Opening an online store is a big step for any business. Although e-commerce technology has moved a long way in recent years making selling online manageable and affordable for small business a diverse digital skill set and investment are still required to start selling online.
Once you have validated your idea about selling a product online the next step is to build your online store. Here are the tools you will need to develop and open your store:
Select & Register A Domain
Register a domain name for your online store through a domain registration website such as 123-reg. Search the website to find which domain names are available. If your first choice domain name is unavailable you can select a variation. If you are selling into domestic markets you can select a CcTLD (Country code Top-Level Domain) such as .co.uk or .ie for the UK & Ireland respectively, but if you would like to sell to international markets you should select a TLD (Top Level Domain) such as .com or .org. These domains are recognised as top level domains and aren’t associated to any countries and are recommended for businesses with an international audience.
Select an e-commerce Platform
e-commerce platforms have made it possible for businesses of any size to open their own store. They provide an all in one solution for setting up and managing an online store. This includes hosting, online shopping cart, web design and product management. The most popular solution for small businesses is Shopify as it is easy to use and has a low price point.
Email is an essential part of e-commerce. It provides a direct communication channel between the business and the customer. It can be used to promote new products or notify customers of the latest news. Mail Chimp is a reliable and affordable solution for that integrates with most e-commerce platforms and marketing tools.
Customers expect a high standard of service and businesses that do not meet these standards risk visitors abandoning their purchase. Depending on budget there are a range of customer support tools available that provide live chat and help desk. Olark is a popular live chat solution for small businesses and Zendesk is a trusted help desk tool for businesses of all sizes.
Before launching the store decide on a delivery method for fulfilling orders and provide information about the areas that you will serve on the website. Courier companies provide the best solution for e-commerce delivery, but their services aren’t available for businesses who do not deliver large quantities of parcels. Small businesses can use NI Parcels, which is a courier service that enables companies to book couriers who would be otherwise unavailable.
Written by Richard Megaw. For more information visit http://niparcels.com/. As part of ‘Use Small Business Can as a Channel’, we provide an exclusive discount code for Small Business Can users that will provide them with a 10% discount on their first order.