Start an Online Shop

Edited by Vanessa Alexandra Avisado, Lynn, Eng

You have something truly great to sell and you want to start an online shop. The e-commerce is an incredible income-generating opportunity for you. Discounting a physical business operations infrastructure, you can still introduce, show and sell your product online. You aim to draw visitors to your online shop and enthuse them to buy.

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An online shop is also called a dozen other names, such as e-web store, e-shop, internet shop, web shop or web-store, online storefront or virtual store.

Online shopping dates back to 1979 in the UK. There were two kinds: B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer).

  • The largest known B2B was Ford's Locate a Car system, operated in most European countries.
  • The cleverest B2B was Nissan Selling Financing with online agency credit checks.
  • Tesco was the first B2C.
  • Online shopping migrated to WWW in the 1990s, with full features, fast and secure.

You aim to get people to purchase your product through their online shopping. To become a virtual store owner offering your products and services you have important preparations to do prior to creating an online store. There are steps to do before launching online.

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How to Start an Online Shop

If you cannot afford to hire someone to build a custom online store, don't worry. There are free websites that offer a range of available designs. You can even choose your own colors, upload your logo, add your own headers and create an animated slideshow.

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  1. 1
    Know the things you need
    1. E-commerce software. Install this on your domain for your online shop. The e-commerce shopping cart software is the payment gateway integration to allow customers to pay for orders. It is also an inventory system as you add products or sell products. Free shopping cart software is available too, if you cannot afford to buy it.
    2. Domain name. Make your domain name short and memorable so that your customer can easily remember it.
    3. A domain name can be purchased from: Go Daddy, Just Host, Liquid Web and Host Gator.
    4. Hosting Subscription. Look for a provider that has an easy-to-use control panel. Recommended is the "Fantastico" software. It is a one-click system for installing web apps and scripts.
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  2. 2
    Find ecommerce vendors that can help you create your online store quickly.
    Visit the following sites to find out what they can do
    1. Bigcommerce
    2. Shopify
    3. Goodsie
    4. Jumpseller
    5. Volusion
    6. They do the following: Upload your product catalog, set up customers' shopping carts, securely accept payments and handle order fulfillment. These services securely host your online store on their own servers. You can link to their online store from your business's main website.
    7. Ecommerce services cost $10-700 monthly, depending largely on the volume of the products you are selling and the types of services provided.
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  3. 3
    Customize the overall look of your online shop
    1. Edit the appearance and design of your online shop by logging in to the administration site.
    2. Your logos and color schemes have to reflect your existing online appearance.
    3. Choose a ready-made design template. Prefer those that do not require HTML or CSS knowledge to customize. This way, you can easily upload your logo and product images, and add banners, slideshows and much more.
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  4. 4
    Create product categories for your store
    For example, if your product is books, your categories are children's books, fashion books, cookbooks, etc., and subcategories are coloring books or story books, accessories, cuisine of Asia, etc.
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  5. 5
    Create product listings and descriptions under the appropriate categories
    Upload photos for each product and write an accurate description that will help sell your products and services. The product details like the size and color, and also the quantity and price, can be edited.  
    1. Online shoppers have no way to see, touch, feel and smell your products. Create a crisp, clear product image. Product description should be short, yet with sufficient notable details to stimulate customer interest. Use compelling adjectives and phrases to evoke emotion when someone reads your description.
    2. Besides marking the price, also include product uses, dimensions and other defining characteristics.
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  6. 6
    Determine the shipping cost
    Set the shipping modules for your online shop. Decide if you want to charge a flat rate shipping fee or whether customers pay shipping based on product order and weight.
    1. On the other hand, you may want to consider offering free shipping, at least for orders over a certain amount. If your competitors provide free shipping, you can consider it too, if you can afford it.
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  7. 7
    Payment System
    Edit the accepted payment form for your online store and insert the required form. If using PayPal, insert your PayPal address and API credentials. A Google Checkout requires the use of the Google Merchant ID and Key. This setting has to be saved on the shop's online payment module when done.  
    1. PayPal sellers pay a 2.9 percent transaction fee on the total amount, plus a 30 percent fee per transaction.
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  8. 8
    Log out of the administration side of your online store
    Try your online store as if you are the customer. Add a product to the shopping cart and do a test purchase to ensure that your payment integration is working smoothly and correctly.
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  9. 9
    Customer service
    Most of major ecommerce vendors offer customer relationship (CRM). The fee ranges from $25-75 a month. The CRM document, streamline and structure are the many ways merchants interact with customers in one central place. It also serves as a record of the customers establishing details like information pertaining to the customer, purchases history, and complaints, if any and pending orders.  
    1. Get a toll-free phone number specifically dedicated to customer service.
    2. Set up a live chat in your online store, but only if you can operate it 24/7, which online shoppers are expecting.
    3. In dealing with returned items. Find out if your ecommerce vendor has a built-in tool that lets you quickly and easily replace merchandise or refund purchase prices, replenish your stock and respond to emails to customers about the status of their return.
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  10. 10
    Customer reviews and social sharing
    Encouraging comments from customers about your products and leave comment help boost confidence in your store.  
    1. Positive reviews and sharing on social media can lead to more sales, but there's also the risk of negative comments.
    2. There are major ecommerce services offering customer review options allowing you to respond to or remove undesirable comments.
    3. To represent your online shop in a social network, you can ask your customer to "like" on Facebook and YouTube, or "pin" to their Pinterest.
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You may want to track the success of your online store. There are ecommerce merchants that recommend self-service analytics, and other reporting tools to help you track your store's standing over time. This is to get an idea of the number of people and frequency of visit to your store, where they live and how they learned of your product.

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It is no doubt, whether you are a small business owner or a big time business, there is an immense opportunity for you to market, sell and earn through the online shop because of the growing trends in the community. Continue to keep your customers interested, especially during the peak holiday seasons when people have more money on hand and are ready for purchases. Render the most services you can provide, but watch out also for signs of discontent, and most of all, the unscrupulous elements that want to share with your earnings. Take care of your online shop.

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Tips, Tricks and Warning

  • Engage the services of a web designer to the edit of the design elements of your site.
  • Have second thoughts before downloading third-party apps. They may contain malware and it can be hard to verify their authenticity.
  • Always check your balance. Thieves may not immediately empty your account once they gain access to it. They prefer to remain undetected until they strike at a later date.
  • Be wary of any doubtful transaction, no matter how small.
  • Credit card transactions are preferable over debit cards. They offer more protection in the event of fraud, so you're more likely to get your money back.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Article Info

Categories : Noindexed pages | Online Business & Transactions

Recent edits by: Lynn, Vanessa Alexandra Avisado

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