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The Kong Academy provides actional hints, tips and guides to making the most of your eCommerce store.

eCommerce 101

Kong Academy - How to sell online

Here we take an indepth look at particular topics of interest to beginner and established webstore owners.

eCommerce 101

Julian James

Store creation without headaches

Most people setting out to create an online business start by searching the internet for a place to begin. They are often told to arrange a hosting account, install a shopping cart program (not as easy as it sounds, by the way), arrange a ‘payment gateway’ – the list seems endless. Setting up self-hosted shopping cart software takes skill, endless time and considerable technical knowledge. Creating an online store should be easy and enjoyable, not something that will give you sleepless nights and cost you a fortune. 

In contrast with a shopping cart program, an online store platform (sometimes called a ‘hosted’ online store) gives you everything you need in order to create a successful online store; an all in one, simple package and without pain or headaches. If like many people, you are tech averse or simply do not have the considerable skills necessary to set up ‘shopping cart’ software, a hosted store is the perfect solution. Although it’s quick and easy to create your online store, you still retain complete control over every aspect of its design. 

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Simple is beautiful

A key ingredient to your success will be simplicity, both in setting up your online store and in selling your product or service. Sounds crazy, especially given all the stuff that is normally necessary just to get started. For example, setting up traditional shopping cart software usually takes days or weeks and has been known to cause nightmares! A hosted online store, however, is simplicity itself. Easy to use, visual tools allow you to create your store, get paid and deliver the same day. Unlike traditional shopping cart software, much of which requires coding expertise, an online store designer lets you pick a store theme and modify it as you like. No technical know-how is necessary and, better still, everything you need to create (and to develop your store later) is included.

Keeping things simple will also be appreciated by your customers, giving them confidence to return to your store in the future. Most people visit a store several times before actually purchasing a product and when they do finally decide to buy something, the last thing they want is to jump through endless hoops. Filling in endless online forms and giving away unnecessary personal details puts people off. Successful online stores are those which keep the checkout simple. A few essential details and a credit card or PayPal account should be all that is necessary for your customers to make a purchase. With a hosted online store, there is little for you to do other than wait for the notification that you’ve made a sale!

The selling secret

Speak to anyone who is successful in eCommerce (which basically means ‘selling something online’) and they will tell you two things: they love what they do and they have fun making money. Ask them what they think was the most important moment in their journey to success and they will always say, “The first sale I ever made online.”

When thinking about starting an online store, it's important to understand that selling and making money are good things. If someone wants what you are offering, trusts you and believes that if there’s a problem, you’ll sort it out, they will buy from you. The need, the trust, the confidence – the ‘selling secret’. They get what they want and so do you. If your customer sees a professionally designed store, great contact facilities, well presented products and a payment system that is as simple as possible, they are much more likely to buy from you. A good online shopping platform enables you to give your customers all these things, even if you have no previous design or technical knowledge at all.

Support without interference

Setting up an online store in the traditional way - with a hosting account, software, etc – can be a very lonely affair. If you have a problem, your only way of finding a solution is to trawl the internet; something that can steal precious time better spent developing your store. On the other hand, some online store platforms overwhelm those just starting out with endless ‘advice’; the would-be entrepreneur ends up suffering from ‘information overload’. We all need help in the early days but interference is unwelcome.

The chances are that you already have a very clear idea of what kind of store you want to set up and how you would like things to work. The right support can help you achieve your dreams, whilst at the same time ensuring that your online store is uniquely yours; not just a clone of someone else’s. The unique nature of your store is what will make it successful and you are the best person to make it unique. The best online store platforms have expert teams that are ready to support you and to share their experience in online marketing; as much as you want and, importantly, when you request it.

Telling the world about your store

No matter how good an online store is, if nobody knows it’s there, you won’t get many customers. Imagine a ‘real world’ store which, instead of being in a prime location, is at the end of a dark alleyway; no one is going to see it or visit it.

In the online world, when someone wants to buy something, they usually use a search engine like Google to find the ideal product. To get noticed on the internet, a technique called ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ (SEO) is used. Using SEO is as much an art as it is a science and a whole industry has been built around its use and development. Get it right, and you will get plenty of visitors; get it wrong and your store will be consigned to the shadows. The problem is that SEO has a very steep learning curve and many people lose out on customers because they don’t understand SEO. With a hosted online store, you automatically get the benefit of some of the best SEO available. Your store is automatically designed to be successful and to be noticed, all without you having to know anything at all about SEO.

Success and fun rolled into one

With a team of experts ready to help and support you, a simple, well-designed store creation tool and every necessary facility available to you, it doesn’t matter whether you are an absolute beginner or already have some knowledge of online selling; with a hosted online store platform, you will already be ahead of the competition. For many people, this option offers the best chance of being successful whilst having fun doing so – which is exactly what an online store should be about.