When you decide to start an online store, you’re not just getting into the business of selling things online, you’re getting into the business of shipping things around the world. While this might seem daunting at first, especially if you’ve never owned your own company before, it doesn’t have to be! Here are some tips and tricks from my personal experience that will help you get started with an online store!
Preparing your business idea
First, it’s important to remember that no matter how great your idea is, it’s going to take hard work and time (often years) to turn it into a reality. Patience is key. Before you start setting up your online store, it’s important to have a solid business idea. With a little bit of research and planning, you can set yourself up for success. Work out how much money you need to start your business, what fees and taxes apply (if any), and decide if there are any regulatory requirements you need to be aware of. If possible, try setting aside a budget that covers six months’ worth of expenses in case things don’t go as planned; use these funds to pay yourself a salary and cover your initial marketing costs so that when it comes time to sell products or services, you have something interesting for people to buy.
Like any business, you’ll have to file a few legal documents. First, you’ll need a DBA (Doing Business As) name. Most states require that you register your company as a fictitious business name. Then, depending on how you intend to do business and where your customers are located, you might need additional licenses or permits from local or state government agencies. You can usually find all of these documents on your state’s Secretary of State website. If it sounds complicated, don’t worry; most websites will walk you through what information is required and how much it costs.
Finding suppliers and manufacturers
The first step to getting started is finding a supplier or manufacturer. Luckily, we have e-commerce search engines (like Oberlo and Shopify) that help you find stores that sell products related to your niche. We recommend searching for manufacturers + your product idea or suppliers + your product idea. This will pull up sites like Alibaba, where you can find suppliers located around the world. When speaking with potential manufacturers and suppliers, it’s a good idea to clarify what they do and don’t offer—for example, if they only create products but don’t ship orders directly themselves, they’re not necessarily a good option as they aren’t helping you build an online store.
Choosing your payment system
It’s essential to get your payments right. You could have a great product, with great marketing and distribution, but if you can’t accept payments online—or worse if you accept all and any payment types—you won’t be able to operate at full capacity. It doesn’t matter how effective your sales funnel is; if your customers can’t pay you there’s a limit to how much you’ll be able to sell. In order of ease of use and security, we recommend Stripe or PayPal for most eCommerce sites; these services will help ensure that credit card numbers are kept safe from prying eyes.
Marketing your online store
Your customers are just a click away but don’t take their presence for granted. To attract and keep them interested in your product or service, you need to get serious about online marketing. You can’t sell products online without a firm grasp of SEO and search engine optimization, digital advertising (such as paid search engines and social media), and email marketing. It’s no longer acceptable to have an e-commerce website that only consists of one page where people can purchase something; you need to figure out how best to engage customers.
Social Media Tips
Of course, building a solid social media presence is crucial when it comes to boosting your online store’s visibility. Here are some key tips: Always post great, relevant content. Your followers don’t want to see boring updates about your business; instead, they’ll want interesting content that helps them in some way. If you’re having trouble figuring out what content will be good enough for your followers, consider asking them directly! Most people love giving advice and input on things they enjoy and love, so try starting a survey or asking them about their interests and needs. The more time you spend listening to your audience and trying to help them with your services or products, the better off you’ll be in terms of building a loyal following on social media.
The key to any successful online store is promotion, so if you don’t have a huge existing base of fans and followers, you should start with a promotional campaign. Promote your brand on social media and through email campaigns; connect with bloggers or journalists in your niche who might be interested in featuring your business. Getting these first few customers will give you valuable feedback and customer insight.
Deciding between retail and dropshipping
If you want to set up a store and sell products, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself before making a decision. One of those is whether you’ll handle your shipping or use dropshipping. Dropshipping may sound complicated, but it’s one of two options for retail e-commerce businesses. If you’re new to e-commerce, don’t be afraid of dropshipping—it’s easier than setting up your shipping and logistics operations! You also won’t have any risk associated with inventory storage or logistics since it will all be handled by your third-party partner.
Setting up a retail business or dropshipping might be best depending on your goals. When you’re choosing between retail and dropshipping, it’s helpful to start by thinking about what your end goal is. Do you want a traditional brick-and-mortar business? Or are you looking for something more passive and online? What about fulfillment—do you want customers coming into your store, or would it be better if they ordered online and had their items shipped directly from your supplier? The answers to these questions will help determine whether retail or dropshipping is best for you. Another factor in deciding between retail and dropshipping is cost. Dropshipping generally costs less than opening a full-scale brick-and-mortar location, but it’s less hands-on.
After putting all of your hard work into creating an online store, it’s important to get started. Creating an online store doesn’t have to be difficult and with a little help, you can be up and running in no time. It may seem like there is a lot that goes into starting an online store, but if you take it one step at a time, you’ll find that things are much easier than they appear. The first thing to do is set up a business plan so that you know how to proceed from beginning to end. Once your business plan is complete, start setting up your website by choosing a domain name and hosting company so that you have somewhere to host your products.