers
Firstly you got to make sure if your web host offers you with SSL encryption which is very important for secure money transactions online. Most web hosting companies would offer you with SSL secure server facilities along with a regular package whereas a few would charge you an extra amount for the service.
b.) Up time guarantees
Your business is only as good as it remains online. Make sure to go for web hosting service providers who promise you an uptime guarantee of 99 %. Also check to see as to how they back up their data and what kind of back up systems they have in place in case of emergencies.
c.) Private CGI-BIN
A CGI-BIN directory is a location on your web server where you can upload your binary scripts or interactive programs. This is very important for payment processing and shopping cart management. So be sure that the hosing company gives you a private CGI BIN directory.
d.) Web logs and web statistics
Web logs and statistics are vital for your online business. Studying the web logs can give you much needed information about your customers and your sales records. Understanding your customer behavior can help you retain customers and attract new customers.
e.) Customer support
Get as much information about the hosting company's support policies and the type of support they offer. Go for web hosting companies that offer 24/7 customer support.
Most web hosts promise you lots of goodies but may not live up to it. Make sure to test the web host's credibility by asking them for references. The existing customers of the hosting company can give your first hand information on the service that you can expect to get.
In addition to this you should also look for services that offer you Mysql database and PHP scripting, unlimited emails and a minimum space of 10GB.
3.) Deciding on shopping carts
If you are selling more than a handful of products then having a shopping cart on your site is a good idea. You have three major options of getting yourself an online shopping cart. First one is buying a shopping cart software program; the second is using services of an ASP and the third is programming it yourself.
Your best option as a beginner would be to go for ASP services. These services are cheap and come with flexible options. As time passes and you online business develops, you can hire programmers to design yourself a customized shopping cart or buy shopping cart software programs that can be set up in your server. Some good ASP's that offer shopping cart services are 'SecureNetShop' (SecureNetShop.com) and 'GoEmerchant' (GoEmerchant.com).
Shopping cart software programs are a costly option for beginners and can cost you anything between $ 150 - $ 800. Some good shopping cart software programs are 'shopfactory 6' (shopfactory.com) and 'storefront' (strorefront.net)
4.) Deciding on how to accept payments
No matter what the speculation, credit cards are still the best way to accept payments. So make sure that your online business has facilities to accept credit cards. There was a time when you had to have a merchant account from a bank or financial institution to process credit card payments. But today there are enough options available that allow you to accept credit card payments even without a merchant account.
Paypal (paypal.com) is perhaps the best payment gateway and has no initial joining fees. Their service fees, per-transaction is very low and they allow you to accept payments from all over the world. In addition to Paypal some other good payment gateways are '2checkout' (2checkout.com), 'clickbank' (clickbank.com) and 'paysystems' (paysystems.com).
Payment options other than credit cards
It is by no means necessary that all your customers will have credit cards. As a matter of fact many of your customers don't have credit cards, many don't like to use credit cards, many have credit card phobias and the remaining may not wish to share their credit card information online. Under such a situation it would be best for you to provide alternate payment options.
Internet checks are as popular as credit cards when it comes to paying online. Internet checks are comparatively safer and are best if your customers are from international destinations. This technique would involve your customer's to make payments by an online blank check provided by an internet check service provider. This information is sent to the service provider for authorization. The merchant can also print the check on his printer immediately afterwards. Some good service providers who can offer you internet check services are paybycheck (paybycheck.com) and cross-check (cross-check.com).
In addition to internet checks there are some other options of accepting online payments like money orders and electronic checks. But these methods are suitable only if your customers are from nearby locations.
The best way to decide your payment options is analyzing your customer behaviors. You can also have online check boxes or feedback forms on your website to collect information about your customer's payment preferences and act accordingly.
5.) Promoting your online store
No promotion equals to no sales. You can promote your store using online marketing strategies like search engine optimization, email marketing, banner advertisements and affiliate marketing among others. While promoting your business you got to make sure to stay clear of any kind of illegal methods like spamming, cloaking etc. Your promotion activities should create a positive awareness about your online store that leads to trust building.
6.) Assuring your Customers
The customer is the king and just as in any other type of business here again you need to give your customer what he wants. To do this you got to be sure of your customer's preferences. Basically you need to address the following doubts that your customers are likely to have in their mind while buying online
a.) Is my credit information safe?
These questions in particular and many more questions in general can arise in the minds of your customers depending on the type of your products and your online store reputation. You can address these issues by providing valuable information in your FAQ section. Providing an online live chat on your website would be a great way to deal with your customer queries. There are many services that offer free online chat software programs; for instance 'boldchat' (boldchat.com).
Web Users Crave Familiarity
The sad truth is, general Web users would love it if all our sites looked like Amazon.com.
Pitfalls of Doing Big International Brokerage Business Online
Nothing has helped international brokerage business more than the internet: it enables a businessperson to do business with little or no capital and to make quick contacts. Yet nothing has made the brokerage business riskier. This comes from a broker unknowingly linking genuine or false buyers with genuine or false sellers. Other ingredients also exist to cook the broker an unpalatable soup.
The Secret Science Of Online Shopping
In theory you could create a retail web site with a limitless selection; an online store where every kind of merchandise known to man could be sold. Would people be interested in buying from such a huge enterprise?
