You’ve been given an opportunity.
The doors have been opened.
You can start an online store.
Whether you want to sell your custom crafts, paintings, or woodworking online, whether you want to take your brick-and-mortar store into the digital space or you want to resell products on the internet, there are certain key steps you’ll need to take to get started.
It’ll take some work, but it’ll be worth it.
1. Decide what to sell
For some, this will be the easiest step. If you’re an artist, you probably already know you want to sell your creations online.
For others who just want to start a business but aren’t necessarily passionate about selling anything in particular, it’ll take some research. A good place to start is to discover the trending products to sell online right now. The best products to sell will vary from year to year, so it’s important to keep up with trends. Do some market research and competitive research to ensure you’re selling a product that’s in demand and has a shot at being a real winner.
When deciding what to sell, consider shipping weight and the number of SKUs you’ll need too, since these factors can affect product viability.
Understand the market you’ll be targeting, too.
Once you know what you want to sell, you’ll need to determine a price and start building inventory.
2. Build a business plan
Many failed ecommerce entrepreneurs were so eager to get started that they completely jump over this critical step: building a business plan.
You wouldn’t start a brick-and-mortar store without a business plan, and the same goes for starting an online store.
It’s great to be passionate about what you’ll sell and to want to get started right away. But it’s also just as important to have a plan to move forward with (probably MORE important, really). This will help ensure you have a roadmap to success.
Your business plan should include a SWOT analysis, financing, financial projections, pricing, suppliers and distribution, marketing, advertising, and other relevant business strategies and details.
3. Build an ecommerce website
These days, it’s easier than ever to build an ecommerce store. All you have to do is pick and purchase a domain name and use a website builder like Wix or Shopify to start building out your store.
You’ll need a home page, about us page, and contact page, along with product and category pages for ease of use. Use high-quality photography and ensure you offer enough information about every product to tempt visitors to buy.
Branding and design will need to stay top of mind during this stage. It might be best to outsource the website build and design to experts to get better results.
Once the basic website has been built, you’ll want to add plugins and tools to enhance your store’s functionality, make it easier to use, and make it more robust for shoppers. This can include an inventory management system, quick product views, out-of-stock notifications, a gift card program, and so much more. The sky is the limit here. Consider what your customers would want and need when customizing your store (this really makes all the difference).
4. Set up ecommerce payment processing
To start selling online, you’ll need a way to get paid, right? That means you’ll need to set up a merchant account, a payment gateway, and a shopping cart. You might also need:
- A recurring billing option
- Tokenization for one-click repeat payments
- The ability to accept multiple types of currencies
- Dynamic currency conversion
- Online invoicing
- Fraud protection
You’ll also want to consider how you want to get paid. It’s best practice to offer more than one way to pay. Not everyone owns a credit card or uses PayPal, so make sure to offer other payment options, like WeChat Pay and Alipay, Interac e-Transfers, and Interac Online.
5. Set up distribution
You need to determine in advance the best way to get your products to your customers. This is crucial if you’re selling products that need to be shipped (as opposed to services or digital goods offered online). You’ll need a plan for local and international deliveries.
Before you sell anything, you should do your research to determine the best shipping options and rates. You’ll want to buy shipping supplies and build partnerships with shipping companies in advance to ensure there are no delays in getting your products to your customers.
Achieve your dream
Starting an online store – it's the dream, isn’t it?
And it all starts by taking these steps.
Once these five initial steps have been taken, you can then launch, market, and maintain your ecommerce store (and watch the money start rolling in).
Starting an online store has never been so easy.