Do you want to build your own online store? A great method to grow your business and attract new clients is by opening an online store. With the correct equipment, you can quickly and effectively set up an e-commerce website, enabling you to start selling goods or services from the convenience of your home.
Whether you’re just starting with ecommerce or looking for ways to improve your existing online store, this guide will help walk you through the process.
We’ll go over everything, from selecting a platform and setting up payment processing services to efficiently marketing your website and optimizing it for search engines. By following these procedures, you’ll have a profitable online store prepared to service clients from all over the world.
Online Store: What is It?
A digital storefront that enables clients to buy goods and services from the comfort of their homes is called an online store, commonly referred to as an ecommerce website.
The entire transaction happens online, and most of the time, credit cards or other payment processing services are used.
You can potentially reach more people than ever before and make it simple for them to buy anything they need with the help of an ecommerce website.
The Benefits of an Online Store
Creating your own online store has many benefits for business owners. You can reach a much larger audience since your website can be accessed worldwide.
This opens up new opportunities to sell products and services to customers located in different countries who may not have access to your physical store.
Compared to conventional selling methods, setting up your own online store is relatively simple and affordable. You only need a reliable hosting company and an optimized website; neither a sizable store location nor a large staff are required.
Finally, owning an online business allows you total control over your merchandise, prices, advertising, and customer support.
How Much Does It Cost to Set Up an Online Store?
Depending on the platform you select for your ecommerce store, the features and capabilities you require, and any other services or apps you may utilize, the cost to put up an e-commerce website varies.
A basic website with common features can cost anywhere from $1,000 and $5,000 on average. Yet, many platforms provide inexpensive options that significantly lower the cost of maintaining an online store.
For instance, one of the most well-known ecommerce store platforms is Shopify. It’s a great choice for small businesses wanting to launch quickly because of its inexpensive monthly rates, which start at just $29 per month, and all-inclusive feature set, which includes payment processing and marketing tools.
Can You Build an Online Store For Free?
Yes, you can build an online store for free using an online store builder. A few platforms offer basic ecommerce capabilities without any fees or costs.
However, a free online store builder comes with limited features and may not be suitable for businesses selling multiple products or services. You’ll also need to consider additional costs, such as hosting and payment processing fees, when building an online store.
There are also several paid ecommerce solutions that provide an online store builder with features and tools to help you create a professional website. These typically require monthly subscription fees but they come with many more options than the free platforms.
Online Business Ideas
Here are some online business ideas you can try out to start a profitable online store:
Start Your Own Clothing Line
If you’re creative and have a great design sense, then starting your own line of clothing could be the perfect online business for you. You can create unique designs and sell online or marketplace such as Etsy or Amazon.
Create an Online Course
With the rise of distance learning, creating an online course is a great way to share your knowledge with others and make some extra money in the process. You can use platforms like Teachable to host your courses and reach people all over the world.
Sell Online Digital Products
Digital products are always popular on the internet and there’s no shortage of options when it comes to creating digital content such as graphics, music, videos, and more. You can use an ecommerce website to sell these digital products and easily reach customers all over the world.
Build Apps and Websites
If you’re a web or app developer, you can build websites and apps for clients to make some extra money. You can use freelancing platforms such as Upwork to find work or create your own website to advertise your services.
Create Handmade Goods
If you like crafting and making unique items, you can set up an ecommerce website to sell your handmade goods. Platforms such as Etsy are great for selling handmade products, but you can also create a standalone shop using an ecommerce platform like Shopify or WooCommerce.
Create and Sell NFTs
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are digital assets that have skyrocketed in popularity over the past year. If you’re an artist, musician, or creator of any kind, you can create and sell your own NFTs to make money online.
Write and Sell eBooks
If you love writing and have a great story to tell, you can write and publish an ebook to sell on your website or other marketplaces such as Amazon. You can also use Kindle Direct Publishing to self-publish your book and make it available on the Kindle Store.
Start a Dropshipping Business
Dropshipping is a great business model for anyone looking to break into ecommerce without needing to store and manage inventory.
