The rising of technology has created many opportunities for doing online business. Whether you start wholesale, dropshipping, or reselling, there are some common steps to get rolling with eCommerce. In this article, we’ll provide you with a complete 8-step guide to start an online store.
1. Select your niche and target markets
Let’s start by determining a niche market to serve. Remember these 3 components to choose the right fit for you:
Profitability: The niche should be able to return you a good profit. Don’t choose expensive products that are hard to sell online or too expensive to ship.
Searchability: Find a good keyword with favorable search volume and reasonable competition to start.
Passion: Sell products that you’re passionate about. You can develop yourself as an expert in the field to attract more customers, and also have more motivation to overcome hard times.
Next, think about your target audience. Your products should appeal to them and solve their pain points. There are 3 main aspects to consider for your customers: demographics, locations, and interests. Focusing on your target customers is crucial to steer your business in the right direction.
2. Choose your product line
Next, identify your product or service line. This is a challenging step to find profitable products that suit your target audience, while not being too expensive or too competitive. To give you some inspiration, here are a few ideas for products:
Attract people with a certain hobby;
Align with your personal passion;
Take advantage of current trends in online marketplaces;
Answer basic needs but with a more upgraded look or features.
3. Create your brand identity
Once you’ve decided on your products, you need to build your brand. Here are the elements of brand identity and brand assets:
Brand positioning: Research your competitors and evaluate your business to find your differentiators.
Business name: When choosing a name, use a tool to see if your ideas are available as a domain and social media to purchase it.
Branding package: This is a series of assets that creates a consistent style for your brand, including responsive logo variations, typography, a color palette, graphic elements, messaging, and style guides.
4. Register your business
Incorporating your business protects your personal assets and secures financing more easily. The type of business structure also affects your tax bill. Here are the common ones: sole proprietorship, partnership, and limited liability corporation (LLC).
5. Choose an eCommerce platform
An eCommerce platform is where you build and manage your online store, make sales, and create shipment. For fulfilling orders and other business operations like inventory and marketing, you’ll need to integrate a retail system with your eCommerce store.
When looking for an eCommerce platform, remember these key features:
Usability: The platform should be easy to use with an intuitive interface;
Accessible customer support: Choose a platform that offers you technical support;
Seamless checkout: You need a streamlined checkout process for shoppers to purchase easily with multiple payment methods and currencies.
Support omnichannel sales: If you want to expand selling to other channels like social media, apps, or in-store, the platform should be able to sync data with those channels.
Web hosting: You need a web host (either built-in or 3rd-party integration) to publish and maintain your website.
Scalability: The platform must scale with you as you grow.
FYI: To streamline your retail store operations, you can integrate software with your eCommerce s
Select a template or theme suitable for your product catalog and your brand image;
Customize your website:
Determine your website goal: attract first-time visitors, convey your brand values and display products, create clear paths for visitors to browse and place orders, and build trust and accommodate returning customers;
Ensure your website is mobile-responsive.
Create product listings: Add your product descriptions with high-quality photos or videos to showcase the item’s benefits and drive purchase actions;
Set your price: Consider your COGS, customer target, and average market pricing;
Add inventory: add your stock availability and link your inventory with your sales data;
Set up feedback and reviews hub;
Configure shipping calculators: Set up shipping strategies such as free shipping for certain cart values, real-time carrier rates, flat rate charging, etc.
Configure taxes: set up your tax region.
7. Establish payment methods
Next, select how you would accept payments. Depending on your eCommerce platform, you can set up many methods for customers’ convenience, such as credit and debit cards, checks, or bank transfers. Make sure your hosting platform integrates with the gateways you select.
To handle payment smoothly and securely, you can consider adopting a POS system. It not only takes care of your online transactions, but also helps you manage all your sales channels, inventory, employees, and customers with a centralized database and analytics tools.
8. Launch and market your store
You’re now ready to publish your website and market it widely. To attract target customers and bring traffic to your site, you can combine inbound and outbound methodologies to convert and retain customers:
Create a content strategy for the entire shopping journey with the AIDA model;
Use social media where your customers are present and become active there;
Develop referral or loyalty programs;
Design an affiliate marketing program;
Incentivize word-of-mouth marketing.
Collaborate with influencers to promote your products;
Use online advertising like Google Ads or Facebook Ads;
Use press releases if you have unique products.
Depending on your retail industry and your customers’ behaviors, you can be creative in your marketing tactics and test which ones work best for you.
Above are the steps needed to start your online retail store. Placing your customers at the center and providing the best values to them will help you build brand love and loyalty to grow your business.