What Do I Need to Start an Online Store?

by Suzanne Fyhrie Parrott; Updated September 26, 2017
An online store must be secure to protect your customers' sensitive and confidential information.

While start-up costs for an online store are much lower than brick-and-mortar businesses, the Web site building, operating and marketing process is tedious and time-consuming. Impatient owners set up an e-commerce store without first examining the product’s marketability; taking the time to evaluate the competition and market potential avoids a lot of wasted time and money. If your product is viable, detail the requirements needed for your online store. Many hosting providers include plans designed specifically to assist in the set up, construction and management of an e-commerce website.

Customer Demographic

The Internet is flooded with online stores vying for customers’ business and money. Unfortunately, many people attempt to start an online venture without first evaluating the marketability of the product. It is vital to conduct a thorough evaluation of the marketplace prior to investing significant amounts of time and money in development.

Domain Name

An online business requires a domain name and hosting service. Purchase a short, easy to remember domain name from a reputable registrar. To improve your site's search engine ranking, try to include keywords of your product in the domain name, unless your business requires the use of your company name.

Hosting Plan

E-commerce Web sites demand unique hosting requirements to remain viable. Depending upon expected customer traffic, make sure your hosting plan offers adequate server resources including a 24/7 support system, site building tools, payment processing capabilities, and secure server options. Inadequate server resources may result in slow page load times and possible server crashes. Improve your chances of success by choosing a reliable hosting plan from a reputable company.

Web Site

The Internet offers a multitude of Web template designs. Several e-commerce cart solutions come with pre-designed templates; however, be aware that other Web sites may use the same template design, making your site appear common and unprofessional. Modifying the color scheme and adding personal photos will improve a storefront's uniqueness; however, you should hire a professional developer to create a custom design if you are unfamiliar with HTML (Hypertext Markup Language).

Shopping Cart

The cart is one of the most fundamental aspects of an e-commerce website. If the system is too difficult to use or lacks security, you will lose customers. Payment processing methods process orders securely through their websites, eliminating the additional cost of a separate merchant account and secure certificate. The Internet offers a wide range of e-commerce solutions, including several free options. Despite the allure of a free company, be sure to select the best service for your money; choosing the cheapest provider is not always the right solution.

Marketing

Build a customer base by implementing online marketing techniques. These can be as straightforward as optimizing pages, submitting your domain name to search engines, utilizing email campaigns or using the social media platform; however, if your budget allows, develop an advertising campaign utilizing pay-per-click. In a pay-per-click program, you stipulate the maximum amount you will pay for keyword placement and then you pay for each qualified click your ad receives.

About the Author

Suzanne Fyhrie Parrott is lead graphic designer and owner of OneWay Advertising & Design and founder, owner of Unruly Guides DIY ePublishing. Parrott provides professional advertising, graphic design and book formatting services including book-cover design, website design, Internet marketing strategies, as well as tips, how-to tutorials and videos on ebook formatting, marketing and promotion.

Photo Credits

  • secure online transaction image by patrimonio designs from Fotolia.com