You can find products from suppliers, list them on your website, and then have the supplier ship the items directly to the customer.
Start a Podcast
Podcasts are becoming more popular as a way to reach new audiences and share stories. You could create your own podcast and monetize it with sponsorships or through other methods. You can also use your podcast to promote and market products or services from your online store.
Sell on Marketplaces
If you don’t want to invest in your own website, you can sell products and services on online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay. These platforms make it easy to reach customers without having to create your own ecommerce site.
Curate Subscription Boxes
Subscription services are becoming more popular as people look for ways to get items they need without having to shop around. As a subscription box curator, you can create boxes filled with products and send them out to customers on a monthly basis.
Start an Accounting or Bookkeeping Firm
If you have experience in accounting or bookkeeping, you can offer your services online and help people manage their finances. You’ll need to be familiar with the financial industry regulations and make sure you’re registered properly depending on where you live.
Start a Virtual Assistant Business
From scheduling appointments to managing social media accounts, there are many tasks that can be done remotely as a virtual assistant. Starting an online business as a virtual assistant requires little upfront investment and lets you work with clients around the world.
Start an Online Coaching Business
If you’re an expert in a particular field and like to help others, then why not start your own online coaching business? You can offer one-on-one or group coaching sessions online, helping people reach their goals while making money in the process.
Do Voiceover Work
Voiceover work is a great online business idea if you have a good voice and the right equipment. You can use your voice to record scripts for commercials, animated films, audiobooks, and more. Platforms like Fiverr make it easy to find clients who need voiceover services.
Start an SEO Consultancy Business
If you’re familiar with SEO (Search Engine Optimization), you can start an SEO consultancy business and help businesses rank higher in search results. You’ll need to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in SEO so that you can provide valuable advice to your clients.
These are just a few of the many online business ideas you can explore. By creating an ecommerce website, you open up a world of possibilities for selling products and services from the comfort of your home. Start exploring these options today and take the first step towards building a successful online store.
How to Start Your Own Online Store
Now if you’re ready to start an online store, here are some steps you can do to start selling online.
Choose a Niche Market
Before you start setting up your online store website, it is essential to choose a niche. Pick something that interests you and has potential for growth.
What to consider when choosing a niche:
- Profitability: To get a return on your investment when selling online and create a successful online store, you need a profitable niche. A product has a limited chance of becoming profitable if it costs too much to produce or buy in bulk. Similar to this, a product might be too costly to ship and may be more suitable for in-person sales.
- Searchability: You need to make sure customers can find your products. Research search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure your website is optimized for keywords related to the products you are selling. You can use keyword research tools.
- Passion: While profitability is important, don’t forget to be passionate about what you sell. You will need to stay focused and motivated if you want to keep your online store running successfully.
Find Industry Gaps
Once you have chosen a niche, look for gaps in the industry. Is there an opportunity to sell something that is not being offered by other businesses? Can you provide unique products or services that other stores do not offer? This will give you an edge over your competitors and ensure your store stands out.
Select the Right Business Model
Your business model will affect how you run your online store. Do you want to source products from a third-party supplier or manufacture them yourself? Are you going to sell digital products or physical goods? Consider these questions carefully so you can create an effective plan for success.
Some of the business models for your online store are:
- B2B: This model involves selling products or services to other businesses.
- B2C: This is the most common approach and involves selling directly to consumers.
- Dropshipping: This is a business model where you act as the intermediary between manufacturers and customers. You take orders from customers, place them with a dropshipper (third party supplier) and they ship the product directly to your customer’s address.
- Subscription Model: This type of business model allows you to charge customers on a recurring basis for goods or services that are delivered regularly.
Choose the Right Ecommerce Platform
Once you have a business model in place, the next step is to choose the right ecommerce platform. This will be your online store’s foundation and must be reliable, secure and easy to use.
Popular ecommerce platforms include WordPress/WooCommerce, Magento, Shopify and BigCommerce.
WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that allows you to create and manage a website. It can be used for blogging or creating an online store with the help of WooCommerce, an ecommerce plugin for WordPress.
