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Six steps for starting online sales

E-commerce and online sales can ignite your small business growth. Get started with these steps.

Published: October 08, 2014
Updated: February 16, 2017

Creating an e-commerce website can have a tremendous impact on your business. With more people turning to the internet to research and purchase the items they need, online sales can create a whole new opportunity to expand your reach and increase awareness for your product and brand.

Get started with these six simple steps.

1. Register your domain name

The first step in setting up your online store is to choose a name for your website and see if it's available. Sites like GoDaddy, Name.com, and HostGator allow you to search for domain names and extensions.

Once you find the domain name you want, simply buy it and register it. Costs for having a service host your website are relatively low.

2. Set up your e-commerce website

The next step is to set up your website for selling online. If you have an existing website, adding an e-commerce component can be done easily depending on your site's platform. For example, WordPress offers a number of plug-ins that allow you to build and connect to e-commerce software.

Alternatives are e-commerce website builders like Volusion, Shopify, and Shopping Cart Elite. These allow you to set up your store with all the features you need including order catalogs, checkout carts, and online payment acceptance ability.

3. Connect to social media

There is no better way to let everyone know that you have a product to sell than using social media. By linking to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and other social sites, you can increase your reach and ability to share information about your products, including promotions and discounts.

4. Create branded email addresses

To enhance your brand, reinforce it whenever and wherever possible. Use your domain name as your email extension to create branded email addresses. For example, if your domain is www.safedogtoys.com, create emails such as "info@safedogtoys.com" or "customerservice@safedogtoys.com." Branded email addresses convey to your customers that you are established and professional, and take branding seriously — all of which helps build consumer trust.

5. Accept online credit and debit card payments from your customers

Make sure you have a reliable and secure way to accept payments online. When starting, talk with a few merchant services providers who can assess your needs and discuss different options for accepting a wide variety of online payment types including credit and debit cards. Talk to your banker or visit wellsfargo.com/biz/merchant to find out more about merchant services.

6. Use best practices

Once everything is in place, implement best practices to ensure a positive buying experience for your customers.

  • Make contact information easy to find. Your address, phone number, email, and store hours should be prevalent on the site and easy to find.

  • Add high-quality images of your products. Because your customers won't be able to touch and feel the product before buying, provide the highest-quality product images. This also makes your site and products appear more professional.

  • Clearly outline your return policy. Doing so will make your customers more comfortable with buying from you.

  • Be careful with pop-up ads. Don't interfere with your customers' shopping experience by overloading them with ads.

  • Keep your site up to date. Remove old products and events to keep your site more professional and provide a better shopping experience.

Make sure your business's online experience is easy and without troubles, and you'll build a stable of long-term customers.

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