So, this week we are looking at setting up an e-commerce store on the net! So far, we have chosen a domain name and our next step is to start setting up a site.
For any kind of store, you will be needing photos of the items that you intend to sell. No matter how good your description is, remember the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” How true that is! So, if your photo skills are up to snuff, get all set up and start shooting photos of your products. If you are not a good photographer, you might want to consider hiring a photographer to shoot the images for your store. Another option would be that sometimes the product manufacturer can provide you with photos of the products, which are usually quite professionally done. If you are selling products from a large manufacturer, there is a good chance they can provide images for you. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that if you have a lot of competition on the product line, you might want to shoot your own photos so that they are different from the ones that your competitors are using, just make sure they are as good or better than those other photos!
The product descriptions that you write are also very important! Make sure that you do not misspell any words! This will give your site an “amateur” flavor and will hurt your sales.
Another important thing will be pricing your items. Surf around to competitor sites and see what their prices are so that you can be sure you don’t over or under charge! Undercharging can hurt you just as much as if you had overcharged. Why? Well, if you are selling an item for way less than a competitor, people will get the idea that your item is not as good. Maybe it is damaged. Maybe it is a second. Somehow, there must be some reason why you are charging so little. Some people will grab up the bargain. Others will never come back to your site because you have given an impression of cheapness. Be competitive. In my case, I often have the highest prices for my goods when compared with my competitors. I make up for that by offering the best service! If you buy from me and you have a problem, I take care of it, no questions asked. This is worth a slightly higher price for many people.
As you set up your site, make sure that it looks professional. If you go out and hire a high school kid to design and construct the site, at least make sure that it doesn’t look like a high school job. My opinion would be to either hire a professional or to shop on the web for a professionally designed template for your site. You can buy a very nice template for as low as $50 or so, and up to as high as you wish to spend.
When shopping for the template, make sure you get one that is appropriate for the merchandise that you will be selling. If you are selling fishing gear, getting a site that has pictures of lingerie and women’s undergarments might not work too well! For a site selling Monster Truck equipment, you probably don’t want it to be pink. If you are selling gardening supplies, you might not want a black background. These things are just common sense, but they are so very important, and I often see people make mistakes that are as blatant as these examples that I have given. Don’t make that kind of mistake! Think about what kind of people are likely to buy the product that you are selling, and then decide what kind of colors and pictures that kind of person would want to see on your site. In my case, with my WowPhilippines.com site, I sell things like flowers and candy to men all over the world who have girlfriends in the Philippines. I deliver the gifts that they buy to their girlfriends. What kind of theme do I have on my site? Well, I have pretty Filipina women! I have hearts and such. Guys who have Filipina girlfriends obviously like to see beautiful ladies from the Philippines, so that is what I give them when they come to my site!
If you are going into e-Commerce on the site (and if you are reading this, you are!), you will need some kind of shopping cart on the site. Sometimes your payment processor will provide you with a shopping cart functionality, but it is often rather rudimentary. I prefer to use a real shopping cart system, not something that was provided by the payment processor for free. Don’t take me wrong, nothing wrong with free… but I want something professional. Even a professional system can be free! I use OSCommerce, which indeed is free. It is an open source shopping cart software, very flexible, and can do anything that even very high priced shopping cart systems can do. You can freely download OSCommerce, install it on your server, and start using it! Nobody will ever ask for a penny for the software.
So, to complete this step, you need to set up your site, using a template, a custom designed website, etc., then you need to put the shopping cart software into place. Enter all of your merchandise items into the database, and spend some time learning to use the software. After this, you will be ready for the next step in staring your business, getting the right payment processor. We’ll talk about that tomorrow! See you then.