7 things you need before you start building an online store

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Starting an online business can be overwhelming but taking the necessary steps to prepare makes the process manageable and even enjoyable.
I will make suggestions on providers but a simple google search will give you lots of options. Your options will depend on your budget which you should set up upfront.

The key is to narrow down your choices of service providers to a manageable number.

Here are 7 things you need before you start building an online store:

1. Domain name.

You can easily register a domain name from Go Daddy or a similar domain name provider. If you need help coming up with names for your company, you can try one of these websites to help you out: mashable.com, wording.comand thesaurus.com. You can also check to see if your chosen name will be available for use on social networks etc, here: namechk.com

2. Logo

Having a logo is vital to differentiate you store from others and makes it easier for your customers to remember your store. Although a logo is definitely not a brand, it is the very minimum. I can help you design a logo, but there are other online services that can help you out as well. A very popular resource is: 99designs.com where designers compete to design your logo.

3. Product images.

Product images will be the heart of your online store and most likely the decision factor for your site visitors. Therefore; take much care when shooting your photos. Although professional photography is always best, you can nowadays manage with a smartphone camera as long as you take your product shoots as if you were going to post them on instagram.com for example. No filters necessary but good lighting at a minimum is required. Here is a great article on How to shoot great photos on the cheap

4. Product descriptions

The information about your products like product name, description, price, options, etc. should be ready and in digital format. Typically the best format is in a spreadsheet that can be created in the program of your choice. Most likely that program will be Microsoft Excel or Apple Numbers.

5. Informational and legal content
These usually include “About us”, “Contact”, “Disclaimer”, “FaQ”, “Return policy”, "Terms and Conditions", "Privacy Policy", etc. You can consult a lawyer for your particular business venture or you can use an online service like, legal zoom.com

6. Online payment solution.
I like Paypal simply because it is simple to set up. Other popular options include, Authorize.net and many others. You can also check with your bank and they can make suggestions as well. Just let them know you plan to sell online.

7. Shipping provider
You must register with a shipping provider first to offer automatic shipping rates. Here are the most popular ones: UPS, FedEx and USPS

What's next.

The next steps will consists of choosing a hosting provider (where your website will live), the e-commerce platform to use (I use magento and X-cart but other options are: Shopify or Big Commerce), perhaps a design template for your site (if you are on a tight budget (I recommend, Themeforest) and finally a Marketing strategy to attract customers (I recommend, Google Adwords).