Setting up an online shop is a great way to find new customers and grow your business – ultimately giving you extra stability. You’ve heard the stories of Internet millionaires that sell products online, get rich and live the life of leisure. The “set it and forget it” concept is certainly an understandable desire but the reality is that setting up an online store takes time, commitment and continued effort, especially in the beginning, to get it to generate sales and grow successfully.
An ecommerce website is a business. In many ways, setting up an online retail website is similar to setting up a brick and mortar store. You have to rent space (host the site), build to suit (create the design), stock the shelves (take product photos and input into the shopping cart environment), plan a grand opening event (put together an online and offline announcement of store launch) and then, once you are open, provide customer service (answer email and phone), manage inventory and fulfill orders (ship products).
Certainly as word spreads and the store grows a customer base, you can rest a bit, but getting there takes work and a start up investment. But, if you are passionate about it and do your homework, then it should be a worthwhile endeavor.
Here are some questions to ask yourself and factors you need to consider as you start planning your eCommerce website:
- What product and services should I sell?
- What will your store domain name be?
- Which Web host should I use?
- What are your store terms and conditions including return, shipping, and privacy policies?
- How will items be shipped and how will shipping charges be calculated?
- What types of payment will you accept?
- Where will you get your SSL certificate for site security?
DECIDE YOUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
It’s important to do a market research to know which products and services are marketable and profitable, so as to select wisely. Some of the questions you can ask yourself to help in choosing the right product and services include: Do you already have a brick and mortar shop that has a success track record and could benefit from an ecommerce website? Do you offer a niche product or something unique? How many and what types of products are you selling? Among others.
The number of products and variations will determine what kind of shopping cart you need. Perhaps you are only selling a few basic items and just need a simple payment processing system or you are selling a multitude of things that change frequently which requires a more sophisticated store management system. Your website developer should be able to advice you on the most appropriate shopping cart that would meet your custom needs.
CHOOSE A DOMAIN NAME
Give your site a name – A domain name is the address where people can find your website, for example, our domain
name is www.ediaro.com. You need a memorable domain name that would make it easy for potential customers to visit your website.
Choosing a good primary domain name is critical to the success of your website. You want a domain name or URL that makes sense to people and one that appropriately reflects your brand. Domain names are inexpensive so it might make sense to register a few backups or even common misspellings, but make sure the one you use in promotion is the one that is going to stick in the minds of your potential visitor and the one you will plan to use long term. There may be a few exceptions, such as rebranding, but changing domain names is never a good idea once you have an established website. For one, it can upset your search engine ranking and, if you have worked hard to establish a good positioning, we all know how that will hurt.
It’s advisable that you use your business name and select the right extension. Most people think of the business name when they think of your website and they most often assume dot com. Therefore, we always recommend a domain name with your business name and a dot com extension. You might need to try variations of a name in order to find a dot com extension available. If your preferred name is not available, just add a couple of keywords that reflect your service offering.
Avoid Hyphens or Cute Spellings. Domain names with hyphens are hard to articulate, hard to type and can be confusing. Use a different name, even if you have to go with something slightly longer, to avoid them. If you are concerned about how it will look in print, consider printing it with capitalization (BolatLighting.com). Also avoid alternative spellings of words like “lite” instead of “light” unless you are Emeka Lite, and you trademarked the name, otherwise it further confuses the visitor.
Domain name tips
- Lots of good domain names are already taken, so you might have to explore different ideas to find the right one for your company.
- You buy domain names for a fixed period for one; two; five years etc. Always renew domains promptly, to stop others snatching them!
- To stop “domain squatters” profiting from your brand, consider registering additional domain name extensions, such as – .net, .org, .com.ng, .ng.
Here are popular extensions and what they mean:
- .Com – Represents commercial business. It is the most widely used extension in the world.
- .Net – Originally used to represent “network” but these days it is used for much more. Many businesses secure this extension along with their dot com.
- .Org – Represents organizations and is popular for non-profits and trade associations.
- .NG – This is the Nigeria Country-Code Top Level domain (cc-TLD) for Nigeria.
