It’s no secret that since the internet came along, the popularity of online shopping has absolutely exploded and a very many marketers and entrepreneurs have effectively used online eCommerce avenues for drastically increasing their business — or, starting successful new ones. You’ve probably found this website because you’ve been asking yourself: How can I open an online store?
There’s certainly no shortage of budding “webpreneurs” trying to figure out how to set up an online store, or looking for information regarding online shopping cart setup. But, information regarding exactly how to go about setting up a web store can be somewhat tricky to find. What most people are looking for, really, is a precise yet simple guide that shows exactly how to open an online store step by step.
This, however, is no simple task. People’s experiences with setting up a web store vary greatly. A lot depends on the resources you have available to you. Do you want to do it all yourself? Are you looking to setup online store free? Or, are you willing to outsource
some tasks that need to be undertaken? How much experience do you have with website design, development and operations? What about server management? Does all of this sound like a foreign language to you? Or, are you comfortably familiar with these terms? Different people will have different answers to these questions and, depending on what their answers are, they will have different experiences in setting up a web store. So, as you should be able to see, putting together a sort of catch-all how to open an online store step by step guide poses quite a challenge.
While it may be exceedingly difficult to present a concise, step-by-step “how to make online shopping website” plan that will pertain to everyone, and be of equal benefit to everyone, fortunately there are a number of helpful tips and tricks that can be shared. And, before this article is over, we’ll try to present a short how to open an online store step by step guide for you — just remember when reading it that it’s a very basic framework and you’ll need to be flexible, as the steps to opening an online store that you might need to follow very well might differ somewhat from someone else’s depending on certain factors individual to your own situation.
How to Open an Online Store Step by Step:
By using free tools available to anyone, and through procuring some very affordable web hosting — also readily available in abundance on the internet — you can setup your own online store shopping website.
Step 1 – Online store how to start
Right out of the starting gate, I’m going to highly recommend that you choose to host your online store yourself. Today, there are a number of alternatives to self-hosting an online store — places such as eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Shopify and others will allow you to use their services to run your own online store through their websites. You can even, pretty much with just the click of a button, set-up your very own online store on Facebook! Using one of these services will, of course, reduce some headaches and hassles. However, what you give up in exchange is a great amount of control of your own online store. Because of this, time and again, going the route of hosting your own online store on your own or a shared server that you lease from a reputable hosting company comes up as the clear winner. It may be a little more costly up-front, and a little more complicated, but trust me — if you’re really serious about starting an online store, it’s the best way to go.
Now, don’t let that “more costly” bit scare you away. Yes, choosing to go the self-hosted route will usually require a little more of a cash outlay at the beginning. But, keep in mind two very important points:
(1) The cost for reliable hosting from a reputable company these days really is extremely affordable. You can easily acquire the hosting service you need for your web store for less than $5 per month.
(2) While the up-front cost may be a little more, it’s almost always cheaper in the long run. Self-hosting your own online store gives you maximum control. This allows you to avoid what can become rather expensive listing fees and transaction fees that some third party online store systems demand.
This added control also gives you more freedom that can actually translate into money saved. If you need to move your online store in the future and you’re with one of those third-party online store systems, you’re going to have to invest the time and expense involved in almost completely starting from scratch in setting up an online store. If you’re self hosted, on the other hand, it’s a remarkably easy process of grabbing a site-wide backup of your entire store, uploading it to your new host and telling your new host to switch your domain to point at your new host’s IP. The entire process usually takes less than an hour and the whole process is completely invisible to your website visitors. They wont be able to tell that anything has changed. That’s good for your regular customers. If regular customers experience a drastic change in how they find their way around your online store that they’ve become familiar with, it could translate into a loss of business. If you’re utilizing one of those third-party systems and you need to move your store to another web host, you can’t take your old store with you. You need to start right from scratch!
