Looking for a way to expand your customer base outside of your eBay, Amazon or brick and mortar store? Get tips for building your own web site, including how to select a domain name and web hosting provider.
Creating your own online store is a low-cost way to either start your retail business or expand your existing customer base. While it requires less work than building a brick and mortar store, it does require more time and effort than selling on existing marketplaces like eBay, Amazon and Craigslist. If you're wondering where to start, this article will outline the basic steps you need to take to successfully sell merchandise on your own website.Step One: Get a Domain Name
Before you set up your online storefront, you will need to decide on a domain name for your site; the domain name should be the same or very similar to the name you choose for your business. This consistency will help customers remember who you are and how to get to your website. Selecting a domain name for your online store is one of the most important tasks for your business, so be sure to take the following tips into consideration:
- 1. Keep it short
- 2. Make it easy for customers to remember and ensure that it accurately relates to or describes your business
- 3. Avoid misspellings of common words
- 4. Jot down five keywords that describe your business, then play around with them until you find a suitable combination for a domain name
- 5. Don't choose a domain name that is the plural or hyphenated version of an existing domain; customers could easily confuse the two websites
- 6. Only choose .com domains
In short, deciding on your domain name requires research and thoughtful consideration, as it will play a large role in customers' abilities to both locate your store in search results and easily return for future purchases. You can usually purchase a domain name for roughly $10-$50 a year on sites like GoDaddy.com.
Step Two: Select a Hosting Provider
There are a number of hosting providers to choose from for your online store. Some of the most popular and affordable ones include GoDaddy.com, JustHost.com and HostMaster.com. While GoDaddy is one of the most common, you may want to evaluate several to ensure the solution fits your unique business needs; ultimately, you'll want to select a provider with tools that can accommodate and grow with your business. If you're looking for a free hosting service, Yahoo! Site Builder and Yahoo! Site Solution have tools that allow you to host, create, and customize your own website. For more information, visit Yahoo Webhosting.
Step Three: Design Your Storefront
Yahoo! provides you with all the tools you need to create your own online store. However, if you're looking for a slightly more sophisticated or professional solution, you may consider hiring a professional web designer. When you're shopping around for a designer, make sure to evaluate his/her portfolio to determine skill set and fit with your goals and objectives. The decision to choose a web designer to professionally create your online store or build it yourself depends partly on your budget and partly on the image you want to portray to customers. Professional designers, though certainly more expensive than standard web tools, will help you to create an easy-to-navigate, professional, and clean store that meets your sales objectives.
Step Four: Set Up an Online Payment and Shopping Cart System
First, you will need a merchant account to accept credit card payments through your online store. If you're looking for a quick solution, PayPal provides both a free and paid service that each facilitate an easy purchase process for your customers. PayPal also provides shopping cart software that will allow customers to organize, change and review the items they're interested in purchasing. Offering an easy-to-use online payment and shopping cart system will encourage customers to buy your products and ensure that they have a positive and memorable shopping experience. For more information on accepting payments online and setting up a shopping cart, please click here.
These basic steps will get you on your way to setting up your own online store. As long as you select an appropriate domain name, choose a reliable hosting provider, and design an easy-to-use, professional storefront, your business will be well-positioned for expanding its customer base and selling more products!