Once you have chosen your products, it’s time to set up your store. This involves choosing the right platform to host your store on the web. The more reputable the platform, the better chance you’ll have of coming away with happy customers and a good amount of sales.

E-Commerce Platforms to Try:

  • Shopify
  • BigCommerce
  • WooCommerce (WordPress plugin that integrates with your blog or website)
  • 3D Cart
  • Etsy
  • Amazon
  • Squarespace
  • Salesforce
  • Wix

Your storefront should be based off a website that you own and have access to the control panel. For this, you must choose a web hosting provider and create a domain name.

If using a platform like Shopify, you don’t have to make a website right away. Shopify lets you name your store and then tack on their domain name to the end of the URL.

So if your company name was possibly going to be Fred’s Bagels, your shopify storefront might look like this: fredsbagels.shopify.com.

Later, once you decide whether you’re headed in the right direction with your e-commerce adventures, you can lock it in with an actual domain name and website.

Once you’ve selected your platform and hosting provider, you will need to set up your store so people can purchase items there. This involves the following tasks:

  • Add product descriptions.
  • Decide on options to include in drop-down selections -like type of shirt, color, size, men’s or women’s etc.
  • Set inventory numbers. Some e-commerce platforms have the ability to stop accepting orders once stock runs out.
  • Set up payment and shipping options. You might have a specific platform you’d like to use – such as PayPal.
  • Configure taxes and other settings
  • Set up affiliate commissions if you plan to grow your sales via affiliates.

How to Search Engine Optimize Your Online Store and Attract Buyers Who Want What You Sell

Optimize your store for search engine visibility. This involves adding search-friendly page titles, meta descriptions, and content for keywords related to your products. You should also ensure that your store is mobile-friendly and that it loads quickly. Test if your online store is easy to navigate and that customers will be able to find what they need without getting lost or going in loops.

Optimize Your Website for Conversion

Optimize your website for conversion. To do this, live the customer experience. Below find a few pointers:

  • Make sure your store easy to navigate. Round up a few website testers who can provide feedback on how their user experience played out.
  • List out the basic steps to help your customer get from a to z.
  • Provide helpful information at each step of the checkout process.
  • Add trust signals such as customer reviews and ratings, to reassure customers that they are making the right purchase.

Check for the following, and correct as you go:

  • Does the walk-through of your online store present logically?
  • Does each step (click here, learn more, sign up, go here, check out) move the customer forward to the next step with no glitches or getting stuck in loops?
  • Do all buttons and links send the customer where he or she needs to be next?
  • What happens if the customer closes a window, exes out something or hits the back button?
  • Does the message on each page explain clearly what the customer must do next to complete the action or place the order?
  • Are emails arriving in the inbox? Does the content clarify and spur on the next needed action?
  • Have you made sure to tell customers to check their email?
  • Did you remind customers to add you to their safe senders list?
  • Did you present a clear explanation of what to do and who to contact if there’s a problem with the order?
  • Does the checkout process work? Does payment go through? For this you’ll want to actually have a tester (friend or someone you hire) order each of your products to be sure everything works.
  • Make sure the message that you include with all of your automated emails is clear, relays the correct info, and contains no spelling or grammatical errors.

Promote Your Store

Once you’ve optimized your store for conversion, it’s time to promote it. Many newbies to e-commerce think that after your store is up, you can stop there, and orders will just start coming. This is not the case.

Promoting offers is a big part of online selling success. This involves setting up a social media presence and engaging customers through content, such as blog posts and videos.

Here’s how to take a promotional approach.

Select one product and create an offer around that product. The offer should have a start and end date and include details that are easy to understand.

Example: you’re selling an anti-aging eye cream. So you want to introduce the product by:

  • Explaining what it is and how it works.
  • Sharing the ingredients and telling what each one does.
  • Showing before and after photos from customers who have used the product to a successful end.
  • Publishing positive words about the product, from customers who had a good outcome after using it.

Once you’ve painted a clear picture of what this is, what it’s good for, how it works and who should use it, you want to present an offer and create a sense of urgency.

To do this, list the regular price. Then explain the special offer that people will want to take immediate action on so they can get this product into their hands.

Some common types of offers:

  • Introductory pricing such as X percent or dollars off (with start and end date)
  • Buy one, get one free or half price
  • Buy in bulk and receive a discount
  • Refer five friends, get yours free or half price
  • Get this product free when you order a bigger package
  • Try Before You Buy sample order (with a few follow-up emails prompting them to order the bigger size)

Organize messages, images, and any video content you’d like to develop to explain the product and promote the offer.

Decide which platforms you’d like to post to. For this you must set up each account and attend to all the necessary details. Have your branding at the front of mind when you do this. This is about your brand and who you’re trying to attract.

Use the video platforms to drive traffic to your email list. List-building and email marketing will be the biggest moneymaker. People will likely need repeat contact before they feel like they know you and are ready to buy.

Note: you can also share links to your videos as part of your email marketing. This will give you the opportunity to share your message in a variety of ways, in addition to and in lieu of, writing everything down.

Once you get the hang of creating and promoting a single product for a single span of time, you can bring influencers and affiliates in to increase visibility.

Monitor Your Store

Once you have set up, optimized, and promoted your store, it’s important to monitor it. This involves tracking metrics, such as page views, sales, website traffic, and customer satisfaction. Keep an eye on your competitors and adjust your strategy accordingly. Adjust your prices and promotions to be sure you’re generating the maximum amount of revenue from each customer.

Creating and running an e-commerce store takes time, effort and lots of trial and error before you get it right. Start small, explore different methods, and find out what works.

In time, you’ll create a store that generates a steady stream of income and provides customers with a great shopping experience.