How to start an Online Store using Zen Cart

make an online store

If you’re in the market for an online store, you should consider the advantages of using Zen Cart. Zen Cart excels because it’s an open source solution that’s completely free and isn’t hard to set up. I know because I’ve tried many of the leading alternatives and I come back to Zen Cart every time.

Zen Cart is a complete system. It’s a PHP and MySQL software package that is available through most web hosts. In general, Zen Cart follows a one-click installation process that will have you up and running fast. Since PHP, Apache, and MySQL remain the de facto standard for hosting environments, it’s never a challenge to find a hosting package that supports Zen Cart.

Advantages Of Zen Cart

Zen Cart has a number of clear advantages over rival E-Commerce platforms. I already mentioned the fact it’s free. Now it’s time to point out that Zen Cart is also scalable. Even if you start small you’ll be able to expand your online store using the platform. Let’s look at a few other benefits.

  1. It’s easy to add products. If you’re able to use email you’ll be able to easily add products to Zen Cart. You don’t need to be an HTML expert to use Zen Cart and there’s no steep learning curve to slow you down. Using the built-in editor you enter the pertinent information into the correct fields and submit. Nothing could be easier.
  2. Zen Cart is flexible. There are a lot of options you can change that affect your store’s performance as well as its look and feel. Third party templates are available that allow complete customization of your website. Zen Cart templates run the gamut from free to premium. You’ll have no trouble finding a beautiful theme. Zen Cart grows along with your business.
  3. Promotions made easy. You can add promotional codes for sales and discounts easily. It’s up to you how you structure your offer. Zen Cart makes the process simple.
  4. Your choice of payment processors. Zen Cart is fully integrated with PayPal and a variety of payment processors. It’s easy to enter a few details and start taking payments right away. After all, that’s the fun part of running an online store, isn’t it?
  5. Excellent language and currency support. Are you ready to take your store global? When you are you’ll be able to do so easily. Zen Cart has language support for all major languages and currencies. Zen Cart is ready to expand when you are.

Initial Setup And Configuration

There are two things you’ll need to run Zen Cart. They are a domain and a web hosting account. Both are common items offered by a wide choice of providers.

  1. Registering a domain. Pick a name that reflects your business. Give some thought to what domain name you’ll use, because it will probably be yours for a long time.
  2. Installing your Zen Cart. You will use your host’s ‘Quickinstall’ process to install your copy of Zen Cart.

How you set up the store is a bit more involved, but there’s a lot of help available to you once you get started. Most options are easy to understand. You will likely have no problems setting up and configuring your store.

Get your domain and hosting

You can buy a domain and hosting package together or separately. The choice is yours. There are many hosts online. Many of them offer the same basic features. Choose a host and domain registrar based on cost and performance. Read reviews before committing and make sure they have a solid reputation for customer service. In general you should not experience many issues with your web host, but when you do it’s frustrating to receive poor service.

Here’s how to make an online store with Zen Cart

Log in to your host’s control panel. (In general they will use cPanel.) Here you’ll find one of a few different quick installation helpers. Click on the icon for Zen Cart. Click ‘continue’ and fill out the information that pertains to your store. Fill out all the information requested and record your answers for ‘Admin Email’ and ‘Admin Email.’ This data is what you’ll use to login and manage your store.

Now you can click ‘Install Now.’ It will take a short time to copy the files and for the initial setup to finish. When installation finishes you’ll get a copy of your URL and administration details. Keep these in a safe place.

Now you can login to the Zen Cart administration interface. This is the ‘brain center’ of the software and where all the action takes place. You can set up shipping options, products, and payment processing here. You will soon discover how easy Zen Cart really is to use.

At this point you may also want to navigate to your store’s URL. You’ll be able to see the first version of your new store. There will be a bit of sample data already installed to help you visualize how your site will look once completed.

All that’s left to do now is to add your products. After that you’ll begin the process of promoting your site. You’re at the earliest stage of your journey towards E-Commerce greatness. Congratulations on your decision to sell online. It’s a courageous move, but one that has paid off for many people. Selling online is exploding in popularity. If you offer a great mix of products you’ll have no problem attracting new customers.

After your store is ready, you should focus on creating amazing social media profiles. Your potential customers will look for you on major social networks. If you’re willing to update daily, you will have no problem finding clients on these busy sites. Great customer service helps you build a strong referral stream. Happy existing customers will tell their friends and relatives about your service.

You may also consider paid online advertising and local ad options. Paid ads are based on your budget. They allow you to start small and scale larger when your budget increases. Some of the largest online retailers had humble origins. People from all over the world use the Internet. If you can ship internationally, there are no real limits to your growth potential.

The same basic principles that propel bricks and mortar success also work online. A large choice of merchandise, hot products, great customer service, and an amazing shopping experience are what all shoppers look for. Those stores that give them what they want are always packed. Online retailers are no exception. Look at the biggest online stores and emulate what they do. Constant promotions and intense marketing are how they build their customer base. Shoppers are always looking for deals. Prepare yourself to run promotions on hot items if you want to quickly find new shoppers. When you make an online store with Zen Cart you’re joining the ranks of online retailers. You have to think like they do and do the things they do to succeed. Luckily there is a lot of information available about what you need to know.

Don’t worry about getting everything perfect day one. You’ll have to make improvements as time passes. Listening to feedback is the single best way to improve your offering. Customers will tell you what they like and don’t like about shopping at your store. Listen to them! If you heed their advice you’ll sell more. Customer feedback makes you better. Your competitors will never know what hit them when you build a perfect store that people flock to! Exciting days lie ahead for you as an E-Commerce superstar. Installing Zen Cart was just the beginning of what promises to be a remarkable journey. You’ve made the right decision choosing this robust platform. Good luck!

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