Now, we must assume that you’re here simply to figure out how to open an online store step by step and that you’ve already got all of the non-internet related business details of your web store planned out. So, we’ll assume that you know what types of products or services you want to sell in your online store, what the general prices are you’ll be looking to charge, the name of your business, etc., etc.,
So, let’s get on with step-2 in our how to open an online store step by step information guide:
How to Open an Online Store Step by Step – Step 2
The Domain Name: The very first thing you’ll need to open an online store is a domain name. This is, of course, absolutely essential if you’re going to be self-hosting your online store. Procuring a domain name for your online store will cost you about $15.00 per year. You’ll be required to spend that when you first purchase the domain name and then you’ll need to renew it every 365 days. Or, you can opt to spend more money up front by securing your domain name for multiple years at once — such as 2, 5 or 10 years. Doing this will reduce the price-per-year cost. It’s your choice. But, keep in mind that some SEO experts claim that Google actually queries domain whois tables and gives preferential treatment in the search listing to domains that have been secured for longer periods. It’s not absolutely known if this is true or not, but it is the opinion of a number of SEO professionals, so do with that information as you will.
To secure a domain name for your online store, go to Dotster and pick the name you want. Things to keep in mind when choosing a domain name: Go for a .com above any other domain suffix if it’s at all possible. If someone hears and remembers the url for your online store, they’ll almost always remember it as youronlinestore.COM — no matter if your url is a .com or not. If they’ve just simply forgotten the last part, they’ll almost always try .com first. So, it pays to have a .com suffix if at all possible. Secondly, try to choose a domain that is as short as possible, has no non-alphanumeric characters (so ONLY letters and numbers, no dashes) and try to avoid numbers unless it’s something very catchy, like 123. “easyshop123.com” is ok, but it’s not as good as “easyshop.com” and “myeasy-shop-website97.biz” is TERRIBLE. Get the picture?
If someone sees your website URL and wants to enter it into their browser later on when they’re at home in front of their computer, they’ll remember “easyshop” and the first thing they’ll try is entering “easyshop.com” If a competitor has registered that domain, they’ll get your customer. So, if easyship.com is taken already, you don’t want to register “easyshop.org” or .net. You want a .com. If you register a .org, or .net, or anything else when you don’t already own the same URL at .com, you’ll very likely end up sending YOUR customers to your competitors — NOT good business practice.
Also, people aren’t going to remember “myeasy-shop-website97.biz” if they ever need to type it into their web browser. Was there two dashes, or three? Was there a dash between my and easy? Was ita 97 or an 87 it ended in? You get the idea.
How to Open an Online Store Step by Step – Step 3
Web Hosting: Next, you’ll need a web host. You can get the best hosting available for less than $5.00 per month from JaguarPC. This one’s a no-brainer. I’ve hosted MULTIPLE (and when I say multiple, I mean MULTIPLE) web sites with JaguarPC since they began 15 years ago. NEVER had a problem with them. Not one time in 15 years. Trust me, go with JaguarPC. If, for some reason, you do not wish to go with JaguarPC and find another host you’d prefer, just make sure that you get one that offers “cPanel” AND “Softaculous App Installer” with its hosting accounts (JaguarPC does). Some hosts offer a program called “Fantastico”, or “Fantastico Deluxe” which does the same sort of thing. I recommend not settling for Fantastico over Softaculous — Softaculous is far and away the superior program, in my opinion. I’ve had too many problems over the years with Fantastico messing up my installs and losing track of upgrades. If a host doesn’t provide Softaculous, I’d recommended not going with that host. (JaguarPC offers both Fantastico & Softaculous with all their hosting accounts, so no worries there.)
Dedicated IP Address & SSL Certificate: If you go with JaguarPC, the IP will cost you $2.00 per month and the SSL certificate will cost you $39.00 per year. If you do go with JaguarPC, you can use their SSL host at no charge, thus eliminating the need for a dedicated IP and an SSL certificate. But, it’s preferable to get your own. If you use theirs, you wont be able to tie your domain name to it. Whenever your customers visit any secure part of your online store, they’ll see the address in their browser as an IP, such as: https://123.456.789/directory/file.html. It doesn’t look trustworthy. Spend the cash for your very own IP & SSL certificate and your customers will see:
Whatever you choose, using SSL via some method is absolutely essential for running an online store. SSL is a “Secure Sockets Layer” protocol that is used to secure and encrypt data that is being sent between the customer and the website — such as credit card, or other personal information. If it’s not sent over an SSL connection, then unscrupulous people can take steps to intercept your customer’s data and record their credit card and personal information whenever they make a purchase from you. You DO NOT want this to happen. And, many customers will not purchase from you unless they know they are doing so under a secured SSL connection. It’s up to you to provide that security for your customers. So, one way or the other, you’ll need SSL for your online store. Either use your web host’s SSL if your web hosts provides that option, or go the much preferred route and get your own SSL certificate.
