Online stores continue to grow in popularity thanks to the convenience they provide in our everyday lives. With just a few minutes of searching and mouse clicks, you can purchase nearly anything. What’s interesting is that ecommerce is not just reserved for big companies either. Amazon is obviously a well-recognized name but there are many smaller online stores operating successfully. If you would like to start selling products online, 2019 is a great time.
Launching an ecommerce business used to be a complex process, but today quite the opposite is true. Provided that you are willing to put in effort, it is possible to launch a successful online store. In this post, we’ll show you how you can start your very own ecommerce business.
Specifically, we’ll be covering the following:
- Finding products to sell
- Competition research and analysis
- Naming your store
- Development of the store website
Finding Products to Sell
This is the starting point of any successful store. Researching what products and items to sell is a time-consuming process, and it should be. You simply cannot go on a ‘hunch’ that a product will sell well. If you have an idea in mind, simply go to Google and search for that product. Check what sort of competitors you will face in the category and then decide accordingly.
Free Tools to Research Product Ideas
Selling niche products can be a good idea provided there are a reasonable amount of people looking for them. You can do some research regarding this using free tools such as Google Trends and Keywords Everywhere.
Google Trends will show you user interest in a particular search term (in this case your product) over a period of time. Check to see if user interest peeks at a specific time and then drops off – this could be sign of a very seasonal product.
Keywords Everywhere is a free tool which will show you the volume of a searches for a particular term (in this case your product). Generally, you should go after products that have a search volume of at least 1000.
Dropshipping is another business model that you can consider. It takes out 90% of the complexity involved in running an ecommerce operation. Dropshipping services such as Oberlo allow you to import items from an extensive product library into your store.
These items will be stored at the supplier’s warehouse and they will be responsible for order fulfillment. Which means that once a customer places an order for that product on your website, it gets routed automatically to the supplier along with the customer details. The supplier is then going to package and ship the product according to customer order details. It really is that simple.
Our recommendation is the Oberlo dropshipping service, which integrates with Shopify, the best ecommerce platform out there.
Competition Research and Analysis
Now that you have chosen products to sell on your store, it’s time to look at other players in the niche. This should be done so you can plan your marketing and advertising budget accordingly. Stronger competitors mean you will need to allocate a larger marketing and ad budget.
Fortunately, the research part of this process is quite easy. Simply do a Google search for your product and the dominant competitors will usually show up at the top of the search results. You can go the competitor’s website and reverse-engineer their techniques on customer acquisition.
Some other insights to consider:
Target audience: What kind of people are your competitors selling to? You can get a good idea of customer profiles by going to a competitor’s social media profile and checking their followers’ profiles. You will largely be marketing to the same people so it’s a good idea to see what their likes and dislikes are.
Differentiation: What sort of value-added services are your competitors providing? Is it a no-questions-asked refund policy? Or perhaps free shipping? This knowledge will be a great addition to your business strategy, as you can follow your competitors or actually provide better value-add to attract customers.
Naming Your Store
This may not seem like an obvious step in the creation of an online store, but it is important. The name of your store will be used for years to come so you have to give it deep consideration. Try choosing a name that is both unique and easy-to-remember. The name should be simple enough that it will make for an easy-to-remember website URL as well.
These are small details but they make a big difference in making your brand stand out from the competition. A word of warning: do not go for brand names based on SEO metrics alone. You do not want to give your site a generic and bland name. This makes your brand appear unoriginal and even inauthentic.
Creating Your Store
The development of an online store used to be a tedious process when the only good options on the market were either Magento or WooCommerce. Fortunately, that is no longer the case. Hosted ecommerce platforms such as Shopify and Selz make it easy for anyone to create a professional online store with all the features they’ll ever need.
We’ll single out Shopify as the best ecommerce platform as it is affordable, easy to use and has excellent customer service. It is also supported by a large library of plugins so your store’s features can continue to grow as per your business’s technical requirements.
Marketing is the final and most important step in making sure you have a successful online store. As far as ecommerce goes, there are a few different ways to market your products. You can go for paid traffic through ads (Google AdWords and Facebook Ads) or you can go for organic traffic through SEO. Paid traffic can be gained overnight, while organic traffic is more of a long-term strategy.
Also consider reaching out to influencers and even micro-influencers to promote your products. Instagram is a great place to advertise, and there are lots of accounts with thousands of followers but cheap advertising rates.
We hope that this guide serves as a great starting point for your online stores. There will always be some unforeseen variables that add a little more the overall process. But most of the time, the points highlighted above will be the main ones to consider.
Our advice to anyone thinking about starting an online store is to just do it. Without testing it for yourself, you’ll never know if you really can do it. It is definitely an exciting and profitable business to consider.