Q. A member of a Work At Home Mom forum that I frequent asked how she should go about setting up an online store. Specifically, she wanted to know how to setup credit card payments and if she should set everything up herself or hire someone else.
A. One of the first things you need to do, from a strictly online perspective (this is assuming you’ve done things like file with the state, figured out your business name, etc), is purchase a domain name. Then you need to find hosting and a shopping cart. I mention those together, because you want to make sure your shopping cart software is compatible with your host’s server setup.
You will also need to figure out how you want to accept payment from your customers. And you’ll need to make sure that the system you choose works with your shopping cart. In some cases, there will be additional expenses, like SSL certificates. You can ask your host, cart developer or web designer about this. The two payment processors I recommend are Paypal and Authorize.net (included with an e-onlinedata merchant account).
Once you have those items, you will need to create, find or buy a website design. I recommend the following web designers. I’ve checked them out, and admire their skill and business ethics. They are all work at home moms.
You also need to get or take pictures of your products. And you’ll need to figure out how you want to package and ship the products.
Some things you may want to consider when determining how you want to setup your store: How are you going to control inventory? Is your cart search engine friendly? Are you going to use a mailing list to keep in touch with your customers? Would you like a content management system to enable you to easily update your site without HTML knowledge? (For the record, my Shop Kit Plus fits includes inventory control, content management and is search engine friendly!)
You can find everything I mentioned above in varying price ranges — from free to $10,000 or more. I recommend you look at your budget, your goals and the products and services available that meet your needs. And ask for recommendations from other WAHMs if you’re not sure.
So, this is setting up an online store in a nutshell. Hope it helps.