Trying to learn how to become an online seller is overwhelming for many people. You’re about to embark on an incredible journey that won’t be easy, but can definitely be incredibly rewarding as well.
One of the biggest challenges is understanding what’s required. Trying new things and making mistakes is necessary for success.
Preparation is key to tackling what lies ahead. Thus, you can rest assured that your decisions are leading you closer and closer to your dream life.
My eight steps can help you become an e-commerce entrepreneur. Our resources and guides include links so you can do further research on the topics we cover.
1. Find a market need that needs to be filled
The options you have when starting an online retail business are extensive. Quite a bit.
Make sure the products you plan to sell are in demand in the market before diving in. Researching good ideas for online retail businesses may seem time-consuming at first, but it is unavoidable.
When nobody shops at your store, there’s no point in having a nice one, right?
Researching the market can be done in lots of places to validate your ideas and to get inspiration for new ones.
A few ideas are listed below:
- Trends on Google
- The Google Keyword Planner (you’ll need to open a free Google Ads account) makes it easy to find keywords!
- Google Chrome plugin Keyword Surfer
- Searching for product demand on marketplace websites like Amazon and Alibaba and on social media
2. Identify Your Target Audience
No, In the absence of customers, there is no revenue. This is a very simple formula that everyone can understand. Finding potential customers, getting them to visit your store, and converting them to paying customers isn’t so easy.
Almost any method can be used to accomplish this. Nonetheless, it starts with knowing who your ideal customer is.
The most important thing to understand is your customers’ pain points and needs. Identifying these needs and pains will allow you to ensure that your online retail business is reliving and solving them.
You can locate your ideal customers quickly with Facebook’s Audience Insights tool, which offers a lot of data and targeting capabilities – even down to what they like on Facebook. Using this tool will greatly assist you if you decide to run Facebook ads.
There are other market research resources you can use, such as D&B Hoovers, Nielsen, and the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
3. Analyze the logistics and requirements of the business
You should get grounded in reality while dreaming big about your online retail business opportunities.
In order to know if you will succeed with your idea, you need to consider several factors. Be sure to research all the laws, regulations, resources, and logistics of your new business idea.
The following are a few things to consider:
- Registration for your business, licenses, and permits
- Your product line’s number of SKUs (stock keeping units)
- Calculating shipping costs based on weight
- The types of products you want to sell have shipping restrictions
- Costs of production and overhead
- Taxes on business and sales
- Considerations related to trademarks, copyrights, and patents
It wouldn’t hurt to seek out professional advice if you’re unsure of anything. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
4. Plan your business
A business plan for an online retail store is essential. It’s important to ensure you consider all the important parts and plan for them in your business plan.
Also, it can provide you with accountability and benchmarks. It’ll be easier for you to decide if you are on track toward achieving your goals or if there are changes to make.
You should consider the following aspects when creating your online retail business plan:
- Summary of the executive summary
- Company description
- Services and products
- The analysis of the market and the competition, as well as a SWOT analysis
- A marketing and sales plan is required
- Operational management of the company
- Estimates of financial needs and funding requests
Here is a great video tutorial from Shopify on how to write a business plan. You can also find a business plan template on our website.
5. Suppliers and Manufacturers
To manufacture your own products, it will be necessary to find a reliable and trustworthy manufacturer.
If you are exploring your options, take these factors into consideration:
- To save on costs, many online retail business owners choose overseas manufacturers. Nevertheless, don’t forget that shipping times will increase and quality might suffer as a result.
- Identify the manufacturer through websites such as Alibaba or directories such as ThomasNet , Kompass, and Sourcify. Shop wholesale on Handshake. The best place to start is always Google.
- When you are considering a manufacturer for your online retail business, ask them any questions you may have. .
In dropshipping, you don’t have to worry about designing, manufacturing, or storing your products. You will simply have to find a supplier willing to dropship directly to your customers. A platform like DSers makes it easy to find dropshipping suppliers.
6. Create a brand
Your brand and design are what hold your customer relationships together. The last step is often considered branding – but that is not the case. As you write your business plan, before starting your business, you should consider this.
You can use this checklist to guide your branding efforts:
- A killer logo sets your brand apart while still being clean and simple.
- Your visitors will be captivated by attractive visuals, such as product images and illustrations.
- Make use of a color palette that enhances the personality of your brand. Using colors to your advantage has hidden psychology to it, so take advantage of it.
- Copywriting that speaks to the wants, needs, and likes of your audience will help you strengthen relationships and build connections.
- Your brand extends beyond your logo. Make sure your brand strategy includes your company’s vision, mission statement, and core values.
As you learn how to start an online retail business, you will encounter many inspiring brands. Keeping track of companies that nail their branding and messaging as well as those that fail miserably is something I would suggest you do.
If you want to build your own brand, write down what you like and don’t like.
Brand-building on a budget can be achieved with Shopify’s free tools like their Logo Maker and Online Video Maker.
7. Create a retail website for your business
Let’s get started! Bringing all your ideas to life is our goal.
Create an online store using an e-commerce platform like Shopify. Shopify stores that use dropshipping can also sign up for users, which is designed to supercharge the dropshipping process.
Your online store should include the following:
- Your product descriptions should be unique and engaging
- Your product photos should be beautiful for each item you sell
- When you use ads and other marketing materials, you need killer landing pages as well as the homepage of your website
- Set up shipping considerations, such as rates and zones
- Create the checkout page and payment gateways
If you aren’t a professional web developer or designer (and don’t have the extra budget to hire one right now), e-commerce platforms like Shopify are a great choice, as there are tons of themes, templates, tools, and resources you can use.
8. Plan your marketing strategy
Having a store is only the beginning of the process. To attract customers, you must get them to visit.
Marketing plans can cost from almost nothing to thousands of dollars. There are plenty of free and low-cost ways to get your brand visibility if you’re bootstrapping your business.
Email marketing is an excellent way to cultivate long-term relationships with subscribers. Ensure that you don’t spam them with sale announcements. Give them a reason to remember your brand by adding value to their day.
Partnering with micro-influencers rather than mega-influencers, who are likely to charge you a lot, is a better way to do influencer marketing for less money. Oftentimes, micro-influencers will shout out your brand if you send them free products to test out and photograph. Instagram is a great platform for influencer marketing.
Using social media to grow your following of engaged people (if they aren’t already customers) is the key to social media marketing success. Keep your brand image in mind when posting content. Rather than constantly talking about your awesome products, add value to their lives.
The Facebook Ads platform is a great place to start if you have a budget to spend. Don’t expect it to happen overnight. Your progress might be difficult if you do not have more than $500-$1,000 to spend.
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