Remember how baffled we’d get back in the day, trying to reach an unknown location? Overwhelmed with the feeling of getting lost, we would second guess every turn.
But now, times have changed. Simply turn on the GPS and enter the final destination.
Starting an online store is not much different. Once you have a killer idea, you’re all set to begin your exciting journey to start your online store.
Wondering how you could start your voyage to online success?
Read on to find out more.
Setting up an online business has never been easier
Starting a business used to require a substantial amount of resources. Managing payroll, logistics, manufacturing, marketing, and advertising are only a few of the responsibilities. But now the corporate landscape has changed. It’s less complicated. With the widespread availability of advanced technology, there are more options and lowered costs. A majority of startups are reaping the rewards of the online platform.
Here are just a few of them:
1. Greater financing options
The downward trend of costs for establishing a startup has helped facilitate funding through various outlets such as crowdfunding, investors, influencers, incubators, and accelerators. Online platforms like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter offer varying degrees of assistance. With the advent of technology, there is less financial pressure on new businesses to bear the entire burden of the establishment.
2. Reduced overhead costs
Many online companies begin with the basic setup. Outsourcing tasks to online sites like Freelancer and Upwork has cut costs. Virtual assistance and telecommuting have significantly reduced employee and workspace requirements. Innovative ideas have a better chance to flourish. Diverse marketplaces are now offering greater flexibility.
3. More focus on innovation
Ideas are a dime a dozen. But products have to be unique because competition in the virtual space is fierce. Interestingly, there seems to be a market for even the craziest of ideas. So all you need to do is identify a need and cater to the demand. Even established companies are implementing new ways to expand their product lines.
4. Social media marketing
Advertising couldn’t have been cheaper- most of the times, it’s the price you pay for wifi. Social media platforms have stood the test of time and have come out of the other end as absolute winners, boosting advertising, brand development, and visibility. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – all have the power to garner a considerable amount of attention to your online store.
5. Consumer preferences are changing
Trends are evolving to incorporate the latest technological developments. Your online store has a higher chance of surviving than it did a decade ago. Youngsters are tech savvy and prefer utilizing online platforms for shopping, entertainment, and education more than the older generation.
According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials (ages 22-37) use the internet 97% of the time as compared to 83% of Boomers (ages 54-72).
6. Mobile optimization
Mobile commerce is on the rise. By February 2019, Statistica reported that mobile devices accounted for 48% of web page views across the globe. The availability of shopping options through mobile devices is limitless, ranging from groceries, toys, books, music, clothing, footwear, household appliances, consumer electronics, and whatnot.
The figure below depicts the online and in-store shopping preference for selected product categories by consumers worldwide (2017):
Ready to start?
Often, the largest obstacle to success is unfamiliarity of the process that it entails. Instead of trying to figure what goes into starting your online store, here is a step-by-step guide to set you in the right direction.
Step 1. Decide on a product
Whether you want to sell products in a brick-and-mortar location or an online shop, choose a product that sells. Select products you can incorporate a high enough markup to cover your expenses.
Evaluate your idea — research the market and potential audience to see if there is a demand for your product.
Go beyond your core offerings. Consider all the variants that you can provide to expand your customer base.
How will you obtain your product? Options include manufacturing, wholesale suppliers, or dropshipping. Figure out what works best for you.
Step 2. Choose the right online platform
There are three main ways to sell online:
- Your own ecommerce store
- Marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay
- Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
It all depends on the type of business you own- an online leather store, a gourmet patisserie, or opulent furnishings for home decor.
One of the best things about online platforms is that you don’t have to choose only one. You have the opportunity to sell across different channels through ecommerce store builders.
Remember to select the platform that meets your needs and supports future growth. Common platforms include Shopify, Wix, and BigCommerce.
Step 3. Set up the business
Begin by researching your competition. Identify the factors that will differentiate you from the rest.
Next, create a business plan- the roadmap that will bring your ideas together and guide you towards success. Major aspects, such as financing, marketing, and advertising, should be mentioned.
Step 4. Build your store
Aside from the obvious of choosing a name and creating a domain for your business, you need to design an aesthetically appealing website that is easy to navigate. Craft a professional logo that is memorable yet enhances the identity of your brand.
Construct high-converting pages with captivating product descriptions and engaging photographs.
More importantly, structure your site with the essential SEO basics such as longtail keywords and metatags. According to Wired Magazine Blog, 44% of online shoppers will tell their friends about a bad experience. So optimize your website with quick loading times, intuitive navigation, quality content, mobile optimization, etc.
Step 5. Create a phenomenal shopping experience
On average, 69% of your website visitors will leave your site without going through with a purchase.
If you want to your online shop to excel, you must seriously consider the level of security and payment gateway that you are providing to your customers. A secure shopping cart software is the simplest way to facilitate the shopping experience.
Organize as well as legalize your brand with barcodes. It’s a simple solution to deal with different sizes, colors or patterns of the same product. More importantly, devise a system where you can efficiently keep track of the shop’s inventory.
Step 6. Analyze everything
Use appropriate tools to measure the metrics of your online shop such as traffic, conversions, bounce rates, time spent online, etc.
Constantly monitor consumer trends in order to search for new ideas. Make people keep coming back to your store.
Step 7. Maintain your business
To keep your brand up and running, you can’t ignore advertising and marketing. Consider utilizing campaigns such as promotional offers, sales, and emails to boost customer loyalty.
Remember, you have to cater to your shoppers, and customer service is one of the best ways to do that.
Understand that building your online store is more than following a roadmap. Evaluate its viability regularly to keep you orientated in the industry and keep you moving in the right direction. The most important part of being a successful entrepreneur is knowing that plans can change at any moment in time. You need to adapt to current trends to survive in the competitive world of e-commerce.
You must always have a backup plan because it’s not only about starting an impressive online store. It’s imperative to remain successful. Only 1 out of 10 businesses exist after the 5-year mark. If you want to be more than a mere statistic, then you’ll need to display a great deal of acumen and dedication to rise up against the odds.
So if you happen to miss an exit, don’t be afraid to take a detour. Remember, there is more than one way to reach your destination.