When I am not traveling around the country fishing and taking pictures, I like to build online stores and websites. Here is the process I follow when I am building an online store.
Choose a name for your store
If you already have a physical store this step is already completed. It is much faster to add an existing store to the online world than it is to start from scratch. If you already have a store adding the web site is just another tool in your promotion bag of tricks. The name of the game is to increase sales. If you are starting from scratch keep in mind some basic best practices for choosing a name for your store.
• Don’t use your name for the store.
• Don’t choose a name that is already being used. Don’t forget that your new store online will be seen all over the world. The last thing you need is a conflict with a much bigger, angry competitor, at least not at first.
• Try not to choose a name that translates poorly in another language.
• Don’t choose a name that is difficult to spell.
Choose a Store Platform
There are many Ecommerce store platforms to choose from. I have used several of them and now I have settled on a single platform to build all of my stores. As far as I am concerned Shopify is the best place to build an online store. In fact I currently have 3 stores working on Shopify.
The reason I like Shopify is because it is easy to use and after you build your store they send you almost daily emails to help you promote, and improve the customer experience of your store and increase sales.
Open an Account on the Ecommerce Platform you chose
Click Here to Go to Shopify and choose the get started button. You will be given 3 choices for the size and cost of your store. Choose the cheapest one, it will give you more than enough capacity to get started and you can upgrade anytime in the future. When you sign up for your store you will also get a free trial.
Register a Domain Name
You will need to register a Domain name for your store. This is the name that will be used to find your store online. It is your Internet address. The best suffix for an online store is .com but you can also choose from a host of new domain suffixes.
If your business is mostly local and you don’t intend for it to grow beyond the borders of your home country, you can choose the suffix for your own country, such as .ca for Canada or .us for the United States. You will need to be a resident of Canada to register a .ca name or a resident of the US to register a .us Domain. You can also choose just about anything for the suffix for your Internet address. Some of the most popular are .biz, .net, .tv, and .info.
Try to make your domain name as short as possible. If you are lucky enough to come up with a single word domain name that is the best possible situation. Two and Three word domains are now the most common. Try not to go more than three words and try not to use words you have to spell everytime you say the domain name to someone. Avoid using hyphenated domains, they cause confusion and will cost you in lost traffic.
To register your Domain name you have several choices.
1. You can register a Domain name on the Ecommerce platform you choose. This is the simplest option and makes it easy to keep your store all in one package.
2. You can register the name at one of the Domain Registrars like Godaddy.com, any of the hosting companies, like Hostgator.com, Bluehost.com, or SiteGround.com and then point it at the Ecommerce Platform. The process of pointing your domain to your store varies in complexity by Registrar and changes regularily.
Open a Google Account
You will need a Google account so that Google works for you. You will use a Google account to;
• Track traffic to your new store using the Google Analytics Platform. Using the Google Analytics information you will be able to tell how many people are visiting your site, where they live and what age they are.
• Buy traffic to your site using Google Adwords.
• Help promote your store using Google+. Setting up your Google+ account makes it easier for Google to find your new store and your old store as well if you have a physical store. You will be surprised how many people are using their mobile phones trying to find the services and products that you sell. From local people running errands and going about their affairs to people that are passing through town.
Configure your new store
Set up all of the things that your store needs;
• Choose a template for your store, pick something free to start. You can upgrade later on and you can make a lot of changes to a free template to make your store look the way you want it to.
• Add your store’s address including your mailing address, email address, phone number to all of the places in the stores template.
• Add your time zone to the template.
• Add your logo to the template. Make sure to follow the size guidelines for your logo. If you don’t have a logo, you can use text to show the name of the site until you have a logo. To get a logo designed you can use the services of any graphic artist or you can use sites like fiverr.com or freelancer.com to hire a contractor to design you an inexpensive logo to use on your site.
• Add a header image to the site, with most templates you can choose whether to have a singe image at the top of the page or to have a rotator of several images. You can choose any image that you want for the header. Make sure your header images are the correct size for the template that you have chosen.
• Choose how you want to get paid for the purchases in you store. The easiest way to get paid is to use the Shopify payment gateway. You will have to input your stores banking information into the Shopify platform. The beauty of this is when someone buys something from your store the money goes directly into your bank account.
You can also use Paypal as a gateway, you will need to have a Paypal account, prefferably a Business account. You can also use your Shopify payment platform as a POS system in your physical store.
• Go to your Google account, activate Google Analytics and get an analytics code and add it to your store platform. While you are over at Google you can also activate your Google+ account for your new store.
• Check out your blog. It is recommended to write a blog post everyday. Not many people do it, but the ones that do say that significantly increases traffic to their store and increases relevancy in the eyes of Google.
• Don’t forget to configure you Mail Chimp account. You will be using your mailing list to communicate with your new and old clients about store events, specials, seminars, new staff and anything else that you can think of the increase the sales of your business.
Add products to your store
Your store is now ready for products. There are 2 ways to add products to your store. The first way is to add the products 1 at a time. This method is time efficient if you are only adding a few products in total or a few at a time. You will want to add at least one product just to see what it looks like in your store and if you are going to add a lot of products you will need to use that product to see what the spreadsheet for the products looks like.
To add a lot of products you will want to first export the sample CSV file for your store. This will give you the columns you need to fill in with all of your products. You will export the file to your computer, fill in all of the data for your products, save the file in CSV format and then import it to your store.
This sounds like a complicated process but it is really quite simple. When you are in your store dashboard just click on products and at the top of the page you will see the Import and Export buttons.
When adding products to your store it is a good practice to write a new description for each product. This is a good practice because Google does not like duplicate information on the internet and we want them to send us customers. Making sure you have a detailed description for each product will increase the relevancy of your store and put you at the top of the search results.
You will need to have an image for every product you upload. The best images are clear, large format, and have a white or transparent background. If you are using images from your Manufacturers or suppliers make sure they are larger than 1000 px per side preferably with a white background and that you have permission to use them.
Keep in mind that everything you put in to your new store can be changed at any time in the future. Don’t delay putting products in your store just because you don’t like the images or you haven’t yet written the perfect description. Get started loading your products and make the changes later. Action first, Perfection later.
Tell everyone about your store
Literally Tell Everyone about your store. Use the social buttons on your new store, post on your personal social accounts, and add a post to your stores fan page. If you don’t have a facebook fan page for your store, now is the time to build one.
If you have a physical store location don’t forget to tell all of your customers about your new online store. You can even give out coupons giving discounts on products purchased through your new website.
Promote, Promote, Promote
One of the big advantages with using the Shopify Ecommerce platform is that there are several apps available to increase the visibility and reach of your store. These apps are easy to set up and will increase your sales.
Don’t forget you can also use accounts at Amazon, Ebay and several other online selling platforms to increase your online sales. One of the biggest advantages of having an online store is that the online sales have a much lower cost. The overhead of an online store consists of the monthly cost to Shopify of $35.00 and the yearly Domain registration, usually around $60.00 for 5 years.
You can also use Google ads and Bing ads to push traffic to your website. And don’t forget about the power of your Blog. Many successful online Entrepreneurs credit daily blogging for their success online.
Don’t neglect your off line promoting as well. Off line ads can run alongside your online promotions to increase traffic to your website and generate sales while you are sleeping. There is nothing better than opening your website dashboard in the morning and finding new sales that were generated with very little effort on your part.