Starting an online store has become imperative for many industries to survive in today’s business environment. With the shift to e-commerce, businesses are now looking for ways to expand their field of activity or completely switch to an online platform.
Online sales have been proven to be consistently relevant and in demand, even in conditions of lockdown and isolation. However, starting an online business from scratch can be a daunting task. Questions arise such as how to create an efficient corporate site design where to begin, and whether a substantial investment is required.
In this article, our responsive web design agency aims to help you find out how to start an online store. We hope that the information provided will give readers a clear idea of what needs to be done and what to pay special attention to, so that their store will become successful and prosperous.
How to Start an Online Store: 20 Steps to Follow
The process of creating an online store is pretty demanding and requires thorough work and analysis to be carried out. Let’s take a closer look at the steps companies should take to make their store beneficial to both the business and the customers.
01# How to Develop a Winning Marketing Strategy for Your Online Store
The proper marketing strategy is for new companies to make their first sales and for experienced entrepreneurs to fulfill their plans. It is required at all stages of the e-commerce project life cycle.
Any strategy consists of the following elements:
- Goals: the results the company is striving for.
- Tasks: what needs to be done.
- Metrics: initial and desired indicators.
- Terms: time for which it’s planned to achieve the result.
The strategy includes a list of actions that the company is going to take to promote its website, expand its customer base, improve business processes, test various sales channels, and more. It’s designed for a certain period to systematically strengthen the traffic and conversion rates of the store.
A competent strategy enables the company:
- Find the most effective promotion tools for a particular niche, taking into account the specifics of the business, the needs of the target audience, and the level of competition.
- Plan advertising activities to achieve the set goals, such us improving sales and increasing demand for products.
- Give up on hopeless marketing decisions, thus avoiding gross mistakes.
Therefore, a proper marketing strategy helps companies to plan their sustainable competitive advantage, that’s why its development should not be neglected.
02# Budgeting for Success: How to Choose the Right Niche for Your Online Store
How to start an online store without considering this important point? The success of an entire enterprise depends on what it sells. There are two nuances to consider when choosing a niche: if you opt for a popular one, you will probably generate profits, but you will have to compete with established brands that have already conquered the market. Alternatively, if you choose a little-known or new niche, there will be almost no competitors. However, you will need to substantially invest in advertising to promote the product and make it popular in the market.
However, there are several loopholes for the second option. The first is to focus on a narrow product category. For instance, rather than selling women’s clothing in general, you can specialize in selling specific items like dresses or skirts. The second loophole is to utilize social media, especially if your budget doesn’t include ad spending. Word of mouth, bonuses, and discounts for reviews are also excellent tools for generating buzz around your store.
So, companies should deliberate their budget and possibilities to choose the most suitable niche for their e-commerce store.
03# The Importance of a Comprehensive Business Plan for Starting an Online Store
Creating a business plan is a crucial step in our guide of ‘How To Start An Online Store’. It is essential to outline the process of creating, launching, and organizing an online store in detail. Businesses should have a clear understanding of what they will sell, where they will source their products, and how they will deliver orders.
A comprehensive business plan should contain the following sections:
- Product description: This section should provide a detailed description of the product, including its advantages and disadvantages. It should also outline where the company will source the product, how it will be stored and delivered.
- Market analysis: A thorough analysis of the market is essential. This should include information on the number of stores selling similar goods, the market share that the company hopes to capture, and any unique selling points.
- Online store description: Companies should decide whether their online store will be retail or wholesale, a single-page multi-product website, or a multi-page catalog. The website interface and sales process should also be considered.
- Marketing plan: This section should address how the website will be promoted. Will it be through SEO, contextual advertising, SMM, or something else?
- Organizational plan: Companies need to determine the amount of investment required to get started, including website development and launch, equipment and product purchases, and advertising expenses.
- Financial plan: This section should cover all expenditures and expected income. It is crucial to calculate the return on investment and the business’s prospects.
- Risk assessment: It’s essential to predict potential issues that could interfere with the company’s plans. Potential causes and ways to prevent or eliminate such problems should be considered.
In summary, a well-structured business plan helps companies to navigate the entire process and ensures that nothing is overlooked.
04# From Naming to Slogans: How to Develop a Unique Brand for Your Online Store
A brand is the image that comes to people’s minds when they hear the name of a company. The visual elements are the first things that people associate with a brand. Consider the apple or Instagram’s logo. It’s clear that a distinctive and memorable brand is crucial for success.
