By Danny Wirken
The innovation of the Internet has made it possible for business opportunities, like e-commerce, available to just about anyone who wish to try it. In the old days, opening a business is such big commitment. This is mainly due to the high financial risk involved.
But today, business opportunities are available to just about anyone who are willing to put in time and effort in order to learn about the world of e-commerce. What’s great about it is that you can start an e-commerce business with low capital and very little risk.
However, be warned though that creating an e-commerce website does not automatically mean website sales. Furthermore, setting up your own e-commerce site is no simple process. Keep in mind that in creating a successful e-commerce business, setting up the site is just the first step. What will determine the future of your e-commerce site lies on how you would promote it. Not only will the promotion of your e-commerce site determine how much profit you make on the first month, but on the first year as well, and for the life of the business.
Finding your Niche
But first things first, to set up your e-commerce site you need to make some decisions. You need to decide who is your target audience? It is imperative that you should know who your customers are when taking into consideration the design of your e-commerce website. Then you need to find your niche. It might be a good idea to choose one that you have a passion on. If you are still undecided then seek advice from your friends and family.
Researching on the Demand
The next step is to conduct a research on the demand. Once you have a few business ideas then start researching on the demand for your products or services. If you plan to cater to the general public, you might want to find out how many people are looking for your products or services. Keep in mind that as a small business owner, you will not have the marketing funds necessary to create a demand for a product. Therefore, it’s safer that the products you sell must already be in demand. A great way to determine product demand is to see how many people are searching for a specific product.
Sniffing Out Your Competitors
It might be a good idea to learn something about your competitor’s websites. As the old clinch goes, forewarned is forearmed! So spend some time exploring each one, know if they have to special offers and the such.
Opening your Own Business Bank Account
Since now own a legitimate business, it’s time to open your own business bank account. All you need to do is take your court documents to the bank and open a business checking account. Most banks usually offer a variety of business accounts. Choose the one the best meets your needs. It might be a good idea to start with their least expensive account, after all you can always upgrade in the future.
Creating Your Website
While you’re still waiting for your bank account to open, you can start building your website. The first step here is to register a domain name. Names that end in ‘.com’ are best. If possible include one or more of your target keywords in your domain name.
One of the keys to successful e-commerce businesses is a professional website. Remember that your website is the only impression your visitors will have of your business. A professional website can be the difference between your visitors viewing you as a home-based business operating out of your garage and a multi-million dollar business with hundreds of employees. Fortunately, you do not need to be a web programmer to create a professional website. There are companies that sell professional website templates at an affordable price. There are also some website templates available for free.
Most website templates can be customized with common HTML editors and a simple graphics program. Templates can be edited without having to invest a lot of time and energy into learning how to code web pages. Also, you want your website content to target specific keywords. This can be achieved by creating articles, product reviews, product comparisons and detailed description of your products.
Hosting Your Website
Once your website has been created, then the next step is to find a company to host your website on their servers. You should be able to find a good hosting company for just $10 a month. This fee normally includes technical support and email accounts along with your domain name. Domain name-specific email accounts are important for a professional image.
As for your website files, you can upload it using a simple FTP program. The hosting company’s technical support personnel can walk you through the steps to upload your files and launch your website.
Implementing a Shopping Cart
An e-commerce website is not complete without a secure shopping cart. There is a lot of shopping cart options available. Avoid making the mistake of using Pay Pal to accept payments. This will immediately tell visitors that your company is very small and not professional. A good alternative is a remotely hosted shopping cart. Remote shopping carts take the burden of maintaining security and credit card numbers off your shoulder.
Promoting Your Business
Once your website goes live, you are open for business! Therefore, the next and most crucial step is promoting your website. The key here is to have a lot of people know about your website. The easiest way to do that is through search engines. So, you need to submit your website to search engines and directories like Yahoo!, DMOZ, Excite, and others.
Setting up your own e-commerce business is sure a lot of work. But if done properly, it will all be worth it and more. Now making it successful may prove to be more challenging. So, if you feel like giving up, just think of the pay-offs. It can really be rewarding!
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