So you have a business website that already has people coming to it. Why not sell products on your website? Adding an online store to your website is quick and easy and can generate substantial revenue. Whether you are selling clothing, tools, food or other items the process is very much the same. As such, letís discuss the process required to add an online store.
First, you must start by selecting an online store software, often called shopping cart software. There are many shopping cart software providers out there with features ranging from very basic to very specialized. The most important aspects of the software you select are that it is easy to use and navigate and that it displays your products in a favorable manner. After all, customers will not buy your products if they don't look appealing or if the store is too difficult to purchase from. Security is also important. Select a software which is reputable meeting all current security standards and which has been around for a while.
So you've selected a shopping cart software. What next? Each software is slightly different in their setup process. In most, you'll select a general layout for your online store along with colors and any graphics you'd like to upload including logos, headers, footers, etc. If you don't have this don't worry; most popular shopping carts allow you to create this very easily. Next, you'll input your contact information and products. Be sure your product pictures are of as high a resolution as possible. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words and pictures can often be the difference between a sale and no sale. Product descriptions should be detailed but to the point. Extremely long product descriptions often lose people's interest.
Once all of your products are in place in your store it's time to set up your payment methods so people can pay you. Many online shoppers prefer PayPal, which is very easy to set up and does not require that customers give you their personal info. Accepting credit cards through a merchant account is also recommended as it gives a more professional appearance than PayPal and provides better merchant protections. Apply for a merchant account which is compatible with the shopping cart software you have selected. Finally, there are still a few folks out there who prefer to pay by check. Most shopping cart software allows the customer to print their order form and mail in a check at the end of the checkout process. Although some online merchants choose not to accept checks it is recommended as you are often turning away sales if you don't.
Okay, your products are in place, you have payments set up, what's next? Next, you must set up your shipping methods. You can either process it in your end or outsource it to a company that provides complete order fulfilment. What you charge your customers for shipping can be figured a variety of different ways. Often a flat fee is charged, such as $10 per order. Some online stores figure the shipping by weight or dollar amount. Still others get actual shipping quotes from the specific shipper they use. Whatever shipping method you choose be sure it is enough to cover your costs for shipping the items and any handling involved. Pay particular attention to heavy items. If you choose to ship internationally you'll need to set up higher rates for these orders. Most shopping carts can accommodate this.
Internet merchants are often confused over whether or not they must charge for tax. The law states that you must collect sales tax for orders which are shipped to the same states in which you ship from. So if you only ship from one state you'll only need to collect sales tax on orders which are shipped to within your state. Again, this is easy to set up with most shopping cart software.
Next, you must add a link to your current website to your new online store. Often internet merchants label this link "shop online" or "visit our online store". Whatever you choose it should be a prominent link on your current website to show your visitors that you sell your products online and how to get to your online store. Once this link is posted your new online store will be "live" and will have visitors from your existing site going to it. You may want to further promote your online store with a press release, pay-per-click advertising or other promotion. Generally the more visitors you can get to your online store the more sales you'll make.
That's it, simpler than you thought, right? As you begin filling your orders you'll probably begin wondering why you didn't add an online store to your website sooner.
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