Sunday, November 16, 2008

10 Steps For Creating an Online Store

So I thought I'd share with you the steps I took while trying to start my own online store. It's definitely not the only way to go, but it's the way I chose to go. Your results may vary.

1. Registered a general partnership and doing business as name with my state.

2. Applied and received my federal tax id/ein

3. Registered a domain name and set up hosting (I actually suggest waiting on choosing a domain name until after you've decided on a product niche to go into.

4. Do your market reseach. Find out what people are looking to buy. (What you think people want, might not be what they actually want.)

5. Once your research is done and you've decided on a product niche you want to try selling in, you must find "true factory authorized wholesalers" to supply you with the products. Beware of the scammers and middle men out there. There is only one trusted source I use. They are Worldwide Brands and they are the only Ebay certified product sourcing solution.

They have a directory of 1000's of suppliers for various products.

6. Once you find a supplier, you contact them and tell them you'd like to sell their products on your store. They will then set you up an account and you will have access to their product prices.

7. Set up a sales platform. There are many to choose from. You can start with a Yahoo Store which is very easy to set up and has a minimal monthly cost. You can start selling on Ebay as well as Amazon. What's good with these two platforms, is that you have some already built in traffic to your site. The last way and the way I went with is building your own custom site.

The pros for this, is that you can control every aspect of your design and shopping cart, but on the other hand, you don't have the built in traffic of a yahoo store or amazon, or ebay. Also it does take more time and effort.

8. Once you have a storefront up, you need people to find you! You must advertise. You have various options with that as well. There is Google Adwords. With adwords you pay for ads that show up when people search for a specific pre-determined keyword or phrase. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

There is SEO, or search engine optimization. This is a much longer process. This is where your site shows up in Google's search results when someone types in a particular term. This kind of advertising is FREE, but takes much more of your time.

The last one I want to focus on is "Social Marketin" it's basically the internets version of word of mouth. There are many sites like squidoo, hubpages, youtube, ezine articles and many more where you can post your content and place links to your e-commerce store. So when someone reads an article you post and they want to learn more about your products, they can go to your site.

9. Set up a merchant account. A merchant account is a company that allows you to take credit cards on your site. It's very important to have one. Paypal is a good way to start if you're on a budget.

10. Customer Service/experience. This is probably one of the most important, if not THE most important aspects of starting an online store. When you start getting people into your store, you have to give them a memorable and great experience. You have to offer them something they can't get anywhere else.

As a small business owner, you have to go that extra mile for your customers. This will keep them coming back more and more. And really the first sale isn't the most important sale, it's the continual sales you make, based on the trust you gain with your customers.

So there you have it guys, these were the steps I took to get started. They aren't necessarily the only steps or the best steps, but you can get a good start from there. This was just my personal experience.

Take care and good luck. It's not as hard as you may think.

1 comment:

Jim Craig said...

Dana,

Great summary on starting an online business.

Wanted to let your readers know that I'm hosting E Commerce Diary, a Blog about how I'm getting started in online business.

Come over and check out my progress.