How to Start an Online Store: the Ultimate Guide

Even the most brilliant idea needs proper implementation especially when it comes to online stores. You may have the best product ever at the most reasonable price. However, you will never bear fruit without its introduction to a wider target audience and your potential buyers. This is where a solid website will come as an ultimate solution.

Getting started is the hardest task for the majority of newbies:

  • How long will it take to build a website?
  • Do I need to hire professional developers?
  • How much will it cost?
  • What will the price tag be like when opening a web store?
  • How to get started?

Website building platforms provide the answers to all those questions. They have proved to be cost-effective and simple to use. They let millions of non-technical website owners promote and develop their business online reaching the broader global target audience. We have developed an ultimate guide that contains core steps when starting a successful online business. Stick to them and bring your store to the global web with ease.

1. Smart Domain for a Smart Online Store

The first thing you need to do is to care about a proper domain name for your website. It is the key element of your future online business. A domain name determines the first users’ impression. It may have a strong SEO impact in addition to branding opportunities. It ensures online recognition of other crucial factors necessary to consider when starting an online store. Make sure you take into account the following factors:

  • The length of a domain name – it should both exceed 7-12 characters;
  • Keywords Availability – it does not mean simply packing your domain with keywords. One phrase at the beginning is enough;
  • Ease of Typing – make sure your domain name does not contain special symbols like hyphens numbers, etc. Make sure it is easy to spell and type;
  • Domain Extension – decide on a proper domain extension depending on your target audience, country, and some other factors. Opt for TLDs like .com or more specific extensions like .de, when it comes to targeting a particular region. You can also choose .biz extension designed for e-commerce needs.

Choosing a proper domain name will define the future success of your business. For this reason, it is certainly the first and foremost step to care about.

2. Choose A Platform to Drive Your Business Forward

We know the type of website we want to build. We know who our buyer persona is. We know the purposes our website will serve. It makes it easier to choose a proper software. You need a website builder that deals with web stores and e-commerce platforms. All you need is to test all available offers and pick the one that meets your requirements. Pay your attention to the following factors when selecting a website building platform:

  • Is interface simple enough to understand? – While most website builders are pretty easy to use thanks to drag-and-drop section, some still require at least basic technical knowledge. Make sure you understand how to use all available editing tool and features to add content, media files, products, etc.;
  • Is customer support effective enough? – Make sure you will get necessary assistance whenever you get stuck. Check all mean to keep in touch with the support team as well as the availability of forums, video guides, etc.;
  • Is it hard to manage products and pages? – try to add new sections and pages. Work with products and try to change their prices, descriptions and titles;
  • How about templates? – Choose only mobile-ready templates. Some website builders offer a mobile preview features to see how your website and pages will look like on different mobile devices;
  • Does the plan suit your budget? – Select your plan carefully and make sure it includes everything you need. Free domain, hosting, templates and widgets must be already included in the price.

We haven’t included Widgets and Add-Ons feature in our list of things to consider. This is because we are mainly talking about platforms for e-commerce and web stores. As a rule, they contain enough ZE-Commerce, SEO and other options to promote your online store. Some platforms offer a more extended list while others boast a baseline set of features.

3. A Proper Plan Puts an Ease on Your Wallet

Although some platforms offer free plans, opening a web store with no money at all is impossible. Forget about it. On the other hand, you can build a solid website with minimum cash. You only need to choose a proper plan that meets your budget limitations. The prices range depending on different factors like bandwidth, storage and other facilities included in the plan. For a start, you need to take into account the following features:

  • Is domain name included in the price? – Most platforms offer a free domain name as a part of their plan. Definitely a good benefit for those looking for any chance to save a couple of bucks;
  • Does the plan include free hosting? – Another vital factor for your web store. It prevents you from selecting a third-party hosting service and pays for it separately from a single plan;
  • Can you access a wider selection of themes? – Some plans provide unlimited access to all available templates. Other software limits that access. If you want to opt for more themes, you need to pay.

Whatever plan you choose, make sure it delivers enough functionality to start and run an online store without any additional purchases and payments.

