Online shopping has been on the rise for years. If you’ve been thinking about creating an online retail business, now’s a great time to take the first step. Like with any new project, though, it’s important to begin with a clear strategy for success.
There are many factors involved in establishing an ecommerce store, and it definitely requires some preparation. To assist you in getting started, here are 10 essential steps to becoming an online retailer and launching your entrepreneurial dreams!
1. Determine your niche
Your niche includes both the products you’re selling and the customers to whom you’re selling.
Some people make the mistake of only thinking about what they want to sell without considering their target audience. Others know exactly the type of shoppers they aim to reach, but they struggle to find the right products for that demographic.
The sky’s the limit with how much money you can make in ecommerce, but picking a great niche is key.
Starting with your interests or passions is one way to narrow down your niche. If you don’t have a personal connection, it may be hard to stay motivated with your store.
Maybe you’re interested in fashion. What styles or specific items do you perceive to be the most interesting? When you truly enjoy and believe in the products you're selling, you’ll feel fulfilled from the work.
Price is another part of your niche. You could attract more shoppers by selling inexpensive items. However, you won’t make much of a profit from each purchase. Pricier products often result in fewer sales, but you’ll make more per order.
For many online retailers, it’s a good idea to focus on high-quality, moderately expensive items. This should get you enough orders to make operating the shop worthwhile and profitable. You also won’t spend all your time packaging and shipping items that only bring in a few dollars.
Another piece of advice for choosing your niche is not to target a market dominated by massive brands. With some products, one or two brands are so well-known and well-liked that no one would consider an alternative. Keep brand loyalty and brand recognition in mind when determining your niche.
Lastly, make sure that you’re well-informed about your chosen niche before you commit to it. You should have a decent understanding of how the industry functions and who your competitors are.
2. Create your business plan
Once you've narrowed down your niche, you should go ahead and write out your business plan. A strong, detailed plan is critical before you take any further steps for your shop.
First, you should know your goal for your online store. What do you hope to accomplish in a year from now? Where do you want your venture to be in 5 years?
This should assist in guiding you as you write out your strategy. Everything should be done with the intention of making progress toward the goal.
Provide an overview of your company in your plan. Identify your industry, and write a mission statement. If you have other people on your team, include a brief description of their roles.
Although you might not know the exact cost required to start your online boutique, try to calculate your estimated expenses. Even though you may not have facility costs with your enterprise, there are probably other costs associated with running your website or shipping your products.
Your plan should feature your ideas for financing too. If you’re looking for funding, explain how you hope to obtain it.
Marketing is another key part to include. Developing a strong marketing strategy takes time, so you probably won’t have a perfect system in place at the start of your internet commerce venture. You should have a general idea of how you’ll attract customers, though.
It’s rare for people to stumble upon an online shop if the business owner hasn’t put any effort into making it visible. Your plan could include paid advertisements, social media promotion, search engine optimization (SEO), or a wide variety of other strategies.
3. Pick a business structure for your online store
Now that you have a better idea of how your online venture will function, you’re ready to select your business structure. The structure is your company’s status in the eyes of the law.
How you structure your business will be determined by the specific regulations of the country in which you’re based. In addition, the right structure for your enterprise depends on your goals and your current team.
For instance, in the US, there are four main structures, and each has its own pros and cons.
The simplest option is a sole proprietorship. With this model, you’re the sole owner and operator of the business.
A sole proprietorship is great for small stores because it allows you to consolidate your personal and business taxes. The downside is that you’re personally responsible for the company and any debts you accrue.
A partnership is a business structure that involves multiple owners. In most cases, all the owners contribute capital when starting the business, and they have a written agreement for how they’ll split the profits. Like sole proprietors, though, partners are personally responsible for business debt.
A limited liability company, or LLC, removes some of the liability that the owner has over the debts. However, you'll have to pay a fee to start an LLC, and these types of companies are often subject to more laws and regulations than sole proprietorships and partnerships.
The last business structure is a corporation, which is the most expensive and complex. Corporations are legally independent.
The business owner isn’t personally responsible for debts, and the company can receive funding by selling stocks. You may pay more in taxes if you own a corporation, and the laws and regulations are much more involved.
4. Choose what products your business is going to sell
You should already have at least a general idea of the products that you want to sell, but you’ll now need to identify the exact items that you’ll be offering. This step is important whether you’re creating a product yourself or sourcing it from a supplier.
This includes brands, models, sizes, or other features specific to your niche.
If you’re working with a supplier, careful research is crucial. Some suppliers offer poor-quality products at incredibly cheap prices, but this won’t help your store grow.
Look at products from several suppliers to determine the ones that best fit your target market’s needs. Read reviews from both customers and other online retailers about suppliers and products.
It can also be beneficial to check out your competitors when selecting your products. If the market is oversaturated with a particular item, you may have a hard time beating the competition and selling that product.
Furthermore, it’s often advantageous to avoid super trendy products. They may be profitable today, but it’s better to focus on products that will provide long-term growth and success.
5. Build your inventory
It’s important for ecommerce stores to have an existing inventory of their products. Even if you don't have a physical shop to display the items in, you can lose customers when you have to back-order their purchases.
Some business owners prefer the dropshipping method. With this strategy, you don’t keep the stock on hand. Instead, when your customer makes a purchase, you have the item sent from the third party to the buyer.
