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Step By Step Guide To Setting Up An Ecommerce Website For Your Business

Step By Step Guide To Setting Up An Ecommerce Website For Your Business

Business and ecommerce have become inseparable terms today. Over the years, ecommerce has virtually become the most significant aspect of the retail industry. The world has taken to the trend of doing business online.

According to some estimates, more than eighty five percent of internet users have purchased something on the internet at least once and half the number of internet users shop online regularly. That means, the online market is big and is ever expanding. So, why not set up an ecommerce website if you have something to sell?

While setting up an ecommerce website may seem like a daunting task at first, with all the tools and services readily available in the market, it really is easy setting up any kind of website on the internet.

That being said, you certainly need to pay attention to a few key issues to avoid pitfalls. Here we have tried to make this article a step by step guide to creating a perfect ecommerce website for your business.

Step 1: Lay out an ecommerce business plan.

Planning is a must in every venture if success is the goal. You need a plan to setting up a website. A plan doesn’t need to be a long detailed document with series of tasks but at the least a rough idea about how and where to start and end.

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Do a fair amount of brainstorming and don’t hesitate to take notes of every possible question that pops up in your mind. What will you be selling on your website? Who are your target customers? How should your website’s UI look? How much will it cost you to set up a decent ecommerce website?

Do some research – a good lot of learning is required to lay a good ground work for your ecommerce project. Do some math away from your computer if need be and build on your idea; dig a little deeper into it. You sure do need to spend some time on the drawing board. You most certainly cannot expect to get anywhere without a plan.

Step 2: Get a domain name.

A domain name is what identifies your website on the web. Once you’ve identified the products you’ll be selling through your website, choose an appropriate domain name for your website that represents your business accurately.

A good name has the chances of making it big on the internet. A domain name which is short, easy to remember, easy to spell, catchy and unforgettable is likely to draw more visitors to your store. You can purchase domain names through hosting companies or domain registrars.

Step 3: Choose the right web hosting service.

All websites need to sit on a server somewhere to be available on the internet and the server configurations has a large part to play in overall performance of your ecommerce websites on the internet.

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How your website is hosted determines, to a large extent, its speed, uptime and performance. It is absolutely essential that you host website through the right host.

An online store should be able to handle a lot of traffic and should have maximum uptime. Google has hinted that website uptime and speed are important factors to acquire a good ranking on search engines.

There are hundreds of web hosting companies in the market that offer different kinds of free and paid hosting services or packages with a variety of features. Since free hosting services provide limited features, a paid hosting is advised for a reliable service. Choose the right webhost that allows growth and flexibility. Some webhosting companies also offer domain registration service and tools to build website.

Step 4: Choose the right ecommerce platform.

Ecommerce platform is the key component of any ecommerce website. It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to choose the right ecommerce platform. Choosing the right ecommerce platform can be an overwhelming task but it is the most crucial step and cannot be compromised for anything. One great way to choose the right platform is to check out the platforms of the best ecommerce websites similar to the one you are trying to set up.

Choose an ecommerce platform carefully that most suits your business needs, as having to move to another platform later can be costly and time consuming. There are many vendors out there who provide you shopping cart software and other ecommerce tools to give you the best ecommerce solutions.

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The best ecommerce platforms provide you with all shopping feature – carts, payment options, website performance statistics, security and more. They can be purchased in a bundle which offers all features from hosting to security certificates (hosted solutions) or can be purchased separately and integrated into your ecommerce websites plugins (standalone solutions).

The kinds of ecommerce solutions you find in the market are categorized as off-the-shelf software, bespoke software and Software as a Service – SaaS. They all have their advantages and drawbacks, so choose the one that best fit your needs. Some of the top ecommerce solution providers in the market are Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, Wix, and Sellr.

Step 5: Make sure to obtain a secure certificate.

A secure certificate (SSL) secures the connection between a visitor’s web browser and the web server hosting your website to ensure a secure transaction. If you have opted for a bundled pre-packaged ecommerce solution, then it is likely that your ecommerce solution provider takes care of the security. But, if that’s not the case, you should most definitely obtain a secure certificate (SSL) alongside the domain name.

You can purchase a secure certificate from SSL certificate providers like Thawte and Symantec for example. Also some hosting companies take care of SSL certificate for you charging you separately for the certificate.

Step 6: Design an easy to navigate ecommerce website.

Let’s come down to the actual website building task. How your products and services are presented on your website makes a significant difference between success and failure of your ecommerce venture, so your website cannot afford to look clumsy. Design a website that properly showcases your products, poorly showcasing your products makes you lose sales.

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You lose valuable customers if it is not easy to steer around your website. Keep it simple yet elegant and make it easy to navigate intuitively. Also optimize your website for mobile devices.

Step 7: Choose ecommerce payment methods.

To facilitate online payments, you need to secure an internet merchant account (IMA) that lets you receive online payments. There are banks that can set up IMA for you. Almost all ecommerce platforms support a wide range of payment methods and give you options to integrate other customer-friendly payment gateways with your ecommerce website.

Although digital payment gateways like PayPal and Google Checkout are cornering the market, credits cards still remain the simplest and easiest ways to purchase things online. Also make sure that you meet the appropriate level of PCI SSC (Payment Card Industry Security Standard Council) compliance.

Step 8: Create a marketing strategy for your ecommerce website.

Once your website is up and running, you need to drive visitors and customers to your site. For that, create a marketing strategy. Spread the word and attract customers. Set aside some budget for advertising and make use of banner ads, Google AdWords, PPC.

Optimize your websites for search engines so that it gets noticed. Promote your website on the social networks. Start creating content, do a good amount of blogging.

Featured photo credit: http://getrefe.tumblr.com/ via 66.media.tumblr.com

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

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Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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