How to start an online store

How To Start An Online Store! In today’s world, building a website is now as easy as reading the ABC.

However few decades ago creating a website, or building a blog from scratch was a kind of herculean task. Then, if you must own or create a website, you have to do that coding from scratch, and if you are not tech savvy you only have the option of coughing out lump sums of money to get the job done by those that are technically inclined (tech savvy).

Nowadays, building a website is all easy, no matter the type – blog, commerce site, or online stores, etc. Today, anyone with a computer and internet connection can create any kind of website based on purpose particularly when he/she has access to requisite guides (like this how to start an online store in minutes), modern tools, and website builders.

Now that you basically understand how to create a website from scratch, it is time to go further and learn how to start an online store by reading carefully this guiding article

In other words, by following this step-by-step online store building guide and you learn how to start an eCommerce website in minutes from scratch.

Steps On How To Start An Online Store

1. Decide What You Want to Sell

First and foremost on starting an online store, you must define your niche.

Having a clearly defined niche for your online store is a must-have if you wish to have a smooth sail in your online store.

By the way, what is a niche? Giving the answer in simple sentence: a niche is simply a specific piece of a broader whole. In this case, that broader whole is the market.

Furthermore, choosing a market niche for your online store should always be informed by at least 3 pertinent questions notably below:

  • What do you really wish to sell on your online store?
  • To whom do you want to sell?
  • Why would these people to whom you wish to sell buy your products?

The above above questions are for you. There are also a lot of other stuffs to consider. However, these 3 questions are the obvious.

Finally on this, defining your niche would go a long way in keeping your focused. The moment you broaden or go all over you might hit brick wall in finding success.

Do not be a jack of all trade, and a master of none. Just my advice.

2. Choose Between Dropshipping and Selling Your Own Products

eCommerce is basically dependent on two models of operation, namely: Traditional Model, and Dropshipping Model.

I am going to explain how these 2 eCommerce models work so that you will make no mistake deciding for yourself which to follow.

The Traditional eCommerce Model 

  • In this model, you create products for your store, or get from suppliers.
  • You then offer those products for sale on your website so that customers can see them.
  • Then, when customers buy them.
  • You send them the products.

The Dropshipping Model

  • You are to start by listing the niche products on your website
  • The customers would then see them on your on line store and buys them
  • The supplier sends the product directly to your customers

The major difference between these 2 models is that in traditional model, you must spend money upfront to create your niche products,or get the already-made products from suppliers before you can start selling.

While on dropshipping model, you do not keep any inventory. This translates to no cost for the products, and their storing. It means that whatever you sell is a huge profit since you only have to pay supplier after you receive an order from your customer.

There is a limitation associated with dropshipping model. You are not at liberty to customize or personalize your inventory before they can be soled.

If your desire uniqueness of products, you have to go with traditional method, asap. However, dropshipping model will help in testing the waters before going full time with traditional model.

3. Choose the Exact Products to Sell

With regards to dropshipping model of an online store, the sweetest thing about this model is the abundance of different products to choose from in almost all the niches.

This is good news for beginner businesses that are just starting up, and probably do not have enough money for their own products and other inventories.

However, choosing your own products, you have to follow a few steps as highlighted below. The steps are:

  • Carry out a research on your chosen niche. Examine what kind of products your competitors are selling. Do take note about their best-selling products, or key products.
  • Look out on the internet to discover what type of challenges, products, or things in general your target audience read about. Note, there are many tools for this step.
  • Also, do go to niche related fora to see what your customers are talking about.
  • Search on search engines, particularly, on Google with the most relevant niche keyword.
  • Go to Amazon, and conduct similar research to see what products sell nicely.

Now, equipped with the relevant information, you can now go to some popular markets and start looking out for specific products you can comfortably sell on your online store.

Starting out on dropshipping model, I recommend you start small say like with 5-10 products. You can always increase as you grow.

When compiling the list of products to sell, please do have the following things in mind to avoid unnecessary stress:

  • Make sure that the product is available for shipping in locations where your target audience is. Also, the lower the shipping costs, the better.
  • Check the shipping times and make sure they don’t exceed what you would consider acceptable (we leave deciding what’s acceptable and what isn’t to your judgment).
  • If possible, avoid brand name products (you don’t want to depend on being able to sell Adidas sneakers, for instance).
  • It’s a common practice for dropshipping stores to set their margins at around the 50% mark. Meaning, when looking for products to sell, focus on the ones that are half the price compared to what you want to sell them for.

4. Come Up With a Business Name and Register a Domain Name

It is now time to give a name to your online store. This step is what I consider a cruiser step for its straight forward.

Remember, this is an online store, and it is domiciled on the web, and that is why you must choose a domain name for your online store. You should not have any problem choosing a domain name for your store because man as a social animal like naming things.

