Loads of people still shop at physical stores, whether out of habit, or because they feel they can’t be sure of quality with an online dealer. But online shopping has gained massive popularity over the last few years. People like the idea of browsing products from their sofa and shopping from the comfort of their own home. So if you’re thinking of starting an online store, here’s what you need to do to get started.
The Plan and the Product
If you’re planning to sell your own product, there are a few things to consider. Is there a demand for your product, if so, are you equipped to meet that demand? Unless you have the resources to set up and run your own online store, you may have to pay someone else, which could prove expensive. So the other question is, can you make, and sell enough product to cover your expenses and still make a profit?
If you’re selling your own product, test the waters first at craft markets or on Etsy. It may also be worth doing a little research as to what other, similar products are already on the market.
The other option is to buy wholesale product in bulk from stores like Alibaba, or directly from manufacturers, and sell it through your own store, potentially alongside your own product.
Getting Set Up
You’ll need to choose and register a domain name and set up your site. Most web design companies can register and host your site for you and handle any maintenance or issues that arise. Whether you hire a company or a freelance, rates and services will vary, so do your research.
You’ll also need to decide what payment methods your customers can use – credit, debit, PayPal – the more options the better. You’ll also need an online merchant account to receive and process payments.
Managing your Business
As a sole proprietor, your business could end up taking up a lot of your time, from processing orders to arranging shipping, so be prepared for this. If you’re worried about falling behind on orders or emails, automate the system as much as possible or hire someone to help. You need to be in touch with your business every day, multiple times a day, so get a smartphone that you can more or less run your business from and have on you no matter where you are.
There are literally hundreds of different marketing techniques and niches. Given that you’re selling online, online marketing is probably your best option. Set up a social media account for your store, even if your following starts with just family and friends, it’ll increase over time.
Look into other forms of online advertising too – SEO is a relatively new, but effective and rapidly growing field.
Don’t be discouraged if your business takes a while to get off the ground. If you provide good service, along with a great product, and you’re marketing in the right places, it’ll grow.