Selling Online – Building a Website or Online Store

There are many online marketplaces that allow you to create your own storefront, and it is a relatively easy and cost effective solution. Having your own website is also a good idea. It helps establish you as a legitimate seller, and provides a way for buyers to browse your entire inventory. If you are an ecommerce newbie, the thought of creating your own website can be daunting. These days though, there are many great website platforms that set you up quickly and easily, and offer excellent customer service.

Some of the online store platforms that Marketplacester recommends are:

Big Commerce
BigCommerce is the all-in-one, #1 rated ecommerce service for selling products online with over 10,000 happy clients and growing daily. Using BigCommerce anyone can quickly and easily create an online store to sell products online, process and ship orders, track inventory and completely customize the look and layout of their store in just a few minutes.

3DCart
3DCart is another fast-growing and powerful storefront platform. It is feature-rich with integrations to social and mobile sales channels, and includes all the selling features you need to be successful. Beyond the easy to use standard tools, it also supports features like “deal of the day”, specials, coupons, and other marketing tools to grow your sales.

Host Your Own Website:
If you want to save some money and be more “hands on” with your website and shopping cart, there are a range of high quality open source options for running your store. Some of the top options include Magento and Zen Cart, and these and others can easily be set up on your own hosting account and domain name. To get started with your own hosted site, you will need to take a few steps:

  • Register a Domain: Register.com is a great place to start
  • Choose a Hosting Provider: We recommend checking out Hostgator or GoDaddy for inexpensive hosting options with good customer support and push-button setup of your online store.

Things to Consider for Your Website:

Every product needs a quality photo

If you are dropshipping, most likely good images will be provided. If not, find one from the web. If taking your own pictures, it is crucial to have a professional looking photo that showcases your product in the best light possible. For smaller products, it is recommended to use a lightbox, which can easily and cheaply be made out of everyday items like an empty cardboard box, white paper, tape and a light. A Google search for “how to take professional photos of products” will yield tons of tips from other sellers on how to do this.

Every product needs a thorough description

Make sure that there is as much information about the product as possible, keeping your target audience in mind. Sometimes it is best not to use manufacturer’s descriptions, as they can be very generic and don’t often sell the product well enough. Be sure to include all specs, colors, functions, and anything else that might be relevant. Appeal to the customer’s emotions, by describing how great your product is, and why they might want it.

Organized category structure

Organize your products in the most efficient, sensible category structure as possible. Remember, browsing your site needs to be easy and straightforward. Don’t have so many categories that the buyer gets overwhelmed, and use subcategories to further organize.

About Us

An ‘About Us’ section is highly recommended as part of your website. Tell the buyer who you are, what your goals are, how long you have been in business (if awhile). Make it personal, so that buyers feel confident in buying from you.

Customer Service

Provide contact information in a easy to find ‘Contact Us’ section. Provide at the very least an email address or a contact form for customers to fill out. If you can, provide a toll free 800 phone number as well. There are many services that allow you to cheaply get an 800 number where you can screen calls and have it go to voicemail if you are not around. This is especially handy if you work out of your home and don’t want your kids answering the phone. One that we can recommend from personal experience is Freedom Voice, whose aim to help entrepreneurs and small businesses create a “big business” image by making cutting edge communications features more affordable. To find out more about their services, click here.

Make sure to answer any inquiries as promptly as possible, and with as much detail as possible. Good customer service is the key to ecommerce success. Also include your policies, such as your return policy and your shipping policy. Try to make both as simple as possible, so customers feel comfortable with the purchase.

Overall Layout

Your site should be clean, neat, and organized. Make your site look as uncluttered and professional as possible. Some nice graphics are ok, but remember, the focus is on the products. The easier you make it for your customers to see and buy their products, the more your sales conversion will increase.

Payment Methods

It is best to offer buyers a wide variety of payment methods if possible. Ideally, you should accept credit cards, PayPal and perhaps money orders. To process credit cards, you will need a merchant account provider, or a business account from PayPal.

PayPal is easy to use, free to sign-up and a must have for your site. It is a trusted source for buyers and sellers alike. Sometimes sellers use this as their primary means of collecting payments, just make sure you have a business account so you can give customers who don’t have PayPal accounts the option of simply inputting their credit card number. To learn more about PayPal for your business, click here. A very helpful video guide to using PayPal is here: View Paypal Video

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