Startup

How to Start an Online Store That Drives Sales

Starting your own business has the potential to be both stressful and rewarding.

In an age where there are tons of online stores, companies, and startups that’d launch their store and start selling with little or no research, you must be wondering how to stand out. Especially, when there are so many eCommerce businesses out there. You have a lot of competition now, yet you want your business to succeed.  

The one thing they all have in common in all online business strategies is that they need people to find them and buy from them to be successful. If you want to start an online store, you can follow a set of step-by-step instructions.

PAYBACKS OF OPENING AN ONLINE STORE 

If you run an eCommerce website, of course, it’s important to utilize the latest technology. That way, you can be more efficient and effective at attracting potential customers and converting them into paying customers.

In addition to the time and energy you’ll invest, here are a few of the advantages of starts an online store that drives sales. 

  • Become independent and have more free time
  • Network with other stores and vendors
  • Make money doing something you love
  • Learn the basics of business
  • Leverage existing customer database
  • No Franchise Fees or Restrictions
  • Make your brand available to the world
  • With an online store, you can modify your products and features as you please

Click here to read: How to Increase Shopify Sales with a Mobile App

STEPS TO LAUNCH AN ONLINE STORE 

  1. Choose the correct marketing strategy
  2. Find the right product niche
  3. Select a name for your business
  4. Build your online store
  5. Boost your marketing efforts to drive traffic
  6. A strong marketing flywheel is an asset for every business

STEP 1: CHOOSE THE CORRECT MARKETING 

Just like you can’t install a fence after the house is finished, you shouldn’t begin your online store before developing a marketing strategy.

Don’t follow someone else’s marketing strategy. Come up with your own and test it. You need to choose a marketing strategy in advance, and you need to give some serious thought to how it’s going to affect your business.

The majority of online stores operate under one of the three following strategies:

  • SEO
  • Paid marketing
  • Platform marketing

SEO 

If you want to get traffic from Google search, find keywords for your products that people are likely to use when searching for products like yours. Search Engine Optimization is the best practice to boost your ranking at search engines and make sure the right people find your site.

It’s not a sure thing, but if you can find a way to make this method work for your business, you could make a lot of money with your online store.

BENEFITS OF SEO

  • Gain consistent web traffic
  • Boosts Conversions
  • Create a good reputation online
  • Builds brand awareness
  • Increase online sales
  • Longer Time on Page
  • Improved Brand Authority and Visibility

DRAWBACKS OF SEO

  • SEO is not a quick process
  • You need to be good with numbers
  • Competitors can easily overtake you

If you focus on SEO as your main marketing strategy, you’ll have to put a lot of effort into learning about search engine algorithms and the ways that they are likely to change. The best way to increase your website’s page rank is by getting links from relevant websites.

Click here to read: The Complete Guide to App Store Optimization (ASO)

Some marketers are finding some success with marketing through paid placements. This includes ads on Facebook and Instagram, and paid search results on Google.

If the cost of running a paid campaign is less than the cost of getting your product into brick and mortar stores, then it’s worth exploring. Facebook and Instagram are the biggest social platforms right now, and they have the highest ROI for paid advertising.

Some people are looking for something specific on social media, but a lot of people are mostly just messing around, not paying much attention. And it is worth considering that your product has some kind of uniqueness to gain attention. Products characteristically should be: 

  • Eye-catching packaging
  • pattern and colors + variety
  • Product features
  • Give knowledgeable content
  • Illustrate differences between old and new models
  • Use quotes near pictures
  • Use of words such as “New” or update”

If your product scores a 5 or 6 in all the above categories, you should seriously consider going the paid marketing route.

Google Ads (formerly AdWords) is one kind of search advertising program. It’s the only program that allows you to bid on the words people use when they search for products like yours. That means your ad will appear in front of people. If enough prospects are searching for your keyword, it will be worthwhile to use this ad.

DOWNSIDE OF PAID MARKETING

  • Paid marketing can get expensive
  • It is very hard to judge a true conversion rate from FacebookTwitter, and Pintrest.
  • No provenance
  • You can’t control the source of the traffic
  • It takes a lot more work than social media or SEO to keep your content alive

Most companies don’t begin making a profit right off the bat; even a successful business usually takes some time to get off the ground. As with all other types of investments, you need to be wary that if you invest too heavily in paid marketing before your campaign is profitable; you might have to wait several months before it’s able to support itself. If you have financial trouble, it may be advisable to rethink your marketing approach.

