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Want to Sell Online? Here’s How to Start

Avg. read time 5 min

If you have a great product or service to sell online, it’s never been a better time, especially in today’s world where it seems like e-commerce sales continue to grow year after year. We get that careful planning is the key to success, so here are some action items to help you think through how to launch your online storefront:

1. Select a Domain Name 2. Determine How You Plan to Collect Payment 3. Choose the Right E-Commerce Solution 4. Write Product Descriptions and Take Resolution Images 5. Get an SSL Certificate

1. Select a Domain Name

A memorable domain name for your e-commerce store is essential so choose accordingly. Registering a domain name like gives you control of your brand, regardless of whether you use it as a web address for your own website or as a web address that points to an existing e-commerce solution such as Amazon, Etsy, or eBay. A domain name also gives you the flexibility to change between e-commerce solutions, while still allowing your customers to find you without interruption.

2. Determine How You Plan to Collect Payment

Knowing how you will collect payment on your e-commerce store will help determine what web presence will work best for you. Online customers usually prefer to pay by credit card and many existing e-commerce solutions, like Etsy, simplify this experience as the functionality is built in. If you choose to set up your own website, you may need to consider setting up a merchant account to take and process money to your business account. You can contact your bank to get more information on how to establish one – for security reasons, they will probably require you to work with a payment service provider (PSP) or “payment gateway.” Another option to consider is an interface with a third-party payment service, like PayPal.

Knowing how you will collect payment on your e-commerce store will help determine what web presence will work best for you.

3. Choose the Right E-Commerce Solution

Do you want a store on your own website or do you want a store within an existing marketplace platform (e.g. Amazon)? Are you just selling one product or needing a more complex shopping cart? There are many online solutions that are available based on your business’ needs, like:

Simple: You’re selling a single product and only need a way for customers to pay, like a PayPal “Buy Now” button.

Hosted: If you need more than a payment button but don’t have the time, money or bandwidth to install e-commerce software, you can utilize a hosted solution. A hosted provider like Shopify or Bigcommerce allows you to create a store and host it on their server for a monthly fee. Or you can create an online presence using an existing online marketplace like Etsy, Amazon, or eBay. Going with this solution there are many positives such as a quick and easy setup, a built-in base of potential customers, and it’s a great way to get started with a low-commitment, low-budget web presence.

Do it Yourself: For a robust shopping cart, there are many commercial (off-the-shelf that require a license) and open source products, like Opencart, to choose from. When assessing any product though, determine if it supports the particular payment methods you want, what type of support and help is available to you after purchase, and how frequently the product is upgraded.

4. Write Product Descriptions and Take Resolution Images

Your customer isn’t in a physical store to look, touch or try on your product, so you should write descriptive copy of every item you’re selling. It’s important to provide as much information as you can, like weights and measurements, along with top quality, high resolution images.

5. Get an SSL Certificate

Online customers want security when it comes to websites. A SSL (Secure Socket Layer certificate) provides that by encrypting parts of your website that collect personal information, like credit card and customer form details. Having an SSL certificate not only keeps your customers safe from hackers and identity thieves but can also help give your business a sense of credibility.

These are just a few of the important things you’ll need to accomplish to set up your site. So carefully research all your options to be sure it meets the goals of your business plan. Ultimately, the more time you have to prepare before you begin, the faster you can succeed once you go online.

Any company, product and service names and logos referenced herein are property of their respective owners and are for identification purposes only. Use of these names and logos does not imply endorsement.

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