You have more than one options for the places where you can sell your products. Amazon, Shopify, and many others allow anybody to use their platform and set up their online shops. You can have your product selling out online without spending having your eCommerce website. But having your eCommerce website for free own is still a better idea.
Your online shop lets you amazing benefits. It gives you more control over what and how to sell and at the same time makes you a brand. So if you are serious to make it your full-time business, developing an online shop is a must.
Now not everybody has the budget required to hire professional e-commerce developer. Even that can’t stop you. With free tools and cheaper hosting, you need nobody to set up your e-commerce website. So here’s how you can build your e-commerce website for free.
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Step 1. Get domain and hosting
The very first things that you need for your e-commerce or any website for that matter are the domain name and hosting. The best tools for domain name suggestion are Domainsbot, NameMesh, BustAName, Panabee, etc. Now the best options for domain registration are GoDaddy, BigRock, Abaxsoft, etc.
Done with the domain registration, you now need a hosting. For the hosting part, you can opt for Bluehost and HostGator. Search for hosts that offer ‘cPanel’ with Fantastico scripts or Ensim Power Tools for Windows. That would let you use third party scripts with just a click.
Step 2. Get private SSL certificate
Next, you need these both. SSL encrypts the customer data while it makes its way from a browser to your server. It’s a vital technology for secure online transactions. You can get SSL certificates free with hosting, but that warns you customer about SSL certificate doesn’t match the domain name. To win their trust, you need a private SSL certificate which also requires a dedicated website IP address. Blue host and HostGator also sell SSL certificates. You can also get it from your registrar.
Step 3. Choose and get a Payment Gateway
Now having an online store, you would also want and online payment system. You want your customers to be able of using any of the payment methods for convenience. PayPal is the most popular choice accepting a broad range of cards and integrates with most of the shopping carts. Other good options are Authorize.net and Citrus, ccAvenue, etc. If your store sells software or e-books, Digital River would be good.
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Step 4. Select your Shopping Cart
Next, go forward to set up your website and its various pages. Hiring a professional is no headache situation, but if you want to do it without any help, your shopping cart script can be your website. The script is all capable of creating your cart, product pages, and other static pages as well. Web hosts offer you the open source shopping cart scripts. Most of them would provide osCommerce script which is one of the most popular ones. You also can go for manually installing the script if you want. So we are moving along with osCommerce for example.
Step 5. Installation and customization
If your host allows third party scripts (choose the one that does), you can install the shopping cart automatically. Now to install your shopping cart, click the new installation button or the link provided to it. You get to set up the basic shop and are either asked to set admin username and password or get the password emailed.
Here you also choose the installation folder. Either select the root directory that lets your visitors directly to your shop, choose a specific directory name. For choosing the root directory, leave the folder blank. Else if you want customised web pages, pick a directory name. You can then link your customised web pages to your directory. Shopping script sets up your database in My SQL and provides links base shop and admin area.
Step 6. Shop Customization
Now that you are ready for your shop, you need to customise it to your needs and wants. Most of the scripts allow you many customization options. You can manage your products, add different classes of tax and rates, use various available add-ons and themes, and even more.
The first thing is to change the logo and footer of your shop. In your admin panel go to configuration-> Store Logo and modify the logo. For the footer change, edit the english.php file in your directory/includes/languages/folder. Either download, edit and upload the file again using FTP or open it in the host using cPanel file manager. Remove the footer text defined in the file.
Step 7. Modify Categories and Products
Your shopping cart gives you a default shop. So the categories and products of the shop need to be changed according to your business. It’s no big deal. You just have used online admin interface and enter the image and required details of categories and products. For a catalogue of products, you can go for an add-on for importing your products from your sheet. Download the add-on and follow the instructions to install it to your directory.
Now you can download a CSV file and edit it with your products. Put the unique keys in the model column and images in the image column. Then go back to the admin panel and import the CSV file. Care to back your store database up beforehand with ‘quick backup’ button in the admin panel’s Tool->Database Backup Manager.
Step 8. Manage your modules
Now that you are ready with your items on the store, you need to manage the shipping and payment methods of those. You can do this in the modules section of your admin panel. For payments, we have already suggested you some gateways accepting most of the cards. Install the modules of the one you choose. For shipping, you can fix the shipping costs of the items. You get an email for every order and then you can go for fulfilment.
Done with your basic functions, you can also make other modification with your built in modules. You can add different discounts and offers using these modules. You can also go for third party add-ons and add subcategories, FAQ forum, and much more. Just edit a few lines of config files and upload to your shop folder to install the third party add-ons. Never do it before backing your shop up as all these suggest you to install at your own risk.
And you’re done
That’s it. You’re all set to rock and roll with your online shop. Now check your reports regularly and subscribe to the news feed to make sure you have the latest of it. You now need not even a single professional; for a basic online shop.