Why Should You Start An Online Store?
Today, more than ever is the best time you can start an online store. With the advancements in technology,everything is set to be a conducive space for selling online.
The United Kingdom is considered to be an e-commerce powerhouse, landing the third spot in terms of volume in this market. In 2019, nearly £200 billion sales were made through this platform, which accounts for 21.8% of all sales. These numbers kept on going up in 2020 as the retail industry alone surpassed the 30% mark in online sales.
With these said, here’s a comprehensive guide on how you can start your own online store.
Table of Content
- When Is The Best Time to Start an Online Store?
- 5 Things You Need to Know When Putting Up an Online Store
When Is The Best Time to Start an Online Store?
You can think that it's very easy to put up an online shop. All you have to do is to get a website, put your products on it, and start selling. But that's not how it goes. These are the fairly technical side of things, but you will have to ask yourself: is today the best time to start an online store? To help you answer that, though, here are some of the signs that you are ready for it.
The first step to starting an online business is for you to become interested in it. It's important that you are fully in it. You cannot go in half-hearted. You have to be dedicated and willing to invest your time and effort into it. Before putting up your store, see to it that you've done enough research on what goes in the whole process, not just a portion of it. In this way, you have a clear view of how running an online store is like before you fully indulge yourself in it.
An online business is very much different from a physical store. Although it operates on the same principle, it runs on different technicalities. If you're not that familiar just yet with how selling online works, you should first be ready to understand how you're able to navigate through this place. There will be some learning curve on this, but one can overcome this with enough determination to learn.
You know that you're ready to build an online business if you already have a good product or service to sell. For some people, however, they know that they are ready to sell online but don't have any idea on what to sell yet. This is something workable, but it may arise hefty problems in the long run. So before you learn the technicalities of selling online, go back to the drawing board and think of a good product to sell.
5 Things You Need to Know When Putting Up an Online Store
There are a couple of things that you should consider when you're starting to put up an online store. Here's a list of what can help you up and running:
1. Have a business strategy.
2. Create your brand.
3. Choose where to sell your products.
4. Build your online store.
5. Build your marketing strategy.
Before anything else, it's important to have an established business strategy set in place. All successful businesses operate on a set strategy. Without it, you can expect your business to fail eventually. A thorough business model will encompass what the nature of the business is and how it operates. Here are some of the most popular business strategies in the e-commerce industry:
- Dropshipping: You will only purchase items from the manufacturer after your customers have brought them from your store. There will be no warehouse or storage costs for this one, as the items are directly shipped to your customer.
- Wholesaling: You buy the products in bulk and store them in a warehouse. You can either sell the items in bulk, too, or given them in retail. Usually, wholesaling is done business to business. This means your customers are business owners, too.
- White Labeling: You get the products manufactured by a third-party manufacturer, but your logo and branding will be reflected in it.
- Print on Demand: Your customers get to have customised products, and you will only print them as the orders are placed. It's very similar to that of dropshipping, as you will be able to avoid storage costs. The products will be shipped directly to your customers.
It's important to know that each business strategy has its own set of pros and cons. You have to pick one that best suits your business, especially with the nature of your products or services, along with your target market.
Getting into the e-commerce industry will mean that you are competing in a very tight space. It also depends on the product or service you're looking forward to selling. Some products are already oversaturated in the e-commerce space, but if you're planning on selling a product that's already in a saturated market, you have to strengthen your branding. Your branding can separate your product from all the businesses that sell the same product as that of yours. With that, here are a few tips on how you can create your own brand.
- Focus on your brand's aesthetics
- Differentiate your brand from the rest
You will only purchase items from the manufacturer after your customers have brought them from your store. There will be no warehouse or storage costs for this one, as the items are directly shipped to your customer.
You buy the products in bulk and store them in a warehouse. You can either sell the items in bulk, too, or given them in retail. Usually, wholesaling is done business to business. This means your customers are business owners, too.
Although these are very good ideas and should be supported by research as you make your brand's images, you have to look at what your competitors are doing. If your competitors have already been using these color palettes in their visuals, then you may not be able to fully differentiate your products as a different brand. The key here is to stay different. Stand out and deviate from what the others are doing. Do something that's pleasantly unexpected - that's how you differentiate your brand.