Shopping Cart Script: Before setting up your online store shopping cart script, you’re going to need some sort of a payment gateway — this is a third party that is capable of charging your customers for the order they place on your web store. The first one you need to think about is obviously PayPal. Believe me, if you don’t accept Paypal, you’ll be losing A LOT of business. MANY people now use Paypal exclusively for making purchases on-line. I can’t stress this enough: You NEED to be able to accept Paypal. Fortunately, getting set up with Paypal is very painless. They do not charge any set-up fees and there’s no monthly fees. They simply take a small percentage of each sale you make. Whatever your customer pays you, Paypal will keep 2% to 3% of the purchase price, depending on the amount of sales volume you do.
Paypal has become such a standard for internet payment that it is actually possible to accept only Paypal at your online store and still turn it into a viable business. But, while it’s possible, it’s not really advisable. I’ll tell you an invaluable piece of information that a very, very, very successful retail marketer told to me personally once, a long time ago:
“The most important thing in business is this: Never be unable to accept payment from a customer. That’s it! Wherever, whenever, and however your customer wants to give you money, you need to be able to say ‘Of course! That’s not a problem!’ You NEVER want to have to say ‘Sorry, you’ll have to find some other way of giving me your money. The way you want to give me your money doesn’t work for me.'”
That’s VERY good advice. And, there are still people out there who, for whatever, reason won’t, or can’t, use Paypal. And, you want to be able to accept their money too! So, you’ll want to look into being able to accept as many different payment methods as possible. Authorize.Net is a good choice for one. But, you’ll want to do some research here. You definitely want Paypal, and Paypal alone will get you up and running, but you’ll want to at least explore as many other options as possible.
How to Open an Online Store Step by Step – Step 4
Setting Up a Web Store: Now that you’ve gotten your domain name secured, you’ve purchased some web hosting, you know what you’re going to do about using a secure server for your transactions, and you’ve taken care of how you’re going to process payments, its time to set-up your website.
If you don’t have a lot of experience in setting up websites, I recommend you read step-3, step-4 and step-5 in the article: “Setting Up a Website for the Absolute Beginner” You can safely ignore everything before step-3 in that article. It deals mostly with stuff we’ve either already covered above, or isn’t relative to someone specifically trying to set-up an on-line store.
When you’ve finished reading steps 3,4, and 5 in that article, you should now have a functioning WordPress website. Next, you’ll want to buy an Online Store WordPress theme that will turn your WordPress website into a fully functioning on-line store. So, go here and buy Market Theme. Once you’ve purchased it, install it as a plug-in in your WordPress site as per the instructions provide (the process really is extremely simple).
How to Open an Online Store Step by Step – Step 5
Completion: That’s basically it as far as setting up a web store goes. All that’s left to do now is to follow Market Theme’s instructions and begin populating your online store with the products you wish to sell, and you’re live with your very own on-line store.
Remember to visit your online store daily, examine its contents and look around as if you were a customer. Make this a regular part of your routine maintenance schedule. You’ll want to keep on top of things if anything goes wrong with your online web store. Also, visit Market Theme’s support site regularly (full, lifetime access to their support center comes with your purchase of Market Theme) and keep abreast of any issues with the software, or any updates that may be pending. Subscribe to their e-mail feed so that you’ll get regular notices as soon as they’re made available.
So there you have it. How to open an online store step by step. I hope you found it useful and informative. Remember, as I explained earlier, when reading the above step-by-step guide, you’ll need to remain flexible. Think of it as more of a primer than a guide-you-by-the-hand tutorial. Its real purpose is to familiarize you with the process and what is needed. Everyone’s experiences will be somewhat different. But, you should now have a basic working knowledge of how to start an online store of your own.
I wish you the best of luck and success with your new online store, and all of your future endeavors. And, if you have any comments or suggestions on how this article could be improved, or if you have any questions, please fee free to leave them in the comment box provided below. Due to time constraints, I can’t make any promises, but I’ll try to answer any questions you might have when I can.