How to Create an Online Store and Succeed
Many of us are looking for better alternatives to corporate jobs. Creating an online store and being your own boss is truly one of the best alternatives to working for someone else. With today’s technology, almost anyone is able to create and launch an online store.
Starting an online store is not one of those “get rich quick” schemes as it requires time and dedication. The ones that are committed will have a higher rate of success.
I was once in your position and wanted to be my own boss and open an online store. That is why I developed a guide on how to create an online store.
Since you want to create a store, you probably already know what type of product you want to sell. Remember, certain products are ideal for selling online, while others are not meant to be sold online. Here are some questions that can guide you through this step:
- What type of product do you want to sell (physical, digital, etc.)? – Just make sure that your product is suitable for the online market.
- Are you going to sell multiple products? – I recommend staying with products that are in a similar category for the maximum success. Remember, you are not Amazon.com yet.
- Do you plan on making your products, outsourcing from a wholesaler, or drop shipping? – Worldwide Brands is a great place to find and source products. Doba is one of the leading drop shipping services. Both have fees associated with their services.
- Do you have space to store your inventory? – If you are making your own products or buying wholesale, you will need to have some storage space. Drop shipping does not require you to have inventory at all.
- How will you ship your items? – Stamps.com is a great shipping service that enables you to print labels without going to the postal office.
Find Your Niche
A lot of the successful store owners out there are passionate about what they do and know something about the products they are selling.
Let’s say you narrow your choices down to selling wedding invitations. You will need to differentiate yourself from the other online stores selling the same product. Be unique and create your own style. Offer your expertise to your customers and give them a user-friendly purchasing process. Remember, once a sale is made, be sure to keep in touch with the customer and provide an exceptional service (many stores out there forget about the customer).
As mentioned above, Worldwide Brands and Doba are great places to find products to sell.
Create a Business Plan
Creating a business plan enables you to create a strategy for now and the future. Unfortunately, most store owners rush to launching an online store that they skip over this important step.
Not all business plans are the same, but there are a few things that are a must. A successful business plan should include a projection of where you want your store to be in a few years and how you intend to grow store revenue.
If you do not want to run a store for several years, I do not recommend wasting your time with an effective business plan. You can find tons of business plans on Google.
Choose a Hosted Ecommerce Software Solution
Once you decide on a product and strengthen your niche, the next step is to choose a shopping cart solution with a friendly interface and start building your online store. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced user, I strongly recommend going with Bigcommerce, Shopify, Volusion, or 3dcart. All of these hosted shopping carts come with a low monthly fee and does all the work for you. You do not have to worry about integrating a web store into your own website or anything of that nature.
With a little effort and tweaking, you can have a store set up in no time.
Furthermore, going with a hosted shopping cart comes with some advantages. For example, hosted solutions provide domain registrations, PCI compliance, blogging platforms, and order management. Additionally, these solutions are able to integrate with hundreds of third-party plugins that can be handy as your store grows.
Alternatively, you can start from scratch and build your own store or download an open-source shopping cart. Most open-source shopping carts are free but require you to purchase a web hosting account and plugins for the needed features. Additionally, open-source solutions are complicated and require extensive knowledge in coding and HTML.
Purchase a Domain Name
Regardless of what kind of shopping cart solution you choose, purchasing a domain name is a must. It is important to purchase a domain name that is closely related to your business and the products being sold. You do not want to sell wedding invitations on a “Fly Fishing” website.
Most domain registrars offer domain registrations under $10 per year. NameCheap and GoDaddy are two of the best domain registrars.
Sign Up for Google AdWords and Analytics
It is not a secret; Google provides some of the best website tools. Be sure to take advantage of Google AdWords by setting up campaigns to attract customers to your store. AdWords is a vital tool that is great for websites that are just starting out and have no traffic.
On the other hand, Google Analytics is a free tool that gives you a complete tracking and reporting overview for your store. The tool is able to track visitors and traffic sources.
Launch Your Online Store and Promote
Once you have completed all of the steps above, it’s time to launch your online store and promote the heck out of it. Submitting your items to free comparison shopping sites like Google Shopping and The Find is a great start.
When you get familiar with the process, I recommend using paid sites like Bizrate, PriceGrabber, and Shopping.com to advertise your products.
And remember, word of mouth is a strong promoting factor, so go out there and tell your family and friends.
Register Your Business/Online Store
It is important to register your business in accordance with all of the laws in your state. You probably do not need to this right away, but as your business grows, you will need to do this. To make things official, I recommend getting all of the legal and tax paperwork out of the way.
Fortunately, I found two companies that will do all of this for you for a small fee. I have used both companies and they are reliable and efficient. You can use MyCorporation to get all of this paperwork out of the way.
How to Create an Online Store: Conclusion
I have tried to keep this article short and concise. The steps above are a general overview of the steps that are most important when creating an online store. If you follow the steps above, you will definitely have a better chance for success.
Other things that you might want to do:
- Create a marketing strategy.
- Hire a developer to build your online store.
- Make your store products available on Amazon and eBay.
- Create a company blog and write articles on a daily basis (helps SEO).
- Make a Facebook and Twitter page for your online store.
You are many steps closer to quitting your corporate job and being your own boss. I wish you the best of luck and feel free to comment.