Magento is a powerful open-source ecommerce website builder designed to power complex online stores. It offers flexible customization options and supports third-party integrations, making it ideal for larger businesses.
Shopify is an all-in-one ecommerce solution that makes it easy to set up an attractive online store in minutes. It is one of the best ecommerce platforms today. It includes built-in features such as product pages, online shopping carts, payment gateways and reporting tools.
BigCommerce is a hosted online store builder that allows you to create an online store without any technical know-how. It offers many features such as product options, coupons and discounts, shipping integrations and more.
Wix is a website builder that makes it easy to create an online store. It includes drag-and-drop tools and customizable templates, making setup fast and straightforward.
GoDaddy is one of the ecommerce platforms that allows you to build and manage a fully-functional online store. It includes features such as product management, payment processing and order tracking.
Amazon, eBay, Etsy
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Ecommerce Platform:
- The number of products you plan to sell: Select a platform that can accommodate your product offerings.
- The features that you need: Look for features such as built-in payment gateways, SEO optimization and reporting tools.
- Ease of use: Make sure the platform is easy to use so you can quickly launch your online store.
- Costs: Consider the upfront and ongoing costs associated with the ecommerce platform.
- Security: Choose a platform that follows industry standards and offers high-level security measures.
- Customer support: Ensure you have access to customer support in case something goes wrong.
Choose the Right Products
Once you have chosen your ecommerce platform, it’s time to select the right products. Consider factors such as:
- Cost of Production: Calculate the cost of producing or sourcing the product to determine its potential profitability.
- Demand: Make sure there is enough demand for your products so they will sell quickly.
- Competition: Research competitors to ensure you are offering unique products at competitive prices.
- Shipping Costs: Consider the shipping costs associated with each product and factor this into your pricing structure.
Popular Online Store Products to Sell:
- Clothing and accessories
- Books and publications
- Electronics and gadgets
- Home decor and furnishings
- Food and beverages
- Furniture and home appliances
- Toys and games
- Jewelry and watches
- Beauty products
Register Your Ecommerce Business
Once you have chosen your products, it’s time to set up your ecommerce business legally. This includes registering for an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS and securing any necessary licenses or permits. You may also need to register with a state government if you are selling taxable goods or services.
Optimize Your Website For SEO
Having an attractive website is important but it won’t get your online store noticed unless you optimize it for search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of increasing your website’s visibility in search results. This can be done by optimizing your site for relevant keywords, creating content and link building.
Set Up Your Website
Once you have chosen your products, it’s time to set up your online store. Depending on the platform you select, this may involve installing or uploading software and plugins, designing webpages and testing features.
About 50% of consumers depart after viewing just one page, while the average duration spent on a page across all industries in 2021 was 54 seconds.
In light of this, it is crucial to create a store that is simple for online shoppers to explore. Any extra time spent navigating a confusing website can mean the difference between a consumer leaving and a customer choosing a purchase if you only have, on average, less than a minute.
You must also create product pages with descriptions, pricing information and images. If you are selling digital products, create downloadable files such as PDFs or ebooks. Finally, integrate a payment gateway so customers can securely place orders and make payments.
- Business name: Choose a business name that reflects your products or brand.
- Domain name: Select a custom domain name that is easy to remember and ties in with your business.
- Logo: Design a logo that is unique to your business and can be used on all marketing materials.
- Design: Design an attractive website with a clear navigation structure.
- Content: Create content to help customers understand your products and services more.
- SEO: Optimize the website for search engines so it can be easily found online.
- Payment options: Integrate payment processing methods such as PayPal or Stripe.
- Shipping options: Set up shipping methods and give customers accurate delivery estimates.
- Marketing plan: Create a marketing plan that includes email campaigns, social media marketing and online advertising.
- Analytics: Set up tools like Google Analytics or Hotjar to monitor website performance.
What If You Already Have a Website?
If you already have a website, you can turn it into an online store by using an ecommerce plugin. Popular plugins include WooCommerce for WordPress and Magento’s shopping cart extension.
