Starting an ecommerce store for your business

Ecommerce Store

If you sell a product or a service and do not have an online store yet, then you are probably losing out on thousands if not millions of dollars in possible sales. The faster you adapt and take your business online, the bigger chunk of the pie you can get.

Just crunching some numbers to help understand the ocean of opportunities

  • 2017 saw ecommerce sales amounting to $2.3 trillion and as per a Statista report, is expected to reach $4.5 trillion in 2021
  • On an average, millennials now make 54% of purchases online
  • 4 in 10 purchases are made using only an online channel for searching and buying
  • 96% of Americans have made an online purchase in their life, 80% in the past month alone.
  • Ecommerce is growing 23% year-over-year, yet 46% of American small businesses do not have a website

So in short, Going digital is inevitable…

So how do you do it?

Assuming you have already done the value analysis of having a store on Amazon vs Self hosted stores. There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t set-up your own store , with all the layman friendly quick to set up stores, cheap hosting and tonnes of free advice out there. Have listed below the steps you can follow and various tools/services that would help you along the way

  1. Domain Set-up
  2. Hosting Set-up
  3. Choosing Storefront
  4. Promoting the site

 

  1. Domain Set-up

In very simple terms, a Domain is your address on the web. Someone looking for your website would type in the domain name which would get them into your store. Few things to watch out while choosing a domain name

a. Selecting a Domain
Well no matter how simple it might seem choosing a domain name, it in itself is an art choosing the right domain name that helps in the long run. The importance of having a keyword in the domain name has faded a bit owing to large scale SEO malpractices; but said that, it is advisable to have a relevant keyword in the domain when possible. All said and done, since there are over half a billion websites on the internet, it wouldn’t be that easy to find a common keyword based domain. You can use https://www.godaddy.com to check if the domain you are looking for, is available or already taken.

b. Registering a Domain
So now you know that the domain you are looking for is available, the next step is registering the domain name before someone else gets it. You can register the domain with a domain registrar like

GoDaddy
Dotster
Tucows
1and1.com
Network Solutions

Obviously the cost for a domain differs with every registrar, but typically the cost would range between $6 – $15 a year. And a note, most registrars allow to keep your registration information private for a nominal yearly fee.

A quick look at some of the important Do’s and Dont’s

 

DO’S DON’TS
Register the domain under you name or your business name, make sure you control the ownership and not a third party Avoid using numbers, hyphens/dashes or abbreviations in your domain name
Set-up the domain renewal to be automatic without fail. May seem like something basic, but many people end up losing their domain because of non renewal; crippling their online business Do not buy a domain without checking it’s history. This is to ensure that the domain is not blacklisted, banned or infringes on copyright

 

  1. Hosting Set-up

When it comes to hosting you are spoilt for choice, we have listed down and ranked the top 5 providers that may be a good fit for you based on our own experience and the assessment we did

BlueHost


BlueHost is one of the most popular web hosts, hosting more than 2,000,000 websites and blogs since 2003. Officially recommended by WordPress.org. Some of the key advantages are listed below

  • FREE domain and site builder
  • 1-click WordPress installs
  • Unlimited site traffic and in-house support available 24/7
  • Starting at $2.95/month
  • Industry-leading hardware and uptime
  • 30 days money back guarantee

HostGator

Founded in 2002, hosts over  600,000 websites. One of the Most reliable web host with respect to the average uptime and load time.

  • Easy-to-use control panel
  • FREE Weebly site builder
  • Unlimited disk space, emails, and bandwidth on all plans
  • No contract required and 45-day money-back guarantee
  • 50% off your first month, plus domains starting at $5!

SiteGround

SiteGround.com is officially recommended by WordPress.org. Founded in 2004, hosts 800,000 websites worldwide and also has a BBB Rating of “A”.

