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how to create the best online store

To say that it is important for your business to have a strong online presence, including an online store, would be an understatement. It is almost impossible to think of a single type of business that would not benefit from an online presence.

Food and beverage products are easy examples. People shop online. For everything. And when they see your items in a store, they are likely to check your prices online.

If they find a product similar to yours online with customer ratings, they will be likely to walk away from your purchase for one that is available online, even if that means waiting for delivery.

In today’s Amazon age, it’s absolutely necessary to have an online store. The best part is that it’s easier than you think. Many online platforms enable a seamless and intuitive online store setup. These integrate with your website and can provide numerous benefits that you might not have even considered.

How to Get Started with Ecommerce for Your Small Business

Here are some tips and ideas on how to make sure that your online retail presence is ideal for your products.

how to get started with an ecommerce store

Getting started

If you already have a website, you can reach out to your hosting company to see if they provide e-commerce solutions. Most hosting sites are growing in this area, and most entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the opportunity to sell online. There are simple and more detailed options. If your inventory is easy to manage, you can keep stock of your items yourself and simply use an online portal to process sales.

In order to process online sales most efficiently, speak to your bank to ensure that you accept the most common forms of payment. If you do not, consider reaching out to another provider, such as Square or PayPal as an additional option for checking out your customers.

Off-the-shelf vs. customized platforms for ecommerce websites

There are simple, off-the-shelf applications and platforms that can bring your sales online. A basic solution might resemble having an Etsy or Ebay seller account. Through these platforms you can list items, process sales, and tap into additional functionality such as promoting sales and in the case of Ebay, selling items in an auction format.

Other prepackaged solutions include Shopify, Wix, YoKart, Tictail and others. Some of these are perfect for beginners or those who want to spend their time creating their products, not coding or noodling away at their e-commerce sites all hours of the day.

Customized solutions may require some more work, but for larger businesses or those who aim to grow larger, their flexibility and rich features can provide countless benefits. For example, some larger platforms can integrate with enterprise-level software to track inventory. As your retail operations grow, these tools can help you streamline production processes and cut costs.

Other perks of e-commerce solutions

Whether you are looking at a simple or customized solution, shipping automation and shopping cart management tools can help further cut costs and increase sales. Many e-commerce platforms integrate with shipping systems and provide discounts. But the real benefit when it comes to dealing with order processing is how the online shopping cart portion of your website or e-commerce portal can be leveraged.

For example, if you have a customer looking at your newest line of sauces, but they do not buy or abandon their shopping carts, many e-commerce platforms allow you to re-target this customer. Imagine, getting a second chance to remind a customer of their interest or possibly present an offer such as free shipping or a volume discount.

Another benefit is up-selling at the shopping cart stage. We’ve all seen this effective tactic on Amazon, where a sidebar tells a shopper what other items are frequently bought along with the item you just clicked into your cart. You can up-sell your sauce with another product, and it may be something that your customer did not know about.

Remember your physical sales office, too

It might be tempting to switch wholly to online retail, but don’t short your opportunities with your physical retail outlet just yet. Have an option where your product can be bought in person, even if it’s smaller sales or through a local distributor.

What’s equally important is how much time you’ll spend supporting your sales, especially if you’re running the online store from a home-based office. It’s critical to stay organized and on top of everything from invoicing, to payment processing, to paperwork for taxes. Start from the get-go by making sure that space is well-organized and well-appointed. Over time, keeping it this way will become second nature.

It doesn’t take much to get the ball rolling for an online store. Getting your product out there and making it easily accessible to customers can be just the boost your business needs. Stay organized, stay flexible, and have a simple ecommerce strategy in place. Soon enough, your sales will increase to the point that you will be spending time tweaking and customizing a much richer e-commerce solution in the future.

Our guest author is Dean Burgess of excitepreneur.net.

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