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There are many people who are overwhelmed by learning how to become an online seller. The truth is, it’s not the easiest thing you’ll ever do. However, it’s certainly one of the most rewarding.
Before you dive in, make sure you do your research and understand what’s required. After that, you’ll need to apply the old-fashioned “trial and error” method.
Being prepared and ready for what’s next is the key to success. This way, you can be confident you are making good decisions that will lead to your dream life.
Here are eight steps to help you become an eCommerce entrepreneur. I have also included some links to resources, guides, and articles you might want to bookmark for further reading.
1. Establish a market need
Start an online retail business in a variety of ways. Many things.
You need to know that the products you intend to sell are in high demand before you jump in. Research may seem time-consuming at first, but it’s an integral part of finding good online retail business ideas.
The point of having a beautiful store is to make sales, right?
Research your market and find inspiration for new ideas by doing market research.
Some ideas include:
- Trends from Google
- Open a free Ads account to use the Google Keyword Planner (you’ll need a Google account).
- This plugin for Google Chrome is called Keyword Surfer
- Using social media and marketplace websites such as Amazon and Alibaba to search for product demand
2. Find out who your target audience is
No There are no customers, therefore there is no revenue. Formulas like these can be understood by anyone. Finding potential customers, getting them to visit your online store, and converting them into paying customers aren’t as simple as they appear.
It’s virtually impossible not to be able to make this happen in some way. It all starts with defining who your ideal customer is.
Your customers’ pain points and needs are what you need to understand. If you understand these pains and needs, you can make sure that your online retail business is solving these problems.
Using Facebook’s Audience Insights tool can help you find your ideal customers very quickly – even down to the pages they like on Facebook. The tool will be a great help to you if you decide to run Facebook ads
Market research sources include D&B Hoovers, Nielsen, and Bureau of the Census.
3. Analyze the logistics and requirements of the business
Even if you dream big about your online retail business opportunities, you need to ground those dreams into reality.
You have to take several factors into consideration before you can be confident that your idea will work. Research your store idea thoroughly to make sure you understand all the laws, regulations, resources, and logistics involved.
Consider these things:
- You will need to register your business and obtain licenses and permits in your country or region
- You have the following number of SKUs (stock-keeping units) for your product line:
- Detailed information about weight and shipping costs
- You should be aware of the shipping restrictions associated with the products you plan to sell
- The cost of production and overhead
- Revenue from business and sales taxes
- The trademark, copyright, and patent system
Seek professional advice if you’re unsure about anything in particular. Keeping safe is better than being sorry, as the saying goes.
4. Plan your business
Online retail store business plans are essential. Creating a business plan will ensure you cover all the bases and plan appropriately.
As a result, you are also held accountable as well as benchmarked. In laying everything out, you can see if you’re on the right path or if you need to make some adjustments.
If you are developing a business plan for an online retail store, you should consider the following:
- Summary of the executive summary
- Our company description
- Our products and services
- Analyses of the market and competitors, including SWOT analyses
- Planning for sales and marketing
- Management and operations of a company
- Funding requests and projections
In Shopify’s video tutorials, you’ll find a guide to writing a business plan. You can also use our business plan template.
5. Suppliers and Manufacturers
In order to manufacture your own products, you need a reliable and trustworthy manufacturer.
Explore your options while keeping these considerations in mind:
- Choosing domestic or overseas manufacturers to save costs is a strong preference among online retailers. Keep in mind, though, that shipping times will increase, and quality may suffer.
- Start your search on websites like Alibaba, or directories like ThomasNet, Kompass, and Sourcify. Get wholesale retailer information on Handshake. A Google search is also always helpful.
- When you start looking for a manufacturer for your online retail business, ask as many questions as you can. In addition, you might want to check out the reviews for their service and speak with other people who have enjoyed it (or not… dun dun dun).
You don’t have to worry about designing, manufacturing, or storing your products when you dropship. Find a supplier who will drop ship directly to your customers. Platforms like DSers allow you to find dropshipping suppliers.
6. Build your brand
A brand’s design and branding are what bind your customer relationships together. Oftentimes, branding is thought of as the last step. Prior to starting your company, you should start thinking about this as you write your business plan.
The following checklist will guide your branding process:
- Design a killer logo that sets your brand apart without compromising on simplicity.
- With stunning illustrations and product photography, your site visitors will be captivated.
- Choose colors that are in sync with your brand’s personality. It’s important to know what colors mean to us and how to leverage it for your advantage.
- Your audience will feel connected and valued with copywriting that speaks directly to their likes, needs, and desires.
- Logos aren’t everything when it comes to branding. Take a look at your brand strategy broader, such as your vision, mission statement, and core values.
In learning how to start an online retailer business, you will encounter a lot of inspiration from other brands. A running list of companies that are successful in branding and messaging, as well as companies that fail miserably, would be valuable.
You need an idea bank so you can create your own brand as you write down what you like and don’t like.
Use Shopify’s free tools to build your brand on a budget, including their Online Video Maker and Logo Maker.
7. You can build an online retail store with our help
This is the fun part! Give your ideas a life of their own.
Make use of an eCommerce platform like Shopify. To supercharge the dropshipping process on Shopify, you can sign up for DSers, a Shopify app designed to help dropshippers.
Listed below are a few things to consider incorporating into your online store:
- For each product, you sell, write an engaging description
- Each item on your website should have beautiful product pictures
- Website landing pages, like your homepage and the pages that visitors land on when they click on your ads.
- Calculate shipping rates and zones, as well as set up the shipping considerations
- The checkout page and payment gateway need to be set up
Shopify, for instance, provides a ton of themes, templates, tools, and resources to help you build a store even if you don’t have a professional web developer or designer on staff.
8. Develop a marketing plan
After opening a store, you have to get people to visit it.
It is possible to spend almost nothing on your marketing plan or thousands of dollars on it. The best ways to market your brand are low-cost and free, especially if you’re bootstrapping your business.
You can build long-term relationships with your subscribers by using email marketing. Make sure you don’t spam them with announcements about sales. Put a unique spin on your brand by adding value to their day.
In order to get the best results from influencer marketing, you should partner with “micro-influencers” instead of mega influencers who will charge large fees. Your brand will often get a shoutout if you send micro-influencers free products to test and a photo shoot for them. An Instagram account is a great channel for influencer marketing.
You can build a following of engaged people through social media marketing, who might become customers (if they are not already). Create content that matches your brand image. You should add value to their lives rather than just post about your awesome products.
You can start with Facebook Ads if you have some budget to spend. You won’t see it happen overnight. The chances of you gaining momentum may be slim if you only have $500-$1,000 to spend.
Example of an online retail business
The following examples can serve as inspiration as you learn how to start a store online.