E-commerce is a very profitable industry to operate within. It is predicted by some e-commerce experts that sales will surpass $2 trillion in the next few years. That is a lot of money and you obviously want to learn how you can position yourself to build a successful business in this space.
The reason e-commerce is so valuable is because it provides convenience to shoppers. Being able to shop online for something that you want, clicking on that item to add it to your cart, inputting your card information to make the purchase, and having it shipped to your home is as simple as shopping can get. There is no need to have to be around a bunch of people and stand in a long line to do your shopping. Therefore, more customers are choosing to shop online versus doing so in-store. As this shopping preference continues to grow, there need to be providers in place that can supply the increased demand.
If you are seeking to be one of these providers then you need to understand how to create a successful ecommerce website. It may be simple to shop online for the consumer, but for the producer, it is a very time-consuming and detailed process to build a well functioning e-commerce website. This will include:
Negotiating with the manufacturers whose products you want to carry
Build an easy-to-use website
Listing the products you will carry
Create the content to help sale your listed product
Attract customers to your e-commerce website
So before any sales occur, you will need to build a website that attracts people and successfully converts them into customers. Provided are 12 steps that will help you build a successful e-commerce website that makes you a lot of money.
1. Purchase your domain name
The domain name is the web address people type in to find your website. You may want to have a couple of domain names in mind just in case the first name you choose is not available. You will be able to purchase your domain name through hosting websites, such as Hostgator or GoDaddy.
2. Find someone to develop your website
Do not try to be cheap and create your website by yourself. This will lead to a disaster that could have been avoided by hiring a professional. You also do not want to just hire anybody who says that they can develop websites, especially when they are offering a deal too good to be true. You want to hire someone who has experience in specifically creating e-commerce websites because they are very different from a regular website.
During the hiring process, get references from past customers of the developers you are vetting. You want to find out how long they anticipate for the launch of your website, and you want to ensure they have a graphic designer background. Gathering all this information is important so you are absolutely sure you are getting the best professional for your money.
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3. Legitimize your business with the proper paperwork
The first step is determining what type of legal business entity you want to operate. This will determine the taxes you pay and the type of protection you will have as a business owner. The popular legal formations people choose for an e-commerce website includes sole proprietorship, LLC, and corporation. An LLC is most commonly chosen because it involves less paperwork and you will be taxed as a sole proprietor, instead of being taxed as a corporation. It would be best to hire a business attorney to help to incorporate your business so you do not make a mistake that will cost you in the future.
You will also need to get your vendor’s license if you will be making taxable sales. This will be a requirement for many vendors before they work with you. This license can be acquired through your local state agency.
4. Select your hosting platform
You will want to choose a popular e-commerce platform in order to save time and money. The recommended platforms that will help your e-commerce website prosper included Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce. Developers tend to be familiar with these platforms, so they are able to implement the most effective plugins and payment processors that help your e-commerce website perform better.
5. Find the best theme for your e-commerce website
Your theme is important because it is what your visitors first see when they land on your website. Therefore, you want a layout that will entice people to continue to navigate through your website. There are plenty of websites where you can purchase a theme template to download for your website. This will help you save time and money, instead of trying to create the design layout from scratch.
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6. Make your website live
Your website should be live even if you do not have products available to be purchased. All that needs to be on this website is your homepage, about page, and contact page. Your website will be needed to establish legitimacy with vendors, you can reach out to bloggers, and your sources can link back to your website to build your SEO.
7. Utilize Help a Reporter Out (HARO)
Help a Reporter Out is a great tool for PR and SEO purposes that should be used by anyone who is in business. It is a free tool that generations huge exposure that can drastically change your business if properly used.
HARO is a for journalists who need expertise sources for the stories they are writing. As a business owner being cited as a source, this is the media coverage that helps to build your credibility. You will need to be timely and being a true expert. Therefore, respond to queries throughout the day and as soon as possible. Being seen as an expert will help help you be picked over those other sources who submitted their information.
8. Utilize Pitchbox
You will need to develop key relationships with media contacts. Pitchbox helps you automate the media outreach process so your time can be better spent on effective business activities. The service handles prospecting, emailing, to managing and tracking workflow.
9. Personalize your outreach
Developing personal relationships will always help no matter if your business is being operated online. This will help for both relationships with media and vendors. When pitching to a website, make sure that you are providing them with value. This why you need to do research before sending something to reporters and editors that will only get ignored.
Vendors are especially the ones you want to develop strong relationships with. Vendors are the people who design sales and promotions. Take your vendor out to lunch or dinner so that you can learn the latest trends about their brand, which will help your sales efforts. As your relationship grows with your vendor, your website will be the one they will prefer to promote.
10. Input a payment gateway
With an e-commerce website, you will need to be able to securely accept credit payments. You probably believe PayPal or Stripe will work just fine, but you will need other options to accept credit card payments, have recurring billing, and for mobile payments. Two options include autorize.net and 2checkout.com.
All of this information will need to be visible on your website. You will also need to have a clean credit history, a U.S. driver’s license or state ID, a U.S. bank account for the business where funds will be deposited, and a federal tax ID. Setting up your payment gateway and credit card processing can take a while because it is a huge risk to invest in a business without experience or that has a chance of failing.
11. Have a Google shopping and Facebook product catalog
Make sure to get your Google Shopping Campaign set-up to ensure your product images appear when users search for relevant keywords. This same data feed from the merchant center can be used and uploaded to Facebook’s product catalog. This will help to boost your SEO before your e-commerce website is launched.
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12. Order your packaging and determine your shipping/ storage options
A successful e-commerce website will require you knowing how to properly store and ship your inventory. Storage information will be important when making arrangements with your vendors.
Some important questions you need to answer include:
Will you be utilizing drop shipping or will you store all of your inventory in a warehouse?
Will you use USPS, UPS, FedEx, or some combination of the three to ship and track packages?
What will you ship your package in?
What size packaging do you need?
Are you going to include any promotional materials in your packages?
Are there shipping restrictions on any of the products you’re offering?
These questions will need to be answered before any merchandise can be shipped out. Starting an e-commerce website is a very detailed process. Use the information provided to launch yours with having the ability to be successful from the start.
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