10% of all retail sales happen over the world wide web. That might not seem like a big number but it’s a number that’s going up every year at a rate in which experts predict that e-commerce will eventually overtake brick-and-mortar retailers.
Pursuant to that fact, many people have been desperate to try and break into the e-commerce space in order to get their piece of the pie. Fortunately, given the increasing intuitiveness of the internet, launching an e-commerce prescience is easier than ever.
Below, our team walks you through simple steps covering how to start an online store. If you follow them closely, you’ll be selling in no time!
1. Register Your Business
All businesses start with a name. What’s yours?
Coming up with a business name can be a daunting task. Frankly, though, it doesn’t have to be.
You don’t need to be some branding genius like the person that helped launch Nike to be successful online. Keep your name simple and true to what your business’ ambitions are.
If you can’t think of a name, here’s a nifty name generator that you can use.
Once your name is hatched, head over to the IRS website and register for an employer identification number.
2. Select a Domain
You’re an e-commerce business so you’re going to need a website. The first step to getting a website is to register a domain name.
There are hundreds of domain name registrars online that can help you do that. Namecheap is our favorite registrar but you’re free to explore other options as well.
Keep your domain name short and always opt for a .com address since any other extension can cause confusion for consumers.
3. Pick a Platform
Unless you’re a skilled developer, your how to start an online store ambitions are going to rely heavily on your ability to work with an intuitive website building platform.
WordPress, Joomla!, Shopify and Squarespace are all popular options. We personally like opensource content management systems like WordPress and Joomla! because they end up being more flexible for business owners in the long run.
Platforms like Shopify tend to be a little easier to use out of the box though, so if you’re not very tech-savvy, that may be the way to go.
4. Subscribe to a Web Host
If you choose to opt for an open source website platform like WordPress, you’ll need to bring on a web host to house your website on the internet.
Be wary of web hosts that are offering too good to be true deals. Most web hosts will sign you up to a 1 to 3-year contract at a great price and then, once your contract lapses, gut you by raising your rates by as much as 100%.
If you can, look for web hosts that offer price locks, great customer service, and high speeds.
5. Decide on a Niche
With your website all figured out, it’s time to figure out what you’re going to sell. This can be the hardest (and is often the most important) part of the how to start an online store process.
Our recommendation is to aim for a product niche that is in demand, commands a high per-unit price, doesn’t have too many variations (sizes for example) and is light enough that shipping expenses won’t become an issue.
Can’t decide on a niche? Take a walk around your community and keep an eye out for the things that you’re seeing people doing.
Maybe everybody is wearing a Bluetooth headset or is sporting a particular clothing accessory.
Those small bits of insight can get the wheels turning in your head in regard to what could be worth your time to sell.
6. Find a Supplier
After you’ve developed an idea of what you’d like to sell, it’s time to find a manufacturer that can create that product for you in-bulk so that you can resell the product online at a higher price.
Popular manufacturing websites that you can check out include Alibaba, DHgate, Global Sources, and others.
Once you’ve located a prospective manufacturer, ask for a sample to be shipped to you as possible. Then, negotiate your per-unit price in order to inflate your profit potential.
7. Select Sales Channels
As an e-commerce seller, you shouldn’t limit your sales channels to just your website. This is especially important during the early days of building your brand.
To ensure that you’re able to sell consistently and enjoy as much exposure as possible, spread your sales channels to eBay, Amazon, and others.
Sure, 3rd party sales channels will skim some of your profits. You can counterbalance that skimming by charging a slightly higher rate though.
8. Sustain and Scale
At this point, you have a business, a website, a product and channels to sell through. You’re already 90% of the way to being successful.
All you have to focus on now is sustaining yourself and continuing to scale.
Doing small things like marketing, onboarding a good task management platform and hiring employees can all work to expand your e-commerce store’s footprint. Just scale sustainably so that your rapid growth doesn’t harm your quality of service.
Wrapping Up How to Start an Online Store
We hope that our how to start an online store advice has made the prospect of jumping into the e-commerce arena more feasible for you. If you should need more direction on business or technology going forward, our content on Florida Independent should be able to help.
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