All entrepreneurs looking to start their own online business would want to start an online store to make progress with the idea they have in their mind. Similarly, small business owners wanting to take their business online would also want to start a similar venture.
The online selling and e-commerce platform of today is supposed to play an integral part in ensuring the success of businesses in the time to come. Not only does selling your goods on the online market allow you to reach a broader audience, but it also helps in cutting down the costs of operation. Thus, it is only best for you to start an online business that you are sure will make it easy for you to succeed.
According to a recent study and cumulative data compiled by Shopify, online retail stores, and e-commerce platforms accumulated over $2.8 trillion in sales during the financial year of 2018. This figure is further expected to expand to over $5 billion in the year 2021. The online market is just growing with time and presents an excellent opportunity for you to milk the cow and get a share into the demand of the future.
While there is a lot to do and learn when it comes to the online market, we wouldn’t want you to approach this market without doing your research beforehand. You must know where you’re headed so that you can take the right measures at the right time. The online market is all about understanding the way consumers buy and what you should do to position your brand among the competing sellers.
Now that we are already talking about competition let us warn you about this factor. Numerous sellers throng online markets and e-commerce platforms. While there are buyers to attract, there is going to be no shortage of competition. Competition is a hallmark of online markets, regardless of the niche you approach. Thus, you should make your way to the fantastic opportunities only after doing your research and knowing everything that is to know about the online markets.
In a bid to help you with this process, here we mention a complete guide on how to set up your online store. This guide is for both new entrepreneurs with a startup idea in mind and existing small business owners who want to take their business online. We’ve made sure to cover the basics in this article so that you know where you are headed to when you first approach online markets.
Planning Your E-Commerce Strategy
Having a roadmap to follow before you go online can help you out in ways more than one. You must have a basic idea in mind about what is required from you in the industry. The competing brands and the customer behavior of your target market are just some of the factors you can consider to devise your strategy. Your strategy would be unique only to you, which is why it should be well thought out.
When you are starting your business small, some of the things you should consider for the best results include:
- Building the right products to sell in the market. You should know how the market operates and should thus only sell the right products here.
- You should define the target audience you want to target. Having a niche can be particularly helpful, as it helps prioritize your preferences.
- You should look to get validation for what you are offering through a sound and successful pre-sales strategy.
We will run through all these steps here and will give you a plan that you can follow to generate the best results for yourself in the online world.
Identify the Right Products
Almost all aspects of your online selling strategy are going to be influenced by the products you decide to sell under the banner of your brand. The products you sell are directly affected by the market you want to target. Your products will dictate the inventory you store, the marketing techniques you follow, and the financial strategies you explore. Since so much is dependent on your product line, you should think the whole plan out and then devise a robust product line.
Product research is an excellent method to find out whether the product you want to sell in the market is capable of being marketed the right way or not. You can tell through the research whether your product will be received well within the masses and what kind of results you can expect in the future.
You can start this entire process by asking the following questions from yourself:
Is There a Demand for Your Product?
This is perhaps the first question you should be asking yourself. The product you are looking to sell should be a need of the market you are operating in. There should be demand for the product, and you should look to meet this need of the masses. We will further explore the means through which you can do this below.
Is the Product Natural to Source?
When you first start your online e-commerce selling platform, you would want to make the sourcing and selling of the product as easy as possible. Regardless of whether you are manufacturing the product by yourself or are selling someone else’s merchandise, you would want to assure quality.
Is It Easy to Ship?
In this day and age of online shopping, consumers across the world have come to expect cheap and fast shipping by sellers online. Consumers want the product to be delivered to their doorsteps, so they can truly enjoy the benefits of online selling. Knowing this, you need to ask yourself whether your product will be natural to market and sell. When you’re selling a product with a more significant weight and dimensions, then you would have to pay higher shipping rates.
You can find your inspiration for a product from a problem that you face every day. The world has become a global village today, and many others might encounter issues that you experience with a similar routine as well.
Define and Build Your Audience
The second step towards setting up your online store is to define and build the audience that you will be selling to. Your audience matters a lot, as they will be determining the success you achieve as part of your selling strategy.
The audience you have in mind should have the buying power required for buying your product. The target market should also be willing to invest in your product, for which you should be solving a problem that they face regularly. It all comes down to the value that you can provide to your target market, as they will be buying and paying for your product on that value.
Your product strategy should be focused on both what you are offering and the audience you are targeting. You shouldn’t move on to finalizing your product or manufacturing it, without studying the audience you would be selling to. Building the product without considering your target audience is a slippery slope that you cannot afford running on.
To make your analysis easier, you can create audience personas for the people you are selling to. The audience persona would determine and pinpoint some of the critical characteristics of the people that you would be selling to.
A typical audience persona would include the following things:
- Demographic Information: First off, the audience persona should include details of the audience that you are selling to. The demographic information relates to some of the general characteristics of your ideal consumer. This includes their age, status, and location, among many other things.
- Career and Income Levels: You should also preferably know about the career and income levels of your audience. Know what your ideal customer does and even know the kind of income level they are at. This information will help you in pricing the product correctly, and will also let you know whether you should add specific characteristics to your product or not.
- Their Personality and Values: You also ought to know the personality and values of the people you are selling to. Values are generally shared across cultures, so you should study the broader culture in detail before pointing down values that individuals might have.
- Biggest Pains and Challenges: You should know the most significant pains and challenges that your audience faces, and how you can help tackle these challenges. Once you know their sufferings, you can improve your product offering for the better.
Get the Right Funding
Besides research on the audience and the feasibility of the product, it is also necessary that you get the perfect funding option for your online business. Once the orders start coming in, you should make sure you have the ideal production capacity inside your premises. You would surely not want a mess where your orders are delayed because you dint have the right arrangements or the funds for starting production.