  • FREE site transfer or new site setup with 1-click install
  • FREE automated daily backups, CDN, email, and SSL
  • 24/7 expert support with no wait time on phone or live chat
  • Recommended by WordPress as a top WordPress host
  • Ideal for business email hosting, with 99.9% uptime

A2Hosting

Founded in 2002 in the United States,  currently hosts well over 200,000 websites. Their page load speeds are among the best in the industry

  • SSDs and Turbo Server for up to 20x faster page loads
  • Host unlimited websites and enjoy FREE site transfer
  • A2-optimized plugins and 1-click installs for WordPress
  • A2-optimized caching with OPcache and Memcached
  • FREE HackScan with restore options

iPage

iPage offers one of the cheapest and low-cost shared web hosting packages which are highly suitable for small sites. Relaunched in 2009 as a web hosting provider, they have over a million websites hosted on their platform

  • Featuring easy setup and superb reliability since 1998
  • FREE domain and FREE Google marketing included
  • Unlimited disk, bandwidth, and emails
  • FREE site builder and shopping cart
  • Starts at as low as $1.99/month

An important thing to bear in mind while selecting a hosting vendor; some of the hosting providers from the list are specifically optimized for a particular technology, CMS, Framework etc so it is very important to analyze the website you are looking to build which would help you choose the best suited hosting provider.

  1. Choosing a Store-front

The most common store-fronts include a shopping cart, customizable product catalogue, sophisticated product indexing, out of the box integration with various payment gateways  etc related options. Other than the cost, 5 things to research and keep in mind while selecting a storefront are

  • Customer support reliability
  • Third party integration options
  • Built in SEO readiness
  • Compatibility on mobile phones
  • Overall security of the solution
  • Analytical Capability

We have made it easy for you by listing out some of the most popular as well as trust-able storefronts out there with a quick analysis that would help you make a well informed decision. The storefronts have been arranged in the order of the technology proficiency needed to set them up and manage, starting from the one that is the easiest to set up

Shopify

Start an ecommerce site using Shopify

It is a platform that allows you to create and launch an online store without any need for technical knowledge. Shopify is insanely popular with startups for the ease of set-up as well as maintaining.

Shopify is best suited for founders or people who do-not want to devote a lot of time to create something from scratch or be worried about hosting, maintenance etc. It also empowers you with pretty rich analytics around the activities of the users on your website, which enables you sell your products or services better.

Pro’s

  • Super easy to set-up
  • Totally managed services
  • Low start-up fee
  • Very responsive customer support
  • Powerful SEO tool kit
  • Tonnes of Addons

Con’s

  • Limited customization options
  • Long term costs, especially on high volume sales
  • IP ownership and vendor lock-in

Cost

There are a few packages provided by Shopify ranging from $29 to $299 a month with a varied set of features and transaction fees

You can click here to know how to get started with Shopify

 Woocommerce

Start your online store with Woocommerce

Woocommerce is one of the most respected and widely used shopping carts and comes as a free plugin to the widely used WordPress CMS. It offers a wide range of extensions and templates for you to choose from.

Though it is possible for a non tech person to set-up Woocommerce with a WordPress site, you would end up spending an awful lot of time setting things up properly if you don’t know your way around WordPress

Pro’s

  • Opensource solution
  • Intuitive and user friendly
  • Lot of community support
  • A substantial number of templates
  • Good SEO capabilities

Con’s

  • Setup is more complex compared to Shopify
  • Limited number of features in the free solution
  • Maintenance required
  • Support only via a ticketing system and support forums

Cost

The basic plugin is free with a limited set of features. Paid extensions starting from $29 are available in the  Woocommerce store for the more advanced users for some enhanced functionalities

You can click here to know how to get started with Woocommerce

Magento

Magento for your ecommerce site

Magento is a full fledged ecommerce platform that has wide customization options and is a favourite among mid to large size companies for the flexibility the platform provides.

The platform is preferred by firms that need a custom storefront with unique user interface requirements and complex processes.

Pro’s

  • Flexible and scalable
  • Functionally superior to any other ecommerce platform out there
  • Opensource
  • Wide community support

Con’s

  • Enterprise version of Magento is expensive compared to Shopify or WooCommerce
  • Compared to other solutions Magento has fewer developers
  • Using a separate server is suggested for Magento, adding to the cost and complexity
  • Very limited free support

You can click here to know how to get started with Magento

So to summarize, your decision about choosing the right strategy and tools would depend on your short and long term goals, availability of time and resources, technical know-how, functionality you need and budget allocation. Feel free to reach out to us should you have any questions or need help choosing the right strategy.

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