When creating a brand, companies should ask themselves a few questions, such as who their target audience is, what problems their product solves, and who their competitors are. It’s important to use a presentation of the product that builds strong associative links. Several brand elements can help, including:
Naming: How to start an online store without a business name? The name of the product or company should be easy to remember and form a unique story around it that creates an associative array. Thus, Tesla is correlated with Nikola Tesla.
Logo: A recognizable image or inscription is the first thing that catches the eye of the customer. The McDonald’s logo capital letter M is a wonderful illustration.
Fonts and colors: These elements influence the psychological perception of the brand and are used to produce strong connotations with the product or company. For instance, the orange color is associated with Fanta.
Slogan: This is an advertising message that conveys the essence of the company or brand. Nike’s “Just do it!” is an excellent example.
When developing a brand, companies should consider every detail, as a strong association is key to becoming unforgettable to customers.
05# The Pros and Cons of Using Dropshipping in Your Business
Dropshipping is a type of cooperation with a supplier where goods are directly shipped from their warehouse to the customer, with the online store acting as an intermediary only. This method offers several advantages, such as the absence of large purchases of goods, warehouse rental, and logistics and warranty service. However, it also has some drawbacks, including the high cost of the products and the complexity of working with multiple contractors simultaneously. For instance, if a customer orders several products from different providers, the company has to pay for several deliveries at once.
Before starting cooperation with suppliers, it is important to ensure their reliability, as their service level and product quality directly influence the company’s reputation. Therefore, businesses should carefully consider whether to sell their own products or use the services of suppliers.
06# Top Factors to Consider When Selecting a Domain Name for Your Online Store
When it comes to recommending an online store, it’s common for users to share its name rather than a specific link. So, it’s crucial to choose a concise and memorable company name and corresponding domain name. A domain is the address of an online store that customers use to find it on the Internet.
Here are some tips for choosing a domain name:
- It should be clearly pronounced and written without ambiguity to avoid confusion.
- Don’t make it too long, since shorter names are easier to remember.
- Use words related to the field in which the company operates.
- It should be associated with the company or reflect the website theme to aid recall.
- Uniqueness is also important to prevent users from being directed to the website of another company.
Considering these factors will help companies select a catchy domain name that accurately represents their brand.
07# Reliable CMS Platforms for Long-Term E-commerce Success
If you don’t have the resources to create a website from scratch, using CMS platforms is the viable option. Choosing the right CMS is crucial for a successful start. It’s better to take the time to thoroughly research all the alternatives rather than spending months fixing problems later on.
The functionality of the online store largely depends on the capabilities of the CMS. It provides users with basic tools to create, delete, and edit pages, expand the product catalog, publish content, add CTA buttons, and more.
While a small store can be created using a free and simple CMS, companies should keep in mind that if their business starts to grow, they may encounter issues with the platform functionality. These may include slow page loading, inability to set up sorting or customize contact forms, and restrictions on creating and filling pages with content, all of which can affect the quality of service.
For this reason, if you’re planning for the long-term productivity of your online store, it’s better to use reliable and proven CMS platforms from the start, such as Magento, WooCommerce, or or any headless solution.
08# Understanding Your Target Audience: A Crucial Step for E-commerce Success
How to start an online store without identifying your target audience? Defining the target audience is a crucial step, as failure to understand who the business is catering to can lead to failure. For example, attempting to sell home furnishings to reckless teenagers is unlikely to be successful, while the older generation may not be interested in modern gadgets. To properly define the target audience, the following characteristics should be considered:
It is important to keep in mind that women tend to make more purchases, both online and offline. Men, on the other hand, prefer to buy goods less frequently, usually when they have a specific need and slack time to shop.
Different generations have different priorities and behaviors when it comes to making purchases. The older generation tends to be more thoughtful and cautious, while the younger generation is more likely to make spontaneous decisions.
People with lower incomes prioritize cheaper products and look for discounts and sales. Those with average incomes prioritize quality over price, while wealthy customers may be more interested in exclusive products.
Other characteristics to consider include the presence or absence of children, education level, hobbies, and interests. To better understand the target audience, companies can analyze their competitors’ websites or conduct interviews with friends and acquaintances.
Ignoring this step can lead to a lack of clients, which is highly unfavorable for any business.
09# Product Selection for Online Stores: Factors to Consider
After defining a niche, the next step is to determine the product that the business will sell. E-commerce giants like Amazon or eBay offer a vast range of products for all occasions, but it took them time to get there. A new company should start with a certain category of goods, gain a reputation, and then gradually expand if necessary.
