If you’re a small business owner with physical products for sale, an online storefront is a great, low-cost way to get started. And if you already have a brick-and-mortar store, expanding online might be just what you need to sell more product without the limitation of only reaching customers in your area.

Setting up an online storefront isn’t the major headache it used to be. Long gone are the days of troublesome, technical set ups that took tons of time and cash. With so many customizable, easy-to-use solutions, you’re just a few steps away from selling online and growing your business.

Step 1: Consider your needs
Most online shops come equipped with the basics: a way to showcase your products, an easy-to-use showing cart, payment processing, and protection of your customer’s sensitive info. But does your product or shop require something special? Perhaps you want to give customers the option to customize the order or subscribe to your products. Think through those needs before you start exploring shopping platforms so you know the right questions to ask.

Step 2: Select a platform
Now you’ll need to consider whether you want to:
– sell your products through a third-party site like Amazon or Ebay
– host a store on your business’s website using an ecommerce provider like Etsy or Shopify
– build out your own custom online shop

Each option comes with its own pros and cons. Selling on Amazon or Ebay means you wont have to set up a payment gateway, but it also means there’s very little room for branding or customization. Ecommerce providers offer greater flexibility, but require a monthly subscription fee. Building out your own shop allows you to customize endlessly, but it also means you’ll have to take care of every little detail on your own. Weigh out what’s most important for your shop and think through the best way to reach your customers.

Step 3: Pick a merchant provider
If you’re not selling on a third-party site, you’ll have to separately set up a merchant provider like PayPal. This is what gives your business the ability to actually accept debit and credit cards as payment for your goods. The biggest hurdle at this step is verifying test deposit transactions, but after that — you’re good to go!

Step 4: Settle on your shipping and and payment policies
Third-party platforms have policies in place to protect you and your customers. But if you’re using an ecommerce platform or have set up your own custom shop, you’ll need to determine these on your own and make sure their listed clearly on your site. Your shop’s policies should include how customers can pay, how quickly they can have their items shipped, and whether or not they can make a return.

By following these four simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to reaching more customers and growing your business. And by connecting your online shop to your accounting and inventory software, you can begin to automate, simplify, and scale!