Setting up an e-commerce online store

Last year, Australians spent a whopping total of $28.6 billion online shopping, but what do these figures even mean for your small business? E-commerce is a whole new avenue for you to engage and provide for your customers. Having an online store gives your customers the opportunity to purchase from you, no matter where they are. The common question, however, is how do you set one up? Here are six steps to setting up online.

1. Get a domain name

A domain name should be the first place to start when building an e-commerce site. And it’s important to have one that is clear, identifiable and memorable for your customers. Make your domain as close to the name of your business as possible to help build trust with customers and protect you from copycats.

2. Choose your host site/e-commerce website builder and plan

Once you’ve got your domain name, it’s time to get your e-commerce website off the ground! An online store builder like Shopify, Wix, Big Commerce, or Squarespace, is the best option for small businesses is because they not only give it a place to live on the internet, keep it running (avoids crashes), allows for multiple products, services or digital based goods to be sold on their site and also provides marketing tools for you to promote your business. Choose a plan that suits your budget and needs.

3. Template

Each platform will offer multiple different templates and it’s up to you to pick which one represents your business the best. It is important to design your website in a way that will make it stand out for all the right reasons. Consider the following in your template; Business branding; The products or services you sell; Ease of use; Colour scheme; Your personality; Consider your competitor’s design and images. Don’t forget to link your social media accounts to your site and vice versa. Integrate your channels so that at every touchpoint, you can drive customers back to your website.

4. Products and services

Let’s look at the basics: Name of products/services; Description – What is it? What does it do? What does it include? How will it benefit the customer? Why do they need this in their life? Measurements and weight of the product are essential and often forgotten; Price – does this fluctuate per size? The more information you give, the more your customer will feel confident in their purchase.

5. Payment method

The more payment options available to the customer, the more chances you have of them purchasing. Some of the most popular payment options include: Merchant Account and Payment Gateway – partner with a bank to accept payments for you that will then be channelled into your business bank account; Simplified Credit Card Payment Processing – use a service that integrates with store’s checkout.

6. Shipping

It is important to make sure you can realistically deliver the products to the customer and be prepared to pay attention to activity on your site to fulfil any orders. Here is a shipping checklist you can think about: 1. What zones are you prepared to ship to? Worldwide, state-wide, country-wide? 2. Shipping options – free, flat rate, real-time quotes or rate by order price? See what is most realistic for you and your business. 3. Who is going to deliver it? Australia Post, Startrack, DHL?

If you have successfully navigated your way through everything listed above, you are ready to preview your site and set it free to go live!

Brooke Arnott, Managing Director, The Small Business Lounge

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