It’s recommended to sell products that are already popular among customers because promoting a new one requires a significant investment. Some categories that have a stable demand include clothing and shoes, books and stationery, tea and coffee, toys, sports goods, cosmetics, and more.
In addition, seasonal products are also a popular category, such as holiday decorations and gift sets during the Christmas season, or swimwear and diving gear at the beginning of summer. However, there’s a risk of little demand for these products during other seasons, leading to volatile profits.
Therefore, when choosing the product to sell, companies should consider the potential risks and advantages and disadvantages of all product categories.
10# Creating a Website for Your Online Store: The Key Pages to Include
Depending on the goals, the number of products and services offered, and size, the online store may contain a different set of pages presented on its website. Let’s explore the most popular ones.
Homepage: A homepage is he first page a customer sees when entering a website. It is the “face” of an online store and can surprise, attract, and persuade users to buy a product. The homepage should contain information about promotions and sales, as well as a menu for seamless navigation.
Catalog: To avoid confusion, it’s essential to structure the assortment of products properly. A catalog page can help with this by separating sections and product cards using design techniques such as colors and fonts..
Blog: A blog can help increase sales and attract new customers by containing reviews of the company’s products or topical articles on the latest trends. Also, using SEO techniques in blog posts can help with promotion.
About us page: An About Us page can increase visitors’ trust and loyalty by providing honest information about the company. It can also answer common questions and increase sales by offering a personal approach.
Contact page: A contact page is a necessary section that enable customers to contact the store’s consultants or support team quickly. Companies should provide various contact forms and communication methods, as well as physical addresses if they have offices or offline shops.
Other pages, such as a FAQ page or a Policy page, can also be added to help both customers and the business. The list of pages is not exhaustive, and companies can customize them according to their needs.
11# Don’t Overdo It: Balancing Design and Functionality in Your E-commerce Site
How to start an online store without a balance between design and functionality? The online store’s design should be attractive and appealing to visitors, encouraging them to stay and place orders. Thorough consideration should be given to the website design and its elements since this significantly increases the chances of users performing the targeted action, making a purchase. As design requirements are constantly growing, the following points should be taken into account:
- Style and laconism: Flashy colors and fanciful fonts are out of fashion. Therefore, the design should be consistent and stylish. There is no need to take up the entire space of the pages, as minimalism is still in demand.
- High-quality photos and videos: In the minds of the customers, the quality of all the website elements serves as an indicator of the quality of goods or services the store offers. Unique, custom illustrations should be used instead of downloaded ones to showcase creativity.
- Corporate identity: Once brand elements such as logo and corporate colors, have been designed, it’s time to apply them to the website. With their help, the company will not only display its identity and stand out from competitors.
The main idea is to make the store unique and demonstrate its key features. However, companies should remember not to overplay the design by incorporating all available elements.
12# Avoiding Plagiarism and Keyword Stuffing: Guidelines for Writing Unique Product Descriptions
Now it’s time to add products to the website catalog. The product page should be designed to attract customers and persuade them to make a purchase. That’s why, post high-quality photos and write engaging product descriptions.
When writing product descriptions, pay attention to several requirements. Firstly, it should be unique to avoid plagiarism. Secondly, it should be optimized with relevant keywords to improve its visibility on search engines. Thirdly, it should provide complete information about the product to help customers make informed decisions.
It’s also crucial to ensure that the descriptions are free from errors and typos. Poorly written descriptions can negatively impact the store’s credibility and reputation. Besides, search engines may penalize the store for low-quality content, such as duplicate content and keyword stuffing.
Therefore, it’s essential to check the content quality before publishing it on the website to avoid future complications. By following these guidelines, companies can create attractive product pages that will entice customers to make a purchase.
Here are a few AI tools that can be used to generate unique product descriptions:
- Copysmith – Copysmith is an AI tool that uses GPT-3 to generate unique, high-quality product descriptions. It can also help produce ideas for blog posts and social media content.
- Writesonic – Writesonic is an AI-powered writing assistant that can create product descriptions, headlines, and other marketing copy. It uses GPT-3 to deliver high-quality, customized text.
- Jarvis – Jarvis is an AI-powered writing tool that can provide high-quality product descriptions, blog posts, and other types of content. It uses advanced algorithms to create unique, engaging text optimized for search engines.
