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Friday 21 November 2014
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4 Tips for Starting an Online Store

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Online shopping has really been taking off in recent years and will continue to grow in popularity. The types of things you can sell on the internet are essentially unlimited, and many look to e-commerce as a way to supplement their income or in some cases, become the sole source. If you are thinking about starting an online store, it is important to do your homework—like any other type of store, the competition can be stiff and you need to do all you can to stand out from the competition. Here are some considerations for taking the plunge into e-commerce.

What Type of Products Will You Sell?

When it comes to online stores, there are a few broad ranges of the types of goods you can sell, besides the obvious path of things you are making yourself. You can purchase inventory and ship it off to customers as they place orders—this will require a greater investment on your part as you need to pay for the items up front. Drop shipping is a very popular option for online stores because all you need to do is pass along orders to a distributor who will then send the product out to the customer. Affiliate marketing is another option—in this instance, you simply refer visitors to products and services through advertising on your website; you will then get a portion of the sale because of your referral. This last option tends to have the lowest profit margins.

Choose a Focus

Like most businesses, you will do better if you focus on a niche rather than trying to be everything to everyone. Do some thorough research and look for niches that have yet to be filled. What can you provide that other people are looking for but maybe are having trouble finding? Do your homework on the competition. Find out the best channels to reach the people who want what you have in your store.

A Good Domain Name

Your domain name can be an important ally in search engine rankings, and chances are, the perfect name for your store, like Tshirts.com is already taken by someone else. But, in your efforts to get a domain name that perfectly advertises the contents of your online store, be careful about choosing a cumbersome, extra long name like Very-CoolTshirts.com or something to that effect. Keep spelling simple—additionally, words should be spelled like they sound, such as GoodHair rather than GoodeHair. Having the type of product you sell in your domain name is always helpful—one good way to accomplish this is to use your brand name along with the product, such as CooperShoes.

Reliable, Secure Payment Options

Quality e-commerce software is also a must. You want to find products that offer an ‘’all-in-one’’ package that includes all the tools you need, such as marketing and inventory management.  If you plan on accepting credit cards, you will need a merchant account. This can be done through a bank or other financial institution, but can come with hefty set-up fees as well as monthly fees and a percentage of each transaction. Many new businesses opt to go with Paypal for their credit card processing needs as it may be a cheaper alternative. Ideally, you want to establish as many payment options as possible to ensure maximum sales—you never know how a particular customer will want to pay and more options means more sales. You need to let customers know their information is safe on your site so you must display an SSL certificate prominently on the website.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about all things business; she recommends learning more about CloudSwipe for your e-commerce needs.

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