The main advantage of using a plugin is that it allows you to add products without having to redesign your entire website. This makes it easier and faster to start selling products or services from your existing website.
Add Your Products
Once your website is ready, you can start adding products. Add product descriptions, images and videos to give customers an idea of what they are buying. Set up shipping methods and calculate delivery estimates if you sell physical goods.
If you are selling digital products, create download links or files that customers can access after receiving payment. Ensure all the features on your website work properly before launching it to ensure a smooth customer experience.
How to Write an Effective Product Title and Description
The title and description of each product should be concise and accurate, so customers know exactly what they are buying. Use search engine optimization (SEO) to optimize your titles and descriptions for keywords related to the product. This will help improve your website’s visibility in online searches.
Know Who You’re Speaking To
Keep in mind the target audience you are speaking to when writing product titles and descriptions. Use language that resonates with your customers, such as describing how the product could improve their lives or make them feel better.
Highlight the Benefits of the Product
Make sure to highlight the benefits of your product over its features. Focus on why customers should buy your product and not just what it does or how it looks. Describe what makes it stand out from competitors and why people should choose it over others.
You can also include customer reviews to give prospective buyers insight into what other customers think about the product. This helps increase trust in your brand and improves conversion rates.
Anticipate Common Questions
Think about the questions customers may have when considering buying a product and address them in the description. Be as detailed as possible; provide information on features, sizes, colors, materials used and any other pertinent details that could influence a customer’s purchase decision.
Include keywords related to the product in your title and description so it can be found through online searches. Focus on keywords that have high search volume but low competition, so you can maximize your visibility in searches.
Create Unique Content
Don’t copy other people’s content when writing product titles and descriptions; create unique content for each of your products instead. This will help differentiate your website from competitors and give customers a better idea of what they’re buying.
Make It Readable
Make sure your titles and descriptions are easy to read; use short sentences, paragraphs and simple language. This will help customers quickly understand the product and make it easier for search engine crawlers to index it.
Upload High-Quality Photos
Upload high-quality images of your products so customers can better understand what they are buying. Include multiple angles and close-ups to give customers a detailed product view.
How to Take the Best Product Images
The best product images are crisp and clear, so customers can see every detail of the item. Use natural lighting instead of flash to prevent overexposure and use a white or neutral background to make details stand out. If taking your own photos, ensure they are sharp, well-lit and focused. You may also want to hire a professional photographer for better results.
Build Product Categories
Create product categories to help customers find what they’re looking for quickly. Think about the different types of products you offer and group them into logical categories. This will make it easier for customers to navigate your store and find what they need.
Set Your Pricing Structure
Before launching your online store, make sure to set up a pricing structure for your products.
Consider factors such as production costs and shipping fees when setting prices to ensure you are making a profit. Research the market to see what competitors are charging for similar products so you can determine appropriate pricing.
Contrary to popular belief, price reductions do not always translate into increased sales. Consumers frequently judge quality quickly by looking at the pricing. Don’t hesitate to charge a premium price if you offer a high-end item, especially if you can support it with strong branding.
After you begin promoting, you can always go back and change your prices in light of what you discover. You might find that consumers are truly willing to pay more for your goods, or you might come up with inventive ways to reduce expenses and raise the average value of each order.
Establish Payment Options
Select a trusted payment processor such as PayPal or Stripe and integrate it into your website. This will allow customers to securely make payments for products or services with their credit cards, debit cards or other payment methods.
You can also add additional payment options if needed, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay. Make sure you offer a range of payment options so customers can choose the best option.
Determine Shipping Strategies and Policies
Set up a shipping strategy for your online store and create fair shipping policies. Consider factors such as product size, weight and location when calculating delivery estimates.
Be sure to include information about the estimated time of delivery on your website so customers know when they can expect their items to arrive. You can also offer free or discounted shipping for orders that meet certain criteria.
The Different Shipping Options Available:
- Standard shipping: Items are shipped to customers using the most economical method available.
- Express shipping: Customers receive items quickly, often within 1-3 days of placing the order.