- ContentBot – ContentBot is an AI tool that generates product descriptions, blog posts, and other types of content. It uses natural language processing and machine learning algorithms to create text that is tailored to your brand.
- Rytr – Rytr is an AI writing assistant that offers product descriptions, social media posts, and other types of content. It uses advanced algorithms to create high-quality text that is unique, captivating, and optimized for search engines.
13# Making Payment Easy: A Guide to Choosing Payment Options for Your Online Store
When building a new store, companies need to decide on the payment options that will be available to their customers. As of today, there are two most common payment types:
COD is much less profitable for the store, since the cost of delivery increases and such an expenditure item as the return of an unredeemed item appears (when the buyer had changed their mind and didn’t pay for the goods). Moreover, the delivery may take quite a long time, and the company will have to wait to get the money from the customer. However, this type of payment is favorable for those clients who don’t have the right sum of money when making a purchase or those who have some doubts about either the product quality or the company itself. So, new businesses should include this option, at least until they establish their reputation and gain the trust of buyers.
Online payment on the website, in its turn, allows companies to receive money for the goods even before they are sent to the client, thereby avoiding the above-mentioned cases. There are many services for internet acquisition, and before selecting one of them, it’s advisable to check the terms of cooperation (payment methods, commissions, availability of ready-made modules for your CMS, etc.).
Both types have their advantages and disadvantages, and it’s up to the company to select the one that suits them best.
14# Setting Prices for Profitability: Tips for Online Store Owners
The payment of taxes is an integral part of any business, and it is important to register the company as a business entity. This means that not only do you receive all the profit from the store and work for yourself, but you are also responsible for all obligations, such as unforeseen expenses, payment of salaries, and taxes.
Before registering the store, it’s important to consider the price (or markup) for which the company will sell the goods. This is crucial since it will allow businesses to calculate the return on their store and avoid situations where the company’s profit equals zero (or even a negative) after all taxes have been paid.
To register, the company owner needs to go to the relevant authority where the specialist will provide information about the forms of taxation, payment procedures, and issue a sales tax ID.
When cooperating with suppliers from other countries, companies also need to follow their tax rules. Therefore, it’s important to thoroughly study the taxation rules of both countries (or more), as failure to do so may lead to big problems.
15# The Importance of User-Friendly Design in Ecommerce
To attract customers and make sales, an online store needs to be both visually appealing and user-friendly. To achieve this, companies should follow these recommendations:
- Equip a product catalog with filters and a search bar or easy navigation. Display similar, additional, and viewed products on product and category pages to increase sales. Add sliders with special offers to encourage customers to buy.
- Avoid overloading pages with irrelevant information. Too many call-to-action buttons and large banners with ads that cover website content can prevent visitors from staying on the website. The concept of excessiveness should be avoided.
- Indicate the price of the product on each product card. Transparency in pricing is crucial for customers as the price is one of the most critical factors when making a purchase. Visitors expect to see prices on a new website and may leave if they can’t find them easily.
- Place convenient contact forms for all possible cases. Contact forms are essential for customers who have questions or want to provide feedback on a product. They allow the company to improve customer service and make necessary changes.
- Make sure that the design of the online store is mobile-responsive. Many customers use their mobile devices to shop online, so it’s vital to make a website fully adaptive for different gadgets.
Following these recommendations will make the online store more attractive and user-friendly, leading to boosted sales and better customer satisfaction.
16# The Role of Promotion in Building a Strong Brand
Branding plays a crucial role in how a company is perceived by its customers. Effective branding can build consumer awareness and loyalty, attract buyers, justify pricing policy, and capture a market niche. However, its building process consists of several stages that require a significant investment of time and effort.
These stages include detailed research, positioning strategy development, communication with customers, promotion strategy development, and the creation of distinctive brand elements. Each one requires a unique set of skills and knowledge, and all of them must be integrated to create a successful branding strategy.
Additionally, since the market is continually changing and growing, a company must be flexible and adjust its branding strategy to remain relevant and competitive.
17# Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, or LLC: Which is the Best Fit for Online Store
Business structure refers to the legal status of a company organization. There are several types of structures, and each has its own pros and cons for the business. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Sole proprietorship is a type of entrepreneurial activity carried out by an individual. The registration process is fast and simple and doesn’t require much paperwork. Yet, there’s also a serious drawback, which is an unlimited financial liability. Fines, taxes, and all other expenses can affect the personal property of the entrepreneur. Besides, within this type, it’s prohibited to hire any employees.
