How to Build an E-Commerce Business

A prospective e-entrepreneur has lots of options for building his or her own e-commerce business. It’s important first to create a business plan, which should include the following key ingredients:

selecting your market
selecting and pricing the products you will offer
determining how you will get the products to your customers
selecting a domain for your website
building and hosting your website
selecting the shopping cart software to manage your e-store
setting up payment processing
making provisions for product returns and other customer supportThese factors are critically important in determining the success of your enterprise. If you do not know how to perform these activities, it’s still possible to create successful e-commerce ventures, but you’ll need help. Any and all of these activities can be outsourced. There are also coaching programs and instructional courses that will teach you everything you need to know. One of the best of these is Tim Godfrey and Steve Clayton’s Blueprint Project, Black Edition, which is designed to be an e-commerce business-in-a-box. No other resources are required, as this program includes directions and all necessary tools for finding profitable markets, building websites with shopping cart software, finding drop-ship suppliers, getting traffic to your sites and even selling your websites if you desire.Selecting your marketE-commerce entrepreneurs may select a market they are familiar with or have an affinity for, but from a business perspective it’s more important to find a market or niche with enough demand, but not too much competition, so that their expected return on investment makes sense. This is determined through market research.Products and ShippingThe Internet allows you access to suppliers and vendors all over the world who you can contract with to purchase the item(s) you plan on selling. Shop around and get a good deal on bulk orders of the item(s) so you can make a profit. Many vendors will arrange discounts with people who order in large quantities. Make sure that the vendor is responsive, offers rush shipping orders, and is established. If you can find a supplier who will drop ship, this is a very attractive business model, as minimizes your overhead, and allows you to focus on marketing.Building and Hosting your Website / E-StoreWith the popularity of e-commerce web sites came numerous new web site hosting companies. You will want to find a reliable, customer support-oriented web hosting service to house your web site. There are some free web-hosting services, however paid web hosts, such as Hostgator, generally offer more web space, the ability to handle a great deal of traffic, and the ability to handle a merchant account for credit cards.Obtaining a domain name that suits your e-commerce business is relatively simple. It’s important to pick a good name both for customer recognition and also for search engine optimization, so do your research and include important keywords in your domain. Most of the time, you can register the domain name you choose when you sign up for a web hosting company.If you are an HTML coding genius and are familiar with creating web sites, you are lucky, and you will probably enjoy creating your web site. If not, there are several e-commerce templates that you can download online and use for your pages. You can also create a website with WordPress, a popular blogging and content management platform, which does not require knowledge of HTML, CSS, etc. WordPress allows the use of plugins, including e-store platforms which allow you to display products and prices and do transactions with credit cards or PayPal.You could also pay someone to create your e-commerce web site. Make sure you check out the web designer’s portfolio before enlisting their help to see that they are capable of producing a quality web site for your business. There are several good freelance web sites on the Internet that allow you to post your project and get bids from qualified applicants. Another great resource is the web hosting company you choose – more often than not, they have a design team ready to build web sites for their customers.

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