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Steps for LauncheCommerce Store
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In this Guide to Launch your first eCommerce Store we are going toexplores all the options and step required to setup an eCommerce store ofyour own. eCommerce industry is the fastest growing industry and itsgrowth has outpaced many traditional business. Worldwide increase in theinternet users and significant increase in the investment in the sector aredriving factor behind this growth story. Paying online has become mucheasier with continuous technological advancements and its such an easierprocess that any one with little technical expertise can easily do it.
With emergence of mobile internet users, everything is in reach of buyerswherever they go with just a touch of finger and they can explore every
Guide to Launch your firsteCommerce StoreDhanpat
options before making their final choice for purchase. How amazing all thisis and its still quite overwhelming to elders at the home.We have seenemergence of lots of new companies in recent years and lots of newstartup coming up with interesting ideas every other day. All traditionalbusiness or retail store are also coming up with their online shop.
While there are so much of opportunities available and knowing that itsgoing to flourish in coming years, its a good idea to think of setting up anonline store. Be it your traditional family business or its a stunning newidea, to sell online you need an eCommerce store. In todays article we aregoing to explore all possible options, steps and things that you need to planor keep in mind while developing an eCommerce web store. So here we go
Define your business, Research your market As applies to every other task we do, the very first step towards this is towhat you want to do. Its important to spend some time and plan your idea.Think of the kind of product you want to sell online, who are yourcompetitors, what unique you are going to offer to your customers. All thisresearch can also give an good idea about your brand name representingyour unique values.
Book your domain name for store
Once you formulate an idea about your store, its time to take some decisivesteps towards launching your eCommerce store. Checkout availabledomain options for your web store that highlight your brand, industry and
values of your business. Take help of domain suggestion tools to find anappropriate domain for you.
My personal recommendation is GoDaddy for domain registration. Reasonbeing they are know brand in industry, offer good discount and you caneasily find a coupon code to get additional discount at the time of renewal.Once finalized book your domain.
It goes for minimum 1 year but you can also book the domain for morethan one year to show your seriousness about the business. Some searchengine gives credibility to this factor in their search results.
Choose your eCommerce platform and package This is the most important decision you have to make. When its comes toeCommerce platform, there are two types of solutions.
1. Hosted Solutions2. Self Hosted Solutions
1. Hosted Solutions
Hosted solutions are managed by the companies who provide thesesolutions. This is something like your free WordPress blog where the entirescript is hosted automatically by WordPress.org and you get a sub domainand admin control to manage all your blog posts. In this type of solution,you need to purchase a package from these companies and based on yourpackage an copy of that eCommerce script will be created andautomatically hosted for you on their server.
You dont need to bother about anything technical in this process. You canadd your own purchased domain and you will get an easy to use admininterface to manage your store catalog, customers, orders, promotions etc.You also get an option to choose available free and premium storetemplates which you can customize to match basic look and feel of yourbrand.
When there is online transaction, there are various security risk involved inthe process. If you want to avoid taking all these headache, you canprobably opt to go with a hosted solution. All popular provider gives lots of
payment options these days and in most cases you will get an option thatyou want to give your customers.
One limitation posed with this type of solution is: you get very limitedoptions for customization and feature enhancement and addition in futureis not easily possible. You can do things within the boundaries set by theplatform.
We have lots of options available in this category of eCommerce websitedevelopment and makes the decision making process a bit tough. We areexploring top three options in this category
When its comes to hosted eCommerce solutions, Shopify is my first choiceand recommendation. Its best for small to medium size eCommerce shopwith limited catalog and operation. You can signup to a 14 days free trial tocheck out their wonderful features and honestly it just takes a minute.Youcan also checkout examples of store using shopify. Checkout their pricingand offering to choose a suitable plan as per your requirements
Some key features
App Store: that gives you hundreds of apps to choose from to addadditional featuresPlenty of Themes: Shopify gives you wide options of professional and
nicely designed themes to choose from.Unlimited Products & Bandwidth: which not as common thing withhosted solutionsEasy integration with shipping partners, warehouse/fulfillment centerand drop shipping companiesMobile AppsAvailability of shopify experts who can help with anything you needLive Chat Feature
b. BigCommerce BigCommerce is another very popular hosted eCommerce solution amongthe top million sites and very popular among small to medium sizeorganizations. Checkout showcase of store using BigCommerce. Pricing ofBigCommerce looks comparatively same to shopify, it offers more widerrange of features on top of general eCommerce features.
Some of them can be highlighted below
Real time shipping quotesGift Card24/7 phone/mail/chat supportGoogle Trusted Store certification assistanceEasy integration with eBay, Google Shipping and more
c. Yahoo Store for Small Business eCommerceYahoo Store has the largest market share among hosted eCommercesolution for medium size business with a rank of the top 10,000 and top100,000 sites. Yahoo was on the first to offer a solution like this but itsusages is slowing declining.
Yahoo Store does offer an impressive feature set with a good number ofintegration options with payment gateway, shipping partners, customersupport and inventory management. It also comes with an unlimitedproducts, storage and bandwidth.
Yahoo is also a known big brand to go with and additional marketingbenefits with yahoo ad clicks.
2. Self Hosted Solutions
Self Hosted solutions are eCommerce open source scripts that you candownload and use for free.
