Online stores have become a viable way to earn a livable income. Whether you resell other products or produce your own, setting up an online store is a great way to earn a living. Setting up a successful online store has become increasingly easier, as technology has progressed. Even if you have minimal technical experience, you can set up an online store and begin a new lucrative venture. Below is a concise blueprint to follow that will help get your store set up and operational.
Lay the Foundation and Gather Materials
After you’ve decided to open an online store, you will need to lay the groundwork. Below is everything you’ll need to get your online store established; this information assumes you have already decided on a business name and product offering.
Domain Name – Your domain name is what people will type into their address bars to find your site. For example, Google.com is a domain name. It is also the name of their business. Try to register your business name as your domain name. If it is unavailable, you can add the word “store” to the end of it. There are numerous companies that offer domain name registration at a reasonable price.
Hosting – Hosting is where the store will electronically be stored. You rent server space from a hosting company and will serve as the location that contains all of the scripts and programs that make your online store operate. Seek out a hosting company that offers a cPanel interface and Fantastico scripts. This information should be available on any hosting company’s website.
SSL with Dedicated IP – A Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate is a protocol that encrypts data that is transferred between your online store and your customers’ computer. It protects your customers’ financial and personal data. An SSL is what adds the “locked” icon in the address bar. This is an absolute requirement for ensuring the success of your online store. Very few people will make an online purchase without having an SSL. A dedicated IP is required to install the SSL. Your hosting provider will likely offer these two products and you may even receive a discount if they are bundled together.
Shopping Cart Script – This is the backbone of the entire operation. There are several free shopping cart scripts available that will likely suit your needs. Read the product features of several scripts before making your decision. When deciding on a shopping cart script, an inquiry as to how much scripting and technical knowledge is required. Ensure that you find a script that will interface with shipping providers so that you can streamline your online shipping process. Investing in an online postage system will help you save money on shipping.
Payment Gateway – Customers will use a variety of methods to pay for your product or service. The payment gateway works in conjunction with your shopping cart script and SSL to allow you to accept various payment methods. Payment gateways can be purchased directly from gateway companies and may also be offered by your hosting company.
Start Building Your Store
The above list contains everything you’ll need to get your store up and running. Now, you need to set everything up and build your store. The exact step-by-step processes will depend on your hosting provider, shopping car script and payment gateway. However, below is a general outline of the process.
- - Connect your domain name with your hosting account. If they were purchased from the same company this should not be difficult. Otherwise, you will need to update the domain name’s nameservers.
- - Set up your hosting account and install the shopping cart script. If you purchased a hosting account that offers cPanel or Fantastico, you will be able to easily install the shopping cart from within the hosting account. Get to know the shopping cart script and customize it to your needs.
- - Install the SSL. This can be done at any point after the store is online, however it is advised to do so right before you are ready to launch.
- - Connect the payment gateway with your shopping cart. This is typically done from within the shopping cart control panel.
You’re Ready to Go
After you have completed the above steps, you are ready to launch your store. Finding customers is the biggest challenge an online store will face. However, by having a well-designed and functional store you will have an advantage over the competition.