One of the most common questions we get goes like, “Hey, how do i set up an online shop?” Because we’re all about seeing the Internet come through for people in Kenya, especially financially, I decided to write an article on how to start your own online shop, easy. Enjoy 🙂
Trust me, it is a very daunting task and it involves a hell of a lot. Are you up for all that? I do not know. I do know one thing though, the opportunity to make lots and lots of money is still very much there. In all markets most online stores are, for lack of better words, a complete waste of time.
No joke – there are so many badly designed and structured online shops out there that you’d be surprised. You could choose any market place and still have a very good shot at making a killing. If only you use correct procedure. And guess what? The wealth of tools available for your use is just unbelievable – challenging the Top Dogs in any market is something very do-able.
Where do you start?
As I said earlier, starting an online shop is no easy task. Should you start your own, you are bound to make lots and lots of mistakes. However, I beg you to always work with this in mind: “Customers first, money second“. Got it? Good, you’ll never go wrong. Many, many businesses mess up this simple task.
Before anything else, you need to ask yourself the same questions you’d ask yourself if you were going into business in the offline world. Do you have something to market? Will people buy what you want to sell? Will they pay enough money for you to make a profit?
Next you’ll need to choose a name for your site/shop. Since this will be your identity, it is VERY important. Take time to choose a good and easy-to-remember name. Read more about this, if need be.
Building your website
Unfortunately, if you want the best results there are only two courses of action:
- Hire professionals to build you a site. People like us. 🙂
- Do it yourself, but only if you have the technical know-how.
That said, here are some things you should keep in mind:
- How many products do you have? If you have just a few, your site will look bare. (Depending on how it is built)
- What type of products are you selling? This will affect how you display them – jewellery will be displayed differently from, say, aquariums. :p
- You must have good quality pictures of your products.
- Include item descriptions jameni! Of course your customers want to know this.
- Ensure that your site loads quickly and that it is easy to navigate.
- As well as making your site the best it can be for customers, make sure it is very easy for you to update it i.e. add new products or change prices.
- Make the selling process as easy and as fast as possible. You don’t really need to make your customers register at your site, do you? This is an unnecessary step that will cost you sales!
Because I love my readers, I shall suggest a super easy way to build a top-of-the-range online shop. Listen carefully:
- Download wordpress
- Install wordpress on a server somewhere. How?
- Install this wordpress theme. How?
- Install this wordpress plugin. How?
- You have your very nice online shop!
One your website is made, it needs to be hosted somewhere. This is so that it is accessible to the whole of the Internet. Learn more.
If you’re going to handle any kind of financial transactions through your website, you need to make sure your web host offers secure servers. This means that they offer SSL encryption. You should find out whether your prospective web host offers SSL encryption as part of its regular package or charges extra for this service.
When your website is your storefront, if your website is down, your store is closed – or worse, effectively nonexistent. So you need a web host that offers at least a 99% uptime guarantee. While asking about a web host’s uptime guarantee, you might also inquire as to its back up systems in case of emergencies.
There are hundreds of good web hosts out there. I recommend that you choose us. 🙂
Marketing your online shop
The key to online retailing is to strive to get as many people visiting your shop as possible. Please, please keep search engine optimisation (SEO) in mind. If need be, hire someone to do your SEO.
Dealing with payments
You will need a way to accept payments online, or at the very least accept orders online. Many modern online shop creation systems (like the ones I suggested earlier) do this right out of the box. If you intend to sell to people in Kenya, it would be helpful to be able to receive payments by ZAP and MPESA. Here’s an article we wrote about this topic.
We haven’t covered everything you need to know in this article, but most of it is up there. You can have your shop ready by next week if you follow what the article says.
Good luck 🙂
PS I was thinking of doing a follow-up article on this topic by going step by step through what I did when setting up an existing online shop. Anyone interested?
Image courtesy of Jesse757.