How to Start Your Business Online In 5 Simple Steps
It’s hard to imagine a modern well-off company that’s not represented online. The web has turned into an ultimate point of reference, as well as into the largest market you can ever imagine. In 2017, you don’t necessarily have to go for costly services of a web design studio to get your website running. Being a complete rookie, you’re still able to launch a beautiful and full-fledged e-store thanks to e-commerce templates. Today, we’re here to provide you a short step-by-step guide on how to start your business online within a short period of time and without breaking the bank.
Step #1: Choose the Engine That Fits You
If you have no or limited coding skills, you need an e-commerce engine to help you in managing your website. A website engine is a system that brings you all the needed e-store functionality: a shopping cart, product catalogs, easy setup of payment and shipment methods, multiple currency options, etc. You can set up the way your store operates and track your store stats in a handy dashboard that makes customizing maintaining your store simple.
Let’s review the peculiarities of most popular e-store engines to let you choose the one that best fits your needs:
PrestaShop is the foremost solution for running a small or a medium store. It offers you hassle-free installation and stats-laden dashboard that’s easy to grasp.
Magento is a paramount choice for a large store. It builds beautiful catalogs for you even if you have thousands of products and bring you the best native SEO among the e-commerce engines. On the other hand, Magento engine is far from being a lightweight one, so you’ll need a business hosting plan with the latest version of PHP on board.
OpenCart is a great solutions for all the newbies and is ideal for running a small e-store. It brings you the most comprehensive dashboard and makes managing your e-store a piece of cake.
WooCommerce is not an engine per se, but an extensive WordPress plugin that lets you turn your WordPress website into an e-store. If you’re an avid fan of WordPress, don’t hesitate to go for it.
Shopify is a stunning e-commerce engine that lets you build a modern e-store in a twinkle of an eye. The engine is not free but gives you extra value for your money. You don’t have to install Shopify or look for a suitable hosting. The Shopify team will host the website for you on their fast-performing servers and fully take care of the website installation.
These are the most used and extensively expanding e-commerce engines on the market. Use this link to learn more about their popularity. If you go for one of these solutions, you’re bound to end up with a user-friendly store that’s well-documented and simple in set up and maintenance. So, choose the solution that appeals most to you and move on to the second step.
Step #2: Find the Theme to Build Your Dream Website
Many people make a big mistake first choosing a hosting plan and just then going for a theme. This is not wise, as every template has its own server requirements and you should know them before taking care of the hosting matters. So, the template comes first.
Google up the themes that run on the engine of your preference. You need a theme of great quality, so it’s better to fish for the one on the large template marketplaces with high quality standards. For example, drill the collection of ecommerce templates by TemplateMonster. Being the largest template provider they have thousands of great, well-documented templates to offer and provide round-the-clock live support. What’s more, this company has recently turned into a marketplace and now delivers stunning high-quality designs from all over the world.
If you’re not sure that you can settle with just one store template and want to try out a couple of them, there’s a great offer for you. This fall, TemplateMonster runs a subscription campaign that lets you obtain 60 or 120 themes a year or an unlimited number of templates for a comparatively small subscription fee. This offer is great for newbies who want to try out multiple templates and find the one that brings them higher sales. Moreover, the offer is a treasure for web designers who build their projects with the help of templates. Let’s see the plans offered:
With the Bronze Shopify Subscription Plan you pay $19 monthly and can download 60 themes a year (i.e. 5 themes every month). The Silver Plan for $29/month gives you 120 templates a year (10/month). The Golden plan is the largest one ($49/month) and brings you all the 334 themes available immediately. What’s great about the plans is that during a year you’ll have a chance to go for the new templates that come out and have one of the most advanced websites out there.
Let’s say you’ve chosen the theme, the design and functionality of which are optimal for your website. Check out the hosting requirements of it and move on to choosing your hosting provider and plan.
Step #3: Find Your Best Hosting Provider
Hosting companies are countless and it’s so hard to decide which one to trust. First of all, we want to warn you against going for a free hosting. Free hosting websites give you tiny bandwidth and storage to trick you into updating to their premium version. Moreover, they are typically very slow and lack tools, such as cPanel and MySQL, which are a must. Next, they make it hard or impossible to leave them and move your website to a paid server.
Go for one of the top paid servers. Their pricing plans typically start with $4 – $6 for shared hosting solutions. The top 5 hosts that we recommend in 2017 are the following:
These are the hosting providers that bring you rich hosting plans with their penny-wise plans. Moreover, they have support teams that you’ll admire. They answer e-mail, phone call, and chats in a timely manner and their advice is really helpful. In addition to this, these hosting providers offer you a free domain parking if you go for one of their plans. If you choose one of these hosting providers, don’t worry, you’re in good hands.
Step #4: Installing the Engine and the Template
Now, you have the template and a place on the server to install it to. It’s time to get it all installed. First of all, you need to download the engine from its official website and follow a step-by-step guidance on installing it. This doesn’t apply to you if you go for Shopify subscription. In this case, you’ll have the engine installed for you.
Next, you come to the template installation stage. It’s often the case that the process is automated and you can install the theme in just a couple of clicks. Don’t forget to install the template sample data that bring you all the imagery and content that are featured in the theme’s Live Demo.
Finally, open your website and check if everything looks and functions the same way as the Demo demonstrates. If you’ve done everything correctly, this should be the case. Reach out the Support Team in case something goes wrong.
Step #5: Customizing and Launching Your Store
Last but not least, comes the customization of our e-store. That’s the last step to take before you go live and start selling. First of all, put your website in a maintenance mode. Then, start with adding the signs of your corporal identity and customizing such website pages as Contacts, About the Store, etc. Next, get to creating your product catalogs and adding shipping and payment methods. Don’t forget to specify tax calculation rules for different regions and countries.
If you want your store to be really powerful, don’t forget to set up product relations. Set up up-sale, cross-sale and related products. To make your store trustworthy, don’t forget to point out your exchange & return policy. The more you have to offer in terms of these policies, the more people will trust you store.
Once you’re done with all the customization needed, go live, welcome your first customers and grow into one of the most popular niche stores or online markets.
To conclude, to start your business online, you should accomplish 5 simple steps. Choose the engine that fits your needs, find the theme with appealing design and modern functionality and settle down with a hosting plan. I wish you choose the template you’re happy with and launch your store within a short period of time. May your e-store prosper!
If you want to learn more about eCommerce Platforms, check out a free e-book titled “Choosing the best eCommerce Platform”.