- .Com.ng -This is the Nigeria Country-Code .NG domains websites (Federal, State and Local Government). It will generally be registered under these second level domains – .com.ng, .org.ng , .edu.ng , .gov.ng
- .Gov.ng – This is a Nigeria Government Country-Code. It will generally be registered under these second level domains – .com.ng, .org.ng , .edu.ng , .gov.ng
- .Biz – This is extension is gaining popularity and is most often used by small businesses.
- .Gov – Represents government websites such as local and federal agencies.
- .Info – This domain name is commonly used for resource websites.
- .TV – Even though they are not super popular, this domain is often for multi-media rich websites.
- .Co – A fairly new domain extension meant to offer commercial businesses an alternative to dot com.
How do I Register my domain name?
You can register domain names through us at ediaro.com. We have registered many in the past and still registering and managing many domains for customers and our prices offer great value.
CHOOSE A WEB HOST
Publishing your website. Once you’ve built your website, you can publish it on the internet using a web hosting package. This gives you web space, so anyone online can visit your website. (If you use a website creator or ecommerce package to create your website, web hosting should be included.
In the real world, one of the first steps you would take to set up a new shop would be to find a suitable location: one with great traffic, a nice appearance, and a reasonable lease. In online commerce, the location of your store is the ecommerce hosting account.
Make sure that your ecommerce web host has the physical resources needed to run an online store without problems. And the last thing you need when you run a store (or any website for the matter) is glitches and downtime. Unpredictable website behavior will drive away potential buyers and ultimately hurt your bottom line.
To prevent downtime and error messages, invest in an ecommerce hosting plan that gives you plenty of processing power, RAM, and disk space. Even if you start small, be sure to take into account the growth that you project over the next year or two. Also, consider that you may experience unforeseen traffic spikes. Accommodate for these situations, too, and not only for regular traffic.
Your choice of ecommerce web hosting plan will also influence the other important elements that we cover in this article. For example, most ecommerce website hosting providers only offer a few features such as a merchant account and a shopping cart. The bottom line? Do your due diligence, ask questions, and make sure you get a good package right from the beginning. It’s much more difficult to fix things once you have turned down a wrong path.
The process of your ecommerce website development should be professionally done. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel – follow standard format people are conversant with when developing your website structure – so as to make it easy for people to locate your products, view order details and make payment.
In most cases, your website will be built within a shopping cart framework that has all the tools you need to manage, sell, promote, process and track products and sales. There are many to choose from and they are not all created equal. Choosing the right cart is crucial to the success of your store. It is important to work with an experienced website developer (such as ediaro.com) who can help you navigate the options and choose the best solution for your business. You should plan what features and functions you will need including:
- Search engine optimization
- Catalog management including automatic image sizing/creation and product variations
- Site search
- Recommended and featured products
- Discounts and coupon codes
- Multiple price levels
- Wish lists, gift registries and gift certificates
- Mailing lists
- Customer login and order history
- Integration with accounting system
If you need your website to be professionally, our professional Webcentre team can help you do this at a very moderate price, visit our Webcentre at www.webcentre.ediaro.com to get started.
SECURE YOUR WEBSITE
Keeping it all secure. Security is super important when you’re handling sensitive details like Debit/Credit card information.Ensure that you have SSL support. When you’re dealing with credit card numbers and other sensitive information, you need to go the extra step for safety. Without adequate security, it’s only a matter of time before hackers target your ecommerce server, with potentially disastrous consequences.
Secure Sockets Layer certificates are used to encrypt the connection between your ecommerce website host and the
customers that visit your site. When SSL is used, nobody can eavesdrop on the data that is being exchanged, which ensures the safety of the transaction. SSL certificates are a kind of virtual ID for websites which communicate to the browser that the visited website is authentic and secure.This activates the browser padlock which visitors expect to see when they buy online – giving them confidence in your site.
Make sure that you choose an ecommerce web hosting solution that supports dedicated SSL certificates (which you will have to acquire separately), or at the very least, shared SSL certificates (which are issued to the ecommerce web host provider, who, in turn, makes them available to you). Contact your website developer for professional advice on this.
