Setting up an online shop – is it difficult?
In recent times, selling items and services through the internet has become especially popular. That’s no surprise – the internet is the most popular medium of the 21st century, so it’s obvious that more and more online stores pop up. Setting up an online shop is definitely more difficult than setting up a simple website, but it’s not overly complicated, all in all. To start an online store, you have to make some choices. Read on to find out what options stand before you.
One of the first tasks you have to take on while setting up an online shop is choosing your domain name. The domain is the basic element of the online identity of your shop – it’s the part of the address that directs the internet user to the website they’re looking for. The domains are mostly associated with the names of companies, the names of products sold by them or the names of services provided. The domains can be divided into:
- National (pl, de, fr)
- Functional (com.pl, net.pl, edu.pl)
- Regional (waw.pl, krakow.pl, wroclaw.pl)
- Global (com, net, org)
The domain choice should be determined by the planned scale of sales (regional, national, global).
Choosing the domain name can be done simultaneously with choosing the hosting. The term “hosting” means renting a space on a continuously working computer with internet access – which is called a server. Hosting is truly obligatory when you set up an internet store – for the store to work, it needs to be operated by a server. To go into more detail, hosting means reserving:
- The hard drive volume
- The highest possible capacity for data to be sent through the connection
- Services done by the server operator
- Highest possible load the server operator can take
Hosting works the moment you buy it, and many companies offer free trial periods for a given time. That’s why it’s often best not to make rash decisions, but use this option to test the hosting service. Of course, a big part of choosing the right hosting is the price, which can range from less than a hundred to up to two thousand PLN. Most websites pay from 100 to 600 PLN for their hosting, including the most popular ones. Keep in mind that the cheaper the hosting, the less efficient it will be.
However, you don’t always have to buy your own hosting. There are options to set up a store on lease (the offers include Shoper and Sky-Shop). In those cases, the provider lets you use their software, together with hosting and technical service. This solution is perfect for those who can’t manage it all by themselves. Hosting is needed when you want to install the shop’s software on your own, such as PresraShop or WooCommerce. Its upside is that you don’t have to pay a fee for the software, just annually for the server (hosting).
When setting up an online store, choosing the right software is really important. The right software, which will enable conducting sales online, will allow for smooth business operating and help you develop it and improve sales efficiency. The software we recommend the most are:
- PrestaShop – an Open Software Licence online store software in the 3.0 version. PrestaShop is free to use;
- Shoper – this is a ready-to-use online store software provided for the salespeople working in e-commerce by the DreamCommerce company. Shoper is paid, but the cost is about several PLN per month;
- WordPress (WooCommerce) – this is an extension for WordPress that allows you to add store functionality to your website. Just as WordPress, WooCommerce extension is completely free;
- Sky-Shop – ready software for online B2B stores and warehouses provided by SIEF-IT Sp. z o. o. Sky-Shop requires a monthly fee;
- KQS.store – one-time licence purchase, fully automated store software which has plenty of integrated and functional modules to integrate with courier services and online payments. KQS store software is often chosen by small and medium companies that not only begin their journey with online sales, but also move their shops to an e-commerce platform.
The next step for setting up the online store is to secure the website with an SSL certificate. The SSL certificate is a tool for providing security online, and its installation and usage are simple, with numerous benefits from it. Originally, the SSL was only used by banks, but is widely used today by websites large and small, including e-shops. To gain the SSL certificate, you need to fulfil three basic requirements:
- The domain must contain a ready, filled with – even the most basic – content website
- The domain needs to be registered under the company data that are readily available in WHOIS – the protocol that provides information on the domain’s owner, their IP address or other contact data
- Have an e-mail address under the name admin@certified_domain.pl – this address will be used to send the request to confirm the order.
The SSL certificate as a whole is divided into three subgroups: The DC class, with basic verification, The OV class, with more complex verification, and The EV class, characterised as full verification. The more complex the verification, the more expensive the certificate, so small and medium companies are recommended to implement the DC certificate. Large companies, however, should purchase the OV certificate – or even the whole EV package.
Another important issue for setting up an online store is its layout. A worthy product and/or service, online marketing and customer recommendations are important, of course, but a proper layout is nothing to sneeze at as well. Here are the factors for choosing the right layout:
- Creating a list of the store’s functionalities
- Creating the list of the layout’s functionalities
- Receiving a guarantee that the layout’s author will implement updates and help in case of problems
- Responsivity – which means the layout will look good on a computer, on a tablet and on mobile.
To have a well-functioning store, it’s good to have an IT specialist on the ready. The IT specialist will not only be able to solve issues as they arise, but will also monitor the store’s popularity and, if needed, propose changes in the website’s structure.