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Setting up your online store

Important subjects for setting up your shop online

In this article we will look at setting up your online shop and examine several important subjects concerning your store.

Domain Name and SSL Certificate

You should choose a domain name that is meaningful to your business and what your will be selling online. It should also be memorable and easy for customers to remember. For example if a seller wanted to start selling homemade cakes, an ideal domain name could homemadecakes  or homebakedcakes with either .com,.business or .shop and .store.

Your domain name should feature your keywords in the name like in the example. You may want to consider including your location such as Surrey or Sussex. For example sussexcakemaker or surrycakespecialist.  However you do not want to make your domain name too long. The convention is to have just three to four words in your domain name.

Most important of all is to ensure your domain name has a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate. These are available from all website service providers. These show customers that your website is a legitimate and secure website and protected against fraud. You can choose from Domain Validation SSL, Organization Validation SSL and Extended Validation SSL, Wildcard SSL Certificate

Site layout

You must give some thought to the layout of your website. You may have many products to list on your website, may be not immediately. You should consider what your product categories may be.
If we refer the home made cake maker example, you will want to list cakes under children’s cake, birthday cakes, wedding cakes and other suitable categories specific to what you will sell.

In Three Clicks

Ensure that customers will be able to reach your product(s) within three click or tabs. This is the current convention because at this time customers want things so quickly. Therefore, do not over load a main category with lots of sub categories because customers will lose interest in your website and quickly leave.

Add filters

You can add filters to your website if you have many products in a category. These will prune the product listings to help the customer find what they are looking for.

Product Descriptions   

It is extremely important that your product descriptions are well written and detailed so that it will answer as many questions a customer may have. This approach will help the search engines because they will crawl and index your website according to what you have written and place your website in the search engine results.

Again, if we refer to the home made cake maker example, you should give the item a descriptive title for example ‘Three layer bride and groom wedding cake’ and for the description, describe the cake in detail using your expert knowledge of it and include common sense details such as the ingredients, width and height, and features such as what cake topper is used. As a food item you should state whether it is suitable for vegans, vegetarians and gluten free or not. This extra detail is vital.

Another example could be jewellery. Here, you should give the item a descriptive title for example as ‘Angel Wing Heart Necklace’ You could add ‘Embellished with Crystals’ and add what jewellers it is from. Again, describe the item in great detail and include expert knowledge.

In both examples ensure the cost of the product is displayed clearly along with what the delivery options are.

Product Photography

Pictures are arguably most important from the customer’s point of view. Pictures of the product you are selling will contribute to the sale and whether the customer really wants to have it.
You should do your own pictures of the products you are selling rather than the supplier’s pictures because their pictures will be full of their own branding and may be not of a suitable picture quality.

The pictures of your products should show customers what it looks like. You should show the product from different angles. You should display and or photograph any vital parts of the item. Finally, you should photograph the item where the customer will use it. For reference, some good examples can be found on home ware furniture websites.

These types of photographs are great listing on your online store but also for posting on social media channels such as Instagram and Pinterest.   

Payment Gateways

Ecommerce websites provide customers with a variety of methods for paying for purchases online. The most well know is of course PayPal, due to the popularity of eBay. There are others such as Secure Trading, Worldpay to name a few.

The important consideration here is to ensure your ecommerce store can access payment gateways that customers will recognise. Customers will not really want to provide their debit and credit card information if visiting your online store for the first time. Therefore providing Paypal and other recognisable payment gateways is a must.

Campaigns and Promotions   

Customers love promotions and offers when they can get something at a reduced price. Take the craziness surrounding Black Friday and after Christmas Sales. You should ensure your online store has mechanisms for running and managing campaigns and promotions for your products including voucher codes that can be easily applied during the purchase process.  

Search Engines

Now that you website is ready with product inventory of well written products you must submit it to the search engines so that they can crawl your website. Doing this tells Google, Yahoo, Bing and other smaller search engines what pages to crawl and helps them to understand the type of content on the page in order to display the best results for customers.


You should have a sitemap of your website. A sitemap is a list of all the pages on your site in .XML format. You can either create it yourself or use a third-party provider to create your sitemap. A nice tool is XML Sitemaps. You can upload the site map to your online store.

Search Engine Optimization

Optimising your online store for being found in the search engines cannot be overemphasised. Concerning your online store you should ensure

  • Your domain name is an effective one, as already stated
  • The titles of your products descriptive and include the main keyword of the product, for example  ‘Angel Wing Heart Necklace with Embellished with Crystals’
  • The product description includes the search terms for your product. The description must be attractive and interesting to read. It must not be stuffed with keywords.
  • You have an effective call to actions in easy reach such as Add to Cart and Checkout buttons.
  • You have submitted your website and sitemap for your store to Google, Yahoo and Bing either individually  or using Entire Web
  • The product URL includes the search terms for your product. Do not stuff the URL with words and keep the URL under 70 characters if you can. This is a challenge when using content managed systems such as WordPress, Wix and Weebly.
  • There are links to other pages within your store, for example links to popular categories and products from the home page. This is called Internal Linking.
  • That there are links to other websites that are in the same area as yours. This is called external linking. With reference to cake making, ideal external links would cake making recipes customers may find useful, or how bake to guides from the website blog.    


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