The number of people who shop for items online is only going to keep growing, so if there was ever a time to start your own online shop, this is it!
Everybody is selling something online these days. Heck, even Oprah is getting in on the online sales ride by having a web based “yard sale.” Ikea is even trying to tap into the individual online sales market by doing a test run of an online flea market in which they pair with individuals who want to sell used furniture.
Now, you might not have inventory that will sell, piecemeal, for thousands of dollars each but that doesn’t mean that you can’t set up a store of something you make or stock and turn a profit.
There are thousands of articles online that will teach you how to properly market and promote an online store. You can practically get a PhD in social media marketing just by surfing Google for a day. This article isn’t going to teach you about that. This article is going to teach you about the mechanics of setting up your successful business. Why? Because even the best marketing in the world won’t make up for a glitchy site or a clumsy shopping cart. You don’t need to look any further than the Affordable Care Act Marketplace for evidence of that!
Your design matters. Nobody is going to argue that. But if your host can’t handle your traffic, very few people are going to see that design. If you anticipate earning a fair amount of money, you should talk to your hosting provider about a dedicated server. Yes, this is going to cost more than shared hosting but it reduces the number of glitches, 404s and 503 messages your site visitors are going to get. Plus, you don’t have to worry about paying through the nose for unexpected bumps in traffic levels.
Your Shopping Cart’s Security
Programming your own shopping cart isn’t nearly as difficult as it seems. In fact, most customers probably won’t notice the code that you use to set it up. They will, however, notice if your shopping cart is not secure. Tech Geek Ministries has a checklist of things you need to do to ensure that your shopping carts are PCI compliant.
You need things to run just as smoothly on your backend, with your banking and reporting, as you do with the actual collecting of money from buyers. To save yourself eighteen daily headaches, it’s best to implement a system that links your shopping cart with your reporting, an example being the banking management systems by ProfitStars. Unitus (a Credit Union in Oregon) worked with them on their product and reporting systems and only had good things to say about the results. Their VP and CFO, Gino Cayanan, had this to say: “As a CFO, I benefit from the automation. It certainly makes my life much easier.”
The truth is that you could, if you really dig in and focus, have an online shop up and running in a couple of days. It is better, though, to take your time and make sure that the mechanics of your site and your business operations are working in concert. You’ll save yourself thousands of dollars in refunds!