To start a business, most of the people are unfamiliar with the entire process that it requires to start one, especially when they want to start an online store. They struggle to figure out how to start and how to manage things in order to become successful in online business. So, we present to you ten essential steps to start an online store.
- The first thing that you require is a business plan. You shouldn’t think of starting an online store if you don’t have any business plan in mind. A business plan is essential and critical in developing the roadmap as well as a framework which is necessary to establish a successful online store. A business plan for the online store should consist of the approach that will be utilized for financing, marketing as well as advertising of the business. It should also have a clearly laid out structure of how to attain success. If you require funding, then you need to have the venture capitalists on board with your notion of the business, in your business plan. These essential elements are just as important and shouldn’t be ignored even if you are trying to save overhead on the facility costs. When you are considering costs, developing a website through a developer can be costlier in comparison than using online website maker.
- The next thing is to choose an online store business structure. Once you have established a plan for your online store, you have to choose a right business structure. If you are not sure of the business structure which is best for your company, then consider the different tax benefits as well as requirements of each. You can check various websites to check these aspects to make your decision. After you have made a decision, you need to fill all the essential documentation to make your business and also its name legal. It is often an offline process. Now, it is time for you to take steps to get your store to be established online. In making an online structure decision, you need to consider website builders which you are going to use in creating your website.
- Now you have to choose that products that you intend to sell. While your entire business plan has a clear outline of all the general types of products which you wish to sell, this step consists of a thorough list of all the products that you are offering. You need to include the different products along with the unique sizes, colours, or any other features. In addition to making a decision on product types, you have to decide how they will be manufactured. In general, if you are not creating or product your own product, then you need to get a particular supplier or search for a solution that allows you to distribute the product through various means like reselling or drop shipping.
- One you have got the list of the products, now you need to get bar codes for the products. In order to legally sell your products to customers through your online store, you need to have UPC barcodes for each item that you are selling. If your product comes in different sizes, patterns, colours, then it requires separate barcode for each product, along with each combination of different features. You can purchase barcodes online. You can also buy large batches of consecutive bar codes at a good discount rate through different online services.
- Once you have purchased the barcodes, now you have to build your inventory. In case you are just getting started with establishing the online store, you need to have a decent size of inventory of different products that you are offering. This is true no matter whether your e-commerce store is the only place where you sell the product. Nothing can make an online business going down than having a surplus of backed up product orders. Along with establishing your own inventory of product, you need to make different decisions regarding the storage. The good news is that in case you don’t have any warehouse to store your product then there are many companies that will store your items and also ship them out as per your orders at quite an affordable rate.
- After you have done the above things, you need to choose a domain name for your online store as well as site location. The first thing that you need to do is choose a good hosting provider. You will also have the option to buy a domain name, and you can set up your own website. However, this needs technical knowledge which most of the business owners don’t have. In this case, they can take use of website builder to build their own website.
There are some of the most popular options which can be used for building an online store which includes, Wix eCommerce, Shopify etc. The best thing about these particular sites is that they provide you with the means to purchase your domain name along with different basic tools and instructions that you require to build your own website from scratch. These are among the best website builders available in the market.
- After the technical part of the site is set up then you need to choose an overall design for your site. It includes setting up headers, themes, product categories etc. You will have to organize your products into different categories and also decide whether you wish to include sections like About Us or a blog in order to attract to your website.
- In case you have gone for the e-commerce platform to help you in your online store, then setting up a shopping cart won’t be any difficult for you. When you are setting up a cart, it is better to utilize a hosted shopping cart software which are duly available in the market. When you are selecting a self-hosted software, there are some of the potential customers who may turn away from your online store because they might be unsure of the website security. It is among the biggest factor to consider when you are establishing your online store, and you need to convince the customers that their details and credit and debit card information will remain secure and confidential.
- One you have established your online store, your products are now ready for sale, and all the bugs associated with the software and technical part has been worked out, then you are ready to officially launch your online store. After launching the store, you have to work on advertising and marketing strategies in order to grow and create a base of loyal customers and attract new ones.
- The last thing about setting and running an online store is maintaining it. Once you have set up everything and it is running well, you have to keep maintaining your business on a daily basis. It includes taking care of all the technical aspects of the website, and work out any bugs which are there on the site. It also includes keeping track and managing your inventory and also make right decisions to add new and discard old products and also provide good customer service to the customers in order to make them come back to you more often. It will require promotions, sales, advertisements, email marketing etc. for the continuous success of your online store. You need to make the right marketing and strategic decisions on a continuous basis to keep your business attract more customers who will ensure your success.
With this, we complete our guide to how to start an online store. If you have anything to add, then do mention it in the comment section below.
BIO: Robert is web developer and designer who helps small-businesses and non-profit organizations to build better websites. If you need his opinion or help, you can reach him at Twitter (@RobMening).