Dropshipping can be ideal because you don't have to buy the inventory out of pocket or find a place to keep it. However, it requires you to give up some control over the order fulfillment. The third-party supplier may make mistakes or delay orders, which you can’t do anything about.
6. Decide on a business name and register the domain name
Choosing the name for your online store is often one of the most exciting parts of starting a business. At this point, your online venture is starting to truly take form.
The name should be easy to pronounce and spell so that customers can find you again without issue. Strong business names tend to be only one to three words in length.
Try to make it as original as possible too. If a customer Googles your business name, you shouldn’t have to compete with dozens of similar-sounding stores for the top result.
Finally, if possible, your domain name should be the same as your business name.
7. Choose an ecommerce platform
Using an ecommerce platform is important, as it can assist in making your online boutique more efficient by consolidating different processes for the business.
What’s more, a top-notch platform is going to aid you in building a great-looking website. One reason that an online store may have trouble selling is if it’s not easy to navigate.
If visitors can’t locate what they’re looking for quickly, whether it’s a certain product or contact info, they may decide that your store isn’t worth the effort and head to a competitor’s instead. For this reason, website design is super important!
There are all kinds of platforms available, but if you’re looking for an experience that’s as seamless as possible, a software as a service (SaaS) platform is the way to go.
If you opt to use a SaaS solution, why not go with WiziShop and take advantage of all the amazing services we have to offer?
As one of our clients, you’ll have access to a dedicated team of experts, our Business Coaches, who are happy to assist with any questions that you may have. You may also avail of a variety of themes, 400+ up-to-date tools, and much more to help make your online store as successful as possible!
8. Set up the shopping cart for your website
The shopping cart plays a key role in the customer's experience. A lengthy or complicated check-out process may turn shoppers away at the last second. Many online shoppers are concerned about information security, too, so guaranteeing a safe checkout is essential.
Fortunately, when you choose the WiziShop platform, the shopping cart software is already included! This means that you won't have to start from scratch to build your site’s shopping cart.
Remember that some shoppers may be in a hurry when visiting your site. Allow them to check out as a guest to speed up the process of making a purchase.
In addition, ask for only the information that's absolutely necessary, as consumers are often wary of providing their personal details online.
9. Launch and market your business
When you've gathered your stock, registered your domain, and built your site, it’s finally the occasion for your venture to go live. Take a moment to celebrate the launch of your business and the steps you’ve accomplished so far.
Your job isn’t over yet, though!
Marketing your site is a continual process that will always require time and effort. Your strategies will change as your enterprise grows and you see what works and what doesn’t. There are several effective methods for ecommerce marketing.
For instance, all online stores need an SEO strategy for success. This involves building or updating your site in a way that appeals to search engines.
First, pick a few specific keywords for which you want your business to obtain a high ranking. Then, use those terms to guide your store’s content.
Search engines use extremely advanced algorithms to decide which sites rank for which terms. Their top priority is user experience, so they favor sites that offer real value to users.
Although SEO includes a wide variety of techniques and strategies, it all boils down to creating a website that’s engaging, informative, and easy to use.
Employing an excellent SEO strategy will help get your online store to appear higher up on the list of search results for sites such as Google. This in turn can boost organic traffic to your store and increase sales!
Another great way to market your boutique is through social media. Your social media platforms provide a direct connection to consumers and a place to update your audience about events, sales, or promotions.
You can also create an email list and give shoppers the option of signing up during checkout. Email marketing is an excellent way to stay in touch with existing customers and build brand loyalty.
Paid advertising through sites like Google or Facebook can be highly effective as well. Although these ads are expensive, they make you much more visible to people in your target demographic.
You’ll find that you’ll be able to market your store much more easily with the WiziShop solution!
For example, when you build your online store on our platform, we’ll manage all the technical parts of SEO for your site. Furthermore, our Auto-Mail Booster ensures that email marketing is a breeze.
It lets you create automatic emails (for abandoned shopping carts, for example) personalize the messages you send to customers, and use segmentation to ensure that your emails are as effective and efficient as possible!
10. Manage and maintain your online store
The last step in your ecommerce journey is to manage your store and keep your site updated. You may decide to add new inventory or discontinue existing products.
You might have to manage technical problems as you make updates or additions to your shop. Achieving growth is a long-term process, and you’ll have to keep working on your store and website even when it’s up and running.
After a while, managing your online boutique should get easier and easier. As your venture grows, you’ll learn the most efficient ways of conducting business.
You’ll figure out which products sell and which don’t, and you’ll discover the best strategies to market your brand to find new customers and keep existing ones. In the months or years after your store launches, it’ll continue to improve if you have the drive and desire.
Ready to become an online retailer?
Creating an online retail store is no small feat, but you can break it down into manageable steps. Try not to get overwhelmed by the process. Instead, focus on completing one task at a time.
When you carefully lay the groundwork for your store, launching and maintaining it becomes much easier. If you're passionate about your business idea and willing to put in the work, you can build a great ecommerce site that’ll be profitable for years to come!
It’ll soon be possible to create an account with the English version of WiziShop and take advantage of the numerous benefits that our ecommerce solution provides. Be sure to visit our homepage and supply your email address to sign up for early access and email updates!