A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Setting up Your First Online Store
The internet has revolutionized how many things, including business, is done. Not so long ago, you had to go to a physical store to purchase an item. With time, however, there was an increase in the number of online stores and available products.
E-commerce is no doubt one of the fastest growingstartup business ideas.Even remote areas around the world have internet connectivity which vastly expands the reach for many products. Selling your products online has many advantages, and most people have realized this. The problem is that a good portion of these people do not have a clear plan for success.
If you plan to start an online store, but you have no idea where to start, worry no more. It is never too late to start something that you have the passion for. In fact, there has never been a better time to start an online store than today. If you are reading this article, you may already have a product in mind, but you are not sure how to market it online. We understand that starting from scratch can be a terrifying thought, especially for those that are not techies.
This start-from-scratch guide will give you all the information you need to know about starting your online store.
- Choose a product.
The very first step to building your e-commerce empire is knowing the product you want to sell. It may sound easy, but the fact is that it is very challenging to choose the right product. There is no magic product that will just go viral. You have to do a lot of research regarding the shipping size, target market, price, margin, availability and the nature of the product. Using the right strategies will enable you to find product opportunities. Once you have a product in mind, you need to evaluate whether or not the product is a viable one. After evaluating it, the next step is figuring out how and where you will obtain the product. You can look for a manufacturer or supplier or better yet manufacture your own product. You then need to research your closest competitors so that you know what you are up against.
- Set up your business.
After doing a competitive research, write down a detailed business plan which will be your road map that will collect your ideas to achieve your goals. After completing your business plan, you can then consider options for registering your business. Determining the name of your online store or company is not easy either. Choose a catchy name that will appeal to your target audience. This step also includes choosing an appropriate domain name . Once you have settled on a suitable name, you need to craft a logo. Many designers have mastered the art of creating great logos for different businesses. You can approach them with your idea, and they will get the job done.
The above two steps mean that you already have the business part of your online store figured out.
- Choose your system wisely.
A good ecommerce platform will help you easily list products, setup checkout, add categories, offer credit card processing integrations, and much more.It is best to go for a system that is popular and well supported with good reviews from other online store owners. There are many hosted platforms where you get your online store up and running at a reasonable price. Most of them have similar functionality and features. These include Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, and OpenCart among many others.
Even if you have no product yet, open a website and create a simple “Coming Soon” page. You can tell your friends and colleagues about it. Every website needs a domain name and non-managed platforms will require you to have hosting as well. Purchase a domain name that matches your brand name ahead of time to secure the name and branding of your company. You also need Secure Sockets Layer Certificate (SSL) to encrypt sensitive data. Once you have those few basics things, your store will officially be online and open for business, if you have picked products that is! Unfortunately, that is just the first step in building a thriving online business.
- Be outstanding and unique.
First impressions matter a lot as shoppers take just a fraction of a second to decide if they like your page or not. If you are not selling your own goods, avoid using the exact photos and product descriptions as the manufacturers or other sellers. If you do this, your content will have no difference from other online shops that purchase from the same supplier or manufacturer.
Find high-resolution photographs and a catchy product description that is easy to read to convince the potential buyer. If you cannot come up with a description from scratch, rewrite the manufacturer’s one and put a creative spin on them. For photos, you can have a professional photographer take new ones for your business. People remember 80% of what they see and only 20% of what they read. There is a lot of power in photographs, make use of them. There is no need to recycle old photos for a new business. There are plenty of other retailers of the same product out there and being unique will allow you to stand out above from the crowd.
- Familiarize yourself with SEO.
Many online stores struggle with SEO. Most shoppers only use the first page of Google results. In fact, studies show that 90% of users click only the first three results on the first page. Optimizing the product pages by using appropriate product keywords in your headers and images, avoiding stuffing keywords and getting others to talk about and link to your site can go a long way in helping you reach the first page.
- Run a Monthly Newsletter.
A newsletter will update your customers when you add more products to your online store. Unknown to most people, newsletters are the secret weapon to successful online sales. Keep your loyal clients close by prompting them to sign up for a newsletter after they make a purchase. If they already bought a product from you, the chances are high that they may become repeat customers. Have an easily visible Sign Up area on your homepage or sidebar and coupon codes also work great to get people to sign up.
- Social media presence.
A significant population of the world is on social media, notably Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These sites can act as a direct marketing tool that you can use to interact with your customers by answering questions, giving random discounts, and keeping them updated of when you intend to add more products to your store.
Get Started Now!
Whether you want your online store to be a side hustle or your primary source of income, the 7 basic steps above will take you a long way towards opening a successful online store. With online retail sales on the rise year after year, now is the best time to start your online store.