How To Start an eCommerce Store

Online shopping is predicted to grow to $370 billion in 2017. That makes now the perfect time to take your entrepreneurial dream online, without making a huge investment or sacrifice. Nowadays you’re able to start an online store while keeping your day job. Of course the goal is to become successful enough to be able to quit your job, and focus primarily on your store. Before getting started, do your research and prepare a pre-launch checklist. Here are eight questions you’ll need to ask yourself before launching your online store.

What will I sell?

Every online store begins with a product. You need something that will satisfy your shopper’s needs and wants. If you’re selling something homemade, do your research as to if it will sell. Ask people within your potential target market if there’s an interest in purchasing your product. If you’ve found a product at a wholesale price, that you’re able to sell for a profit, take a look at your potential competition. If you can’t keep up with their pricing, then it might be best to look at other options.

How much do I want?

Once you’ve found your product, the next step is to set your pricing. This is often a hard task for new businesses. Selling for too little could mean losing profit, while selling for too much could mean less sales and a loss of money for other expenses. When pricing, you should always include your other costs (cost of goods sold, taxes, credit card fees, web hosting, marketing costs, etc.). Your products should be able to account for these costs, plus more for added profit. Take a look at what your competitors are charging and try to match them. If you need to charge a higher amount in order to make a profit, add a unique value or feature that your competitors don’t have in order to entice potential buyers to complete their purchase.

How will my customers receive their orders?

Shipping costs can make or break your customer’s decision to make an order. We live in a culture of convenience where free shipping is a motivational tool to sell your product. In fact, shoppers tend to spend more when shipping is free ($25.97 more on average). Research how much shipping your product will cost you, and decide whether to charge a shipping cost, or to up the cost of your product and offer free shipping. Running A/B tests can help you determine which option is more profitable.

How will I sell my products?

Your eCommerce site will need to be hosted somewhere. There are many platforms that will do a great job of hosting and setting up your online store, such as Tictail and Shopify (our personal favourites). These platforms make it easy to list, price, and accept payments on your website. In some cases, these platforms will take care of hosting for you, leaving you with only needing a good domain name.

What will I call myself?

The name of your brand is what defines you and your products to the public. Spend some time brainstorming words and phrases related to your products, and then string a few together to come up with a name for your brand. Always stay away from another brand’s trademark or name. Not only will this keep you protected from any legal actions, but it will also help your customers ensure they’re shopping at the right store.

How will I take payments?

When doing business online, you must find a way of receiving payment. Credit Card payments are by far the most convenient way of paying for items online. Creating a merchant account with PayPal or Stripe makes it easy to get your money, and accept credit cards from your website. Of course there are fees associated with accepting credit cards (usually close to 3%), but the convenience is well worth the cost.

How can I ensure my customer’s security?

Security should be a priority when accepting credit cards online. Ensuring that your customer’s data will remain secure from hackers will increase trust, and make potential buyers more likely to complete their purchase. An SSL Certificate can encrypt information being sent from your customers to you. This means that hackers stay out of your customer’s credit card information.

How will I start selling?

Once you’ve come up with answers to the above questions, you’re ready to launch and start selling. If after launching your store, you’re not making much, you might want to invest in an advertising campaign. In some cases, word-of-mouth can help your online store soar without spending a dime. Once your store starts making some money, take some time to congratulate yourself, and then get back to work. You should be constantly making improvements and finding new ways to make even more.

Author: Giancarlo Rosa

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