Making the decision to start your very own online store can be a very exciting prospect. And, the abundance of very inexpensive and even free software and tools that are available to the average person today, and with the ready supply of very inexpensive, but highly reliable, web hosting solutions the internet currently offers, there isn’t really any reason why you can’t start your very own online store.
Perhaps you’re looking for a fun and interesting project that will help you make money in your spare time. Or, perhaps you’ve got your sights set on quitting your job and earning a hefty, full-time income from your online store. Whatever your intention, there are a few basic tips that should help you immensely in getting you on your way to achieving you goal of opening your very own online store. This article will cover the top online store how to tips. I’m hope you’ll find them usefull.
Online Store How To Tip #1: Find a niche!
When many people first decide that they want to open an online store, the fist thing they do is to start researching things like the types of software they’ll need, the cost of hosting and how to go about procuring it, web design, etc., etc., Often, they’ll do this before they even know what it is they wish to sell. I’ve even seen people spend a good amount of money purchasing online store software and buying domain names and hosting accounts before they even knew what they were going to sell. This is, of course, a mistake.
I’m going to let you in on one the biggest success secrets in marketing: A person who may not be experienced with marketing, but is looking to make money by marketing a product or service, will most often spend their time and effort attempting to think up that perfect product that everybody wants or needs. If they’re lucky enough to come up with something, they’ll then set about researching markets that would be interested in purchasing their product or service. Doing things this way just seems to somehow be intuitive to us — it seems to be hardwired into human nature. First we find a product, then we figure out how to sell that product. But, here’s the marketing secret: Marketing in such a way is entirely BACKWARDS! A much more reliable method for achieving success is to FIRST find the market, THEN come up with a product which that market would be eager to purchase.
Now, maybe you’re reading this article because you already have a product or service that you’re looking to bring to market via an online store and you want to know how to do it. If that’s the case, that’s fine. Hopefully, your product or service is already targeted toward a lucrative niche full of eager customers just waiting for you to open your online store so they can begin throwing orders at you. If that’s the case, you’re already one step ahead of the people reading this article who also already have a product or service they’re looking to sell through an online store, but there isn’t any attractive niche for that product or service.
So, if you don’t yet even have a product at all in mind for your online store, you’re probably in better shape than you had thought. All you have to do is to find a lucrative niche market, then use what you know about that niche market to find a product that will be attractive to potential buyers in that market.
Finding a good niche is crucial. You must face facts: You can not compete with online stores like Amazon, or Staples. Attempting to do so is a recipe for failure. So, you need to find a niche where the competition is much more sparse, yet still contains a healthy population of ready buyers. How to go about locating these valuable niche markets is a little too involved for the scope of this article, but if you’re looking for a sure-fire way of discovering the most profitable niche markets for your online store, there are some exceptional programs that can show you the way to your online store’s niche market success.
Online Store How To Tip #2: Choose the Right Online Store Software!
There truly is a vast selection of online store software solutions available today. There are popular and high quality open source solutions such as osCommerce, which can be obtained entirely for free. Or, there’s propriety choices for your online store like Actnic, and others that will require you to purchase a license or subscription in order to use on your online store. Or, you could go with an entirely custom solution, which would entail the hiring of experienced designers and coders to custom build the software that will run your online store.
Going the custom route will most certainly provide you with the most control over your own online store, and although it is by far the most expensive option, it can be a whole lot cheaper than you may think. If you spend some time hunting through websites for freelance coders and designers, it is possible to find skilled and experiences people who will do good work at very reasonable prices.
However, even at such rates, going the custom route is likely not a viable option for many people looking to start their own online store. If you’re on a relatively tight budget you’re likely to end up going with a subscription based service, or an open source solution. That’s fine, though. Many very successful online stores have been built using such platforms.
The important thing is to do some research and learn as much as you can about as many of the available options as you can. You want something that you can work with. And, changing platforms after you get your online store set-up can often be a nightmare. So, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’ve been operating your store for some time only to find that the software your online store is running on just doesn’t fit your needs, and you need a change.
Online Store How To Tip #3: Make it as Easy as Possible For Your Customers To Pay You.
A very, very experienced and successful marketer once said to me “If a customer ever asks you if you accept a certain form of payment, your answer should never be no.” You never want to say to a customer “No. You can’t give me your money that way. You’ll need to find another way to give me money.” Very often, they wont bother. So, you never want to say that if you can at all avoid it. You need to provide your customers with a choice of payment options — the wider and more diverse that choice, the better! When you’re building your on-line store, you should always have this in mind. You should, at every step, be asking yourself “What can I do to make it easier for customers to give me their money?”