Merchant Accounts: What They Can Do For You
Congratulations! You created an impulse in a customer to buy your product. One small catch? without some way to take their credit card number, your sale is as good as gone. One of the most important ways to grab that sale NOW, is to have your own Visa/AMEX/MasterCard merchant account tied to your shopping system. It used to be hard for just anyone to get a merchant account, but those days are long gone, (as you probably know if you turned on your computer today.) It seems like just about every company out there is ready to give you merchant account status, well, not give sell. To find a relatively inexpensive one, visit my site at http://www.KickStartCart.com.
The Webmasters Assistant
There are many tools available to a webmaster to analyse website traffic allowing them to monitor the number of visitors, see what pages have been accessed and even the length of time each visitors spends accessing the website.
The Internet and Customer Care: Aid or Anarchy?
It was reported in 'Marketing' magazine this month, that Britain is becoming a "disaffected nation", with each adult apparently making an average of 12 complaints to service providers each year, based on a "Service in Britain" survey by ASR (Andrew Smith Research). In response to the rise of the 'assertive consumer', brands are endeavouring to make sure 'good customer service' is a recognisable characteristic in the form of testimonials, efficient call centre responses and empowering staff throughout the company to resolve problems. Most complaints were about power, utility or postal services at 42%, followed by supermarkets, telephone providers, TV or ISP providers and banks. Insurance companies were also in the top 10 with 21% of the articulate disaffected nation.
Do You Need A Merchant Account?
Deciding when to get your own merchant account for internet sales can be a confusing and expensive venture. If you have a small to medium sized business and only sell a small amount of products then having your own merchant account may not be the answer for you. Some of the costs involved include.
How To Start An Internet Business ? Content, Content, Content
When it comes to e-commerce, the time-tested cliché is, "Content is king." In this case, the cliché is correct.
Dont give up on your business!
Summer must be when many work at home Mom start to think that their business is a flop and begin to look for a new opportunity. This is fine if your business is truly a flop - but chances are, you just need to take a look at it from a fresh perspective.
Online Consumers ? What Are They Complaining About?
For many businesses, e-commerce represents a tremendous method for generating revenues. To maximize the profit potential, you need to keep an eye on issues that drive your prospects nuts. The FTC maintain a list of the top 10 "dot.cons" complained about by consumers. If your site falls within one of these industries, you must make sure you address these concerns.
Working With Drop Shippers
Drop Shippers, the manufacturers or distributors who are willing to ship their products to your customers, bring a powerful benefit to ecommerce. Online businesses that engage in the wholesale-retail trade can cut down on all the hassles of shipping their products by simply establishing business relationships with drop shippers, and using them as part of their business model. This article will cover the aspects of selecting a reliable drop shipper, the process of setting up with drop shippers, and also some of the common problems that may arise from working with drop shippers.
How To Sell Websites Fast !
This article will explain in depth the steps needed to sell your website fast in today's marketplace.
Shopping Cart Features to Consider
Often the simplest Web stores have the most success. But shoppers like special features depending upon the type of store you have, how you market and use them, and if you don't overwhelm the shopper. Below I list as many features as I could think of, just to jog your creativity.
Keep Your Customers Happy by Organizing Your Payment Options
Anyone using a slow, or an awkward payment processor had better wake up!
E-marketplaces from Sellers Perspective
What is an E-marketplace anyway?
Creating Legal Framework for E-commerce Taxation; non-tax statutes
We have to make amendments in existing substantive and procedural laws to make it compactable with changing technological advancement of e-commerce?
Saving Money On Your E-commerce Site
After building and transferring many e-commerce sites it still amazes me that owners of e-commerce businesses are still wasting money in three basic ways. For fear of stating the obvious, saving money is the same as making money $100 saved is $100 added to your profit margin. Here are three basic ways to save money on your e-commerce site and increase your profits. While they may be simple we know they are overlooked time and time again resulting in thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
Using Credit Cards Securely Online
Nowadays, shopping online is a very common thing. Making your purchases without leaving your house is an attractive option for many of us. Purchasing items over the internet using your credit card can be quite an unpleasant experience if you don't make sure your payments are safe. Although many people consider that using a credit card for online transactions is not safe, they continue using this method but with increased caution measures. The greatest risk we expose ourselves to when shopping online is identity theft. But this is not the only risk, and various studies reveal that people have also other concerns like: personal information will be sold to third parties, unauthorized recurring transactions, not receiving the ordered products or even higher prices than advertised prices.
Why Suppliers Should Use B2B Exchanges
Business to business e-commerce is on the rise! Worldwide B2B e-commerce revenues are estimated to reach around US$ 2 trillion in 2004. This is a significant leap from last year's US$ 1.4 trillion. However, according to a recent survey, although, more than 70% of companies have already used Internet as a purchasing channel, a mere ten percent of their overall spending is directed via the Internet! Contrary to popular believe, this means, B2B e-commerce has still large potential to grow.
Creating The Perfect Ecommerce Website
If you're thinking of jumping on the bandwagon and going into business with your own ecommerce website, you'd do well to look at a few examples before you start. Finding out what a good ecommerce website looks like will help you know what to include - and what to avoid - when you start to set up one of your own. Here are some of the things you'll find on the perfect ecommerce web site:
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