Perhaps you have an idea for an online store. Perhaps you were inspired by another successful entrepreneur.
You have the courage to follow your dream, but then you find yourself asking “Where do I start?”
This guide will help you launch your online store. We can help you get your business started, no matter if you are starting from scratch or relaunching an existing brick-and-mortar store.
How to Start A online Store A Complete Guide
1. Determine your target audience
When start an online store, one of the most important things you should consider is whom you will be selling to. Your chances of creating a successful business are greater if you’re closer to your product or audience.
You can use your product idea to identify your ideal customer if you have one. If you don’t have a product idea, use it to identify your ideal customer. Which products do you use most often? What do you love most about your favorite brand’s products? Or who are you most interested in serving with your products in your personal life?
Like any other business, It is important to identify a purpose for your life that will motivate you long-term. Ecommerce isn’t all sunshine and butterflies. You’ll need to answer many financial and logistical questions.
You can stay on the right track by reminding yourself why your business is being run and for whom. You can do this by creating buyer personas. Personas allow you to get inside the mind of your buyer, making decisions about messaging, website design, and other marketing strategies.
2. Choose what to sell online
It is important to carefully consider which products you will sell.
You need to think about your target audience and do some competitive research. Ask yourself key questions. First, find out which brands are most popular online. What are your unique problems? What are your plans for sourcing products?
Also read: Top 15 Sales Prospecting Tools
Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
- Optimize a popular product. Make it more popular by taking what you already know to work and improving it. This is what big retailers do with their private labels. They will check out what is popular online and in stores, and then make their own versions. You can try this yourself with tools such as Jungle Scout, or by checking out sites like Amazon’s Best Sellers. To find out what products are lacking, read reviews about top brands.
- Keep an eye out for untapped markets. Did you ever search online for a product that you liked but nothing came up? Have you ever heard of something your brother suggested that you might like to have over dinner? An original idea is the best.
- Follow the trends. There are always many trending products, whether they were born out of necessity or because of a viral topic. This is where it’s important to have a system that can help you understand what drives a product’s success. How long can the trend last? How can you keep the trend going? Don’t commit to a product that loses interest just as quickly as it gained.
After you have brainstormed some good ideas, it is important to ensure that the item to be sold is real. Think about these questions:
- Does your item ship easily? When you are selling eCommerce products, it is best to choose items that are lightweight, non-fragile, and have few moving parts. You may also want to avoid magnets and batteries as they can complicate shipping.
- Where are you planning to sell? Your website may be the best place to sell your products. You can also take advantage of multichannel marketing to sell on other marketplaces such as Amazon. Each platform has its own rules for engagement. Do yourself a favor and map out your grand plan. Also, consider which products will be most popular where.
- Are you able to turn a profit? What price can your product sell for? What buffer should you consider considering your business costs and marketing plans? Calculate your estimated ROI early so you don’t get caught by surprise about your profit margins.
- What, precisely, is it that you will manufacture? Find a manufacturer to create your inventory quickly, affordably, and consistently it’s obvious that the more complicated your item, the more money you will spend on shipping and R&D.
- Are there restrictions or regulations that you should be aware of? Some product categories, such as food and beverages, require special licenses or permits. Some products might be banned on certain channels and ad platforms.
3. Establish your business structure
You’re likely bouncing in the seat ready to start. To make your business officially legal, you will need to do a few things. An official filing is required to ensure that your business is recognized by government agencies. This includes decisions that affect your eligibility for funding or tax obligations.
First, decide how you want your business to be structured. These are the most popular types of businesses:
- Sole proprietorship. This is when your business and you are financially and legally linked together. This is the easiest type of business to start. However, you can’t operate the business as an employer. Instead, you run the business as an independent contractor.
- Limited Liability Company. This option allows you to keep your personal and business assets separated, which lowers the risk of starting up a business. LLCs are easy to set up and provide many tax benefits for businesses.
- Partnership. When you start your business with more than one partner, you will need to sign a partnership agreement. This agreement outlines how you will split profits and duties. The agreement will outline each partner’s rights, responsibilities, and investments.
- Corporation. A corporation is usually an established business that has shareholders and employees. There are many types of corporations that you can establish. A group or individual can start a corporation.
You can set up your business as a sole proprietorship without any formalities. You will still need to apply for the appropriate licenses and permits to suit your business and area. To find out what licenses and permits you will need, consult the US Small Business Administration.
You’ll be required to pay estimated taxes every quarter, as per IRS standards. Additionally, you may need to collect and remit sales tax.
A business lawyer is recommended if you are looking to establish an LLC, partnership or corporation. While we aren’t experts in legal matters, we can give some guidance, but we strongly recommend that you consult a business lawyer to help you through the process.
4. Choose an eCommerce platform
Once you have figured out which products you want to sell and where to get them, you are halfway there.
Next, you need to create a website where your products will be listed. Your website is your brand’s face. This is where you have the greatest control over branding and the buyer journey. You’ll also be taking payments and performing essential tasks from here.
