The rise of ecommerce has created tremendous opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs. To sell merchandise, you no longer need to run your business out of a physical location and limit your customer base to locals. Furthermore, you can save lots of money due to not needing to maintain a physical space.
You can instead launch your online business from home and potentially reach customers around the world. In addition, with an ecommerce store, you can easily scale up your venture and manage expenses in the process.
While becoming an online retailer has tremendous benefits, it doesn’t offer a sure path to easy profits. Many entrepreneurs selling their products on the internet eventually achieve their goals through their hard work and strategic efforts, but others don’t.
How can you position your new online store so that you can more easily avoid or minimize challenges and achieve the success that you are dreaming about? The answer is found in careful research and planning before your new store opens for business.
There are different types of platforms from which ecommerce businesses can sell products. These usually include their own website and popular marketplaces, such as Amazon, Etsy, and others. Many online sellers aim to establish themselves on multiple platforms to expand their reach and to maximize revenue.
Before you can make your first online sale, however, you need to prepare for your new business’s launch. These steps can help guide you through the process so that your business can get off the ground successfully and with minimal obstacles.
1. Select a niche
The ultimate success of your new venture and how much you can make in ecommerce are linked to the products that you sell. Note that before you can select products from a supplier or design your own products, though, you need to find a niche in which to specialize.
You could try to be all things to all people, but sites are usually more successful when they have a well-defined brand and fill a specific niche with the items that they offer. The sky’s the limit when it comes to selecting a niche, but remember that you’ll likely be spending many long hours working on your store each week.
All the money in the world won’t make up for being miserable if you don’t enjoy what you do. Choosing a niche that you’re passionate about can help you in keeping your motivation level high, regardless of how much time you’re investing.
In addition, you may be able to connect more easily with customers via your product line and marketing messages when you have a solid understanding about your niche.
You may assume that refining the scope of your business to a specific niche might unnecessarily restrict your business from making more sales, but the opposite is often true. When you focus on a defined niche, you can better position your site as a leader or expert in the area.
For example, it’s rather difficult to demonstrate that you’re an expert in all types of shoes. However, it may be much easier to sell the idea of being an expert in athletic shoes.
You can also adapt your marketing efforts to help connect with your specific audience rather than a broad audience. Using the previous example, your messages can be more refined to speak to the needs and interests of people shopping for athletic shoes.
Furthermore, you may find that competition for targeted keywords on SEO and paid marketing campaigns is dramatically reduced when you pick a specific niche.
2. Choose which products to sell
After deciding on a niche, you need to create your inventory. Your product line will undoubtedly expand and evolve over time, but you need a reasonable number of products to get started.
Before creating your inventory list, think about how you’ll produce your products and get them to your customers. This may drive your decision about which items to sell.
Your online store can sell products that you produce, or it can sell products from a supplier or wholesaler. Some stores will source products using both avenues.
Your products must be suitable for your niche. In addition, they should appeal to your customers by meeting their unique needs and wants in the best ways possible.
The price for each product that you’re selling must be considered individually as well. After all, you’ll have to maintain a decent profit margin in order for your business to thrive.
The manufacturing or production costs, design and administration expenses, and shipping expenses must be added to your desired profit to determine the price per item. However, your prices must be competitive with prices for other similar products that are already on the market.
Use the internet to conduct extensive research on your target audience as well as on related products that are currently available.
What can you bring to the table that’s not already there?
If your online store is going to sell an item that’s currently available, is your product more affordable or does it offer special features? You need to give your customers a reason to buy your products over those of your competitors.
While some good product ideas may come to you quickly, others might need to be scrapped because they aren’t cost effective. Another reason you might need to find a different item to sell is because the market is already saturated with comparable products.
It can be frustrating to develop an amazing product line because of the amount of time, energy, and research that’s required. However, your products are the lifeblood of your business. Developing an excellent line of products is essential for any profitable online store.
3. Decide on a business name
Your online store’s name affects everything from branding to memorability. The name that you select should appeal to your customers in some way.
At the same time, it should be unique and not already in use by another company. Because your URL plays a major role in your online store’s marketability and branding, it’s a good idea to research available URLs while deciding on a business name.
Unusual spellings and words with hyphens or punctuation can be difficult to remember. Customers may not know how to pronounce the name of a store with unusual spelling or made-up words. These factors can also impact how memorable your URL is to your customers.
Another important factor to consider as you decide on a business name is your logo.