Click here to read: 21 Ways to Promote a Startup with no Extra Money

PLATFORM MARKETING

This new method is very different.

When it comes to eCommerce, you have a choice between two routes: 

  1. Building your eCommerce store 
  2. Leveraging an existing platform

There are many existing platforms available that may help you to create your online brand, and seriously thinking it’s not a bad idea to take these options into considerations. The most trending platforms are:

  • Amazon 
  • eBay 
  • Etsy

You can be successful by focusing on any of these three.

We recommend that you go after Amazon. It’s very easy for sellers to get started on Amazon, and there are more potential buyers and less competition, so it’s easy to find success there.

The main exemption is if you’re selling handmade items, such as your bookends. In this case, Etsy is a better fit since the audience expects more craft-oriented products.

If you’re an online reseller, eBay is still a great place to sell your products for small profits. However, if you’re consistently selling the same products or have a few select products you want to build name recognition for, then investing in Amazon. 

You should determine what marketing channels will work best for your online business before you create your store on any platform. If you optimize your store well, you’ll likely become a good representative of the online shopping platform.

ONLINE STORE OPTIMIZATION DEPENDS UPON: 

  • Retargeting customers
  • Experimenting with new products
  • Measuring conversion rates
  • Free shipping offers

AS A NEWBIE, WHY YOU SHOULD CHOOSE ONE KIND OF MARKETING ONLY?

If you want to be successful in marketing, it’s important to be knowledgeable in more than one area. There are entirely different skillsets and strategies for different types of marketing. While it’s possible to get by being good at only one, it’s a lot harder. Marketers get good at one kind of marketing.

If you focus on just one marketing channel, you’ll be able to hit the ground running and get a return on your investment sooner.

Click here to read: The Ultimate List: 50 Online Local Business Directories

STEP 2: FIND THE RIGHT PRODUCT NICHE 

Marketing is important for attracting customers to your product, but you must pick a product niche that is right for your market. When you market your products to the right audience, you can boost your sales substantially.

By focusing on a product category you love, it’s easier to nurture the idea of making money in that category. But it can also be a trap — if you don’t spend more time researching the market and competitors.

If there’s no demand for a product or service, it will not be successful, regardless of how much time and energy you put into it. So, it’s better to focus on the product niche, which you might think has the right audience. 

HOW TO SEARCH FOR PROFITABLE NICHE 

  • It has to be simple, not too much unique 
  • It has a massive target market
  • Popular trend products
  • Strong growth in revenue
  • Reasonable price of products 
  • Demanded niche 
  • Low investment costs or overhead

Even if you’re sure others would be interested in a product, it’s important to make sure there’s a market need for it. A CB Insights study found that about 42% of startups die trying to sell a product that no one needs to do some consumer research to make sure there’re people out there who will want to buy your product.

STEP 3: SELECT A NAME FOR YOUR BUSINESS 

Naming is a hit-or-miss process. You have to find an available domain name and hope there isn’t already a trademarked name that fits your idea. In the beginning, you might not think your new brand requires a great name, but it is worth your time to spend a while on it. It’s better to give up on a good name than rush to settle for an ok one.

TIPS TO CATCH A MEMORABLE NAME FOR YOUR STORE:

  • Research your market
  • Avoid overused words
  • Make it adaptable
  • Make it short and easy to spell
  • Make it memorable
  • Be unique and straightforward
  • Use the right keywords
  • Try to be original with your name
  • Double-check that the domain you want isn’t already taken
  • Don’t use hyphens or numbers
  • Think like a customer
  • Try to get a .com domain 

Once you’ve got your name, get it under management with the domain registrar of your choice.

Click here to read: 5 Tips For Choosing The Best Domain Name For Your Startup  

STEP 4: BUILD YOUR ONLINE STORE

If you’re going to invest in an SEO or paid marketing strategy, you must ensure that everything works before you commit to the strategy. If your site looks professional, it will reduce the amount of time visitors need to spend thinking about how legit your business is.

There are several eCommerce platforms to choose from i.e. Shopify and Bigcommerce, but none of them compare to Wix. Other platforms require you to buy plugins to accomplish tasks that Wix’s built-in features make easy.

If your website is built on WordPress and you have an audience, you should put the time and effort into promoting your website. And if you’re already using social media to sell products, and it’s working for you, then you shouldn’t change what works.

