Ten Steps to Building an Online Store – Part 2/3

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4x4shoppingtrolley1This section of the article is a summary of the steps you will take to build an online shop. If you have read Part 1 and researched the feasibility of taking on this enormous project, here is what you need to do. Part 3 will explain some of these things in more detail.

Step 1 – Planning

Read Part 1, do your research and write some realistic goals for your venture.

Step 2 – Register a Domain

Register a domain name. Read this article on how to choose a domain name if you do not know where to start.

Step 3 – Design Brief

Write a brief for the designer and developers of your new store. This should include:

  • what and to whom you are selling (target audience)
  • how many products, product variations and bundles you will be selling
  • examples of sites you like and don’t like and reasons
  • examples of the functionality you would like
  • a description of the experience you would like your customers to have
  • some product shots and descriptions
  • branding and logos you already have.

Step 4 – Find a Designer

Find a designer. Unless you are a graphic designer, don’t do this yourself, and don’t use your 17-year-old nephew who has a ‘flair for design’. Use a proven graphic designer who has a good grasp on designing for the web and can channel your customers in the right direction—towards the payment page.

Step 5 – Find a Web Developer

Find a good web developer (see point 4) and set up the site. This may be a custom-built store, an off-the-shelf store or a hosted solution, depending on your requirements. More on this in Part 3.

Step 6 – Choose a Payment Solution

Decide on a payment solution—Paypal or custom payment gateway. Third party payment solutions like Paypal or Google Checkout are a cheap way to get started, but can look a bit unprofessional.

If you decide on an integrated payment solution, talk to your bank about obtaining an Internet Merchant ID as early as possible. Some banks will take three weeks and some can take more than three months. They will want to see your privacy policy, refund policy and guarantees.

You will also need a payment gateway. These people handle the credit card details and money transfers to your bank. The best one we have found so far is eWay.

Your web developer should be able to help you with this step. If not, call me.

Step 7 – Prepare Product Data

Get photos of your stock and write both a short description (just a few words) and a full description (up to two paragraphs) of each item. Put this into an Excel spreadsheet so it can be imported into your store when it’s built.

Go to the post office and a few courier companies and ask for a pricing matrix. This will display the cost of shipping with relation to distance and weight.

Step 8 – Online Advertising

Learn about Pay-Per-Click advertising or find a company that does it well (again, see Step 4). Don’t believe anyone who guarantees your return. The only thing you can guarantee getting is the monthly invoice. Learn about Pay-Per-Click advertising yourself so you are not going in blind.

Alternatively, call our qualified Google Professional, Silvio for good, sound advice.

Step 9 – Launch and Market

Launch the site and begin marketing the hell out of it. Ensure your developers have installed tracking tools like Google Analytics so you know if your marketing is working. Analytics track how customers move through your store, what they buy, where they come from and the keywords they searched to get there. Without this, you are running blind.

Step 10 – Deliver

Deliver on time, every time.

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