Technical skills required? What it’s like to spin up an online store now
November 20, 2014 6:45 am
An ecommerce website can be a profitable experience if one has the drive and ambition to succeed. And in today’s world, that actually sums up most of the skills a seller will need in order to develop an online store. Due to the popularity of ecommerce, software companies have developed web-based applications that are incredibly user-friendly. In less than an hour, it’s possible to set up a fully functional online store ready to sell products.
Basic Functionality for Online Stores is Included
There are many different platforms that people can use to start up an online store. These range from feature-rich and highly supported websites to free open source alternatives that can be customized for the exact look and feel an owner wants. In either case, these methods offer basic functionality for selling goods using plain and easy-to-understand language. Instead of learning to code for website development, these ecommerce applications automatically construct the base of the store allowing users to concentrate more on products, prices and advertising.
How Does it All Fit Together?
Setting Up the Store
Once the ecommerce solution has been installed by the hosting company, owners are provided with an administrative login and password. After logging in, they can begin to add products in order to start selling. The entire process is dependent on the hosting company and how quickly they can get everything set up. However, it could take as little as twenty minutes before owners can start adding inventory to sell.
Choosing a Shipping Method
Most ecommerce solutions come with a variety of the most common shipping methods. If owners want customers to choose and pay for their own shipping, then the owner must create an account for the available method.
For example, using exact shipping costs for the United States Postal Service requires an account from the USPS for the online store to correctly charge for weights and distances. This is a free account and takes a few hours to set up through the USPS website as verification and testing needs to be done before the account goes live.
Selecting Payment Gateways
Payment gateways are how items are purchased on the ecommerce website. This is user preference and most solutions come with the most common methods for easy setup. However, additional methods can be added later should an owner wish to use a different gateway.
One of the most common methods of payment is PayPal. Setting up a PayPal account can take up to five business days as bank information needs to be verified. Once this has been done, users can simply input the login and merchant ID key provided by PayPal to begin accepting payments immediately.
Each payment gateway differs in requirements including how funds are made available. With PayPal, funds are immediately accessible and can be used directly from the account using the free debit card. Other methods are capable of directly depositing funds into the bank account on the next business day.
Designs, Colors and Themes
Not everyone wants to have an online store that looks identical to another. Most solutions are capable of using themes while others provide a color pallet and image editing to allow owners to change the appearance of the site. However, many of the open source solutions require a bit of programming knowledge in order to change the overall look and feel of the online store.
Themes May Be Dependent on Solution
Depending on the ecommerce solution that is used to build the online store, themes may be available for free or to purchase. It may also be possible to hire the hosting company to design a specific look for the store based on what the owner wants to see. This may cost a bit extra, but it will provide a unique look to the website allowing it to stand out against other online stores.
Marketing Your Website on the Internet
One of the most important efforts involved with owning a successful online store is the marketing of products. It’s not enough to publish a store, consumers need to discover that the store exists. Most solutions incorporate social media connections as well as provide information for effective marketing strategies. Another trend as of the early 2000s is incorporating mobile marketing, as this allows potential buyers to purchase goods directly from smartphones and other devices.
Social Media Integration
As social media is such an integral part of life for millions of users, developers incorporated tools to use allowing owners to grab the attention of potential buyers on those websites. This could include “like” and “share” buttons while including the ability to “tweet” the link of the product. Other tools could include directly connecting social media profiles to the ecommerce solution. This allows owners to update those accounts directly from the administrator panel of the online store. And by far the most important feature to be aware of is the ability to port one’s storefront to a high-volume social network like facebook. The company page can be a window into the external ecommerce store, allowing for lead generation and purchases to begin, or even to conclude, directly within the social network.
SEO Fields for Items
As search engine optimization is important for showing up in search results, most ecommerce solutions are built with SEO capabilities. While some of the more elaborate ecommerce solutions may do this automatically when an item is placed into the online store, some may have to be manually entered. However, a lot of these solutions also include easy to use instructions on how to use each field on the inventory screen.
It’s Never Been Easier to Operate an Online Store
Most of the functionality of the online store is automated. Once the setup has been completed, the only thing the owner needs to do is add more inventory, ship those items that have been sold, and maintain proper advertising. This can be done easily from either a warehouse or the basement of a home. As long as the owner has items for sale, the online store can be up and running in a short amount of time. Many believe that the more effort put into managing the online store, the more profitable it becomes. As with anything in life, ambition and determination do play an important role in the operation of a smoothly functioning and successful online store.