It is important that you choose a trusted eCommerce platform to host the site. Don’t be seduced by the fancy features of an eCommerce platform at this stage. Ask all questions and look behind the scenes.
Consider these factors when selecting an eCommerce platform
- Features: No two platforms will be the same. WooCommerce is one example. However, it requires a developer to help set up and maintain. Some platforms, such as Wix eCommerce, don’t require previous coding experience. You can instead choose from pre-made blocks, templates, and apps to create an online store. You can also connect to your preferred payment solution, track inventory and automate sales tax.
- Specialty Businesses: Do you intend to sell CBD? Or do you have a niche business idea that you want to pursue? Make sure your platform supports your business line.
- Mobile view: Is your website builder optimized for mobile? Your store will be accessible on mobile devices. It’s vital that your website is mobile responsive, especially considering how mobile commerce has taken over the world.
- Replatforming: Scalability can cause problems later. You’ll need to find a system that will support your business now and in the future. Consider whether you will be able to upgrade your plan to gain access to more professional tools like ads, preorders, or discount campaigns. You should ensure that you are not taxed for your success. For example, you don’t have to pay high commission fees if you sell more.
- Security & reliability: This is often something that sellers forget about or think about only after a catastrophe. Security and reliability should be paramount in all circumstances. If sales spike suddenly, how can you prevent a site from going down? How can you protect your online store against hackers, fraudulent transactions, and possible chargebacks?
- SEO: You want your website to rank high on Google. To do this, you will need to have a solid technical SEO foundation and then the tools to optimize your website in the best way possible. Web commerce allows you to modify your meta tags, URLs, and structured data markup. Find out which SEO capabilities your platform offers.
5. Partner with a dropshipper (optional)
Dropshipping is a great way to get started selling quickly. Dropshipping offers key benefits, such as low upfront costs and easy administration.
You can own a dropshipping company and work with a supplier to handle manufacturing, warehousing, and shipping. Here’s how it works.
- Dropship the products that you choose from your supplier’s catalog
- These products can be listed on your website and you set your own prices
- Your site allows shoppers to purchase the products and pay for them.
- You must forward the order of your customer (plus pay) to your supplier
- Your supplier will ship the product directly to your address
eCommerce platforms allow you to integrate directly with popular dropshipping services such as Modalyst or Spocket. Our integrated solution allows you to manage and list products directly from suppliers without having to leave eCommerce platforms. All customer orders will be automatically routed from the online platforms to your software and suppliers. This allows you to manage all your customer-facing tasks and back-office operations in one place.
6. Connect a payment provider
You must decide how you will get paid to make your first dollar in eCommerce. Multiple payment options are always a good idea. Think back to the last time that you went into a restaurant or store. You probably expected them to take credit cards or Apple Pay. Sometimes, however, you might find a store that accepts only cash. In such cases, you are either in or out.
Online, you have the option to offer payment options such as:
- Credit/debit cards
- Digital wallets (like PayPal).
- Transfers to banks
- If you own a brick-and-mortar store, in-person payment
- Pay later, buy now
You can also choose from a variety of payment gateways (also known as payment providers). Payment gateways ensure that funds are transferred safely and successfully. Depending on where you live and what your business is, some gateways might be more efficient than others. No matter which gateway you choose, your provider must verify your bank account before your money can be taken home.
Online payment is an option for U.S.-based companies to accept credit, debit, PayNow by Klarna, and other payment methods at checkout. The ultimate benefit is having one integrated dashboard that allows you to personalize your payout cycles, and much more.
You can also choose from third-party plugins that include 50+ payment portals around the world.
7. Name your store and get a domain
Finally. Now it’s time for you to start working on your brand. Begin by choosing a memorable name to represent your business.
Think of words that are associated with your product, industry or values. To get some ideas, you can also use the business name generator.
Consider SEO to guide your name selection. You can identify the terms shoppers use to search for products similar to yours. For help, you can use Google Trends and keyword research tools like Semrush. For more tips, check out our SEO Guide.
Your product category or product type may be mentioned in the name. This will allow shoppers to immediately see what you have to offer. If you are selling hats, for example, you could include the words “accessories”, “fedoras” and “caps” in your name.
Above all, ensure your business name is unique and not being used elsewhere. This can be done in one of these ways:
- Research your direct competitors
- Search for your name ideas in Google and on social media
- Register your business with the local registration agency
After you have chosen a business name, select the best domain name to host your website. Match your store name exactly. This will make it easier for customers to find your brand online. You’ll pay between $10 and $15 per year for domain names.
8. Design your site for sales
This is where the fun begins. This is where creativity shines. It’s important to create a store that is both well-branded and optimized for conversions. Customers should be impressed not only by the store’s appearance but also should be able to find your products easily and make confident purchases.
