Guide to Building an eCommerce Store
Whether you are starting an online store from scratch, or adding an eCommerce module to an existing business, it is important you first come up with a realistic plan to implement and maintain your online presence. This guide is a quick outline of the steps involved in building a full featured, easy to use, ecommerce shopping cart that fits in with any eBusiness Plan
1. Pick a Domain Name
Your domain name is how customers will find you on the web. Each name is unique, similar to telephone numbers. At this point, most of the common or easy to remember domain names were registered early on, however, if you research all of the variations of your preferred names, there are still plenty of cleaver options available. A few things to keep in mind:
- .COM is the most common and memorable extension, so it's wise to find a unique name using that extension.
- Try to include you main keyword in the domain name, as long as it doesn't force you into a 26 character domain.
- Keep the name memorable and clear, but not too long.
- If you're having difficulty going that route, think of something cleaver, much like Yahoo! and Google!.
- Think about how the name will fit into your logo. This is how customers will identify you.
2. Decide on a Company to Host Your eCommerce Site
There are hundreds of thousands web host companies, each with their own twist. Many inexpensive companies offer their own eCommerce solutions with built-in payment gateways, etc., however, many times, you are locked into their program and your growth is hampered by their limitations. It is critical for your future growth and success to have a stand alone package that can be altered and/or moved at your discretion. CDM offers individual web site hosting packages, which include a dedicated IP address, an MS SQL database for your storefront and plenty of web space and bandwidth to allow for growth. We also offer hosting services directly through VP-ASP.
3. Web Design
Competition on the internet is fierce. You may have only a few seconds to grab the attention of your audience. The first most important ingredient to a successful online business is having a professional, fast loading, easy to navigate web design. You can have the greatest looking web site, but if it takes too long to load, viewers will quickly move on to your competitor. Your design should be optimized to load quickly with clear top and side navigational links to all the major areas your site. There are a variety of computers, screen resolutions and browsers out there, so be sure to test your final design in each. Avoid fonts that are not easy to read, or fonts that will not likely be found by default on most computers. Optimize all of your images to speed up the download time. Avoid overloading a page with graphics and moving images that give it a cluttered appearance. Finally test, test, test before going live. CDM offers reasonably priced custom design services that will help you stand out from the crowd. Request your FREE quote today.
4. Shopping Cart Software
Selling your products or services online will require an eCommerce software package. This package should help you to easily setup an online catalog broken out by categories, sub-categories and products. It should also include utilities such as picture upload/resizing, adding product features, updating pricing, offering coupons, and all the other day to day functions you©ll need to run your business efficiently. We highly recommend VP-ASP Shopping Cart Software. Most importantly, you will own the software license should you want to move it at any time and it is an open source ASP program, which will allow for unlimited customization as your company grows.
5. Accepting Payments
It is advisable to offer your customers a few options for payment, however, credit cards are the most widely used method. There are a few steps involved:
- Payment Gateway: This is a software program or script that connects your shopping cart software with the payment processing system. If you run a search on Google, you will see that there are numerous ones to choose from. Some will include a merchant accounts, other simply deposit the money directly into the account of your choice. The most popular are AuthorizeNet and Paypal.
- SSL (Secure Socket Layer): This assures your customers that your storefront payment system is in a secure environment. You will notice a little lock on the bottom of top of page and the web address will also change from http:// to https://. If you are processing payments on the gateway server, this may not be necessary, however, we recommend that you obtain one, as many customers still like to see that the information they provide on your site is secure. CDM offers Comodo SSL Certificates.
You can build a primo eCommerce storefront, however, if you don©t promote the site, you will never realize the sales. There are several way to promote your site, some inexpensive and some very expensive. You may want to begin by announcing your online store to your existing and past customers via a mail, telephone or email campaign. You will also need to address the online community by having your site li../nk show up in the result pages of the major search engines. CDM offers some VP-ASP add-ons to help in this area, as well as web site maintenance and promotional services. Please feel free to contact us for suggestions.