May 12, 2009

Types of Online Stores


Hostway Team

So, you've decided to launch an online store. You don't have to dive in headfirst with an ecommerce site the size of You can wet your feet with a small eBay store or a simple, template-based ecommerce site first.

Your decision on the type of store you'll launch will most likely be based on your sales volume, budget and the shopping experience you want to create for your customers.

You have many options for what type of ecommerce site to have. Here are just a few:

eBay Store

If you want to have a full- or part-time business selling on eBay, an eBay store can help you get the sales volume you want. According to the eBay Web site, 75% of sellers say opening a store increased their sales.

Opening an eBay store lets shoppers search for your products in two ways: your items continue to come up in category searches on the general auction page, and customers can search for you specifically on the Stores page to see all of your products in one place.

There are several advantages to launching an eBay store:

  • Immediate access to a worldwide audience of online shoppers.
  • Increased sense of security for shoppers because you must be PayPal verified to qualify for a store, and customers can read reviews from past customers.
  • Shoppers can see everything you have to offer in a single place rather than searching each category for your items.

When you order a store, you get access to a control panel with a set of tools that guide you through the process of designing and managing your store. All you need are your logo and products to list in your store.

This is good solution if your target audience is the same as eBay's. But if you're looking for a different niche, consider launching a template-based or custom-designed ecommerce store.

Template-Based Online Store

If you want to get your ecommerce site up and running quickly with an inexpensive, professional design, a template-based store is the answer. There are thousands of high-quality templates available, so you can find the one that suits your business exactly.

Do It Yourself

Many hosting companies offer the tools for you to build your own template-based online store. The software typically includes an image library, payment gateway, inventory tracking and other features to help you design and manage your store.

This is the least expensive option since it's included in your Web hosting plan. It also is the fastest. You can have your store up and running in just a few hours.

Professional Template Customization

Another inexpensive and relatively fast option is to hire a professional to customize a template for your store. When you hire a professional, you typically have access to a larger template library than the one included in your plan, and you can purchase additional features or services for your site such as calculators, audio, video or copywriting.

When you hire professionals to customize your template-based Web site, you supply them with your logo, images and copy (unless you also order copywriting). You also pick out the template you want. Then the design team builds your site to your specifications. Most companies offer you a chance to review the site and make changes before it's launched.

If you're looking for a completely new design and have a little more money to spend, a custom-designed online store might be a better option for you.

Custom-Designed Online Store

A completely new ecommerce design is a good option for sellers who have a large store and a strong identity or brand. This is the most expensive and time-consuming option, but when done right, it gives you the best results.

A custom design can be tailored to match your entire business identity from color palette to overall look and feel. It reinforces your brand image and meets or exceeds your customers' expectations.

The custom design process is usually a collaboration between you and the designer. You discuss your goals with the designer and determine a plan. Then you supply copy and product images. The designer creates Web site mocks for you review and makes any changes you request. Completely customized design plans usually allow for more reviews and changes than template-based plans so that your site meets your needs exactly.

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