Building an Online Store

Deciding to join the world of ecommerce can be one of the best business decisions you ever make. When done correctly, you can find great success, as an online store reaches out to potential customers you may not have reached otherwise. However, before you can get started, you must first know what you are going to sell and find your niche that will help you compete to be seen online. Once that’s taken care of, the rest of the steps teach you how to create a store, make it functional, and help it to grow.

If you have done any research, you may have noticed that there is an overwhelming number of site building tools advertised on the internet. Programs that are specific for creating online stores are often referred to as shopping cart programs. There are open source application that are free, but may require a little technical knowledge. Then, there are private shopping carts programs that offer all the bells and whistles for a flat or monthly fee. Some come free with hosting or other paid web services. Plus, you always have the option of hiring a programmer to design and build your web store for you. Before selecting one of these options, check the reviews and make sure the features include security encryptions, marketing tools, inventory tracking, and the ability to integrate with other software that you plan to be using.

After selecting a shopping cart, you will need to acquire the ability to accept credit cards and other forms of payment. In order to do so, you need both a merchant account and a payment gateway. Merchant accounts allow you to receive funds in exchange for a percentage of each sale and some additional fees. Payment gateways are the way by which cards are authorized and transactions are processed. There are numerous merchant account and payment gateways to choose from. Some popular third party merchant accounts such as Google CheckOut and PayPal exist with additional security and other advantages. The selection process for these tools is one area where it really pays to shop around. However, make sure that whatever programs you choose can integrate with your existing shopping cart software.

Once you have what you need to design your store, you must find a way to host and market it. Choose a web host that is designed to accommodate an ecommerce site. Some hosting packages include marketing tools and ecommerce tutorials. In addition, there are marketing solutions available through an assortment of companies and products. Research your options carefully and be creative. Getting traffic to your store can be your biggest obstacle. However, a store that is marketed correctly is likely to bring great success.