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One of the big advantages of starting an eCommerce business is the relative ease compared to opening a brick-and-mortar store. The lower costs and easier launch are a big part of the reason that online stores are becoming much more popular (alongside the fact that more people are shopping at them, too.) However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need some prep work in there. Here are a few steps that you need to complete before your online store is ready to go.
The plan to succeed
The very first thing that you need is a decent idea of what your store is, and what it’s going to sell. You may already have an idea in mind but consider to yourself if there is a niche that you could potentially hit based on location and products. Of course, this idea needs to be supported by a target audience that is likely to support it. Do your research with services like those found here, and start putting together a business plan. Calculate the costs of setting up your business and consider how much you’re going to have to earn to keep it profitable, and see if the existing target market can sustain it.
The website itself
Naturally, you’re going to need the website that you conduct your business through. There are various website builders that can help you quickly launch a basic site. You need pages to help users navigate, as well as pages for each of the products. The details of each of these pages matter, such as features that users can use to narrow down the products that they are browsing through, as well as high-quality product images and concise but detailed descriptions to help sell relevant products to each customer. The branding and visuals of the website are going to play a huge role in how effective it is, as well. While you can build websites relatively easily after learning how to use the various builders out there, it is usually worth investing a little extra in the visual elements to give it a unique look.
The logistics behind it
The first question about how you’re actually going to get products to those you sell to is how you’re going to get the products in the first place. You may be manufacturing your own products, but if not, then you need to find suppliers that are willing to sell them to you at a reduced cost (and often in bulk.) Some of these suppliers may be willing to keep those items in storage so that you can sell them, but otherwise, you also need to consider how you’re going to store them and deliver them. Fulfillment services can help take care of these needs for you at the start, but most stores may want to eventually expand to the point that they can take care of these processes internally.
Getting ready to take payments
Before you start selling anything, you need to make sure that you are ready and able to take payments. It might not be crucial but it’s widely recommended that you get a business bank account for your store, rather than sending money directly to your personal bank account. This can make it easier to keep organized books and file your taxes properly. Otherwise, you may want to sign up here for a merchant account, as well as looking at payment platforms such as PayPal. If you don’t set up payment methods ahead of the launch, there will be very few ways you can actually sell your products.
Start spreading the word
One of the few downsides of starting a store online, compared to in the physical world, is that you don’t have that visual front of the store to attract customers who are walking past. A business that isn’t marketed well online may as well be invisible. Setting up an advertising budget is one, but advertising is not always enough. You need to work to spread the message of your store, setting it up on social media and taking advantage of relevant trends. Most importantly, you need to work to keep your existing customers happy so that they are more likely to spread word of mouth about your store, convincing others to come and try it out, as well.
With the steps above, you should be ready to get your online store going. There are different models that might have somewhat different set-ups, such as drop shipping which doesn’t require you to purchase any of the goods that you sell at all, so it’s worth looking in more detail at what kind of store you want to run.