Setting up an online store is not as easy as it sounds. You need to be equipped with the right knowledge and know the right step-by-step guide for the success of your brand. Deciding on your niche, target market, and what to sell are just some of the initial parts of the process.
Once you have done your market research, you also need to think about your shop’s logistics. This includes knowing how orders are fulfilled, and how to record your inventory, process orders, and ship them. When you are well aware of each process, you can now start to build your brand, design your store, optimize, and market it. Happy launching!
Online shopping has become more popular lately. Even I love it because it’s convenient, hassle-free, and fun. Recently, big brands and establishments have also started to lean toward the digital world, creating ways for how they can release their products and services online to gain more customers.
So, you want to set up an online store. What should you do? If you are a beginner in eCommerce and would love to know how to start an online store, this blog is for you. Let’s talk about creating your first eCommerce shop that can help pave the way for your brand’s success. Keep reading to learn more!
What You Need Before Starting An Online Store
When deciding to start your online store, knowing the services and products you wish to sell is a critical decision you need to invest in. Below is a simple rundown of what you might need before establishing your online shop:
- A domain name
- A good web host that can efficiently grow as your store expands
- A chosen application or software that can build your shop
- Capital investment to create your initial product line
- The right packaging for your products
- A sufficient budget for your paid advertising
While you need an upfront investment to build your online shop, it actually costs less than establishing a physical store.
Step 1: Establish Your Business Concept
A good overall business concept will help you hone your brand ideas, especially with the niche you want to target and the products you intend to sell. Your business concept can come from the market opportunities you see or from your own personal interests.
Generally, a business concept has three major parts: picking a business niche, selecting an effective model, and designing your brand.
Picking A Business Niche
Identifying your niche and targeting your customers depending on their chosen interests is easier and more likely to succeed than offering general merchandise across various categories. When you choose a business niche, you are presented with a more specific direction where you can start, making it simpler for you to develop and establish your brand.
Additionally, you can create a better business concept when you market products that can help fill the voids or needs of the particular niche you are targeting.
Selecting An Effective Business Model
An effective business model includes knowing what and how you plan to sell. There are various options, such as the following:
- Start with dropshipping business
- Develop your own products line
- Depend on a third-party fulfillment brand for storing your inventory and fulfilling orders
- Start your own label brand
- Handle order packaging and shipments yourself
As an aspiring businessman, you also need to determine how long you’ll invest in your online store and how much space is available in your location to store your inventory. You also need to know whether your online shop will be the main source of your income or whether it’s simply a side hustle during your free time.
Designing Your Brand
After identifying the inventory and logistics part of the business, it’s time to develop and design your brand. Designing involves choosing a business name, establishing your website, and creating your logo. You must do this process as early as possible because you need to buy a domain name that could be your brand name or contain some of it.
An online store’s domain name should involve the following details:
- An extension that reflects your online shop
- As short and simple as possible
- Easy to spell
Step 2: Doing A Market Research
Market research involves knowing who your audiences are and what they need. You identify what your target market needs, solve their problem with your product, and earn – it’s simple. In other words, you are looking for a possible gap or loophole that’s underserved in your chosen market and using that gap to your advantage to establish your brand.
Look For Trending Products and Ideas
With numerous competitors online and offline, your shop should be unique. You need to give your audiences a reason why they should buy your products, and one way to do that is to know what products are currently trending.
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Doing this can also assure you that you will continue to make money in the long run. Where should you start? It’s best, to begin with knowing your current interests and passion; it’s a good starting point for exploring different products in the market.
The questions below can help you:
- What problems do I encounter every day?
- What products do I own and love?
- Are there companies that I believe in and am passionate about?
After establishing a solid business plan, product sourcing is the next step. Naturally, finding reliable suppliers does not happen overnight – you need to carefully choose the right people to ensure that you will be satisfied with the outcome. You also need to prepare a budget, especially when you wish to ask for sample orders from various suppliers to choose the best.