Partnership stands for collective business management and is divided into two subtypes: general and limited liability. In a general partnership, all its members bear the full financial liability, while in a limited liability partnership, stakeholders risk only their investment in the company. All possible fines or collections do not affect their personal property. Moreover, the taxes are paid in accordance with the income of each partner, not the company revenue itself.
A corporation is a universal type of business suitable for almost any kind of business. The owners possess no personal liability for the processes in the company. However, it’s the most bureaucratic type, with a huge amount of official papers that need to be filled out and kept. At the same time, investors prefer to fund their money in corporations, mainly because it’s easier to track the money flow.
Limited liability company (LLC) brings together most of the strengths of the corporation and a partnership, and there’s less paperwork than in the corporation. However, when it comes to building an online store in the USA, there are different conditions for running it in various states. That’s why it’s required to study the legislation of the state where the company is registered.
As you can see, all business structures have their strengths and weaknesses, so before registering, companies should study each of them carefully and make a deliberate decision about which one is right for them.
18# The Importance of Testing Before Launching Your Online Store
Once all the steps mentioned above have been implemented, companies need to make sure that everything works correctly before launching the store. There are a few important nuances that need to be checked, including:
The website’s visual appeal is the first thing that catches the users’ attention. Therefore, companies should test how the website is displayed on different browsers and devices. They should also ensure that the design of all elements is consistent, the font is easily readable, and the text and background are compatible and do not interfere with the convenient perception of the information.
The website’s performance is crucial, and companies need to check that all forms for collecting data work faultlessly and do not cause any difficulties for users. They should also ensure that all the links and social media icons are interactive and operate accurately. When users click on the company logo, they should be directed to the homepage, and the page loading time should be minimal.
Security and backups are truly essential for launching the website. Companies should save a copy of the final website version and regularly save any updates introduced. They should also ensure that all passwords and submitted data are stored in a highly secured database. Furthermore, companies should check whether they have obtained an SSL certificate that ensures the safety of the connection.
In conclusion, these and other elements connected with the user experience and flawless work of the website should be thoroughly studied and checked before launching the online store. Any mistakes or inconsistencies may negatively affect the overall work of the company. Once everything is tested and verified, companies can push the button “Launch the store” and start earning big money.
19# From Contests to Advertising: Effective Strategies for Promoting Your Online Store
Active promotion is crucial for even the best online store to be noticed. For example, companies can use social media marketing (SMM) to promote their business. The process is pretty simple: they create pages on social networks and publish interesting content concerning their products, helpful recommendations, or the latest news. On these pages, from time to time, they can also launch various contests so that users will have an opportunity to get promotional codes, discounts, and gifts.
When it comes to attracting and retaining customers, diverse special offers, as well as loyalty programs, will also be of much help. Also, companies can reward their clients for leaving feedback and inviting new users to the store. Businesses can also run contextual advertising in search engines or create a YouTube channel for placing videos with product reviews.
Generally speaking, companies should not neglect any marketing means that can draw the attention of buyers and attract them to the website. After all, this is the whole point of sales, isn’t it?
20# From Launch to Success: How to Increase Sales and Customer Satisfaction Over Time
Congratulations, the biggest and most difficult part of the work is done — your store is launched, and thanks to your marketing campaigns, you have received your first orders. However, this is not the end. It is crucial not to stop at the achieved result and continue to increase the profitability of the store while maintaining convenience for customers. That’s why businesses are advised to constantly analyze and improve their stores’ operations.
After launching, companies should analyze the KPIs or Key Performance Indicators. These are various performance indicators, including the number of new visitors and active customers, average order amount, and the number of users who add products to the cart but do not make a purchase. These metrics help businesses understand user behavior on the website and reasons for leaving it empty-handed. Analyzing these mistakes will help make the buying process easier and increase sales.
Furthermore, right after launching, the website is unlikely to be among the top positions in search results. In a perfect scenario, companies should strive to at least reach the first page or achieve the top position in search results. This is challenging, especially for high-frequency queries, as the competition is fierce. Therefore, businesses need to work quickly, efficiently, and comprehensively to promote their stores.
On a Final Note
Creating an online store can be an exciting and fulfilling process, although new businesses may encounter some difficulties and nuances along the way. Today, it’s difficult for a company to survive without an online presence, so it’s important to carefully consider each process step.
This article aims to provide helpful information for those looking to enter the e-commerce market and start a successful online store. However, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to seek help from our team of professionals. Contact us, and we will work with you to find the best solutions.