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Historically, the basis of commerce was to have a product that your consumers need, pick a good location, and the rest simply falls into place. However, it is not as simple as that anymore. A lot of businesses don’t even need or have a physical location. Building an online store can be operated on a lean budget to maximize profits. Digital-first retail brands have seen a huge growth in the last few years, and everyone wants a piece of the pie. If you are considering opening an online store, then read on for your guide on how to pull it off.
Create a Business Plan
The online market is incredibly competitive and diverse. Do some research to identify your area of focus, find your niche. You could conduct a swot analysis to ascertain the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to any given idea. Identify any gaps within the market that your online store could fill. Look for any unfulfilled consumer demands and how you could solve them. Use social media and trends to help you with this. Learn more about your target market using demographic and psychographic data to determine their preferences and how you can cater your business to them. Finally, you need to choose a business model. There are several options when it comes to starting an eCommerce business. If you want to sell more to retailers, buyers or wholesalers, then you might want to consider a B2B model. If you want to sell directly to consumers, then a B2C model would be better. Some people have a dropshipping model where they act as a middle man, procuring products for consumers without holding any of the inventory themselves. There are also DTC models where brands eliminate the intermediary to sell directly to consumers. Lastly, there is also an option to sell via online marketplaces.
If you’ve mapped out your business from the get-go, you’ll be able to identify the challenges you might encounter along the way. Anticipating the issues that might occur is one excellent strategy to successfully fix them using only minimal time and resources. In addition, having a plan could help you expand faster since you have a short- and long-term plan laid out.
Selecting a Domain
Your domain name, like your business name, needs to be unique. It is what your consumers will use to identify you. It guides them to your business, and it can also help to improve brand recognition. Think about your domain; if you use too many keywords, then you are more likely to get lost in a sea of competitors. If you don’t use any, you limit the number of consumers who might accidentally stumble upon your store. Keep it short and easy to remember. A lot of businesses use their businesses name within their domain.
If your business name already has a similar domain name, you have to think of other ways to make your brand recognizable on the World Wide Web since you obviously can’t use one that’s already been taken by another entity. You may also play around with your business name to make it catchier, and so that it won’t look similar to the one in existence. Aside from a ‘.com’ domain, there are other available alternatives you can use, such as ‘.org,’ ‘.co,’ etc. But, there’s no denying that .com is the most recognizable. And, once you’ve come up with a unique domain name, act fast and register it right away so no other business can grab it from you.
Build the Store
If you want to sell on any of the online marketplaces, then you can follow their instructions on how to build a storefront and upload your wares. However, if you want to follow one of the other models, then you need to build a site. There are many different eCommerce platforms out there. The cheapest choice is not always the best choice. Consider the long-term implications of your choices. Will the platform be able to grow with your business? Consider its features. Is the website secure? Consumers will not want to input their personal data into a site that isn’t secure; you could lose business. Does the platform benefit from mobile optimization? A lot of consumers browse from their phones, and if your platform is not optimized for this again will put consumers off. There are several options out there for you to use, do your research and choose the platform that is best suited to your business.
Another aspect of building the store is ensuring that you have a secure partnership with shipping fulfillment services. They’ll guarantee that your clients receive the items they ordered from your store in mint condition. Established shipping fulfillment service companies, in particular, can guarantee accuracy of order fulfillment, as well as timely pickup and delivery. They’ll also have highly trained and efficient personnel that’ll elevate the services tied to your brand.
The design of your store needs to be eye-catching. Luckily, most platforms come with templates or themes that you can use. However, to avoid your site looking too similar to others that have used the same template, you need to customize it. Add visuals, fonts and texts. Adjust the color scheme and make it more in keeping with your brand. Don’t forget to embed your social media accounts and branded content like your logo. You have the time to experiment before finalizing the design. Get some feedback from your friends and family.
Obviously, your store needs to be functional in order to make a profit. This means adding your products to the store, securing payment software and ensuring that the website works as needed. Do your products have high-quality photos and comprehensive descriptions? Has everything been proofread to ensure that there are no typos or grammatical errors which make your store look amateurish? Is there a cart, and more importantly, does it work? Can consumers add items to their cart for purchase without errors or bugs? Have you secured your payment software? You need software to process payments for you. The choice matters; some providers charge a fee for processing credit cards which can eat into your profits. However, there are other options; for example, NadaPayments has the lowest credit card processing fees, which are passed to the customer. You should work with a payment provider that has eliminated credit card processing fees so that you can save more money online and attract more customers.
Once you are satisfied with the design and functionality of your store, it is all about the launch. You should know if your store works or not. The launch is more about drumming up interest to ensure a successful launch. Your market efforts should begin before the launch to tease your consumers and create interest. You could even begin a countdown to the launch on your social media channels. You need to have a solid marketing plan in place before the launch. Your knowledge of your target audience can help in the endeavor. It should give you an idea of where you can find your consumers online and what the best way to reach them is. Take this into account when creating marketing strategies. An eCommerce store generally tends to rely on digital marketing methods, which makes sense because it is marketing in the same space that it operates in.
The Ultimate Guide: Building an Online Store
Running an eCommerce store is by no means easy; it comes with a lot of risks. However, doing your due diligence can help to offset some of this risk. Use the above guide to help you build your business. In essence, research is key for all forms of business, so be sure to do yours.