Apart from domain, In this type of solution you need to purchase a hostingas well. You can download the script, upload it to your server and installwith few easy steps. Here you have full control over the scripts, you canmodify it as per requirements and allowed by their license. There are lots ofdownloadable eCommerce open source scripts but in this article we aregoing to discuss top three based on their overall features, flexibility, easy ofuse and ease of customization.
a. Magento Magento is my first choice & recommendation when it comes toeCommerce website development for a client and its also a choice for lotsof people around the world. Reason being the kind of features it offers tostore owners, customers and developers.
Some key reasons to think of Magento
Wide Range of Features: Magento offers wide range of features thatcan be good enough for any eCommerce storeExtension Store: You can find a magento extension for almost everythingbe it free or paid. Lots of extension developer and magento partnerkeeps on adding extension to magento store and you can also get lots ofoptions to choose from while searching for an extension for a particularfeature.Wide Range of Themes: You can easily find a nice magento theme foralmost every product industry. Installing and setting up theme is alsoquite easy with available documentations.
Check our my article 5 Reasons to Develop Your eCommerce Website withMagento for more detailed insights on the topic.
b. WooCommerce Updated Statistics at built with shows that current version ofWooCommerce is used by 10.56% of online store and by addingWooCommerce 2.3 its share goes way ahead of magento. Thats quiteimpressive for a platform that is just 4 years old.
Big reason of its popularity is because of WordPress, A lots of people arealready familiar with WordPress and installing, configuring and gettingfamiliar with WooCommerce is just a task of few minutes.
Lightweight Application: WooCommerce is a very lightweight applicationthat do not require a highly capable server compared to magento andother platform.Feature Rich: Even Basic features of WooCommerce are above averageand it can be further extended with available WordPress andWooCommerce plugins.Easy to setup: If you are familiar with WordPress, WooCommerce willtake just 5 minutes to setup and get going.Hundreds of Theme Wide rages of WooCommerce themes areaavailable in both free and premium category
c. OpenCart OpenCart is another popular platform in this category with a market shareof 2.60% at the time of writing this article. Its has the most cleanest defaultstore front. Its easy to work with and allows editing of CSS from adminsection that makes the layout modification much faster and convenient.
Key Reasons to consider OpenCart
Lots of integrated shipping and payment optionsAvailability of 13,000+ professional plugins.Many built-in integration to get you started immediately.Download OpenCart here for free to get started
You should also explore other options available in the both these categoryand make a wise decision keeping in mind your business needs and futureexpansion plans. Someone might also suggest you going with a customdevelopment but as per my experience that is not advised to go with.
Decide how you will accept payment from Buyers
Payment options play in important role when it comes to eCommerce. Youshould explore all available options and made wiser decisions. See below alist of option you should consider
Credit/Debit Card/Net Banking Credit/Debit card still holds a larger partof online payment industry and its understandable owning the easy processof this type of payment. In the process of obtaining a payment gateway youfirst need to have a merchant account in a bank on the name of yourbusiness or individual if you want to run the store on your own name.
Sometime your bank can also provide you a payment gateway as well butthat you need to check with your bank. Payment gateway is a service thatlinks your bank account with your store and that way any payment receivedwill be credited in your bank account.
Most popular payment gateway service worldwide is authorize.net and itcomes automatically integrated with most of the hosted and self-hostedeCommerce platforms.
In India most popular one are CCAvenues and PayU. Both these companiesgot good support and provide ready made plugins for most of theseeCommerce platforms which can be easily configured and you are readytake payment online without any technical affords.
Digital Payment Methods Apart from Credit/Debit Card another good andbecoming more popular way these days is Digital payment method.
Most popular name in the series are Paypal and Google Checkout. Paypaloffers wide range of options and also allows your customers to pay withCredit/Debit cards.
These are the most quickest option to setup and get going. You only needto signup for a account with these service and most of these popularpayment options comes integrated with popular eCommerce platforms.
PayTM is getting very popular in India these days.
Host your store
By now we have explored all the options for every stage. Now its time forsome real action to get your store up and running and ready to acceptorders.
Once you make a decision about the eCommerce platform, one thing that is
really going to matter is hosting of the website. If you are going with Hostedtype of platforms than you dont need to do anything at all about this. Theywill give you everything pre-hosted and installed. If you are going with aSelf-Hosted platform than you need to purchase a trusted and robusthosting server.
Depending on your budget and reach of your marketing campaign whichyou have planned after launch of store, you need to selected a hosting plan.We wish your campaign goes well and you got lots of customer coming onto your store in search of your great products. This is good but your hostingserver needs to be good enough to provide optimum experience to all thesevisitors because slow performing website can have a bad impact on themind of your visitors and thats not going to be good for your newlylaunched store.
To avoid such thing, you can go with a Virtual Private Server or a Dedicatedserver. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is another great option for you tocheck. This is a cloud based service and if properly configured (with help ofsome AWS expert) it can be the best option.
Greatest feature of AWS is its auto scale mode. In Auto scale mode, serveresource is used or cloned as per the requirement of current traffic. Forexample if your current server resource is falling sort to tackle currenttraffic requirements, than AWS will automatically create a clone of serverand divide the half of traffic to another instance and the moment traffic isreduced, the copied instance of sever will be removed automatically. And..another beauty of this is that for this additional clone of server, you onlypay for the period of time it was there.
If you budget is limited, initially you can also go with a shared hostingsolution. In such a case my personal recommendation is Host Gator. I haveexperienced better speed and performance on their shared host with heavyplatform like Magento.
Learn About the Laws affecting eCommerce & SecurityThere are various international laws for protection and security of onlinetransaction and customer information. Some standard laws that you needto know are