Starting your own e-commerce site: how to get started?

Jul 14, 2009
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It's just still in a very early stage, but I'm considering setting up a blog with let me call it a blueprint on how to set up your own e-commerce site. No technical stuff as a guide how to install Opencart but just some general things you should know when you want to start you own e-commerce site.

Just wanted to share a small part of the stuff I've already written. No need to google it, it's not online anywhere, most of it is still sitting in my brains. To start with this blog will be in Dutch with a translation in English afterwards

So enjoy the read and let me know what you think of it
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My own e-commerce site. How do I get started?

You've ended up on this article so you've probably considered starting you own e-commerce site. So you're probably asking yourself the same questions as we did a few years ago.

When you start your own e-commerce site there are a lot more things to consider than you might think:
  • Choosing the right name
  • Hosting
  • Choosing the right shopsystem
  • SEO
  • Generating traffic and convert this into sales
  • ....
In fact setting up your e-commerce site is the easiest part. Nowadays there are plenty of systems that allow you to set up your own e-commerce site within the blink of an eye. So setting up your store, adding products and the work is done? Wrong this is where all the work starts.

But let's get started at the beginning


Choosing the right name

How do you choose the right name for your e-shop (http://www.yourdomain.com)? Do you go for a .co.uk domain or a .com domain or even another? Do you choose a name that has got something to to with the product you're selling or something completely different.

Once that you've found a name, this doesn't mean you will be able to use it. We are running an online gameshop ourselves aimed at the Belgian market. So ideally would be to use the domain www.gameshop.be. Unfortunatly this domain was taken.

So finding the right name can be very daunting. The most obvious name will probably be taken so it may take quite some creativity to find an original and recognisable name.


Short but powerfull

If we would ask you to name a few of your favorite websites there will immediatly be a few that pop into your mind. The reason it are these websites you think of is no coincidence. Often it will be websites with a very short, easy to remember and recognisable name.

It's a lot easier to remember a short name or a name that's referring to the subject of the website than a long name that has got nothign to do with it.

And that's exactly the name you should choose for your own name: a short name, easy to remember and recognisable.

Keyword

When setting up your own webshop you always have to think 10 step in advance. One of the things you need to consider from the very start is how you'll make sure that people will find your webshop in Google. One of the things that can help you with this, is using a keyword in the name of your website. A keyword is a word that people will in google to search for certain information.

As said we run an online gameshop. When we were searching a name ourself one of the basic requirements was that the name would contain the word "game".

A keyword is no must. Better to have a short, clear and easy to remember name than a long, less clear and more difficult name to remember. Look at websites as Ebay or Amazon. Both use a short powerful name that sais nothing about the nature of their business, but everybody has heard of these companies.

But... this brand awareness they thank for a big part to expensive marketing campaigns. Without a doubt as a starting webshop you won't have the necessary funds for expensive commercials and other adds.

So using a keyword in the name of your e-commerce site can give you an enourmous SEO advantage in the long term.


A .co.uk or .com domain?

So, you've come up with a short and powerfull name. Both the .co.uk and .com domains are still available. So which domain do you choose?

If both domains are available, we would advice to register both of them. You could use one of the domains as a testing environment of for other purposes. You may not need one of the domains for the moment, but this could change in the future. And of course by registering it yourself, you prevent somebody else does it.

If you choose a .co.uk domain or a .com domain will depend on the country your target as a shop. If you would like to sell across the borders we would advice to choose a .com domain. This should increase your international visibility in Google.

Although we also have buyers from other countries we've always profiled our shop as a Belgian shop. So for us it was more than obvious to go for a .be domain. Using a .co.uk or .be domain doesn't mean you won't be visible abroad in Google. Your visibility in Google is determined by a lot more factors.

Always register your own domain

Always make sure you take the registration of your domain into your own hands. If you hire a company to design your website they will sometimes register the domain for you. There also exist webshopsystems where you can choose a URL online to immediatly start building your e-commerce site.

We've read several horrorstories about this. Webshopowners who could no longer access their own website after the company they hired went broke. Others weren't satisfied with the services of the designer and wanted to change form company, where the designing company totally refused to give the registration data.

