Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About E-Commerce: A Guide For Newbies
E-commerce is something that many of us take advantage of each day. For example, when you buy something on the Web, even using a site like eBay, you are using e-commerce. And you do the same when you sell online, regardless of the website used.
As you can imagine, e-commerce is a big deal for businesses. It gives them the opportunity to sell their products and services online. And that means they have an extra revenue source. The sad truth is that many entrepreneurs know little about how to get started with e-commerce.
In today’s blog post, I’ll talk you through the steps you need to start selling your wares online.
Myths surrounding e-commerce
Before we begin, it’s crucial to dispel some myths that surround the world of online shopping. First of all, you don’t have to pay a fortune to start selling on the Internet.
An e-commerce store can be as simple or complex as you’d like. You could open up an “eBay Store” without having any prior knowledge of selling online. Or you could install an off-the-shelf solution on your website. In both cases, you don’t need to sell an arm and a leg to get started.
Second, e-commerce isn’t hard to master. Sure, you’ll need to learn some stuff. Do you have experience of using computer software? If so, you’ll soon get to grips with administering your online shop.
Another myth that surrounds the world of e-commerce is usefulness. Some people assume that buyers would rather pay for stuff offline. In fact, the opposite is true for the majority of consumers! Online stores give folks a convenient choice when it comes to buying goods and services they want.
Now that we’ve dispelled a few e-commerce myths, it’s time to get started on your new online store!
Domain name and hosting
To all intents and purposes, an online store functions the same as a regular website. It uses a programming language like PHP and a back-end database like MySQL. Before you can use either of those to power an e-commerce site, there are two things you need first.
A domain name is the URL or website address your users would type into their Web browser’s address bar. Hosting refers to the physical computer that your online store needs to operate. Domain names connect to hosts by using IP addresses and other technical functions.
When you have the two working together in perfect harmony, you can then build a website. Or, in this case, an e-commerce solution. The good news is that there are countless providers of domain name and hosting services on the Web.
It’s crucial that you bear the following considerations in mind before you buy:
- Choose a memorable domain name that is relevant to your business or website;
- Select a host based in the same country as your target market;
- Avoid hosts that offer “unlimited” disk space and bandwidth. That’s because there will still be a limit;
- Determine how reliable your chosen host is before you use them. For example, what is their “uptime”?
It’s important to be savvy when it comes to choosing domain and hosting providers. By doing so, you’ll end up with a fast and powerful setup for your e-commerce platform.
Once you’ve got your domain and host sorted out, you’ll need to figure out what will run on your server. In essence, you have to do one of two things. The first is to choose an e-commerce platform that works out of the box, as it were.
The second is to use a solution built just for you. To all intents and purposes, you are looking for a “bespoke” e-commerce platform.
From an affordability point of view, the first option is the best one to choose. Of course, that doesn’t mean you still can’t have a bespoke site! It’s possible to apply different themes or “skins” to e-commerce platforms. You can choose an existing theme to install on your site, or have one designed for you.
When choosing e-commerce software for your site, you’ll need to ask the following questions:
- How easy is it to install maintenance updates?
- Is it safe and secure?
- Does it work well on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets?
- Can you adapt it by installing plugins or add-ons?
- Are there any limitations?
You need to compare the features of e-commerce platforms to find the one that best meets your needs.
Another consideration to make is technical support. What happens if something goes wrong, and you don’t know how to fix the problem? For the most part, there is plenty of help and advice online.
But, sometimes it’s good to know that you can pick up the phone and call someone instead. For instance, a Magento support company might be more useful to you than reading forum posts. Especially if you are new to the world of e-commerce.
Once you’ve figured out what platform you’re going to use, there is one more point you need to consider. I am, of course, talking about the ability to accept payments!
If you’re not charging for anything on your e-commerce site, you can skip this section. But, 99.9% of readers to this page will charge for the product and services they offer. If you are one of those people, keep reading because this is important!
Your customers cannot complete the checkout process unless you use a payment processing service. One of the easiest options is to use PayPal. But, I recommend setting up a “merchant account” and “payment gateway” for your site. Why? Well, for one thing, some folks don’t want to use PayPal.
Another is that some payment methods aren’t available through PayPal. Examples include bank transfers, cheque payments and so forth.
Most e-commerce solutions offer add-ons that allow you to set up payment processing. Before you install them, you’ll need to call the company you wish to use first. That’s because you must complete the application process. Part of that process is to get checked out for fraud prevention purposes.
Once you’ve got yourself a payment processing service, you can then start to sell online. Thanks for reading today’s in-depth guide to e-commerce. I hope you enjoyed it!