Pointers for designing your site
- Use an eCommerce template. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Because online store templates you can customize to make your store stand out. These templates include all the essential features that your store needs so that you don’t have to make it from scratch.
- Take the time to review your website’s structure. To create a seamless user experience, observe how major retailers and brands use navigation menus and filters, breadcrumbs, and shopping carts. Do not clutter up any page or nav bar. Instead, focus on search behavior and terminology that are most relevant to your target audience.
- Follow the three-click rule. Your products should be available in three clicks or less. Your customers should find it easy to navigate from your homepage or any other landing page to the product page they desire. Customers shouldn’t have the need to comb through multiple pages of your website to find the information they are looking for. Your footer could contain key links, such as your shipping information, returns policy, and contact information.
- What you sell. Make sure your visitors know exactly what you are selling. Your marketing and off-site advertising efforts can help you with this. However, it’s important to clearly define your expertise through page headings and search menus. Tip: Make sure to update your website’s metadata with the type of store that you are. T-Shirt Store.”
- Clear calls to action (CTAs) should be written. Your customers need to know at every stage of the buying process what is next. Make buttons and other prompts that are clear and easy to understand. Each click should be clear to the customer (e.g. “Add to Cart” or “Explore other products like this”. These 14 high-converting product pages are a great resource.
- Do not skimp on product descriptions. You can easily get lazy when it comes to product descriptions, especially if you have a copy already provided by your manufacturer. It is a huge missed opportunity to not write original descriptions. Your product descriptions have a huge impact on SEO, brand trust, and visibility. Here are some tips to help you write a strong product description.
- Make sure you are intentional about your images. We don’t have to remind you that product photography plays a vital role in selling online. Many customers will look at images before making a purchase decision. Professional photos and videos can be used to show the product’s appearance, feel size, dimensions, and proper use. More eCommerce product photography tips.
9. Create a strong branding strategy
Your online success is dependent on your brand. It’s important to have strong eCommerce branding strategies that leave a lasting impression in an age when shoppers are more open to shopping from unknown brands. Your business name, logo, colors, and voice are all part of branding. Your brand should be a strong reflection of the company you work for and the mood you wish to create.
Begin by choosing your brand palette. To match your eco-friendly water bottles, you could use blues or greens. You might choose brighter colors to exude a cheerful, energetic vibe. Whatever your choice, you need to have a reason why you selected the colors you did. Keep three to four hex code numbers on hand for future reference.
Next, you will need to create a logo with help from a designer or Logo Maker. It is important to make it memorable, unique, and strong. The Nike swoosh is a classic example. (Would it surprise you to know that Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, initially reacted to this logo by saying “I don’t love it but maybe it’ll grow on me.” It is obvious that the logo represents speed and motion, which are the values that Nike sells to. You are not looking for a logo that speaks only to you. It’s important to choose a logo that appeals to your audience.
The tone of voice is another important aspect of your brand. When writing product descriptions and social media posts, this should be considered. Do you need to be lighthearted? Serious? What if you could speak with your target buyers face-to-face?
These branding factors are important for building content for your brand.
- Your website
- Product packaging
- Shipping materials
- Marketing campaigns
It is important to be consistent in order to build a brand that customers will love.
10. Start your marketing campaigns
Now your store is ready for sales. Now is the time to shout it from high places. There are many marketing strategies that can be used to drive customers to your online store.
Organic marketing tools
- Social media. Create a page for your business on social networks like Facebook and Instagram. Your business information should be updated and you can use your channels to both sell and provide customer service. Instagram and TikTok allow you to check out right from your platforms. Find out more about your social shopping options.
- Email marketing. Emails remain alive and well. Emails give you direct access and control over customers who opt in to your communications. To get started, create a business email address. Create an email list by including a lightbox on your website that encourages signup, adding signup options at checkout, or a link in the footer. If a customer signs up for your email list, you can offer a discount or other incentive. Send regular emails to customers with promotions, updates, business news, product recommendations, and other eCommerce emails.
- SEO. Optimize the site for high ranking in Google’s search results. Follow SEO best practices and optimize your site’s meta titles and descriptions. You can also take advantage of free tools such as Google Shopping or Google Business Profile (previously known as Google My Business). These tools help you to rank higher on Google and improve your local search visibility.
- Loyalty program. A loyalty program can be a great way to keep repeat customers. While these programs require thought and careful planning, plugins such as Smile may simplify the process. You can offer rewards for every order or special action such as sharing your product on Facebook. You can attract more customers while still taking care of them.
Paid marketing tools
- Instagram and Facebook ads. Facebook offers a variety of ad placements that allow you to target specific demographics and interest groups on each platform. Online businesses allow you to create Instagram Ads from your website dashboard. It uses AI to optimize your ads throughout the day.
- Google shopping ads. Google shopping ads are pay-per-click (PPC), ads that allow you to jump to the top of relevant search results. The ads are sent to the customer’s website when they click them. Depending on your settings, or to a Google checkout page.