Starting an Online Business

Starting an Online BusinessThe information superhighway is rapidly becoming the shopping destination of choice for millions of net savvy buyers who prefer searching for items online rather than standing in line at brick and mortar stores. An e-commerce business is a store that exists exclusively on the Internet. Launching your own e-commerce business allows you to sell products or services of your choosing, be your own boss, reach a worldwide clientele and avoid the expense of renting office space. Successful e-commerce businesses begin with careful planning. Developing a business plan and researching your options are key to avoiding e-commerce financial pitfalls and operating an online business that thrives.

1.Determine What you plan to offer

Determine the type of products or services that will offer you the greatest chance of successful sales in your online business. Decide this by researching the merchantability of individual products and services similar to those you plan to market in your own e-commerce store. Notice trends, making sure there is a demand for the items or services you plan to sell.

2. Build a Budget

Calculate the potential cost of launching your online business and determine if you will require additional funding. If you need a business loan, be sure to shop around and compare various interest rates. Educate yourself about federal grants available for individuals starting small businesses.

3. Research where you will source your goods and services.

Calculate the potential cost of launching your online business and determine if you will require additional funding. If you need a business loan, be sure to shop around and compare various interest rates. Educate yourself about federal grants available for individuals starting small businesses.

4. Shipping

Research the various shipping methods available and decide which best fits your needs. Determine if you will provide free shipping or charge customers a fee, and, if so, how much.

5. Start with a small offering

Consider starting small if you have little or no e-commerce experience.  Launching your online business with a few featured items, rather than hundreds, will allow you to work out any potential problems early.

6. Research and register your domain name

Select and register a domain name of your e-commerce business. Choose a compelling name that reflects the type of online company you plan to operate. Numerous companies on the Internet allow you to search for available domain names and register a name for about $5.00 a year.

7. Research and choose a web hosting service

Choose a web hosting service. Free services are available to small e-commerce sites. But generally the paid web hosts are best for for building an e-commerce business as they offer more web space, can handle large amounts of website traffic and typically have a 24-hour uptime guarantee.

8. Create content for your website

Create titles and descriptions for your products or services. Avoid vague descriptions – also avoid copy that is long. Your goal is to create clear, concise and compelling copy.

9. Develop your website

Create your own website or hire a web programmer that specializes in e-commerce sites to design it for you. Or try a free open source template to get started. Make sure your website is easy to navigate and offers a no hassle shopping cart and secure payment process. Add a PayPal account to your website. PayPal is the largest of the online shopping carts and easy to use. User-friendly e-commerce sites also offer customers a system in which to track items that are shipped.

10. Add in your products and services

Add your products or services to your e-commerce website. Arrange your items in organized, easily navigable, categories. After the last item is added, your online store will be live and your business will be up and running.

11. Start marketing your online store

Drum-up business by marketing you website. Advertise through social media including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. According to Toprankblog.com, about half of all males and females in the U.S. visit social media websites.

12. Set up tracking and analytics

Become an analyst by tracking important data on your site. Website analytics allow you to analyze customer traffic, such as the number of customers referred by specific search engines. Gaining this information and insight assists in determining where and how to direct your marketing.

13. Optimize your site for search engines

Familiarize yourself with search engine optimization (SEO). It is a technique utilized to increase traffic on individual websites. SEO is in use when you search a particular word in a search engine and you are directed to specific websites as a result.

Taking the time to research the components and requirements involved in launching an e-commerce website is key to implementing and operating a profitable online store. The steps listed above are recommended for starting a basic e-commerce website, more complex endeavors require more specialized features. If you have any questions or comments please add them to our comments section or contact us through twitter.

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