There’s a lot happening online; from the purchase of clothes, accessories and groceries, buying and sending of gift items, flowers and audiobooks to booking plumbing services and many more, the eCommerce industry is taking over brick-and-mortar business models.
If you are hoping to tap into the many benefits of eCommerce by setting up an online store but don’t know where to begin, then you are in luck, as this article proves that setting up an eCommerce website is not as difficult as you were made to believe.
What Is an Online Store?
An eCommerce website or online store is a site that allows people to buy and sell digital or physical products and services over the internet. Rather than use a physical location, business transactions occur over the internet. Online stores accept payments and manage orders, logistics, shipping, and another aspect that enable efficient buying and selling.
Types of Online Stores
While the sole purpose of every eCommerce website is to buy and sell products and services, the type of eCommerce website varies and is dependent on the site’s business model. These models include:
- Business-to-business (B2B): This involves the purchase and sales of goods and services between two businesses. It could involve selling to a retailer, distributor, or wholesaler.
- Business-to-consumer (B2C): Businesses sell their products andservices directly to consumers.
- Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C): This is also known as a marketplace and involves buying and selling from other consumers.
- Consumer-to-Business (C2B): Here, a consumer sells directly to a business
How to Open an eCommerce Website in 5 Easy Steps
The steps outlined below will help you set up your online store:
1. Determine your Target Audience
Your target audience is those your products will interest. Knowing who your ideal customers are is important for every business as it helps you discover new customers and attract them to your site, thus leading to a higher conversion rate and increased sales.
While various attributions can help determine your ideal audience, here are three main categories every new eCommerce business should focus on:
- Location: If your product is location specific, you want to focus your marketing strategies on that location. Focusing your website on geographic location will help serve a particular location better.
- Interests: Build your website around the attitude and psychographics, opinions, personality, and lifestyle of your target audience.
- Demographics: When building your website, include characteristics such as occupation, education, income, age, and gender.
Determining your target audience is much easier if you already have a product. You only need to ask pertinent questions such as, who my products are for? What’s their age range? What are their interests? The answers to these and more will help you create the right online store.
2. Choose an Ecommerce Platform
An eCommerce platform is more than a website builder where you list products and accept payments. It’s the control center for the business as it controls everything from inventory to marketing. It also provides the required tool for online sales and client support.
Some features to consider when choosing an eCommerce platform include:
- Web hosting: This stores data and content in a server database. With a web host, your customers can access your online store. While some eCommerce software comes inbuilt, some require the services of a third-party solution.
- Usability: Your eCommerce website should be easy to use. Search for an intuitive tool that features a drop-down and drag builder, as this will enhance the efficiency and navigation of the eCommerce site. Also, you can schedule a free trial to test the features before going live.
- Great Customer Support: Consider an eCommerce platform with excellent customer support. Great customer support will offer round-the-clock services, including 24/7 live chat, phone, and email, and should be available in several languages.
- Easy Checkout: Look for a platform with streamlined checkout, as this will make it easy for the customer to purchase your products and make payments.
In setting up an online store, consider your future and present needs. Although some platforms are best suited for the present day, more is needed for the future.
3. Determine what to sell
Carefully consider the products to sell. This requires thinking beyond what your customers will like. It requires you to do more competitive critical thinking and ask questions. For instance, what are the popular brands doing? What’s your unique selling point? What solution are you providing?
In determining what to sell, here are some tips to consider:
- Leverage your popular products
- Delve into an untapped market
- Follow the trends
- Provide easy-to-ship goods and products
- Consider the choice of location
- Consider the profitability of the product
- Consider how the product will be manufactured
- Consider if there are regulations or restrictions around the products
4. Design your website
In designing your website, aim for an online store optimized for conversions and well-rounded branding. Your website should be fun, have a great look and feel, and should enable users locate products, place orders and make payments easily.
Here are tips for designing a perfect website:
- Make use of an eCommerce template
- Think through the structure of your online store
- Design a website that meets the three-click rule (easy to access within three clicks or less)
- The site should communicate the products available
- Create clear-cut calls-to-action (CTAs)
- Write a detailed product description
- Upload intentional pictures and images
5. Link a Payment Provider
Now that you have designed the perfect website, it’s time to decide how you get paid. One way to offer efficient services to your customers is to provide multiple payment options, including:
6. Bank transfers
- Mobile wallets (such as Zelle, PayPal, etc.)
- Ecommpay payouts
You can also choose from the various payment gateways available. These ensure a safe, secure, and successful transfer of funds from the customer to the merchant’s account. However, some gateways are better than others, depending on your location. However, your gate provider will confirm the payment before crediting you whatever option is chosen.
While a challenging feat, creating an online store is not impossible and can be easily achieved within days. The best eCommerce platform will provide you with the tools, including navigation, inventory management, purchase, payment, and more.
With these, your online store can be up and running in no time, and you can provide those great products and services that will elevate your business.