There are a lot of avenues to sell in the e-commerce space. You can build your own website and build your shop from there using a store builder, or enter into big e-commerce platforms such as Amazon or Etsy. But you're not limited to just choosing one way of selling! You can sell on your website and on other platforms, as well. In that way, you have more avenues of where your income is coming from. However, that poses some risks as well as you will have to maintain more than one online channel. So it really depends on what your priorities are and how much time you can allow for this.
You will need to shell out money to build your website, along with a shop builder. But this is something that you can control and have a set budget on. It costs around $30/month for a beginner store, while a larger store that generates more revenue can cost around $300/month. There are a lot of online store builders you can choose from, but it will largely depend on your budget. Some of these store builders that you can use are the following:
After settling on which channel you're going to sell your products and the store builder that you will use, it's now time to build your online store. This is where most of your business' branding will really show. Design your store according to who your target audience is. You can do this on your own if you have the technical skills and knowledge for it, or it's also better to hire someone who can do this for you.
- Choose a template that reflects your brand
- Set up gateways for payments
- Set up shipping details and instructions
- Add products to your website
You already have your visuals set in place. This is where you're going to apply almost half of it. The colors of your website should be in accordance with what you have set in your company's branding. This is recommended so you will have an overall cohesive look from your store to your advertisement materials. So don't think that your website's design won't matter that much.
Think of it as the exterior and interior designs of your physical store. It's just as important as any aspect of your business because it's what lures customers to go in and explore your products. This is the main reason why you have to choose a template that truly reflects your brand and your products.
Since you are selling online, you should also offer online payment gateways. Examples of this are credit and debit card payments. You can also add other payment options such as Stripe, Square, and Paypal
Make sure that you have multiple payment gateways set-up as it is very important for you and your customers. The more payment gateways there are available, the more convenient it would be for your client. It's pretty much easy to integrate these payment options into your online store.
Most online providers already have pre-built shipping options. However, you should customise it to cater to what your business needs. Each platform is different, so you will have to navigate through it to explore how you can edit your shipping options. From here, you can set your shipping costs, rules, and other changes that you will like to change.
Adding products to your website is merely just uploading the products and posting them. It also includes writing product descriptions and other helpful information to your customers. For your website to rank on search engine pages, you must make SEO-optimised content. Ranking on search engines means your website will show up on the first page whenever a customer searches for a particular keyword.
For example, you're selling tape dispensers. You will have to invest in someone who knows SEO copywriting so they can target the right keywords. The writer will properly integrate it into your products' descriptions and blogs. Search engines can recognise your website as something that sells tape dispensers, so when someone looks up "tape dispensers" on Google, your website will show up. Landing the first page on search engines will signify that you've done a great job of optimising your content.
After making sure every system is already running, you can now start to promote your website and products. For this, you have to build your marketing strategy.
- Choose which channels you're going to advertise
- Optimise your advertising budget
Before spending money on advertising, you have to know where your audience is at. Are they on Facebook? Instagram? Twitter? What websites are they on? From this data, you get to analyse which platform works best for you.
In every social media platform, may that be on Facebook or Instagram, there will be a budget for your advertisements. These are called campaigns. You get to choose who your target audience is according to their demographics (age, gender, location, interests) and for how long you're going to run the ads.
The smallest these platforms can allow is at $5/day. The number of audiences targeted will depend on your budget. The larger your budget is, the more people your ads will reach. The customer reach is significant as it triggers familiarity and knowledge about your products.
These are the things that you can start working with if you're looking forward to putting up your online business. It will not be an easy process, especially if it's your first time working on opening up a business, more so it's going to be online compared to a physical store. It will require a lot of time, effort, and willingness to learn on your part, but as long as you are truly determined in making it work, you should be able to get past its learning curves.
That's all from our side! We have finally arrived at the end of this article and we hope that it was worth the read! As we have already said, if you wish to survive in the digitalised world, then you need to go with the trend and get your store or business registered online. So, follow all these steps we have discussed above to standout in the long run.
In case you face any difficulty, feel free to contact us!
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