For the past 10 years, ecommerce has been one of the fastest-growing industries. Some estimate that more than 20,000 new online storefronts open every single week. If you’re starting your own ecommerce business, processing online transactions should be a top priority.
Here are six steps to help you build your own ecommerce website:
1. Put together an ecommerce business plan.
You might already have a business plan for your new company. However, you’ll need to get into specifics to determine how you’re going to market and sell your products online. This will help you clarify exactly what it is you’re selling, how your customers will find you and what steps will be necessary to complete the transaction. Having a plan in place before you begin building your online storefront will give you direction and help mitigate mistakes that would need to be addressed later.
2. Decide how you’re going to build your site.
If you’re an experienced programmer, then you can potentially build your ecommerce website yourself. First, you’ll need to pick which language to use (HTML, PHP, Mysql and so forth) and build the framework from scratch. Alternatively, if you have a basic knowledge and design skills, using Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft Expression Web might be a good option. If all this has just sounded like a bunch of gibberish to you, then hiring a Web designer to build your site is another route you can take, but it can be costly. Lastly, several online “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) editors exist to help you build a basic website quickly and easily.
3. Select a hosting company.
You’ll need to pick a company to host your website. There are numerous things to look for when choosing one. But keep in mind that cheaper doesn’t always mean better. Paying a little bit more can mean better support, more frequent backups and less downtime overall. If you want your email addresses to match your domain, be sure to check if your host provides that. Picking a host that supports PHP and Mysql can be a good idea too, as many shopping carts come in those languages.
4. Choose a payment solution.
How your customers complete transactions is essential to your business since this is how you’ll get paid for the services or goods you’re providing. Payment processors, such as PayPal or Google Checkout, redirect your customers to their websites to begin payment, then send them back to your site to complete the transaction. You can also choose to integrate a payment gateway like Authorize.net into your site. How complex your site is and how much programming you are able to do (or are willing to pay for) can be the single biggest deciding factor in which payment processor you choose.
5. Build your shopping cart.
Your shopping cart might already be selected for you, depending on which payment solution you choose. If you’re using a payment processor, you can simply use the cart solution it provides. Payments processed through a gateway mean you’ll either have to build your own cart or purchase a pre-made cart to integrate with your site.
6. Ensure that you have a security certificate.
Customers need to know that processing payments on your website is secure. Having a security certificate that encrypts your customers’ personal data, logins, passwords and credit card numbers is essential. An SSL certificate is a bit of code you program into your website that encrypts all the data. This prevents hackers from being able to use the data if they intercept it. You can purchase an SSL certificate through a Certificate Authority. Not only will it keep your customers safe, but it tells your customers that your business is legitimate and can be trusted.
Building and launching your ecommerce website can be both exhilarating and daunting. Following these simple steps will get you on the right track in no time.