If you have a vision of working from a laptop while an ecommerce business makes money for your on autopilot, you can start an online store of your own. Below are the steps needed to do. Some can be accomplished in a day. Others will take a little time.
Deciding on a Niche
The niche is what you plan to sell and whom you plan to sell it. A niche impacts many things. They include sales figures, effort needed to put into customer support, and whether there will be repeat customers. Deciding on a niche requires a great deal of thought. Take time to think of a strategic niche. Many people want new cell phones. That does not mean cell phones is a niche to consider. The competition makes it a niche to avoid.
An e-commerce niche that represents a narrow category is best. Shoes is a broad category. Stiletto heels is a narrow category. Your brand revolves around the niche you choose. A target audience depends on the qualities of the niche and the needs they meet. The concept is micro-niche marketing. It is popular among e-commerce business people. A narrow niche enjoys a sufficiently broad audience. Conduct keyword research to check out the competition. Dogs is broad; dog supplies is narrow.
Choose high-dollar options. The goal of many e-commerce entrepreneurs is to sell a lot of low-priced items to jump the price-objection hurdle. It is better to target high-dollar products. Consider earning $5000 per month with five $1000 products versus 1000 $5 products. Consider the assets and resources you have in place. If you have the means to produce your product, you may be ahead of the game. Custom-made products are more lucrative than one-size-fits-all options.
A niche sometimes grows out of a unique selling position. If you can offer a product that solves a problem, people will be interested. An alternative to holding products on your own is dropshipping. Dropshipping is a popular concept but comes with a set of challenges.
- Having no inventory
- No capital needed to purchase items
- More items available to list on an e-commerce store
- No warehousing costs
- No packaging activity
Anyone can become involved with e-commerce using drop shipping. The not-so-good elements include having no control over fulfillment. If the drop shipper makes a mistake, customers point the finger at you. Product returns are another problem. You have two options. Either state, there are no returns in your store policy or absorb the cost. It is bad business to disallow returns.
Come Up with a Name and Register a Domain Name
A business name does not hold as much significance as the niche you choose, but it is still of importance. Choose a company name that is easy to pronounce. Have the name sound the way it is spelled. The name needs to have some significance. It should relate to your niche because it makes it easier for people to understand your business. Personal meaning is excellent for media advertising. Be as original as you can. Names too similar to well-established brands are liable for lawsuits. A domain name ending in ‘.com’ makes it easiest for customers to find you.
Three things to avoid when choosing a name are
- A name that is too long
- A name that combines words and numbers
- A name that references specific products or product lines
Choosing Products to Sell
Check out Amazon’s. eBay’s, and AliExpress’s bestseller lists. Keep a spreadsheet or document of all ideas. Things to keep in mind
- Avoid name brand products
- Items selling for $50 to $100 have a good profit margin
- Look for low shipping costs
- Choose a product that you know and care about
- Be innovative (Use reviews to see what consumers do not like about a product and make it better.)
Use an Online Store Builder to Create a Website
There are many platforms from which to choose to create an online store. A popular venue is WooCommerce. You have the option of a free trial. Signing up takes about two minutes. On the dashboard of the platform, there will be a ‘Custom theme’ button.
You can explore free themes or have the option to purchase a premium theme. There are also sources you can hire to customize your website. After choosing a theme, upload your products. There will be an ‘Add product’ button. Continue adding products until all have been added. Besides the standard product name, description, and so on, input meta descriptions for better search engine optimization. Help is available if you are unsure about meta descriptions.
Fill in Other Pages
When you are finished loading products, fill in the other pages. There will be a secondary menu of options such as ‘About Us,’ ‘Shipping and Exchanges,’ and Contact Us’ pages. Those who are not confident in their writing ability can auto-generate sample terms of service, privacy policies, and refund policies. If you have any legal concerns, seek the advice of an attorney.
Final Steps of the Website Set-Up
Before publishing, check the settings to be sure everything is accurate. Specify whether customers need to create an account or check out as guests. Checking out as guests makes the process as frictionless as possible. On the ‘Payment Providers’ page, enable the payment methods you accept. Credit cards and PayPal are excellent choices. Merchants that attract millennial consumers may be comfortable accepting Bitcoin. Set the shipping rates on the ‘Shipping’ page. They may vary by zone.
Setting Up a Company and Getting a Sales Tax ID
The above information completes setting up the website for your online store. After establishing products, suppliers, and a website, it is time to set up a business entity. The primary benefit is the business operates as a separate entity from the owner. The owner is not personally liable for what happens to the business, and his or her assets are protected from liabilities which a business may incur. Incorporating a business protects an owner’s assets.
Incorporation may not be necessary until you are earning a steady income of perhaps $1000 each month. That allows the business to pay for its corporation. It is a risk not to do so. Obtaining a sales tax permit from the Department of Revenue governing your state is also necessary. Merchandise sole to customers in your state is taxable.
In conclusion, all journeys start with the first step. If this seems overwhelming, take it one step at a time, but act now. Consider having professionals design your website if you feel inadequate.