Every day, more and more people decide to make purchases in the most comfortable conditions i.e. in the comfort of their own home. Online stores seem to be more popular than ever. So, are you thinking about launching one? Great, because e-commerce is an amazing way to begin your path as an entrepreneur.
At first glance, opening an online store is truly time-consuming and stressful. However, things can get easier thanks to our step-by-step guide. Let’s take a look at what is really worth taking into account when starting an online business.
Choose a Niche
Perhaps, this step is the most crucial one, as the success of your store is determined by what you sell. Some beginners turn to сommon spheres (clothing, jewelry, household goods, books, etc.). On the one hand, it is a good way to make a fine profit. At the same time, the competition is quite serious.
Another option is to pick something more unique, but be aware that you will have to invest in advertising to make your product seen.
Marketers often recommend choosing a narrow topic within a wide niche. For example, if you are to sell jewelry, why not select handmade necklaces only? This will engage more clients and make your store unique.
Study Your Target Audience
Knowing your target audience is of key importance, because this way, you answer the question: who am I working for? So, what data do you need?
- Gender and age;
- Place of residence;
- Income: your customers may be looking for cheaper goods, relying on sales and promotions. Or they might pay attention to quality, first of all, and then – to prices;
- More detailed characteristics: whether they have kids (if you sell goods for them), have their own housing (in case of garden goods, or DIY, for instance), and so on.
For better understanding your target audience, analyze the sites and social networks of competitors, interview friends and acquaintances.
Also, answer the questions:
- What are my clients’ demands and how can I address them?
- How will my product be useful?
- How will the audience find out about it?
This stage is pretty challenging due to the amount of research you have to do. However, school tasks can’t wait either. Many students go online, searching: «Someone professional to write a paper for me» when the deadlines are coming. Luckily, these days, it’s easy to find a reliable writer and outsource your paper to them.
Make a Business Plan
To assess the prospects of an online store, it’s essential to think through many factors in advance. You need a business plan to:
- Set realistic goals, such as getting XYZ sales by the end of the season/year;
- Realize how promising the chosen niche is;
- Study the main competitors in the industry and come up with a better commercial offer;
- Determine the start-up capital;
- Describe the difficulties that may appear and ways to solve them.
Find the Suppliers
On the one hand, it is not that hard to find a supplier – just go online and read what they offer. However, finding someone trustworthy takes more effort. For this, follow the next criteria:
- Location: the supplier should be closer to you, as delivering the goods across the whole country won’t be convenient;
- Quality of the products. Indeed, even one damaged good and commentary about it can affect your reputation;
- Working conditions: for example, many suppliers prefer wholesale;
- Purchase price and delivery time.
Be sure to read reviews about suppliers and, if possible, try to meet them in person before signing a contract.
Pick Out The Name
Everyone remembers the online store by its web address, that is, its domain. It’s great if it:
- Is easy to read and remember;
- Is not very long;
- Consists of words that are related to your niche.
Create a Site
Great sales in an online store are mainly based on its appearance. Interestingly, the average buyer decides whether or not to stay on the site within 5 seconds only.
The simplest and most effective way is to turn to template design solutions. When buying a template for an online store, you do not need to invent something new, just take into account such things as:
- Simplicity: neutral colors, simple geometric shapes and no extra information are keys to success;
- Consistency. Customers need to feel the integrity of the brand;
- User-friendly navigation – logo, search, contacts, reviews and the shopping cart are best placed in the header;
- Use call-to-action-buttons: “Buy now”, “Order here”, “Subscribe”;
- Product description should be as thorough as possible, and don’t forget about the high quality of the photos.
Add Products to the Site
Create a product card for every piece in your store by adding items manually. Upload a picture, come up with a description, price and additional data on the properties and parameters of the products.
Here are a few sources to find clients:
- Contextual advertising in Google Adwords;
- Targeted advertising on social media offers flexible options for audience segmentation;
- Search engine optimization (SEO) on Google is a tool worth investing in.
Once you find your first clients, determine how the online store will develop. To do this, track the performance of the site. Calculate such data as:
- The general daily number of unique visitors;
- The general daily number of purchases;
- Revenue per customer;
- Conversion rate and sales volume;
- The amount of new and returning visitors.
As for the economic indicators, consider the total value of completed orders, average profit per order and advertising costs.
Next is the sales figures. This is the total number of completed orders, the reasons for uncompleted ones and the number of orders made on the website, social media profiles, by phone, etc.
To Wrap It Up
Taking our recommendations into account, you can significantly reduce the risks when launching an online store. However, there will certainly be unforeseen circumstances that you may face in the future. The most crucial thing is to be prepared for difficulties to occur and never give up after the first setbacks.