How to Get Started with Ecommerce

Step 1: Register Your Business

First you need to have a business, it’s easy to get started, either a DBA, LLC, Inc. or another entity, consult with your accountant, lawyer or local SBA which is best for you business. You will also have to have a business name, legal name (like Don’s Bikes, LLC) and a public name like Don’s Bikes you can move on to step 2

Step 2: Choose Domain Name

Choosing a domain name is easy, once you know your business name you may want to simply mirror that. Also you may want to think about choosing a .com vs. .net or avoiding dashes like Dons-Bikes.com vs. Donsbikes.com and what if Donsbikes.com is taken, what then? We can assist you with research, selection and with the purchase of a domain name.

Step 3: Business Bank Account

If you are going to take payments, you will need somewhere for all your money to be deposited. Using the documents you received from Step 1, two or three forms of personal identification and 5 bucks you can be setup in about 15 min at almost any local bank. Once you have your bank account you can think about your merchant account to process credit cards.

Step 4: A Merchant Account

A merchant account used to process credit cards; it differs from your business bank account. Your merchant account application will handle the Visa, MasterCard, Discover and optional American Express Card application. The rates, discount rates and monthly fees vary from one card processor to the next, so shop smart and compare at least 3 and understand the terms. Once approved, you can begin to accept credit cards, but not through your website, a Payment gateway is necessary, Step 5.

Step 5: A Payment Gateway

The bridge between your eCommerce site and your merchant account is a gateway. Payment gateways handle the routing of the sensitive card data, utilizing an SSL certificate (next step), and the customer card data is passed to the gateway for approval. If the funds from the customer’s bank are available and zip, address, CVV etc. are correct, the transaction is approved. We can assist you with obtaining a payment gateway through our payment gateway partner Authorize.net.

Step 6: Buy SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate is a security certificate that encrypts the credit card data as it’s passed from your website to your payment gateway. Typical encryption standards are 256bit encryption of the SSL paired with an 2048bit encrypted key, providing a virtually impossible chance of cracking. SSL’s are security certificates, and often come with an insurance protection level of $10,000 – $250,000. If you need an SSL, we can obtain one for you from our SSL partner Trustwave, a leading security company.

Step 7: Organize Your Products

Gather all of your product information and keep it organized. This will make creating or importing your products a breeze. You will also want to plan out how you will categorize your products. Thoughtful planning will make it easier for customers to find what they are looking for, which leads to more sales for you!

Step 8: Choose Shipping

Giving your customers access to multiple shipping methods can help your conversion rates. From UPS, USPS, FedEx or Flat Rate shipping options, it is important that your eCommerce platform allows for flexible shipping options, including handling costs and adding in the cost of shipping materials to ultimately be the closest charge to your actual shipping costs.

Step 9: Start Selling!

So your products are all in, your taxes, shipping methods and payment gateway is setup, SSL installed and you are ready to start selling. So what’s next? How about getting some customers to your store! We have experience with helping eCommerce owners utilize online marketing, PPC, social media marketing and SEO to generating traffic to your site.

Dan LaBate

Dan is director of Search Engine Strategies at Engines of Creation Web Design & SEO. With 10+ years experience working in SEO/SEM, Dan helps businesses grow revenue and transform their websites into highly effective sales, marketing and lead capturing tools.

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