Too many people that are starting an online store go through a tremendous amount of work — finding and setting up their software, sourcing their products, designing their website, etc., etc., then, only when it’s all done, they sit back and say “Ok! We’re almost there! Just one more thing… how do we process payments?”
Your payment processing is absolutely critical. Don’t leave it until last. If you don’t have a method of processing sales, you don’t have an online store. It’s as simple as that. You could have a whole warehouse stacked to the rafters with a full stock of the most desirable product ever developed. You could have the most finely designed website on the Internet, guaranteed to convert every visitor into a buyer. You could have methods in place guaranteed to drive millions of visitors hungry for your product to your website every single hour of every day. You could have all of that. But, if you have no way of taking their money in exchange for your merchandise, you absolutely don’t have an online store! You want reliable methods of accepting payment, and you want as many as possible. You never want a customer to have to spend even a second wondering how they’re going to pay you. If they ask “Do you take Paypal?” The answer is yes! “Can I just pay with my Visa?” YES! “American Express?” YES! And on, and on.
So take a fair amount of time and thoroughly investigate your payment processing options for your online store.
Online Store How To Tip #4: Get Reliable Hosting and Secure Your Domain Name!
There is a true plethora of hosting providers offering their services on the internet today. And, a lot of them offer stupendous service. Unfortunately, a lot of them don’t. The cost of hosting is not something you want to cut corners on. There’s nothing worse than having your online store’s website go down knowing that, with every minute that goes by, you’re losing sales. And, with the availability of reliable hosting providers operating today at very reasonable prices, there’s really no excuse for that happening. Extremely experienced and reliable hosting providers are available all over the net, and they offer exceptional hosting packages at extremely reasonable prices.
I recommend JaguarPC. I’ve been hosting too many websites to count with Jaguar for the last twelve years, and in all that time I’ve never experienced a single problem. It may sound unbelievable to you, but it’s the absolute truth. And, their prices are among the best in the industry. So, there’s no excuse for risky hosting with your online store. Providers like JaguarPC provide rock solid hosting at prices practically anyone can easily afford.
You’ll also want to secure your domain name. Make it something relevant to your store. You want people to be able to easily remember your domain name and immediately associate it with your online store — even when they’re away from their computers. So, if you’re selling books about underwater basket weaving, for instance, you don’t want your online store’s domain name to be “robsawesomestore.com” You want it to be relative to the theme of your online store and to what it is that you sell. You want people to associate the domain name with the product. Your domain name is a big part of your brand.
When you do register your domain name, you should try to secure the same name on other top level domains as well. When you do build your store to great success, other people will sometimes register your domain name on a different top level domain, put their own store on that domain, and steal away customers that were looking for your store and wound up at the wrong domain! So, when you settle on a specific domain name, head over to Dotster and secure the same name under at least the .net domain as well. If you can, you might want to secure the name for your country domain as well, and as many others as you can afford.
Online Store How To Tip #5: Place Priority on Your Online Store’s Design.
Don’t overlook this. Don’t treat the design of your online store lightly. There’s something you need to know: People DO judge a book by its cover. People DO judge a book by its cover. People DO judge a book by its cover. Have you gotten it yet? Repeat it after me: People DO judge a book by its cover. That’s a fact. Ask ANY psychologist. They’ll tell you it’s true — it’s human nature.
If your online store suffers from poor, sloppy, unattractive design, it will look unprofessional. And, if your online store looks unprofessional, people will think your service is unprofessional. They’ll think you’re some slob, probably sitting in your basement, trying to make a quick buck. They’ll think that you’ll likely pay as much care and attention to their order as you did to your online store’s design. They’ll judge your business to be unreliable — just on the look of your online store design. And, people are very hesitant to hand their money to businesses they think are most likely unreliable.
So, you want to go the extra mile in making sure that your online store looks good. The design of your online store has to say that you’re a professional — that your operation is professionally run. It has to say that you know what you’re doing and that your customers can feel confident and secure in giving you their hard earned money, and being sure they’ll receive their products as ordered and on time. If your customers suspect risk, they wont buy from your online store.
It’s also imperative that your online store doesn’t suffer from design that makes the shopping experience unappealing for the customer. You don’t want visitors to your online store to become frustrated because your online store’s navigation is confusing. It’s very important that you make the experience of browsing, searching, and ordering from your online store as pleasurable and, most importantly, as least frustrating, confusing, and as hassle-free as is humanly possible. If people become aggravated with your online store’s design and functionality, they’ll leave before they place an order. And, they very likely wont come back.
These are five of the top tips that you should keep in mind when starting your online store. If you’re willing to put some effort into your online store, and you’re willing to educate yourself and arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can, there’s no reason you can’t be successful running an online store. It’s really just a matter of being smart and putting in the work.
And, keep checking back here at onlinestorehowto.com for more great tips and information!