If you feel that you are going out of cash for the time being, then go for a small business loan from a private lender around you. Private lenders happen to have a relaxed policy, which helps you get a loan without undergoing the stringent checks that most banks have in place.
You should always have buffer stock available with you to help in meeting the needs of your clients. Your clients would want nothing less than the best from you, which is why buffer stock can help you provide the best to them.
If you feel that your stock levels are falling or manufacturing has slowed down and you don’t have the right resources to stack them up, then a merchant cash advance can help you. Merchant cash advances happen to have secure processing details, as you can repay them in whatever method you find most suitable. There is no stringent repayment plan, as you have the liberty to pay back the business according to your sales and revenue generation.
A good merchant cash advance from a trusted lender allows you to pay back the dues through regular credit card payments. You can deposit a fixed percentage of your credit card sales towards the repayment of the merchant cash advance. A fixed-rate would be deducted from your credit card sales, and that fixed percentage would be used to make the repayment on the cash advance you have borrowed. These funding options can help you out in a time of financial crunch. Moreover, your credit score wouldn’t be used to reject your loan process as many private lenders use the credit score for determining the rate.
Thus, if you ever want to fund your business at a time of need, then a private lender is your go-to option for getting the right funds.
Set Up Your Online Store
When you have the funds, the plan, the product, and the audience ready, you can eventually go on to setting up your online store. The process you should follow for setting up an online store isn’t tricky, but there is no room for error.
Go through the steps below for setting up the footprint of your online store.
Choose Domain Name
The first part of setting up your online store is to choose a domain name for your brand. The domain name is essential to the entire process as it helps determine the way your audience perceives you. To simplify the process of selecting your domain name, the domain name will act as the name for your online business. So, just as you should take essential considerations while choosing the name of your business, you should also take care while setting the domain name for your brand.
You might see variations in the kind of version that you get with your domain name. You might either get a .com version or a .online or .net version. The .com version is the most famous domain extension, but we believe that .online and .net aren’t far off currently considering that the world of internet has come so far. The domain name should directly relate to what you’re selling. Try to help people resonate with your brand.
Choosing E-Commerce Platforms
Once your online store is set, you will also have to follow up the leading website with an e-commerce portfolio. The e-commerce platform you want should help you in reaching diverse audiences and also positioning your products in a positive light. Before you start selling on an e-commerce platform, you should make sure to go through the rates they will offer you and how much their packages cost. By going through their payment plans, you can ensure that you have a better cash flow model in your mind.
Setting Up Payments
Setting up how you receive your payments is an integral part of the overall schedule. You cannot seriously start processing payments without a clear understanding of how the process works.
When you first set up your website, you will come across numerous plug-ins that can help you with amplifying the security of your website. All e-commerce websites have to make sure that the protection they provide their customers is top-notch and is without any flaws whatsoever. Your customers need the best security arrangements, which can only be provided once you understand their needs in full.
Once you have confirmed security measures, you can amp up the feasibility of your website towards payment through multiple cards. There are numerous card providers; hence, you should make sure that you support all of them. The top payment gateways for your website include Stripe, Payline, and PayPal. Read reviews for these payment gateways if you incorporate them into your website. You would also want to know just how much these payment gateways charge for a decent connection. If you feel that you’re being charged a lot and that your profits will suffer because of these charges, then you should go for a gateway that won’t cost you much.
Market Your Brand
Once you have launched your store, the next most crucial thing you should do is to market your brand. Marketing is an essential part of any online store, and you cannot possibly achieve the success you want without following the due protocol for marketing.
By marketing your brand, we mean you should promote the name of your website with a clear cut message as to why people should buy from you. You must build the right value in the eyes of your customers, as you can reap the rewards only after you provide this value correctly.
We have already talked about how important it is to market your brand in the right manner within customers. You cannot seriously avoid marketing for your website, as the gains you make will be dependent on this.
An online store is all about developing traffic. Your e-commerce platform should be able to attract your audience’s attention, which will eventually help increase your outreach. You can pull traffic through your website by using organic SEO. Organic SEO is where you pull customers towards your brand by using the right keywords. Know the keywords people will search for and use them in your product titles and the description that follows. The more conveniently you use these keywords, the higher will be the traffic coming your way. Your customers will end up at your website, rather than you trying to bring them over actively.
Besides following SEO and PPC, you can use conventional means of marketing. You can hand over vouchers that give discounts to people when they make their first purchase. The coupons should have a code which your customers should be able to use conveniently. Additionally, you should also have contents and polls on your social media posts so that you keep interacting with your target audience. Build the kind of camaraderie you want with your target audience and then reap the rewards that come as part of it.
You can also get in touch with other content creators on the internet and market your products to them conveniently. Influencer marketing is a proper trend nowadays, and you can cash on to it for the best results. Through the means of influencer marketing, you can reach out to different influencers and market your goods through them. Look if the influencer can talk about the benefits of shopping from you. YouTube stars, Instagram models and many other influencers can be roped into your marketing campaign at decent rates.
You can further make this process better for you by working with third party blog and article listing websites for linking to the products you have for sale. This will help create backlinks to your content and will pull over the traffic you want.
Keep Checking Your Website
Once you launch your online store, do not forget the importance of routinely maintaining your website. You should make sure that your site is maintained and is regularly tested for the best results. Also, make sure that you check the suitability of your website before providing online sales. Surely more people will throng your site during a discount sale, which is why the chances are that you might see your website collapse under the pressure of the traffic. So, make sure that you have all facets checked. Quality is never a compromise that you should make while going online. Once you take your brand online, you should make sure that you follow stricter quality protocols. As we all know, quality comes at a cost, which you can finance through the right small business loan in Canada. We work with numerous businesses and give them the lifeline they need to fund their operations and get the best results coming.
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