3 Considerations for Creating an Online Store

For businesses looking to take advantage of the popularity of online commerce, setting up a way to sell products or services online is often the first step to success. If you’re thinking of starting up an electronic storefront, keep these three “B’s” in mind as you plan: how to brand, how to build and how to bill.

How to Brand

Branding is one of the most beneficial things your online presence can do for your business, and one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to brand your business online is by registering the right domain name (or names) to effectively establish your credibility to your customers. Registering a domain is the easy part; figuring out the right name can be a more thoughtful process. Here are a few quick tips to consider when choosing the right domain:

  • Use keywords - Your domain name doesn’t have to be your business name. Try using keywords that describe your business, services or brand to help improve search engine ranking.
  • Make it memorable - With millions of Web addresses in use, make yours catchy and memorable.
  • Pick the right extension - Domain extensions can have specific uses, so make sure to choose one that is aligned with your business, is credible and is widely recognized (e.g., .com, .net, .edu).

Shopping CartAn oft-overlooked key to branding your online store is the address from which you send customer communications, notifications and promotions. Using an email address that incorporates your website domain (e.g., customersupport@yourbusinesss.com) can make potential customers more likely to buy from you because it adds credibility. In a recent Verisign survey, nine out of 10 (92 percent) of the small businesses surveyed that used branded email for their business said they feel it helps make their business look more credible.

How to Build

Building your online store can be as easy as choosing the right solution. There are many relatively easy online solutions based on your business’s needs. Hosted providers like Etsy or Amazon allow you to create a store and host it on their server for a monthly fee. For a robust shopping cart, there are many commercial (requiring a license fee) and open-source products available to small businesses. If you decide to use a hosted platform for your solution, consider redirecting your domain name to the platform to preserve the link between your website and your store.

Also, consider building a website if you don’t already have one. Many website builder tools (even the free ones ) offer integrated e-commerce functionality. If you already have a website, check with your host provider to see what e-commerce options you can add. Finally, it goes without saying that, when assessing any website builder product, determine if it supports the particular payment methods you want, what type of customer support is available to you after purchase and how frequently the product is upgraded.

How to Bill

Arguably, the most important part of establishing an online storefront is this one: payment. People who shop online most often want to be able to pay easily and quickly. If you’re selling a single product and only need a way for customers to pay, consider adding a PayPal “Buy Now” button. If you need more than a payment button but don’t have the time or money to install e-commerce software, you can use a hosted solution.

Many online shoppers use a credit card for online purchases. To accept credit cards online, you will need to establish a merchant account with your banking institution to process transactions into your business account. Contact your bank to get more information on how to establish one. For security reasons, they will probably require you to work with a payment service provider (PSP) or “payment gateway.” If this is too complex for your needs or if there are other barriers to this more traditional route, consider an interface with a third-party payment service like PayPal.

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Verisign, a global leader in domain names and Internet security, enables the world to connect online with reliability and confidence, anytime, anywhere. Verisign ensures the security, stability and resiliency of key Internet infrastructure, including the .com and .net top-level domains, and its Security Services include intelligence-driven DDoS Protection, iDefense Security Intelligence and Managed DNS.