Selling products and services online – also known as e-commerce – has come into their own recently. With sales online reaching into the hundreds of billions of dollars in the past several years, many small business owners have sought to acquire their own slice of this lucrative pie.
With a wide variety of e-commerce solutions available today, learning how to start an online store has never been easier. From identifying your niche to marketing your business and profiting in turn, you’ll be up and running online in no time.
With tips and tricks garnered from many online sales success stories, you’ll soon be on your way to profiting from online sales. And now, here’s how to open an online store step by step.
Step 1: Choose your Niche
Before you go searching out information about selling products and services online, take a moment to look inward. Ask yourself, “what products am I passionate about?” Passion acts as an excellent fuel that will serve you well as move through the e-commerce creation process.
Chances are, you won’t be the first person selling that product online. But just because you weren’t the first to sell doesn’t mean you can’t grow to become the best among your peers. In order to reach this high-quality peak, you need to also evaluate what makes your products or services unique. Whatever those stand-out qualities are, work hard to emphasize those unique properties as often as possible.
Once you have decided what you are going to sell and why those products are better than the rest, you’ll be able to carve out your niche online. This niche will act as a target audience as you connect your products with an audience that is as passionate to buy as you are to sell.
Step 2: Choose an E-commerce Solution
In decades past, this process took months of time and a great deal of expert consulting. However, the past several years have simplified the e-commerce platform selection process, allowing you to find an online sales platform that fits both your needs and budget.
There are several devoted website builders for e-commerce that are worth your consideration. Shopify, WooComerce plugin for WordPress, Squarespace, GoDaddy, 1&1, and more – there are so many e-commerce website builder platforms to choose from, each with their own portfolio of features that may be geared perfectly to fit your online sales needs.
While researching and identifying an ideal e-commerce solution, be sure to be on the lookout for added bonuses offered by competing platforms. Some offer free trials while others offer exceptionally affordable introductory pricing. In either case, you’ll be able to gain access to a great many features without putting much money down.
Also, you’ll need to choose how and where your website’s information will be stored. Your primary options include:
- Hosted – Web hosts like Shopify and GoDaddy house your files on their servers, which include built-in security and optimization technology. These are ideal for first-time site builders.
- Licensed – These out-of-the-box platforms are installed on your computer, like a regular program. This requires you to find separate hosting, which can be a hassle.
- Open source – These are generally free to download and provide full customization to meet your needs. However, this often requires coding knowledge. Only recommended for those with prior experience building a website.
Step 3: Pick and Purchase a Domain
Picking a domain name can be one of the most exciting moments in your online store set up process. In a way, you are selecting what name that will proudly hang on the sign outside your digital store for all to see. As such, you should select your domain name with care.
Try to select a domain name that is easy to remember and matches your desired store name as closely as possible. This will help customers remember your website and recommend it to others. Also, you’ll want to shy away from unusual top-level domains like “.pizza” or “.flowers”. The tried and true “.com”, “.net”, and “.store” remain the easiest for customers to remember.
Some e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify and Squarespace, also offer domain registering services. Take advantage of these services, as they will help you secure your online property for a fraction of the cost.
Step 4: Start Building your Store
Now you have the opportunity to “build your store” in the traditional sense. Using the features provided by your chosen e-commerce solution, you can begin to stock your digital shelves with all of the products you intend to sell. Take all the time necessary to learn your chosen platform, as knowledge will pay dividends when it comes to problem-solving down the road.
While you complete this step, remain mindful of how your customers will see every inch of your online store. This extends to everything visual and verbal, including layout, color schemes, font selection, etc. Balance creativity with practicality in order to build a store that both projects your unique voice while providing a seamless shopping experience.
Step 5: Market your New Business
If your customers don’t know about your store, how will they ever buy from you? Your marketing initiatives will help bring your online store to the world and perhaps most importantly, your niche customer base.
There are lots of ways to market your business using online-exclusive mediums. Email marketing and social media ads have become industry standards that you should seriously consider. If you want to step up your marketing game, consider implementing search engine optimization (SEO) for your online store.
Depending on your amount of initial capital, you may choose to put off marketing in earnest until after you make some profit. This is perfectly reasonable and, in many cases, financially prudent. Just be sure to have a plan for how you will expand your audience using online marketing when you are financially able to do so.
Step 6: Profit!
With all of the preliminary steps out of the way, you can finally launch your website and begin selling your products or services to the world. Don’t be discouraged if your profits start out small – even Amazon had to start somewhere!
When you launch, be sure to have a digital payment method in place. Many e-commerce platforms use PayPal or Google Checkout to accomplish this. If you want to take a more professional route, do some extra research to find out how you can implement credit card technology directly into your website.
Though your online business adventure isn’t over yet, you’re now well on your way to online sales success. You get out what you put in with online stores, so be sure to bring passion and intuition to the table while operating your online store.
How to Open an Online Store: Not as Difficult as You Think
Selling products and services online can take some time and effort to get off the ground. Therefore, take some time to look for an eCommerce website builder that suits your needs and budget the best. A suitable platform will make the process of opening a store much easier.
But once you launch your business online, you’ll immediately know that your hard work was a worthwhile effort. With these 6 easy steps, you’ll be on your way to online sales success in no time!