An ecommerce logo often includes the full business name, but it may just have a design, a single letter, or another type of image. If you intend to market the full business name in the logo, a shorter name is generally preferable.
After selecting a name for your new venture, don’t forget to take the important additional steps of securing your website URL and your business name. How you complete this process will of course depend on the country in which you’re located.
For instance, say that you create your business in the US. You can register it with your Secretary of State’s office and with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Once you’ve officially committed to the name, you may set up your ownership entity, such as a corporation, limited partnership, or sole proprietorship.
Because there are both legal and financial ramifications for each entity type, you should research the options thoroughly. It’s also always best to seek professional advice in these matters unless you’re already well experienced.
In addition, don’t forget to research the need for licenses, permits, and insurance for your specific type of business. This is also the time to examine business checking account possibilities and to open a bank account.
4. Build your online store
Selling products online can seem intimidating, but the process is actually easier than you think. You’ve already made good headway with the formal establishment of your business and with the development of your products.
Now, you’re ready to build your website!
There are numerous ecommerce platforms that you can use, and they often offer a wide range of design features and hosting options to meet various needs. Because of the variations in features and services, you must carefully research the different choices.
You could pay a professional website developer to create your website, but this really isn’t necessary. Many of today’s ecommerce solutions are designed to be so easy to use that very little technological expertise is required.
You’ll generally be able to choose from a wide range of templates or themes. In addition, you can customize your preferred website template with your logo, business name, color scheme, and more to give it the perfect look.
Then, you can add your products to your online inventory. Quality photos are vital to making sales on the internet.
Your customers cannot physically interact with the products, so your photos should show quality, size, features, and more. Each product listing should be detailed and include specs to help your online store’s visitors in determining if the items you’re selling are right for them.
Keep in mind that some hosting platforms can directly integrate and sync with marketplaces so that you don’t have to manually enter inventory into each one.
For example, perhaps you want to sell products through your own website as well as through Amazon, Etsy, and other marketplace options. You can dramatically simplify your operations going forward if you select the best ecommerce web hosting platform for your requirements.
As you search for your hosting platform, be sure to review each option’s integration and syncing capabilities, fees, included services, and other relevant factors. Ecommerce solutions and marketplaces vary considerably, and some may not be suitable or cost effective for your unique business model.
Of course, I can’t move on to the next step before first touting the benefits of the WiziShop ecommerce platform!
Whether you’re completely new to selling online or have years of experience, we’re delighted to help you sell your products and become an all-star entrepreneur. Did you know that when you sign up with WiziShop, you’ll be able to avail of training designed to ensure your online selling success?
You’ll also have access to unlimited assistance from our ecommerce experts, our Business Coaches, 400+ awesome tools to optimize your website, and much more.
What’s more, our intuitive interface will allow you to easily set up your store in a short amount of time!
We’ve been helping entrepreneurial sellers like yourself create their ecommerce sites for over 10 years and perfected our solution to accommodate all kinds of needs.
In addition, all of the above features come at no extra cost to you when you create your account with WiziShop. That means that you won’t see an extra fee or any unpleasant surprises at the end of the month.
Simply choose from one of our monthly price plans, which start at $40 per month, with the first monthly being only $1! Besides that, we’ll just take a small percentage of your sales, with a rate based on your chosen price plan.
In summary, you really can’t go wrong with WiziShop if you’re looking to sell online!
5. Select payment methods for your store
Regardless of the design and hosting platform that you select for your website, you can’t launch your store until you’ve established a payment method. After all, you need to be able to make money from those wonderful products you’re selling, right?
This aspect of payment options for your ecommerce store can impact sales and customer satisfaction, so it must be considered fully.
How will your ecommerce store accept payments from your customers? Most ecommerce stores accept a variety of credit cards, and many are also including more modern payment options. For example, some ecommerce stores accept cryptocurrency payments as well as payments from digital wallets.
The point-of-sale system or merchant account that you set up through your ecommerce platform defines which payment possibilities are available. It can also affect overhead because of transaction and service fees.
If your ecommerce platform gives you choices in this area, focus on expenses as well as the impact on the customer experience.
Digital wallets, such as Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, and others, are increasingly preferred by online shoppers because of their security and convenience. Through these payment methods, customers can log in to their digital wallet account with a login ID and a password rather than enter a credit card number in the checkout portal.
Once they’re signed into their digital wallet, your customers can choose which of the credit or debit card accounts they want to pay with. These are accounts that they have previously linked to their digital wallet.
