5 step to Build a Successful E-Commerce Website.

Start selling on the web in 5 easy steps. Covering design, shopping carts, merchant accounts, SSL, and promotion- everything a budding online merchant needs to know.

Selling on the web is just a few steps away. Though setting up an online storefront may seem like a monumental undertaking, having a game plan can make it far easier. This article will briefly touch on 5 steps, from building your site, setting up your storefront, getting a merchant account and SSL, to promoting it.

Step 1: Website Creation

If you don’t have web design skills, you can hire a qualified web designer to create a website for you, or you can use an online site builder. Think of it as hiring an architect and an interior decorator compared to setting up shop in an existing store.

Using a web designer

With the services of a web designer, you can have a unique website template and website customized to your specific needs. A web development team can also add features such as Flash headers or any programming needed for your site. If your company image is critical, a custom-designed site that conveys the right professional image is a must.

Using an online site builder

An online site builder is the budget way to go. With site builder programs such as Site Studio, your website can be online within minutes. A step-by-step menu allows you to choose a layout and colors, and then add a site description, a logo, and content. Your template may not be unique, but your content will.

Step 2: Set up an e-commerce store

Your customers will browse at your website, select some items, and then pay for them. When you set up an e-commerce shopping cart, you’re providing a way for your customers to bring their purchases to the cash register. The program you choose will allow you to enter your products in the database and allow shoppers to choose products when they click on "Add to cart" or something similar.

Well-known shopping carts, osCommerce allow you to do these tasks:
  • Add, edit, and delete product categories and other information
  • Set tax rates and charge tax
  • Receive payment via numerous online and offline payment processing methods
  • Bill customers and much more

osCommerce

osCommerce is an open source program. Store owners can set up their online stores using osCommerce with no costs involved. For small stores, it has all the features you need for an online store. Drawbacks of osCommerce are that customization is not easy, and online stores using osCommerce tend to look similar.

Step 3: Get a merchant account and payment gateway

Having a store stocked with products means little if customers cannot pay for them. The most trusted way to accept payment on the web is with a merchant account and payment gateway. Merchant accounts allow customers to enter their credit card numbers into the shopping cart and have the merchant charge their cards directly, without the aide of a third party processor like PayPal. A payment gateway is the software used to facilitate and manage these transactions. Merchant accounts, like hosting packages and shopping carts, come in myriad forms, each suited to different needs. Always be sure the merchant account, payment gateway and shopping cart are compatible. If there's any doubt, the best place to inquire is with the merchant account provider.

Step 4: Create a secure payment environment

The store's potential customers have products to buy and a way to buy them, but they will be hesitant to do so if their personal and credit card information isn't secure. This is where SSL certificates enter the picture. Through an SSL certificate a customer's personal information and credit card number are encrypted when sent from their home browser, through the shopping cart, to the merchant account. This security gives customers peace-of-mind when doing business with the shop. With reports of identify theft and credit card fraud on the rise, there is simply no way an online store will be successful without a security certificate. There is little shopping to do here, as most security certificates provide an equal level of protection.

Step 5: Promote the Store

Your products are on display in your newly designed store, your shopping cart is set up and ready to use and you have everything in place to be able to receive payments securely. Now all you need are customers.

This is where marketing comes in.
  • Submit your site to search engines.
  • Advertise your site.
  • Keep your company name in front of your customers with a regular email newsletter.
  • Add more content to your website to keep it fresh.
  • Monitor your website traffic to see where it’s coming from and how you can increase traffic for key content areas.
For more information visit: ClickSSL.com

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