- International shipping: Items are shipped to customers outside of the country; charges vary by destination.
- Drop Shipping: Here, sellers do not have to hold any inventory or manage delivery; instead, they send customer orders directly to a third-party supplier who takes care of all the packing and shipping needs.
- White Glove Delivery: This is used for larger items such as furniture, where an insured service provider will deliver and set up your item in your home or business.
Flat Rate or a Variable Fee?
Whether you offer flat rate or variable fee shipping will depend on the types of products you sell and your target audience.
Flat rate shipping works best for stores that only ship within a certain geographic region and have similar-sized items. Variable fees, on the other hand, work better for stores with customers from all over the world and products of various sizes.
Work Out a Free Shipping Threshold
Establish a ‘free shipping threshold’ – the minimum amount that customers need to spend before they can get free delivery. When you offer free shipping, this encourages shoppers to buy more products, as they know that if their total order is above a certain amount, then it will be delivered for free.
Sort Out Your Shipping Settings
Set up shipping settings on your platform to ensure customers get accurate delivery estimates. This includes setting up a weight scale and postal codes, so the system can calculate how much it will cost to deliver each item.
Make sure you also set up international shipping if you plan on selling products overseas. You may need additional paperwork – such as customs forms – or extra fees for international orders, so make sure you are aware of all the requirements before accepting overseas orders.
Choose Your Returns Policy
Decide on a returns policy for your online store and make sure the information is clearly visible on the website. In most cases, you should offer refunds within 7-30 days of purchase depending on the product or service. You can also offer an exchange option in case international or local customers don’t like what they receive.
Test Your Online Store
Once you have set up your website, testing all features before launching is important. Test products and payment processing methods to make sure everything works correctly. Also, try out different web browsers and devices to ensure the website is optimized for all visitors.
One of the most important tests is security testing. Make sure hackers and cybercriminals cannot access customer information or sensitive data stored on your server.
Get Your Online Store for Launch
Once you have tested your website and it’s ready to go, you can finally launch your online store. Advertise your products on social media, send out emails to past customers and start blogging about topics related to your industry. This will help spread the word about your business and attract more visitors.
You can also use paid advertising methods such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads to promote your business. Remember to measure the success of each campaign so you can adjust your marketing strategy according to what works best for you.
Promote Your Online Store
Start promoting your online store. Use content marketing, email campaigns and social media to reach out to potential customers. Consider running targeted ads on search engines or websites that cater to your target audience.
Consider partnering with influencers who match the interests of your target audience. This can help generate more leads and build a loyal customer base.
Using Google Ads
You can target specific keywords to reach customers searching for your products. Monitor your campaigns regularly to ensure they reach the right audience and generate leads.
Using Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads can be effective in targeting local customers within your target market. Consider using retargeting ads to reach out to customers who have previously visited your website but didn’t make a purchase.
Using Affiliate Programs
Affiliate programs allow you to partner with other websites and incentivize them for referring new customers to your online store. Offer incentives such as discounts or prizes for affiliates who drive more sales.
Using Email Marketing
Email marketing can be a great way to stay in touch with customers and entice them to purchase. Send emails containing information on new products, discounts and special offers to keep customers returning for more.
Using Influencer Marketing
Partner with influencers within your industry to promote your products. Ask them to post about your products on their social media channels to reach out to more potential customers.
Analytics & Reporting
Use analytics tools such as Google Analytics or Hotjar to monitor website performance. Track metrics such as page views, time spent on the site and conversion rates to get an idea of your campaigns’ effectiveness. Use reporting tools to identify areas that need improvement and optimize strategies accordingly.
Set Up Your Customer Service
Set up a customer service system on your website to ensure customers have someone they can turn to if they experience any issues. Offer different ways of communication such as email, phone or live chat so customers can get assistance quickly. Monitor feedback from customers and use it to improve your service.
Other Tips to Remember When Creating an Online Store
Back Up Your Idea With Market Research
Do your research to ensure there’s a demand for what you want to sell. Look at competitor websites and see how they are marketing their products. Identify gaps in the market, as this could be an opportunity for you to fill.
