3 Considerations for Creating an Online Store
For businesses looking to take advantage of the popularity of online commerce, setting up a way to sell products or services online is often the first step to success.
If you’re thinking of starting up an electronic storefront, keep these three “B’s” in mind as you plan: how to brand,build and bill.
How to Brand
Branding is one of the most beneficial things your online presence can do for your business, and one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to brand your business online is by registering the right domain (name) to effectively establish your credibility to your customers. Registering a domain is the easy part; figuring out the right name can be a more thoughtful process. Here are a few quick tips to consider when choosing the right domain:
- Use keywords – Your domain name doesn’t have to be your business name. Try using keywords that describe your business, services or brand to help improve search engine ranking.
- Make it memorable – With millions of Web addresses in use, make yours catchy and memorable.
- Pick the right extension – Domain extensions can have specific uses, so make sure to choose one that is aligned with your business, is credible and is widely recognized (e.g., .com, .net, .edu).
An oft-overlooked key to branding your online store is the address from which you send customer communications, notifications and promotions. Using and email address that incorporates your website domain (e.g.,email@example.com ). In a recent survey 9 out of 10 (92 percent) of the small businesses surveyed that used branded email for their business said they feel it helps make their business look more credible.
How to Build
Building your online store can be as easy as choosing the right solution. There are many relatively easy online solutions based on your business’s needs. Hosted providers like Etsy or Amazon allow you to create a store and host it on their server for a monthly fee. For a robust shopping cart, there are many commercial (requiring a license fee) and open-source products available to small businesses. If you decide to use a hosted platform for your solution, consider redirecting your domain name to the platform to preserve the link between your website and your store.
Also, consider building a website if you don’t already have one. If you already have a website, check with your host provider/web designer to see what e-commerce options you can add. Finally, it goes without saying that, when assessing any website builder product, determine if it supports the particular payment methods you want, what type of customer support is available to you after purchase and how frequently the product is upgraded.
How to Bill
Arguably, the most important part of establishing an online storefront is this one: payment. People who shop online most often want to be able to pay easily and quickly. If you’re selling a single product and only need a way for customers to pay, consider adding a PayPal “Buy Now” button. If you need more than a payment button but don’t have the time or money to install e-commerce software, you can use a hosted solution.
Many online shoppers use a credit card for online purchases. To accept credit cards online, you will need to establish a merchant account with your banking institution to process transactions into your business account. Contact your bank to get more information on how to establish one. For security reasons, they will probably require you to work with a payment service provider (PSP) or “payment gateway.” If this is too complex for your needs or if there are other barriers to this more traditional route, consider an interface with a third-party payment service like PayPal.
Our favorite platform and WHY?
Recently spun out by eBay, Magento is now an independent company and continues to be a top-tier (enterprise-level) player that has stood the test of time when it comes to ecommerce. Primarily, Magento is a better fit for large-scale retailers and building high-end ecommerce websites. The platform has a very high level of security, is fully customizable and scalable, as well as offers many features that other ecommerce platforms miss, such as multiple storefront, multi-language, and multi-currency support.
Magento also scores pretty well on other important parameters like user-friendly admin area, intuitive navigation, search engine optimization, and mobile friendliness. The real twist comes with Magento’s pricing, according to a Magento spokesperson, “tiered based on a client’s current ecommerce business and intended to align to their growth trajectory.”
Of course, the plans usually are coming with enhanced security, performance, functionality, and features like customer segmentation for targeted offering, return & cancellation management, customer support software, and many more. Plus, Magento’s enterprise software offers more payment gateway options than any other ecommerce platform.
But there are other challenges as well with Magento. Building an ecommerce website using Magento requires high level programming skills; consequently, see our Portfolio for examples build in Magento platform.
Bottom line, if you are planning on having a serious, enterprise-grade ecommerce platform, Magento is the current reigning champion.