How to Set Up an Online Store - Building the Site
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Here you have several options. If youíre a programmer or website designer (or would like to become one) you could build the site yourself from the code up. Or you could use DreamWeaver or some other HTML editing program to help you build it. You could hire someone else to do it for you. Or you could find and purchase some readymade website templates.
Thereís a lot to take into consideration when building a website, whether youíre doing it from scratch or basing it off of templates. Obviously it should be professional-looking. The actual appearance will depend on what exactly youíre selling. Some of the factors you should take into account when setting up your website include:
- How many products do you wish to display? Too few can leave you with a bare-looking website, while too many can look busy and overwhelming to visitors.
- What type of products are you selling? Thatís going to affect how many you display, as well as how you display them. You wouldnít want to display basic furniture in the same way you display highly detailed jewelry, for example.
- Do you have digital pictures of the products? If not, can you obtain them? And are they of a quality that shows off the products to their best advantage? (You should also consider how quickly these pictures will load; you might have to settle for some kind of compromise between highly detailed pictures and faster loading).
- Include item descriptions, prices of items, and discounts (if applicable). Your customers will definitely want to know this information! In order to keep this data up to date on your site with a minimum of hassles, you might need a database or content management system from which the site can pull information.
- You might already have this set up if youíre taking a bricks-and-mortar business online, but you need to keep in mind all of the information that your database requires so that you can keep track of your products and sales. This might include the item number, product ID, a description of the product, and its price. You might also need to know its weight, at the very least so you can calculate shipping costs.
Obviously, if your online business is service-oriented rather than product-oriented, some of these points wonít apply to you. But you still need to build a website that is easy to navigate and not confusing to your customers. You need to tell your customers clearly what to expect from your business. Thatís the first step in building trust; itís important in any business and even more important for an online business where customers often donít interact with a real person (even in email) before deciding whether or not to place an order.
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