INTEGRATE PAYMENT GATEWAY
Accepting payments online offers major benefits for many Small, Medium and Large Scale businesses. Being able to receive payment online means using a payment process which involves using electronic funds, web processing solution as well as database updating when the process is successful. It means the transfer of funds from your buyer’s account to your account through a trusted platform. Now for a global audience, there are several ways which have evolved that has allowed merchants to be able to receive money online ranging from merchant’s own merchant account to third party payment processing.
The process should be in such a way that customers can visit your website, select your product or service they wish to order, proceed to payment page, enter their Debit/Credit Card detail (Visa, Interswitch, Mastercard, etranzact etc) and make payment, afterwards, the payment gateway will remit your money to your bank account. Some of the popular online payment processors/gateway in Nigeria includes: UBA UCollect, GTBANK GTpay, Zenith Globalpay, Simplepay, Voguepay, Cashenvoy among others. For more information, you can check our Top 10 Online Payment processing platforms in Nigeria at http://ediaro.com/wrd/top-10-online-payment-processing-platforms-in-nigeria/ .
DIGITAL CAMERA AND SCANNER
Image is almost everything in ecommerce – Use High Quality Photography. If your site looks amateur or messy, you lose
credibility. Your images are one of the most important elements of your website design. Shoppers who purchase on the web do not have the ability to touch or hold the products they are interested in purchasing. Therefore, your product photographs must be high quality (we recommend 16 Mega Pixel Digital Camera and above). You should also provide “click to enlarge” images so customers can see the finer details of each product. Ensure you snap different views of the product – the Top, Side, Bottom and Others. If your photographs do not look good, your customers will probably not want to buy.
WEIGH YOUR PRODUCTS
You need a weight to measure the size of your product – to know how much you’ll charge customers for it. Although the shipping cost of this can expressly stated on the ordering process of the site, added to the product cost, FREE Shipping among any other approach you choose to adopt.
You need to invest in buying a weight you would use for this. We recommend buying within 20kg – to 50kg weight so as to be able to weight most of your products and also accommodate most courier service limits. You can use the conventional scale used to measure fish from your domestic household utensil dealers/distributor or order from ediaro online store here.
SHIPPING & POSTAGE METHOD
This is the medium you intend to offer customers to deliver their goods ordered from your website; example of this includes Nipost, EMS Speedpost, DHL, UPS, Fedex etc. Alternatively, you can recruit your own personal dispatch riders (using motorcycle, bicycles or car). We advise you always use a registered mail and ensure signing upon delivery – so that you’ll have evidence of dispatch and delivery if there’s dispute and legal issue with a customer in the future.
You need to request for the courier standard rates (Google the courier service Nigeria office email and address or visit their nearest office for more inquiries) – to request for their rates you would use in configuring your store prices. As your sales improve, you can open a merchant account to enjoy discount on bulk shipments.
If you are setting up downloadable products or online service, you can skip this process as the customer would only select, make payment and download or access their service online upon.
Simple, secure, and affordable ecommerce Web Solutions with ediaro.com (Fladio International Nigeria Limited)
ediaro.com professional website designers and web developers provides integrated ecommerce solution; such as website development, web hosting, domain registration, SSL, Payment Gateway Integration and other relevant professional support services you need to establish your own successful online store. It all starts with the quality infrastructure – ediaro.com partners with some of the best, tested and trusted companies across the globe to provide you with the reliability and performance needed for ecommerce store. ediaro.com ecommerce web servers support many merchant account services. You can even get a great deal by buying service packages directly from our us.And, if you ever require support, our team of skilled technicians is available 24/7.
One of the Biggest bank in Africa, United Bank for Africa (UBA) recently signed an MOU with ediaro.com to develop free ecommerce website for customers. Hence, if you are a UBA customer, we can develop a simple free ecommerce website for you. If you are not, open a corporate account with the Bank today and we’ll develop it for you free. Click here to get started.
To setup your ecommerce website today or make other inquiries, click here to contact us , email email@example.com or visit our Webcentre at www.webcentre.ediaro.com – it’s simple we’ll help you all thru the entire process.
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