The complete guide to launching your very first online store – tools and strategies inside
“If your business is not on the internet, your business will be out of business” – Bill Gates
Starting an online business isn’t a trend but a necessity. It is comparatively easier to set up than a brick-and-motor store, less resource intensive and allows you to experiment and iterate quickly as per your customer’s demands. There is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow… and here’s your guide to get started.
Find a problem to solve: From selling cars to buying accessories to finding dates, the digital world is uniquely finding ways to solve problems by making lives convenient, and saving time and money. The key to create a successful business online is to not only find the right problem to solve but also have the expertise and skills to solve it. What is your core expertise? What problems do people face in that industry? Why are YOU the best entrepreneur to do this job? Once you have the answers, you’ll know what your online business will be.
Build your website: Your website is your store front. It’s key to determining how you’ll sell and how much time, effort and maintenance you are willing to put up. You may have a store with hundreds of products which will need back end management that you’ll have to think through like updating stocks, offering discounts and being search engine friendly. In this case, you’ll have to make your choice between options like Shopify, WooCommerce, Open Cart, Get Shop and other such services based on their terms and feature list.
Write copy that sells: This is one of the most important parts of your online business. Once people come to your website, they’ll give you a minute or less to make your pitch. Your content will have to be cutting edge, to the point and push people towards the sales funnel. Explainer videos and infographics are strongly recommended to deliver your punches in the shortest possible time.
Choose a payment gateway: A payment gateway is a very important feature for your store. Its functionality will ensure that you can get paid not only in your native currency but from anywhere in the world where people can pay in their own currency and you can receive the money in yours hassle free. The right payment gateway can ensure you can reach any corner of the earth with your products.
Choose a fulfillment partner: A fulfillment partner is as important as your payment gateway. If your products have the chance of getting damaged in transport, you’ll have to find someone who can deliver with care. Some countries have restrictions on the products you can ship and you may need to work with different fulfillment partners who know the local regulations and ensure you aren’t selling anything that can’t be delivered in that country.
Start with PPC and then jump in to SEO: Pay per click advertising on Facebook and Google will allow you to do a quick market validation. Start this as soon as your basic website is ready. You’ll know if customers are understanding your website and products and if they are willing to trust you and make the purchase.
Get social: Social is a great place to build your community. Get together people who have similar likes and you’ll eventually find customers there.
Use email marketing: Build your email list from day one and offer incentives for people to sign up. Email marketing will allow you to sell, up-sell and cross sell, automate your communication and be in your customer’s inbox.
Go on, try it for a few months until you have proof of market. Your online store, if done well, can fetch amazing returns.