Always make sure that you pick a name that reflects the niche of your online store.

I want to give you a general rule of thumb, while picking a domain name for your online store, always make sure that it has the following characteristics:

  • Go for short and memorable name

Your domain name should always be easily remembered, and memorized.

  • Pick a brandable name

Even if the domain name does not organically reflect your business, it should be the type that is stylishly brandable.

With such unique still, people will get to see your business as a brand.

Recommendation is that you should use a brandable name when the domain names that reflect your business intents have been taken. Examples of brand names are, Godaddy, Amazon, etc.

  • Avoid domain names with special characters and numbers (by extension, dots, underscores, dashes, etc)

Nobody wishes to run mad trying to remember the number of special characters (dots, @, &, etc) that are in your domain name. Please, avoid such names for they are counter productive.

  • Prioritize .com  domain names

It is a well known fact that .com domain is the most memorable, and popular. People are naturally wired to calling it out.

5. Start an Online Store Website By Yourself

This step is where I shall be nailing it all for you. It is time to build the much talked about online store. The most important thing is that you can create an online store all by yourself.

Remember, my tutorials on How to create a website from scratch, and How to start a blog in minutes? Okay, there will be a little twist on this how to start an online store in minute.

Because, opening an online store is just a little build up on my tutorials on how to create a website. However, that build up is the incorporation of WooCommerce software/plugin on the created website.

The guide is coming soon…

6. Set Up Payment Methods

Now that you have your online store running, it is time to integrate a payment system.

Your choice of payment system should incorporate the fact that your customers are scattered all over the world. You should always go with a payment system that has a wider service coverage.

It is a known fact that most online store owners are usually confused on getting to this step. They are always on the look out for democratization of their payment system such that people from the third world countries can also purchase from their stores.

This is so because major payment processors like Paypal, Stripe, etc, do not accept people from a few geo-locations.

There are many payment methods you can incorporate in your online store. This is because, some customers may want a specific payment method, and if you do not have varieties then that will be a limiting factor for your business.

The most recent payment systems are Stripe and Square. They are both free to use. However, just like every other payment method, there is always additional commission fees payable whenever a transaction is made on your store. Although, the fee is very little in most cases.

By default, WooCommerce allows you to accept payments via PayPal. In fact, not much is required in order to enable this payment system either. You might have likely already taken care of it during the initial WooCommerce setup.

Payment methods are usually installed via WordPress plugins. You can always install them in like manner like you did installing the wooCommerce plugin.

7. Initiate The Marketing Of Your Online Store And Also Invest On SEO

At this point, you know have a functional online store. You are also ready to kick start your business and start making some sales.

However, making sales with your new online store will not just happen without another major work from you. It is time to cough out some money for Marketing and Search Engine Optimization of your major keywords.

Remember, if you do not take this step, people out there may never come to be aware of your store and its existence. It would only be you, your family members, and friends that would be visiting your store. Because, other people not close to you might not no about your online store.

Getting the words about your new online store via marketing can be done in different methods:

  • Influencer Marketing

This method was not popular in the time past. However, as the internet keep evolving, there seems to be a rise in the growth of social media networks. Today, we have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.

On these social media platforms, there are people who have amssed hundreds of thousands to millions of followers.

For marketing contraction, just reach out to those on this social media platforms, particularly those of them, in your niche and strike a promotional deal with them. Boom, your store might kick off from there.

This is what is known as influencer marketing.

  • Paid Ads

Splash some cash on Paid ads. This method also yield the needed result, particularly, if there’s a market for something, and you target that market with ads, you will get some sales.

The most popular platform for advertising your products is Google AdWords.  There is also one for Bings otherwise called Bing Ads.

  • Social Media Marketing

Like I stated above, social media is a powerful too, and it is still evolving. You can always leverage the power of social media to your advantage.

While Facebook, and Instagram may seem to be the most used social media. It is equally advisable that you create account profiles for your online store on other lower-in-use social media platforms like twitter, etc., for your social media marketing.

While you are ensuring that your online store has presence on the major social media platform. You should also monitor the way and manner in which your competitors use these social media platforms. This monitoring may be looking out for what they post, they frequency of their posts, how they promote their products directly to their follower, etc

Getting the words about your online store out using Search Engine Optimization Method:

  • Content Marketing and SEO

This days, content marketing and SEO are the most effective methods to promote any website (including eCommerce stores).

All you have to do is to create awareness about your products, and work towards making your online store search engine friendly and optimized in tandem to keywords associated with your online store.

This way, when people search for your niche keywords, your store can show-up on Search Engine Result Pages, SERPs front page.

Also make show, that you use the niche keywords of your store during awareness campaign.