In the past, launching your own store used to be an exhausting process.
There was a lot more to do than figuring out what kind of products you wanted to sell. You also needed to consider things like brick and mortar locations, and even employing customer service assistants.
Fortunately, the launch of the digital world has made it a lot easier for entrepreneurs to make heaps of cash without the headaches. The world is your oyster when it comes to online selling, with options that range from building building your own Etsy Shop to selling custom undies from a drop-shipping provider.
Of course, just because setting up an eCommerce store is a little easier than building a brick-and-mortar company, doesn’t mean that there aren’t important things to consider.
Here are a few steps to get you started.
1. Who’s your target market?
No matter how hard you try, you will not come up with a product that appeals to everyone. Even the creator of chocolate couldn’t win them all. With that in mind, make sure you get out there and find out what kind of customers are going to want your products. Researching your target market will deliver several benefits for your new business.
First, it will help you figure out how you need to position yourself in the industry to attract customer attention.
Understanding who you’re trying to sell to will also give you a chance to determine whether there’s enough demand in your space for you to make a profit.
2. Who is your enemy?
While you’re out there researching your audience, make sure that you consider your competitors too.
The last thing you want to do is copy everything that other brands are doing. However, you could give yourself a handy boost if you know what other people in your industry are doing already. Start by searching for the products that you want to sell. Then make a list of companies that are similar to yours.
What separates these businesses from the organisation you’re building? Do you have a lower price tag? Better customer service? What about some new features that no other company has considered?
3. Which tools do you need?
You wouldn’t expect to build your own brick and mortar store from the ground up without a bit of help, right? So why should it be any different when you’re designing a digital store?
Creating the right tech stack will make a massive difference to the business you want to build. The first decision you’ll need to make for your eCommerce website is whether you want to go self-hosted or hosted.
A hosted eCommerce platform gives you access to everything from server support to an SSL certificate for your website. Your hosted provider will give you a bunch of handy tools and templates to get you started online – making them an excellent choice for beginners.
On the other hand, if you choose to go self-hosted, you have more customisation freedom, but you’ll also need a relatively strong knowledge of coding.
On top of your eCommerce platform, remember that you’ll also need tools for things like email marketing, inventory management, and security too!
4. What’s your marketing plan?
Speaking of marketing, it’s often the key to making sure that you can earn real cash online. After all, there are millions of websites online. You can’t expect someone to trip and fall into your homepage. You’ll need to create a buzz around your products instead.
Your marketing strategy can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. Some people start by developing social media pages where they can share information with a growing community of happy followers.
Other businesses prefer to take more focused approaches to promotion, using things like email marketing and newsletters, paid ads on Google, and more.
5. How are you going to track stock?
We mentioned the need for an inventory tracking system above – but it’s so important that it deserves a section of its own.
Being able to track how many products you have in your system can make or break your business. The last thing you want is to get an influx of customers after a successful marketing campaign, only to discover that you can’t serve them.
There are plenty of tools out there for inventory and stock management. The right service for you will depend on what you hope to accomplish.
Some people will need to keep track of dropshipping manufacturers (people who fulfill your orders for you). Other business leaders may just need a service that will enable them to see how many products are left in their warehouse.
Keep your customers happy
Finally, remember that running a successful store is about more than just making one-off sales. You need to connect with your customers on a deeper level so that you can turn them into loyal, repeat clients.
Think about how you’ll keep your clients happy with everything from fast shipping, to follow-up emails about their orders when they need them. The tips above, combined with a good customer service strategy, will help your business grow in no time.