6. Pick which shipping and delivery methods to use
Before your ecommerce store can start selling products, you need to plan for all stages of your customers’ shopping experience. The conclusion of a sale is capped by the shipping and delivery process.
If you sell tangible products rather than digital items, you must decide on a shipping carrier or multiple shipping carriers for your business. Pay attention to shipping times as well as fees.
Online shoppers find true value in stores that offer free shipping. If your ecommerce store offers free shipping, you may need to account for this expense in your product pricing.
Note that shipping fees can vary dramatically by product as well as by the destination.
International shipping fees can be particularly expensive. For this reason, you may need to add an international shipping charge or focus solely on shipping to domestic locations.
If your ecommerce store is going to charge an additional fee for shipping, consider offering your customers several carrier options. Your ecommerce platform may feature a shipping tool that can calculate the cost of shipping for each product to a specific destination. This tool might show the cost as well as the delivery time for each carrier.
Remember that your customers will want to receive their orders as soon as possible, and they expect their items to be in great condition!
Ecommerce packaging impacts shipping costs, delivery options, and the condition of the product after shipment. Identify the level of protection that your products need during shipment, and include the cost of that packaging in your pricing strategy.
7. Promote your online store
In an ideal world, your ecommerce store would benefit from lots of traffic from day one and with minimal marketing efforts required, but this is rarely the case. Even if you’re putting a heavy emphasis on search engine optimization (SEO), it can take some time for your website to move up the list of search results on sites like Google.
This means that your website may not easily be found by potential customers through an online search, so organic traffic will likely be limited for a while. For at least the first few months after your site launches, you’ll need to do the heavy lifting to get traffic to your store.
Social media marketing will therefore be an essential component of your ecommerce business. Your strategy should begin with the establishment of social media accounts for your brand. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are just some of the many options that often work well for online sellers.
Identify which social media networks your customers are most active on, and focus your attention on those platforms. Because your business’s social media accounts may not have a significant number of followers initially, you’ll need to rely heavily on hashtags and shares to increase the visibility of your posts.
You can also pay for advertising on social media platforms, such as by running ads on Facebook. For most platforms, you can refine the scope of your paid campaigns so that your ads are seen by your target audience. This important benefit means that your marketing funds will be allocated more strategically.
Paid advertising on Google is also an option, but you’ll need to carefully choose your keywords to maximize the benefits of any pay-per-click campaigns. If you’ve selected a niche for your ecommerce store, focusing on niche keywords can be more affordable and may produce more targeted results.
Email marketing is another avenue that you’ll want to use to connect with current and potential customers. When your ecommerce website receives minimal traffic, collecting email addresses and other contact details from your site’s visitors may seem pointless.
However, you should start building your database as soon as possible.
Through the database, you can connect with established customers through newsletters and promos to drive traffic to your website going forward. As your database grows, the power of your email correspondence will increase dramatically.
Your ecommerce store’s SEO campaigns should begin immediately as well. As mentioned earlier, it can take several months or longer for the bots from Google and other leading search engines to crawl through your site and to index your pages.
You may find that it’s easy to grow frustrated with a lack of immediate results. Patience is critical with SEO campaigns. Your site will ideally be fully optimized through meta descriptions, alternative text, fast page load speeds, and more so that you enjoy a superior ranking as soon as possible.
Note that if you create your store on the WiziShop platform, we take care of all the technical aspects of your website’s SEO for you! This gives you more time to focus on your products and on your other marketing efforts.
Are you planning to jump right into your ecommerce business immediately, or are you interested in making slow, steady progress?
Each of these critical steps requires your full attention for the best outcome. Ensure that you’re completely satisfied with the research and planning efforts that you have made for each step before moving on.
Keep in mind that you may need to revisit some of these steps regularly as part of your store’s operations. For example, you’ll need to carefully research the pricing and viability of each new product before you add it to your inventory. Likewise, you need to focus intently and regularly on improving your marketing efforts through a well-rounded, multi-pronged approach.
If you’ve been dreaming about running your own business, now is the time to take that initial leap!
Many people who have little or no prior business experience or technical expertise have successfully launched their own ecommerce sites, and you can join them.
Creating and running an ecommerce company comes with many advantages that aren’t available with the operation of a physical store. However, you can’t begin to enjoy these benefits until you’ve successfully established your store.
Sign up with WiziShop today for a 3-day free trial and begin your ecommerce adventure!
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