How to Setup an Online Store

High-quality images help merchandise sell.
High-quality images help merchandise sell. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Online stores allow entrepreneurs to design a business revolving around products for which they own a passion. A web-based store also provides a low-overhead means to launch an endeavor that could grow into a much larger operation. However, without specific web-design training, creating an effective e-commerce website from scratch could put your small business dream out of your reach. You can purchase prepackaged e-commerce tools at reasonable prices to get your online store up and running quickly.

Open a business account with an online payment service. Provide the necessary qualifying information, which could include your bank account number and a valid credit card. Online payment services have less rigorous qualifying standards than credit card companies, which makes it possible for novice business owners to accept credit card payments from customers.

Open an account with an online store builder. Such tools offer a range of integrated services that include hosting, email, retail store templates and shopping carts to help you set up your retail store. You may even be able to purchase your website address, commonly known as a URL, from such companies. Generally speaking, you must provide your name, address and a credit card to pay the monthly fee a online store builder charges for using its platforms.

Set up your online store. This includes, but is not limited to, choosing a template, adding pages -- which could be as simple as clicking on menu items provided within the store template -- and naming categories for your merchandise. You also should add a write-up about your company on an "About Us" page. Place your contact information in a prominent location on your website, usually on a "Contact Us" page or at the top of the home page.

Take high-quality photos of the merchandise you plan to sell using a digital camera. Save the images in the digital format and file size recommended by the online store builder. Upload the images according to the instructions provided in the template. Add product prices and descriptions alongside each image.

Test your online store to confirm that it works correctly and fix problems as needed. You can accomplish this by adding one of your products to your store's shopping cart and paying for it with your credit card. You should also test any forms on your retail store's website, such as a subscription invitation box and email messaging forms, to gauge the visitor experience.

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