With so many tools and resources on the web, it’s never been easier to get an online store up and running. Not only is it simple, but an e-commerce business is also remarkably quick to set up and requires minimal upfront costs. Up until recently, however, the technicalities of selling online were incredibly complex, so many people are still hesitant to take the leap.
The advantages of online retail include increased sales and profits, fewer overhead expenses and being open for business around the clock, and in these technology-driven times you simply cannot afford not to have a presence on the Internet. If you want to move your business online, the first step is to launch a successful e-commerce store – and here’s how.
Research Your Market
You probably already know what you’re going to sell – perhaps you even have your merchandise ready to ship – but have you properly researched your market and the demand for your products? The easiest way to check market demand is through a platform like Google Trends. Using this online tool, you can you can see how many people have been looking for your type of product over the past few months and collect annual trend data. Of course, if you don’t already have products in the pipeline, you can reverse this process by researching the most profitable niches to tell in – such as clothing, baby equipment and cosmetics – before using this information to build your business.
Pick a Niche Product
While it’s tempting to offer your customer a whole catalog of products, it’s best to stick to a simple niche product when you’re just starting out, such as stationary or clothing. Having too many products will make it difficult for people to identify your brand, plus inventory, product listings and order routing will become more complicated. It may sound backward, but having a well-defined niche will actually lower your marketing expenses and increase your profits. Plus, fewer businesses sell niche products as opposed to general items, so there will be less competition in your market.
Know Your Customers
Starting an online shop is much like opening a brick and mortar business: to understand the nuances of your chosen field, you need to spend time scoping out your competitors and identifying your target customer. Not only do you need to know who your target customer is (i.e., their gender, age and income level) but you also need to figure out how to sell to them online. Are they social media users, for example? Do they spend a lot of time on YouTube, or are they more likely to become email subscribers? To do this, you will need to create a customer profile.
Plan Your Marketing Strategy
There are several different ways to market your products online, including targeted ads, social media posts and affiliate links. Email marketing is arguably the most direct and effective marketing method, however, as well as one of the easiest. Through emails, you can connect with your audience and encourage them to buy from your store without “spamming” them with ads. You should only send promotional materials to people who have specifically opted in to receive emails from you; the best way to do this is by offering free goods or services to subscribers in exchange for their email addresses. If you’re just getting started, read Optinmonster’s step-by-step guide on email marketing.
Choose a Platform
There are tons of e-commerce platforms on the web, meaning anyone and everyone can set up an online store in minutes. Your three primary options, however, should be Magento, WordPress (WooCommerce) and Shopify. With every one of these platforms, you can find beautiful themes to make your site look more professional, but WooCommerce and Shopify are the most user-friendly by far.
Launch Your Online Store
Create a buzz around the launch of your online store by getting people excited about your brand on social media. Place targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram, collect a list of email subscribers and announce that the first 50-100 customers will get a one-off deal such as money off or a free product. In other words, you have to make it an offer your customers can’t refuse; then hopefully, they’ll keep coming back for more.