Keep Your Website Design Clean & Simple
Make sure your website design is clear and easy-to-navigate; if customers have difficulty finding what they need, they will most likely leave without making a purchase. Make sure site elements are clearly organized and kept out of the way so visitors can view all available products easily.
Focus on Usability & Quality
Check usability frequently and make changes where necessary. Ensure loading times are fast so customers do not have to wait around for pages to load.
Also, focus on the quality of products or services you offer; low-quality items will not help your business in the long run.
Update Your Website Regularly
Make sure to update your website regularly with fresh content and updated images; this helps keep customers engaged and coming back for more. Consider adding a blog section so visitors can read about exciting topics related to your industry.
Tap Into Mobile Online Shopping
Make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices. With the growing number of customers buying products from their phones and tablets, it’s important to ensure your website looks great on all screens. Make sure buttons are large enough to be tapped easily and that pages load quickly.
Launch Your Online Store on Time
Plan ahead when launching your online store; set a launch date in advance and make sure you have everything ready before the big day. This will help build hype around the launch and give you time to promote it efficiently.
Build a Community Around Your Brand
Create a community around your brand and encourage customers to interact with each other. This can help build loyalty and trust, resulting in more sales. Leverage social media platforms such as Instagram or Twitter to engage with customers, respond to questions quickly and promote offers or discounts.
Be realistic when it comes to setting expectations. It takes time to build a successful online store and you may not see results right away. Be patient, stay focused and keep an eye on the trends in your industry; this will help you refine your business strategy and boost more sales over time.
Know Your Business Tax Obligations
Know your business tax obligations and make sure you are paying taxes on time. Use accounting software to track expenses, sales and other financial data. Make sure you understand the different regulations related to taxes in your area.
Have the Best Security Solutions
Ensure you have the right security measures to protect customer data. Invest in a secure eCommerce platform and trusted SSL certificates to ensure customer information is safe. Ensure all transactions are encrypted and that passwords are changed regularly. Always stay up-to-date with the latest security solutions available.
Final Thoughts on How to Create an Online Store
Creating an online store may seem intimidating initially, but following the steps outlined above can be done relatively quickly. Just remember to research your target market, create compelling content and promote your products across different channels. With a little planning and effort, you can establish a successful online business.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to create an online store for free?
There are many platforms available that allow you to create an online store for free. These include Shopify, Wix ecommerce and Weebly, among other popular online store builders. However, keep in mind that there may be limits on the features and customization options you can access with a free plan.
How do I get customers to buy from my online store?
You can use various methods such as content marketing, email campaigns and social media to target potential customers with your products. Consider running targeted ads on search engines or websites that cater to your target audience. You can also partner with influencers who match the interests of your target market to increase sales.
How much does it cost to create an online store?
The cost of creating an online store will depend on the platform, features and customization options you choose. Generally, it can range from as little as $20 to thousands depending on your needs.
What is the best online store builder?
The best online store builder will depend on your specific needs and budget. Popular platforms include Shopify, Squarespace, Wix and Weebly. Consider researching different platforms to find the one that suits you best and to provide the best online shopping.
Do I need a business license to start an online store?
Depending on where you live, you may need a business license or permit to sell products online. Check with your local government for more information about what licenses are required in your area.
Do I need a website to create an online store?
Yes, you will need a website for customers to browse and buy your products. You can use a hosting service such as Shopify, Wix or Weebly to easily create one without any technical knowledge.
What else do I need to run an online store?
You’ll also need payment processing methods, shipping strategies and policies, returns policy and analytics tools to launch and manage your online store successfully. Additionally, make sure you promote your products on social media, use email campaigns and partner with influencers to reach out to more potential customers.
What are the best payment methods for an online store?
The best payment options depend on the type of business you have and your target audience. Generally, it’s a good idea to offer multiple payment methods such as credit cards, debit cards and third-party processors like PayPal or Stripe. You can also add additional payment options such as Apple Pay or Google Pay if needed.