And if you pick one of the platforms like Amazon, work hard to create great product pages. Use compelling, specific language to entice people to buy your products. Don’t skimp on your product copy. Spend as much time on it as you do on product descriptions or sales copy. Make your product page look as high-end as possible. Use high-quality images on the homepage. 

Click here to read: The 15 Best WordPress Themes for Podcasters in 2021

STEP 5: BOOST YOUR MARKETING EFFORTS TO DRIVE TRAFFIC 

When you’re first starting an online store, you’ll be faced with the challenge of building your brand and a list of loyal followers. You won’t be making much money at the beginning. Don’t get caught up in the details of how you’ll do things in the future; just focus on getting them done now. You’ll have plenty of time to optimize your systems later. For now, just get started. Make as much momentum as you can, any way you can.

People without drive and motivation don’t make progress. It helps if you’ve got a good sense of direction because you might need to adjust your strategy on the fly.

Find out what kinds of marketing channels your competitors are using and think of 50 ways that you could use each one yourself. Planning a Marketing Burst and doing it will give you the momentum you need to get more results in your business, plus it’ll make you feel good.

After the 60-day Marketing Burst, some of your marketing ideas will have worked and you’ll have your first couple of sales. The way to a successful online business is to focus on doing one thing and do it well. Concentrating on a single marketing channel will help you get going with your business.

STEP 6: A STRONG MARKETING FLYWHEEL IS AN ASSET FOR EVERY BUSINESS 

If you’re looking for more ways to grow your business, try to figure out what marketing flywheel programs you can put in place.

What’s a flywheel? A flywheel or growth engine is a big wheel that helps create and preserve momentum. We’re using the same concept in your marketing plan to slow down all the little forces that would otherwise slow down growth.

In the first days of running an online business, you can work to increase your rank organically. You can also contact people who already review products. Paid reviews are not allowed on Amazon. Instead, look for tactics that help you get your product noticed without paying for anything.

As you bring more people into your flywheel, find new ways to get them into the next one.

Getting your SEO strategy right is a huge flywheel. In the beginning, this involves creating a lot of content and figuring out what works versus what doesn’t. Instead of having to create new content yourself, you can hire someone to do it for you, which will allow you to create a lot more content to help with your marketing strategies.

If you have an agency handling your paid advertising, you should pay attention to how well they’re doing in terms of cost per acquisition, conversion rate, and click-through rate. Optimizing ads is an excellent way to get more customers. Automation is also necessary to achieve the traction of a flywheel.

Click here to read: Best Website Ideas to Launch an Online Side Business in 2021

STEP 7: SET YOUR SHIPPING AND PAYMENTS OPTIONS 

If you’ve spent a lot of time creating attractive, brand-compliant product pages, it’s important to make sure that your customers can complete their purchases quickly and easily.

PAYMENT METHODS 

Google Pay: This gateway is a great option if you want to get into brick-and-mortar and need to make sure the system you choose will continue to work on any device.

PayPal: If you’re already having a trusted sales funnel, you can use the redirect option. If you don’t have a trusted sales funnel yet, you should create a custom payment page.

Stripe: You can use Stripe to accept credit card payments without any setup costs, and they take a transaction fee.

Shop Pay: Simply enter an email address and you can complete your purchase immediately.

Click here to read: The Best Phone Services for Small Business

SALES TAXES

Depending on where your customers are located, it will be necessary to charge them different amounts of sales tax. Sales tax can be difficult to calculate and manage, but it’s easier when using the right tool.

Be sure to speak with a financial planner before you make any business decisions so you can avoid costly tax mistakes.

SHIPPING METHODS 

In-house delivery: You’re responsible for getting goods to customers. Before choosing a shipping company, try sending out a few shipments with different carriers to find the most efficient one. If your store is successful, you’ll be shipping out a lot of orders every day, so consider the best option.

Subscription: Using a delivery courier service can help you save time, but for the ultimate small business experience, take deliveries yourself.

Dropshipping: When you order products from your suppliers, you can either arrange for them to ship the product directly to customers or your location for further processing. The former option is convenient but means you have less control over delivery lead times.

WRAPPING UP

Starting an online store is a lot of work, but if you develop a great strategy and build a great site through eCommerce website builders, put in the work to promote it through social media and affiliates, and handle customer service well, you’re likely to see great success.