Product sourcing also includes choosing suppliers who can follow your requests, especially when you desire to customize the products you wish to sell with your unique design, branding, and formula.
This can be challenging because you need to find a supplier who will listen to what you want and deliver good-quality products on the expected deadline.
One of the common ways you can source your suppliers is through Alibaba. It is one of the most famous marketplaces, especially with product sourcing. Generally, various brand owners belong to the eCommerce industry and use this site to look for the products they wish to sell.
Searching for suppliers on Alibaba is simple. Type in your product of interest on the search bar, and you will be presented with multiple product suggestions. You can directly contact the suppliers on Alibaba, and you need to be upfront and straightforward with what you want and your requirements to prevent causing a hassle.
One way to check whether the supplier you see on Alibaba is legit is to check whether a “Golden Supplier” mark is attached next to their name. This badge is membership suppliers pay for, indicating that they are serious about making business with international and startup companies.
Step 3: Knowing Your Order Fulfillment System
Your order fulfillment system includes storing your products, packing orders, and shipping. Generally, startup businesses handle the entire fulfillment system themselves to save money. However, when your brand is growing, it’s best to choose a system to make your life simpler and more convenient.
Setting Up An Inventory Management System
Your inventory management system is responsible for handling the ordering, tracking, and product storing processes to meet your audience’s demands. Tracking your stocks is essential to prevent stockouts and ensure that the recordkeeping of your products is accurate across multiple locations.
Picking A Fulfillment Method
The fulfillment method involves the entire process of processing, picking, and packing orders. You can generally choose from the following:
- In-house fulfillment – the entire process happens under your roof.
- Third-party fulfillment – third-party logistics companies are responsible for storing and packing orders.
- Dropshipping – act as product suppliers to fulfill your customer orders.
- Hybrid Approach – a combination of the methods mentioned above.
Choosing A Shipping Provider
A shipping service or software is advisable when packing and shipping orders in-house. The common shipping platforms you can check are FedEx, UPS, and USPS. Additionally, if you intend to ship internationally, cross-border international shipments and localized fulfillment can fulfill the shipment process for you.
Famous eCommerce platforms such as BigCommerce, Shopify, and Square Online have built-in tools to help you with shipping. Moreover, you can also enjoy discounted shipping rates which automatically show up when customers checkout.
Step 4: Building and Designing Your Online Store
You can choose from various sites that can help you get started with your online store, and among them are Amazon and Shopify. Moreover, create blogs for your shop or when your audience is starting to grow. Blogs are helpful to help drive traffic to your store.
Designing your store can also be simply because most online software and website builders contain built-in themes and designs you can utilize for free. Most applications contain a theme library where you can choose the pattern and design for your page.
Step 5: Optimizing Your Online Store
After creating your online store, it does not stop there. You need to optimize your online shop to attract and boost traffic through various search engines, and you can do this by utilizing targeted SEO keywords in product descriptions. It’s recommended to write good listings for each product, mentioning USPs and describing them meticulously.
Another crucial step in optimizing your shop is getting as many 5-star reviews as possible. These ratings will help build your brand’s reliability, attracting more audiences within your target market.
Step 6: Successful Marketing and Advertising
Finally, as you launch your online store, various marketing and advertising strategies can help to boost your brand’s visibility and create your first sale. One of the simplest ways of advertising is through your social media. You can link your site to your Instagram bio, allowing your followers to know you are launching your shop and clicking on the link to view it.
Marketing campaigns can also include giving out initial launch promotional discounts and giving your audience something to look out for.
Establish Your Online Store
Now that you know the step-by-step guide to launching your online shop, you are now one step closer to creating a successful brand of your own. While you may face competitors and challenges, it’s important that you stay passionate and dedicated to your brand, and you’ll become the businessman you aspire to be.
In the comments below, let me know how your experience was with setting up your first online store!
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