The costs involved in setting up a new business are high enough as it is. This is before you even get round to setting up your online store. Fortunately, with the rise of open-source software and competitive web hosting pricing, is it now possible to start an online business with no money.
This article will guide you through what you need to set up your online shop in the most budget-friendly way to launch your online store.
Choose your domain name
The first thing you need to do is find an available domain name that accurately showcases your business, brand, and product range.
Your domain name needs to be SEO friendly so that it shows up in search results. If the domain name contains the phrase that your customer will be searching for, then this is an added bonus that might generate you some free traffic. For example, if you are selling socks then a domain name such as best-custom-socks.com might be a winner. Plan a website’s design and photos that should be taken too. We recommend investing in a cheap camera at first to fill the pages with visual examples of your products.
Domain names can be obtained for free by selecting a web hosting provider that bundles than in with your package. This leads us nicely into the next section.
Select a reliable Web Host
Web Hosting has come down a lot in price over the last few years, but it’s incredibly important to select a reliable one.
There are a few factors which you should focus on:
When setting things up, it’s essential for your business to keep costs at a minimum. The good news is that with shared hosting this is easily achieved.
Shared hosting is a means for WebHosts to sell you space on a server that others are also using. This has some downsides such as slower performance as server resources are contended for but is an enabler for budget-conscious businesses.
Your chosen Web Host needs to be reliable. This means you need to be aware that some web hosts cut corners on things like performance and support. For performance, ensure your hosting solution is running on SSDs rather than somewhat slower HDDs.
For support, you will want to be able to call the provider’s support team in the event of any issues with the platform. Don’t settle for chatbots support. Cheaper options include email support which can work if you can get an agreed SLA time for email responses that work for you.
As your online store grows so do your hosting requirements. When searching for a web hosting provider be keen to see what upgrade options you have for your package.
You will want to see if features such as DDOS protection can be enabled at a later date. Also, when your online store grows you will need more space and performance. If your provider of choice offers migration from shared to dedicated hosting then this could be a winner.
In addition to DDOS and plan upgrades, check to see if site backup, CDN incorporation, and malware protection can be included
Decide on your CMS platform Now that you have your domain name and hosting provider, you need a CMS. A CMS or Content Management System contains your site theme and content.
Many CMS platforms include page editors and customization for your site too. There are a few choices here, but the most used one is WordPress which is feature-rich, free and highly customizable.
Install an eCommerce system
Once you have your CMS online, you need to set up your shop. If you chose WordPress as your CMS, then WooCommerice is a popular free and open-source solution with WordPress compatibility and many optional extras to bolt on as your store requirements grow.
After the easy installation process, eCommerce needs customizing. This includes things like regional settings for Tax purposes and shipping options. At this stage, you can also customize the look and feel of the store.
Next, you need to create your products and upload your stock-images and pricing into the platform. Depending on the eCommerce platform, this might need to be manually uploaded, or you could look for an extension to bulk import all the data to save you some time.
Be sure to create your terms, returns policy and any other regulatory information pages such as privacy policies.
Don’t forget backup & security
Finally, don’t forget about securing your store with an SSL certificate. Enquire first with your Web Host to see how much they charge. Don’t think you are locked in to only using your web host though. In most cases, any SSL provider will be compatible so shop around for the best deal. Don’t forget that there are cheap wildcard ssl certificate options.
DDOS protection will come in handy as you grow and need to mitigate malicious takedown attacks on your store. It’s also wise to make sure you are scanning your site files for malware periodically too.
And last but not last backups. You must ensure that your site and customer data is backed up and stored securely. Take regular order backups separately too so that you have them to hand for your records. Doing this manually will save you some money but there might be automatic backup options available depending on your platform and web host choices.