4. A Stylish Template is the Face of Your Boutique

Most business owners underestimate the role of this step. Choosing the right template is the same as choosing a location for your land convenience store. It is the key element for a successful business. So, you need to focus on the key parameters including:

  • Styles and Trends – choose trendy themes with animations, visual effect and other features that make our website look more lively and stylish;
  • Mobile-ready Platforms – more than a half of all Internet users enter different websites and marketplaces via their mobile devices. Having a mobile-friendly web store is vital for your business whenever you need to reach a broader audience;
  • Navigation and Interface – make sure your visitors will not face any difficulties when searching for a necessary product or page. Make sure your template features a simple navigation and user-friendly interface;
  • Built-In Features – look for templates with already built-in widgets and features. For example, it is a good idea to select a theme with already existing shopping cart instead of looking for an extra widget.

5. Customize Pages to Stamp Your Brand

Keep in mind that hundreds of typical webshops appear every day. They feature similar design and functions. You need to stand out from your competitors. This is where web page customization may come in handy. Go to website settings and experiment with text sizes, change fonts, add media files and more. Focus on the following points when customizing your pages:

  • Add your custom logo;
  • Create custom product imagery to boost sales;
  • Create Blog and About pages;
  • Add search bars, contact forms, calendar and other elements.

Every time you add new elements, make sure they are properly displayed on mobile devices as well as on the desktop version.

6. It Is High Time We Added Some Products!

Finally, we are approaching probably the most exciting stage of building an online store. From the moment of adding products, our digital shop starts taking real shapes. One good thing about website builders is the ease of editing and managing process.

Benefit from drag-and-drop feature to add custom product photos, work with titles and product descriptions, add focus keywords to improve SEO ranks and promote your goods. Most platforms make it easy to change currencies in accordance with your target country. Once you are done with adding products, make sure they are properly displayed on mobile devices.

Integrate Payment Options to Make People Pay

Now, we need to start actually making money. If your website does not have payment methods, people will not be able to pay for your products. Most e-commerce website builders offer add-ons and third-party integrations with e-wallets like PayPal in addition to debit and credit card connection. However, you can think of a more extended list of payment methods to attract more customers. Check your website builder “Payments” section and add more ways to pay for your goods.

Track Your Sales to Increase Sales

Inventory tracking and analytic tools are extremely handy when generating info on sales, traffic channels, and other vital parameters. Some website builders offer stock instruments that show detailed stats on how many goods have been sold over a particular period. Integration with Google Analytics will depict traffic demography, types of customers’ devices, age and other crucial factors to have a clear vision of your buyer persona.

Make Your Customers More Loyal

Loyalty programs, special promotions, and discounts come as an effective tool whenever you need to drive traffic to your online store. Website building platforms offer stock tools to launch special promotions, provide customers with promo codes and coupons to save their money when shopping on your website. Use subscript informs to send newsletters and personalized ads.

Decide on Shipping Costs and Taxes

Selling products both live and online comes with shipping and taxes obligations. While brick-to-mortar business owners still hire accountants, website owners can benefit from built-in calculators and instruments that automatically handle shipping costs, calculate taxes and price difference when it comes to converting one currency into another. Make sure your platform has necessary facilities to transform all cost factors into the final product price automatically.

IM Creator – A Powerful E-Commerce Platform to Start an Online Store

Considering all the above-mentioned steps, you need a single website building platform to handle all issues at once. IM Creator is a powerful e-commerce building software with a selection of features to build, publish, promote and grow your business from scratch. It delivers a set of functional instruments out of the box. From intuitive interface and easy editing tools to extended e-commerce features, third-party integration capabilities, widgets, and add-ons all in one place.

IM Creator is a cost-effective solution that lets you easily handle product and inventory tracking, management and analytics. Keep in touch with your sales stats, promote your products and benefit from detailed reports with the help of IM Creator.

Howard Steele

I'm a webmaster and a blogger with over 15 years of website building experience. I'm also the owner and the editor-in-chief of Feel free to ask any questions about DIY website creation.

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