You’re ready to build your first ecommerce business. You don’t know where to start. With the right tools, you’ll be able to start your online business without any hiccups. These easy to follow steps are going to show you how to create an online store.
It’s important to note that starting an ecommerce business isn’t going to make you rich overnight. Running a web store requires a lot of time, dedication, and plenty of patience. If you don’t possess such characteristics, I recommend sticking to your 9 to 5 job.
I was once in your position, dreaming of becoming my own boss and being able to provide for my family. However, a big difference between someone else and I is that I’m very determined, I hate failure, and I’m always looking to be successful in everything I do. That’s why I created this easy to follow guide on how you can build an online store.
Decide what you’re going to sell
Learning how to create an online store isn’t the difficult part. Finding profitable products to sell is. Not all products are ideal for selling online – some products sell better in brick and mortar stores.
Here 6 things to consider prior to creating an online store:
- What type of products do you want to sell? Are you going to sell physical, digital, or subscription-based products?
- Are you going to sell a single product or a variation of different products?
- Do you plan on making your own products, buying wholesale, or drop shipping?
- Do you have space to store your inventory, if applicable?
- How will you package and ship your items (I recommend shipping using Stamps.com)?
- What’s the current competition for the product you plan on targeting?
Find a profitable niche
Prior to learning the tricks of the trade, I spent a lot of sleepless nights researching various niches that I would get into. A lot of the successful store owners out there are passionate about what they do and are familiar with the products that they’re selling. I’m not saying go and sell video games just because you like playing video games; competition here is very high.
Let’s pretend that you narrow everything down to selling wedding invitations. You’ll need to differentiate yourself from the competition selling the same products. Being unique and creating your own style is going to go a long way.
Knowing what you’re selling and giving customers a user friendly checkout is going to get you that sale. Also, remember to keep in touch with your customers, even after the sale has been made.
Small things like these are things entrepreneurs tend to forget.
Create a business plan that works
Once you figure out what you’re going to sell, it’s time to create a business plan with both short term and long term goals. Unfortunately, many store owners rush straight to launching their stores that they forget about this important step.
Not all business plans are the same.
There are a few things that must be included in any successful business plan. You should try to include a projection of where you want your store to be in a few years and how you intend to get there.
There are various websites out there that can help you create a business plan for free.
Start with a domain name
The next step is to decide on a company name and purchase a domain name that’s identical or closely matching your company name.
This is an important step as a custom domain builds trusts and reputation on the internet.
Most domain registrars offer domain names for under $10/year, so it’s not a big investment. Personally, I purchase my domain names from NameCheap and GoDaddy – whoever has the better deal at the time.
Register your business
It’s a good idea to register your business in accordance with the laws in your country and/or state. While you don’t need to complete this step right away, you’ll eventually need to, especially when your business grows.
To make things official and legal, I suggest getting all of the legal and tax paperwork out of the way to avoid any hiccups down the road.
I use MyCorporation every time I register a new business. They’re affordable and take care of all of the paperwork for you.
Decide on the ecommerce platform you want to use
Choosing the right ecommerce software is just as important as finding the right products to sell. Without a reliable shopping cart, your online business isn’t going to go very far.
You can also compare these top ecommerce platforms to see what works best for you.
Using a hosted platform to create your online store is going to make things easier. For example, most of the hosted solutions offer domain registrations, PCI compliance, complete order management system, and a blogging platform at one centralized location.
Sign up for Google AdWords and Analytics
Google offers solid tools for website owners and online marketers for free. Be sure to take advantage of Google AdWords by setting up advertising campaigns to attract customers and bring targeted traffic to your online store.
Google Analytics is also a free tool that provides you with a complete reporting platform. Their service is able to track various store statistics that a traditional ecommerce platform won’t be able to.
Launch your store and promote the heck out of it
If you made it this far, it’s time to launch your online store and showcase what you’ve been working on. Don’t forget to promote your online store, especially in the very beginning so you can establish a customer base.
Submitting your products to Google Shopping and The Find is free and may give you an advantage over the competition.
As you get familiar with various comparison shopping sites, I recommend advertising your products on paid sites such as Bizrate, Price Grabber, and Shopping.com.
And remember, word of mouth is still a strong form of advertising. So, go out there and tell everyone about your online business.
And finally, you’re all set and ready to fulfill orders
Hopefully, you’re still awake. Now you know what it takes to build an online store. If you follow the steps above and complete them successfully, you’ll have a better foundation and a greater chance of success.
Here are some other things that you might want to do once you’re store is up and you have some time on your hands:
- Create a marketing strategy
- Hire a developer to keep your store looking nice
- Sell your products on eBay and Amazon
- Create a company blog and update it regularly
- Go social, focus on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest
As discussed earlier in this guide, here’s a quick overview of the services you’ll need to create an online store:
- Use Worldwide Brands, SaleHoo, and Doba to find products to sell.
- If you’re shipping items, sign up for Stamps.com to print shipping labels.
- Purchase your domain names from NameCheap and GoDaddy.
- Register your business using MyCorporation, if applicable.
- Build your online store with Bigcommerce, Shopify, or Volusion.
You’re done. Go fulfill some orders and I wish you the best of luck in your new business venture.