When registerting your domain always do it yourself. You can consider this as the key of your website. You don't give the key of your house to a complete stranger. If you no longer have the key, you will no longer be able to access your house - in this case your website.

Even when you're completely satisfied with the services of your webdesigner and the shopsystem you've chosen, there will come a time you want change this. If you don't have the "key" to your website at that time you'll have a huge problem. There's real chance all of your work will be lost and you will have to start all over again. Where you'll loose your current URL (and the name awareness connected to it.

In case somebody else does the registration of your domain for you always ask where they registered and the login details.
 
Jul 14, 2009
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My very first Ebay sale dates from 2008. This became very serious in the course of 2009. I started to sell fulltime beginning 2010. My own website has been launched beginning 2012. May had launched it earlier if I had known how to do it but was a complete dummy at that time.
 
Your thread is full of relevant information. I want to make site for selling SSL certificates but don't know from where to start. Your suggestion will be helpful.
 
Martin, many hosting company doesn't allow 3rd party SSL installed onto their shared hosting plan. Even some of them allow it, you may see there is always something not compatible with hosting companies' server setting.

For me, I try not to store any full set of customers data on the server or take payment on the hosting server.if I have to use SSL, I'll just buy directly from the hosting company, they can have it enabled within 24 hrs after payment. No hassle of using 3rd party SSL and then I have to fine tune it.

It's just my opinion! Good luck to you.
 
Nov 26, 2013
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I am interested in information of how to generate traffic. There are multiple methods, but actually it is hard to get.
 
Jul 14, 2009
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Within a few months you can read all about in in my blog. The blog has just been started up. Just got have to become familiar with wordpress, find a good template and set up the good configuration. In a few months time I hope to have a blog filled with information with my own e-book by the end of the year.
 
Hi psxgamer,

I like the idea, I am writing something similar myself at the moment.
May I ask your opinion on OpenCart? I usually recommend Magento to Start Ups myself and I was wondering if OpenCart has any benefits you see that are better than other ecommerce platforms?

Also do you use a stock or order control system? I think this is essential for when selling on multiple channels.
 
Jul 14, 2009
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I find OC absolutely fantastic. Not out of the box. But there are so many extentions available, so many developpers making new extentions daily I'm truly convinced you can do things with Opencart you won't be able to do with any other shopping cart.

When selling on multiple platforms you can use Openbay Pro although lots of improvement can be made to this module. I know Magento has something simular. Never used is but with what I read from it I think its better than Openbay Pro.

Out of the box Magento is a lot more powerful than Opencart. But is has a lot of features you won't need. Opencart is a lot more userfriendly. You also need dedicated hosting for Magento. So more difficult to use, more expensive for hosting. Basically Magento is made for big retailers. For most people complete overkill.

You can add extra extentions for Magento to add extra features. Most extentions for Opencart aren't expensive this to the contrary for the extentions for Magento.

You can do so much with Opencart. The most common mistake I see is people that just use the out of the box Opencart. They add their logo, change a few colours and then wait for customers to come (which they mostly don't).

On themeforest you find some very interesting templates. They cost +- $ 45. They don't only contain a template but also a whole bunch of extentions. Templates of a much better quality than most templates you find on the OC website.

The only thing I hate about Opencart is the system with extentions. Adding an extention in Wordpress is just a mouse click. On Opencart installing a new extention can wreck your entire site.

I've read version 2 will do it differently. Version 2 is now in beta version and will be launched within a month or so.
 
Jul 14, 2009
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www dot gamewalhalla dot be

The link is mentionned a few times on TSC
 
I would like to recommend Magento.he is king of eCommerce wrold. I have, quite frankly, never worked with a more sophisticated open-source web application.It has many great features just like its quite simple, quick and versatile, admin interface, flexibility and conversions, live currency updates, multi store functionality, user friendly and regular updates which makes it easy for customers to search and purchase products.
 
Jul 14, 2009
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Ok, no problem glad to help out just as others helped me when setting up my site.
 

MarekBober

Banned Member
Nov 10, 2014
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Magento is really good in case you have time and budget for it.