By Viktorija Frelik

Electronic commerce sales are estimated to reach more than 4 trillion US dollars by 2021. If you are already selling goods in your physical store, or if you only have an idea of a product, I am here to show you that it is rewarding to start an internet business and accept payments online. And here are only some of the reasons why:

  • Your business will have a global reach.
  • You will make sales at any time, even at night when you sleep.
  • It will be easier for your customers to reach you.
  • To launch your e-commerce website, you need a small or even no initial investment at all.
  • Finally, it is possible to set your online business up within a week.

If you are wondering how, here are some key steps that you can take:

Decide on a product

The first thing that every online merchant should do is to think of a product that potential customers will enjoy. Find your niche and show that you are passionate about your product. Don’t be afraid to be creative but firstly research the market.

You can consider whether you will sell a variety of different products or concentrate on one category only. Will it be a physical or a digital product? Will you need a manufacturer or a supplier, or make the product yourself? It is also of great importance to check how much customers are willing to pay for your products.

Make a plan

Develop your business plan. This plan should help you decide what type of business you want to set up, and what steps you will need to take. List all the characteristics that differentiate your product from others in the market. Don’t forget to write down the production and shipping costs, taxes, website hosting costs and any other fees that you may have to pay.

Arrange your stock

You will need to manage and take care of your inventory. So, planning your warehouse is one of the essential tasks in starting a business. Will you sell exclusive one-of-a-kind products, or will you have many items of the same kind in stock? You can also use suppliers’ services, and they will store the products for you.

If you decide to have the products at your place, then make sure you don’t run out of stock unexpectedly. You should not forget to indicate on your website if an item is out of stock. Otherwise, you will have to deal with unnecessary disputes from your customers.

Choose the right delivery methods

Depending on where your target audience is, you should choose a shipping method which will guarantee the safety of your customers’ packages and on-time delivery. Always use trackable courier services and registered post services. As indicated above, decide where your orders will be shipped from: either from your home, your warehouse, or your supplier’s warehouse. Efficiency should be your primary goal when delivering orders.

Register your business

Both a company and a sole proprietorship should be properly registered. So, if you have an individual activity, you should register it according to your country’s laws as well.

You will have to come up with a business name. Don’t be afraid to be creative but keep in mind that the name of your business should be associated with the products you sell.

Prepare your website

You will need to choose a web hosting provider. Ensure you find a reputable one. Note that your domain name should be easy for customers to remember and recognize. Don’t forget about website security and install an SSL Certificate. SSL is a must if you accept online card payments.

You will certainly need a web designer who will correctly understand your business vision. Your business logo is an important aspect as well. You can hire a professional designer to create it, or you can use free tools and your own imagination. One of the best free design platforms to help you are Canva and Crello.

Choose an e-commerce software

There are various shopping cart solutions for merchants to choose from. As an example, currently, Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms used by more than 600,000 businesses. Your website can also be built on such e-commerce systems as PrestaShop, Opencart, Magento, WooCommerce, and many others. Find the one that will perfectly meet the demands of your business and your budget limits.

Choose a payment service provider

After you have a website and an e-commerce system prepared, you need to find a payment service provider. You may face a problem that not all payment systems can be integrated with your online store. This is the first factor that will influence your choice. Next, you will need to check whether the country of your business is supported. All the other aspects will largely depend on the needs of your business and website. For example, if you deliver monthly subscription boxes to your customers, you might need a payment processor that can implement monthly recurring payments (e.g. Cardinity).

Ensure good user experience

Your website should be easy to navigate. If you want your website visitors to buy from you, make the shopping process as easy and user-friendly as possible. It is always frustrating for buyers when an online shop lacks certain product categories or even search filters. If a customer searches for a non-existent product on your website, don’t just show No results. You can better suggest similar products.

Customers now pay more attention to the Terms and Conditions as well as Privacy Policy, especially to what concerns their personal data privacy. Thus, make certain you have all the required policies available on your website. Shipping information should be easily accessible before a buyer enters the checkout.

Start advertising your e-shop

As soon as your e-commerce website is completely ready for sales, you can start marketing. Begin with search engine optimization and think about the keywords that shoppers may use when searching for your products. First of all, it would be helpful to read this Google’s SEO guide.

Another essential step in your marketing strategy would be to create social media accounts for your business. Why? Social media is the key to connecting with your potential and returning customers. It is a good method of both free and paid advertising. You can share your newest and on-sale products, make surveys and giveaways, and simply provide helpful information to your buyers.

Summing Up

As you can see now, it is actually possible to establish an e-shop in a short period of time. Without a doubt, it supposes that you will devote all your time and energy into this business. Otherwise, you might need much more time for setting everything up.

Viktorija Frelik specialises in marketing at Cardinity, a European payment service provider offering a credit and debit card processing solution. Viktorija is enthusiastic about content writing and sharing her knowledge and experience in the fields of e-commerce and online payments. @Cardinity

Online business stock photo by Dragan Grkic/Shutterstock