It requires a series of learning process to get involved in the world of e-commerce and online retail, especially if you are quite new to the system. It is not an easy task to turn your plan to success.
Do not worry. This post is meant to show you the major eight steps to take in setting up a new e-commerce website.
1. Register A Domain Name
Of the eight steps, the first is getting a domain name for your website. Hosting companies and domain registrars sell out tons of domains names. You can get a domain name from any of these.
One factor to consider when choosing a domain name is your target market — is your focused market your local market or an international market? If your target market covers multiple countries or regions, will you buy more than a domain name, or will you be able to reach out to all via a single domain on a specific (non-country) top-level domain (TLD)?
2. Obtain A Secure (SSL) Certificate
Unless you are using a pre-packaged e-commerce service, you will need, alongside the domain name, to obtain an SSL certificate. The purpose of this is to secure communication between your visitors’ web browsers and the web server that hosts your website. Thawte and Symantec are two of the numerous providers of SSL certificate.
You can also get this certificate through your web host if the web host happens to be one of some hosting companies that take care of the SSL. You need to have registered your domain name before you can purchase an SSL certificate. As for the cost, it varies, depending on your provider.
3. Choose the Right Hosting Package
Below are the reasons you need to choose the right hosting package.
- Website Speed: Hosting your website in a country where you sell is a great determinant of how quick your website loads. Content delivery network will help you localize your website to different multiple target markets if you sell to a multinational market. Having a good host is beneficial to your users, and it has some SEO benefits as well, since Google now considers Site Speed in its ranking.
- Uptime and Performance: You will not be taking any order if your site often goes offline. Therefore, choose a good host to help keep your site up and running. During some certain seasons of the year, your site experiences high traffic. This high traffic increases your site workload. If your web server is not strong enough, it may trip off and crash, which in turn sends your site offline. Consider the cloud hosting solution when dealing with increasing demand.
- Shared Hosting Environment: It is not advisable to enter into shared hosting, as you do not have control of who hosts on the same server with you. With this, you won’t be able to maintain the control of your site environment security. The other company hosting their website on the shared server with you may not be security conscious as you are, thereby providing loopholes to hackers in gaining access to your site. If this happens, your customers’ details are being released to the public to view. This spoils your reputation.
- Software as a service (Saas): An aspiring online retailer can set up a cheap and cheerful e-commerce business for a monthly stipend. This solution enables you to have a test run of the world of e-commerce. Putting together a nice and functioning website may be easy at times. The hard part is that the platform is full of templates, making it hard for you to make adjustments to your site in order to add in large-scale customizations.
- Off-the-shelf software: This is sold on the mass market basis, but requires technical ability at a high level to set up. The unnecessary features that most times come with off-the-shelf solution are one of its major setbacks.
- Bespoke Software: Bespoke will give you what you are looking for from their e-commerce website, but they tend to be more expensive than off-the-shelf solution. However, it is the best solution for learners in e-commerce.
4. Secure An Internet Merchant Account
For you to make money online, make sure you secure an internet-ready account, which is called ‘Internet Merchant Account’. An account can be set up for you by high street banks. You just have to be ready to meet up with their requirements. This account is quite different from the normal merchant account, as you will have no access to the generated fund until the bank clears them.
5. Choose A Payment Service Provider (PSP)
After you have secured an IMA, you will have to choose a payment service provider. Another terms used for this are ‘Payment gateway’ or ‘Payment processor’. Many banks will come up with the idea of PSP when they issue you the merchant account, but it is to your benefit to decide where you get your PSP, as the price varies between them. It enables you to find a cheaper provider.
Some PSPs allow you using their payment page, which can give a more seamless checkout experience. The problem is, it most times leads to increased risk for security and therefore requires different levels of compliance from the PCI.
6. Meet the Required Level of ‘PCI SSC’ Requirement
Payment Card Industry Security Standard Council (PCI SSC) is an international body organized to foresee the best requirements of cards processing to ensure security.
You are required to meet up with certain requirements set up by the PCI as an online merchant. The nature of your business determines the exact level of the compliance.
One of the ongoing requirements for PCI is running a regular vulnerability assessment against websites. Your site ability to meet up with this compliance safeguards it from being breached, and your customers’ data is kept safe.
7. Ongoing Digital Marketing
Once you have started and are good to take orders, you need means to drive in visitors to the site. Visitors do not mistakenly work in to your site unlike the brick shops.
Although a well-structured website will be noticed by search engines, it is advisable that you promote your website to bring in visitors needed to drive orders. Have a good plan on how you effectively promote your website and digital marketing activities. Don’t also forget to budget some funds to manage and promote your site for a long term.
8. Strategize Marketing for Your E-commerce Website
After you’re done setting up your e-commerce website, you should start bringing in clients. To accomplish this, you need to come up with a marketing strategy. You may as well need to leverage Ads, banner PPC, social media paid Ads such as Facebook paid advertising and others.
When you optimize your website, getting noticed is guaranteed. Implement this to your site and use social media for promotion as well. Publish content consistently and blog regularly.