Whether you’re starting up a new business or own an existing brick-and-mortar location, you’ve likely considered setting up an online store to reach a wide customer base. If you’re considering selling products or services online, there are two things you should know:
- There has never been a better time for e-commerce.
- It has never been easier to set up an online storefront.
But as simple as it is to set up an e-commerce presence, it’s important to know how to build and market your store before you get started. With the right tools in place, you can build a winning website and draw customers in. Once you’ve set up your e-commerce shop, you’ll need to know how to leverage it to get the best results.
How to Leverage an Ecommerce Platform
As beneficial as an online store can be to your business’s success, it isn’t the only option. If you aren’t quite ready to set up your own online store, consider leveraging one of the many existing platforms for reaching customers online. Marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon, and eBay will let you set up a store and reach their already robust customer bases. Angi (formerly Angie’s List) and Thumbtack will help you connect with local customers who are looking for services like yours. The best thing about these resources is that you’ll be able to enjoy quick setup without a huge financial commitment.
If you decide to use a site like Etsy or Amazon as your sole selling platform, you should buy the domain name that best relates to your business and point that domain to your online store. This will give you a single address on the web, whether that address is connected to your Amazon seller account, your Etsy shop, or your own dedicated website. This will give you one online address, as well as the benefit of an easily-remembered address that promotes your own brand up front. It will also give you a company-branded email address.
How to Build Your Own Online Store
Once you’re ready to build your dedicated online store, getting started is easy. Useful website builders like Shopify, Squarespace, and Wix let you build an online store using drag-and-drop tools. These sites offer features like shopping carts, site hosting, and search engine optimization, making sure your online store is easy to use, has a professional look, and ranks well when customers are searching for certain products or services.
While these services generally aren’t free, businesses usually find they’re budget friendly. Generally do-it-yourself site builders cost less than $75 a year and may even be free if shop owners are willing to allow third-party ads on their sites. Best of all, these tools come with customer support to provide technical help when needed.
3 Tips to Guide You
- Identify your website needs – Your online store can be simple and streamlined or a sophisticated multimedia marketing and sales hub. Determine your requirements before you begin building. If you decide you want a lot of bells and whistles on your site, you may want to consider a professional web developer to help.
2. Pick a domain name – Your domain name will be your virtual address, as well as your online identity, on the web. Even if some solutions offer to host your site on their domains, you should put your website on your owndomain name to have a consistent, branded web address for your customers to remember. It will also give you an attractive, professional web address to use in your marketing.
3. Select the right website builder – You can find an array of solutions by doing an Internet search for ‘e-commerce website builder.’ Take time to research and compare two to three options. Make sure they have an e-commerce option and that they will not only meet your needs for today but in the future as well.
With so many great resources, entrepreneurs can easily set up an online store and begin promoting it immediately. Before choosing your site’s platform, make sure you carefully research all of the available options and choose the one that’s best for your own business.
This article was written in partnership with Verisign; however, all opinions and experiences expressed are my own.