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Check list for e-commerce website / business set up
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Check list for e-commerce website / business set up

Here is a quick check list for anyone wanting to set up a new e-commerce site. It quickly runs through essential and optional requirements needed to set up an e-shop. This concise guide provides links and snippets of information regarding each aspect of website set up. We hope you find this useful and please feel free to print out / share :)

First and foremost:

❏ Register a domain name. This is the first thing that you will need to do. Choose a name that is relevant, easy to remember and available in as many extensions as possible (.com, .co.uk).

❏ Purchase Web Hosting. Choose a web hosting provider that can support sites with hundreds of products. Also look into hosting companies that support multiple e-commerce scripts. At Squirrel, we have 1 click installs for the most popular e-commerce software such as Prestashop, Zencart and OpenCart. You can see our 1 click installs here: Link.

 Install an e-commerce script. There are plenty of e-commerce software solutions to chooe from. It is very important that you choose the right script for you. In order to make an informed decision, you should check out each scripts reviews and take a look at their websites / discussion forums to see if there are any known issues. Always choose software that is secure and is regularly updated to maintain security. We have many guides to help you install and manage our 1 click install e-commerce scripts. You can find these in our hosting blog.

❏ Choose a payment processor / merchant. Again, there are plenty of payment processors to choose from. You may choose to integrate more than one. You will need to look at providers that customers trust as well as keeping an eye on fees and any extra costs that might occur. Some payment processors may charge a monthly fee as well as a percentage of your sales.

Choose a template / theme / graphics. Choosing the right theme / template for your site is very important. There are lots of template sites out there and each e-commerce script very often has its own themes available via the official website. We have a partnership with Medialoot that allows you to access their graphic design resources for free for one month - Medialoot offer.

Marketing / social network accounts / integration. Once your site is up and running, you will need to consider your marketing options. Social networking is a must and you'll want to integrate the most popular ones with your site.

Implement a shipping module / shipping methods. A lot of e-commerce scrpts have specific modules for different couriers. You will have to sit and work out which postal service is best for you based on reviews / costs. You can then look at custom modules for these carriers. These make it easier to work out specific postage costs as well as providing sophisticated tracking procedures.

Photograph and add quality product images. Quality images are essential as they help to 'sell' your product in the best available light. Blurry or tiny pictures do not help the customer decide whether that product is for them. You can either invest in professional pictures, buy yourself some good photography equipment or use a good photo editing program.

Have easy to understand terms and returns policy. This is important as it's a great indicator of how 'trustworthy' your e-tail business is. Many customers will look for this before buying and will be put off by confusing, long-winded terms.

Optional / things to consider:

Currency / languages. You may which to use multiple languages / currencies on your website. Overseas customers respond well to a multi language / currency site. If you have enough overseas customers to warrant it, see if your e-commerce script supports this as default or as an addon.

Newsletter set up. Although not essential, newsletters are a great way of keeping in contact with your customers. Some e-commerce systems will have built in newsletter capabilities. Otherwise, there may be addons / modules or you can use external software.

Analytics set up. You can also integrate analytics code or use analytics software alongside your website. This is useful for tracking all types of data and evaluating the success of your site. Google analytics is the most popular choice and comes free with a Google account.

Blog implementation. If you have the time to regularly update and maintain a blog, they can be a very worthwhile way of attracting traffic and offering something extra to your customers. There are many addons and modules for this depending on the script you are using.

Loyalty Scheme. Loyalty schemes are popular and very easy to implement with most modern e-commerce systems. Whether points or an affiliate scheme, these are definitely worth considering as they can persuade customers to stick with you rather than looking elsewhere.

We have a more in depth blog post regarding setting up an e-commerce site here: Set up an online store.

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