eCommerce is a proven way to make money online and to establish a solid online business. Unlike other methods to make money online, this one involves a lot of planning, preparation and execution. Starting an eCommerce business is a bit complicated, but you can create and follow a blue print that can make the entire process a bit easier. The following are the steps involved in establishing a successful eCommerce business.
Selecting a Niche:
It is now almost impossible to compete with the big boys of online retail; they have enormous advertising budget and search engines list them on top for very high competitive keywords. So instead of building a generic eCommerce website and trying to sell products in many categories it is better to target a particular niche or a sub niche. Opting for a niche (or micro niche) eCommerce website can avoid competition and can cut promotional costs. There are several tools to check the difficulty of niches, however if you don’t want to spend money on these tools then you can use the simple Google keyword tool to identify niches that has good number of searches but with low competition.
Supply Chain Management:
After deciding your niche you should look out for supply chain management. You should decide on how you are going to ship your products. If you feel that you don’t have the man power and capital to procure and ship all the products yourself then you can opt for a drop-shipping company who can handle the orders for you and ship directly to your customers. However the drop-shipping company is an extra cog between you and the wholesaler so they will take a share of the profits. If you are fine with a drop-shipping company then then the entire process will be very easy, all you have to do is receive orders through your website and then forward the shipping details provided by your customer to your drop-shipper (you can automate this process too). Drop-shipping based eCommerce stores can reduce the capital required for stocking inventory and will avoid the need to find space at your home or rent a storage facility to handle the merchandise.
Domain Registration and Web Hosting:
Register a domain name and buy hosting (you can search our website on how to do it). Make sure the domain name is simple, easy to remember and also convey what your are trying to sell. When selecting a host make sure they offer all common eCommerce platforms. There are several eCommerce platforms available like Magento, Zencart, OScommerce and so on. If you have difficulty in handling those platforms, then you can opt for a simple WordPress website with a theme that can handle eCommerce.
Online Merchant Services & Payment Processing:
The important part of an eCommerce website is handling and processing payments. Opening a good Merchant Services account with a reputed company can go a long way in helping you improve your conversions. You got to select a merchant services account that can handle various cards like American Express, Mastercard, Maestro, Visa, JCB and so on. It is easier to get a visitor to your product page, but the real business happens only when he makes a purchase, and having a good merchant services account can significantly increase your conversion percentage. There are few trusted service providers like Seymour Direct who can provide you with a complete payment processing solutions and you can accept payments from both debit and credit cards. Integrating a payment processor with your shopping cart is relatively simple.
Promotion and Search Engine Optimization:
SEO is very important for small businesses. A large business house can spend a fortune in online advertising through Google Adwords and Adcenter but a small business will not have the luxury of shelling out huge advertising dollars. SEO is essential for attracting visitors and making sales, however you should be wary of the “buying keywords” and target them rather than just focusing on building backlinks.