Since online stores are becoming more and more popular, it’s important to know how you can open an online store step by step, what you need to consider, and what are the things people don’t usually say about online stores.
Sometimes we tend to believe that online stores are going to be successful no matter what, but that’s not always the case. In reality, more than half of them don’t reach the 5-year mark, and most times, that happens because they missed one or more steps of the process.
Let’s go ahead now and talk about what and how you need to do in order to start on the right foot in this business.
1. Choose A Niche
Choosing a niche is the first and most important thing, especially in the beginning. Having a defined niche can help you choose your target audience and products, builds credibility and authority, and makes things easy for you.
How To Choose A Niche?
There are many ways you can start when it comes to choosing your niche. For starters, think about the things you like, and you’re willing to get involved with. You won’t manage to give it all if you decide to start a business in a field you know nothing about.
What you can do, is start with a list of the things you like and have knowledge about. You can either put it on a simple piece of paper or start a planner with everything in it. The next step is to check what is the competition and demand in that niche. At this stage, you don’t need a lot of information, and some statistics will do just fine. You’re interested to see if your business can make a profit.
2. Choose A Name
After you have defined your niche, it’s time to choose a name for your business. This can be however you want it to be, but there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind.
Choose a catchy name
The name of your business needs to be easy to remember, especially when you’re just beginning. Whether we’re talking about one word that means a lot to you or a fun combination of words, there needs to be easy for your potential clients to remember.
Make sure there’s a domain available for it
There are cases when business owners weren’t able to find the right domain for their businesses, and that’s not an ideal scenario at all. You need to check every name and see if you can find a proper domain for it. It’s important if the domain is taken, not to try to find something around it, but rather, change it completely. You wouldn’t want your customers to get on the wrong website while trying to buy a product from you.
3. Define Your Goals
In order to start an online store, you need a goal. Keep in mind that generating a profit is not considered to be a goal. That’s the store’s purpose, and it will happen eventually. When it comes to goals, you need to think about what you want to offer. Maybe you want to become an authority in your field, or many you want to sell the most beautiful flower arrangements in your area.
After you have your goal defined, you will start realizing steps you need to take in order to get there. All of them are essential in the development of your online store.
4. Buy A Domain
As mentioned in the second step, you need to buy your domain as soon as possible. You don’t need to start building it yet, but you need to have it for when you begin. Most times you can find domains starting at $10, so you can easily get it and keep it on hold.
Because you’re just starting, make sure that the domain you buy doesn’t have any penalties. This usually happens if you get it from someone else or at an auction.
5. Choose A Platform
This can be the toughest thing to do because there are many platforms out there. The best, without a doubt, is Shopify, and they even offer a 14-days trial. Of course, it’s a little more expensive than setting up a WordPress online store, but it automatically takes care of a lot of things.
Behind an online store, there are quite a lot of technical details, from indexing, hiding pages from the search engines, creating sitemaps and having a lot of products. Since Shopify is specialized in online stores, you will have most of these things assured, and if the business doesn’t seem to work, you can always close your Shopify store.
Besides, you can always change the name and domain in Shopify if you decide to go for a full rebrand, and you will keep everything you set up.
6. Set Up A Legal Business
Since we’re talking about how to open an online store step by step, this needs to be mentioned. It’s something you need to do yourself in order to have everything legal. You need to set up your business in your own country, and see the exact legislative things you need to take care, what you need to declare, and if you can sell worldwide, or just to certain continents.
A lawyer or accountant will be able to help you with this, and you can even find companies to help you set up your business in the shortest time. This is not something you need to do instantly, as there are a few more steps until you actually launch your store, but it needs to be ready by the time you make your first sale.
7. Research Keywords
This is a very time-consuming activity, but it’s essential in the process of opening an online store. You need to know how your store can be found by the search engines, and use that information to give you a boost.
Even if you will have ads in the beginning, it’s important to think in advance and set up an SEO strategy. You will gain organic traffic, and generate sales.
At the same time, think about a content strategy for a blog. Even though it takes some time to have everything set up, you need to have these things prepared. A blog can help you cover more keywords, thus increasing your visibility in the online world. Besides, it’s a good option to offer value to your readers, build rapport, and even generate some sales.
8. Choose And Customize A Theme
Most online store platforms are offering customizable themes for their customers, and that’s where you need to start. The layout of the website doesn’t matter as much as the content, meaning that your texts and images need to be optimized in order to be found by the search engines and sell your products.
In general, your home page should consist of a few words about your mission, products, aesthetic images, and maybe even a couple of reviews to build credibility. If you are not sure that what you’re doing is right, you can always hire a web designer to help you build a proper website.
9. Find Suppliers
Now, the suppliers depend on the type of business you want to start. If you want to give dropshipping a go, then you need to start searching the specialized apps. In Shopify, you can opt for Oberlo. Check out a guide and see how to import products from AliExpress to Shopify, and see if this is the right option for you.
Dropshipping is considered to be an easy way of selling online because the seller doesn’t have to keep the stocks. If you want to set up a proper online store, then you need to find your suppliers, decide how you will ship the packages, and make sure the stocks on the website are always updated.
10. Develop A Marketing Strategy
You need your stole to make sales, and generate profits, so you need to start building a marketing strategy. Based on the products you sell, you need to identify your target audience and find ways to reach it.
For starters, you need to identify your marketing goals. This can refer to selling a number of products, acquiring a number of leads, or simply interacting with a number of customers. The next step is to start creating a buying persona. This is your customer’s buying profile, and it’s filled with general information. What he is interested in, how he does the research, and what can convince him to buy your product. In general, a marketing agency will be able to generate this information for you, based on your niche.
After you’re done, all there’s left to do is start applying your strategy.
11. Add The Products
Now that everything is almost ready, you need to start adding your products into your store. If you decide to go for Shopify, you can check out a few tutorials and see how to add products in Shopify, of course, that if you’re not already using Oberlo and adding them automatically.
Keep in mind that when you add the products, your names, files, images and descriptions need to contain the keywords you are trying to rank for. This means that you need to have them written with intent. You are promoting your store to the audience, and letting the search engines know what you’re selling.
12. Set Up Payments
This is one of the most important steps. You need to make sure that the payment gateway you choose can process sales from the countries you want to sell in. You can check out what are the best payment gateways for Shopify, with their advantages, disadvantages, and countries they are available in.
13. Launch Your Online Store
Now that we are all set, it’s time to set your online store to “Live” and start selling your products. This, however, is not the last step. It’s very important to remember that an online store needs your constant attention. From taking and fulfilling orders, to maintenance, and keeping in constant contact with your customers and prospects.
14. Develop Content
This step is optional but highly recommended since you want to know how to open an online store step by step. Developing valuable content can help your business stay in tops. People may come to find out new information, and even start buying from you, since you offer them some kind of value. Whether we’re talking about informational articles, infographics, or free eBooks for them, you can be known as a source of information, and gain organic traffic and prospects this way.
It’s not just about how to open an online store (step by step), but about how you can make it work. After all, everyone can do it just by pushing a button, but you need to make it successful!