Venturing Into The World Of eCommerce
I’ve been both a buyer and a seller on eBay for many years and it really is a great venue online. However, you can not get around the fact that as an eBay seller you have very little control over the decisions that eBay makes. Some decisions may help your business grow while others may give your competitors an advantage. Your items will almost always show up right next to another eBay seller’s which drives down sell prices and profit margins. Any alternative forms of revenue from banner ads or sponsored links goes directly to eBay. Although you listed the items it’s still their web space. Now don’t get me wrong I still sell on eBay a lot but it also may be time to start thinking about building something that you fully control instead of building up someone else’s platform. The only way to do this is to have your very own website and sell directly from it to the consumer. This may sound like a daunting task but in reality it is very easy due to some innovative eCommerce solutions.
Getting A Domain Name For Your Store
The first thing that you’ll definitely need if you’re going to start an eCommerce store is a good domain name. When I was thinking about registering my first domain I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out which company to use. In reality it matters very little where you decide to register the domain. Some companies would have you believe that if you purchase a domain then you should also host your website at the same company.You don’t have to use the same company for hosting as you do for registering the domain. My advice would be to register the domain at whatever company has a good deal at the time.Whatever you do make sure you make a note of your login details where you registered the domain. Another thing that confuses many is the different types of registration. There are three different types of domain registration the difference being the level of privacy:
- Public Registration. With this option you will be asked to enter your personal information when registering the domain including your real name and address. This info will be freely available to anyone who searches for the owner of the domain.
- Business Registration Instead of registering with your personal info you can use your business instead. So instead of listing your full name and address you would list your business name and the address of your business (you could also use a PO Box)
- Private Registration. Instead of your details being entered the domain registrar’s information is added keeping you anonymous (unless a serious legal inquiry is being made)
With all of that out of the way here are some of the more well known and reliable domain registrar’s.
- GoDaddy is almost always having some sort of promotion on domain registration.
- Cheap Domain Registration
- Another domain registration service with good deals.
- Name Cheap
- Get domain names for as little as $3.98 per year.
The Three Paths To An eCommerce StoreNow that you have a good domain name it’s time to start building a store. So how exactly do you go about it? There are really only about three basic ways to go about this and the difficulty level ranges from easy to super complex. We’ll start with the most basic setup.
- All-In-One eCommerce Solutions. Using an all in one solution is the easiest option out of three. They provide hosting for your eStore, shopping cart integration and tools to customize the look and feel of the store. Some also provide tools for promoting your new store online. Of course all of this isn’t free as these services rely on monthly fees and sometimes also charge a percent of each transaction.
- eCommerce Store Scripts. This is a little more advanced but has the advantage of saving on monthly fees. Instead of using an online store builder with built in hosting you download the store software and install it on your domain using your own hosting account. You may also have to set up the software to work with your chosen shopping cart or payments.
- Building A Store From Scratch The last and hardest option is to build a store from ground up. This is only for the most serious online ventures as this requires lots of technical skill and knowledge. Unless you really need you store to one a kind with new ground breaking features there really is no reason to go down this path.
All In One Store SolutionsAn all-in-one hosted webstore can be great starting point for an eCommerce beginner or someone transitioning from eBay or Amazon. With this solution much of technical details of website design, shopping cart integration, listing and inventory control are handled for you. There are many companies that are trying to get into this space but here a few of the more reliable names out there.
- A large selection of 96 drag and drop templates to customize your store. You can export items from your store to eBay. Lots of promotional tools including a Facebook Fan Page Store, Email Marketing, and Coupon Codes. Inventory is automatically updated and even returns are processed easily. Buyers can shop from their Mobile Phone. Unlimited photos for items.
- Niche specific design themes and templates. Easily handle product orders, inventory and even returns. Uses rich snippet on page markup for improved SEO rankings. Connects and promotes your store via social media channels.
eCommerce Store ScriptsWhile requiring a bit more technical know how installing a store script on your own host can be a good choice for someone looking to save on monthly fees. There are many tutorials and videos that can help you through the process which may be frustrating at first. One the most popular free store scripts is Magento which is now owned by eBay.
Covers basic setup instructions for Magento eCommerce platform.
- Covers howto setupMagento usingBluehostCPANEL.Magento Store Design PDFA PDF explaining how to design your new store using the Magento software.
Another option that is growing in popularity is running your eCommerce store on WordPress. WordPress is primarily a blogging platform but is incredibly flexible. Through use of an eCommerce theme and the WooCommerce plugin. You can have a eStore online in minutes and best of all WooCommerce is free. Check out this video on installing WooCommerce:
The easiest way to install WooCommerce and WordPress is with bluehost 1 click installations.