Business

How to Start an Online Store

15 September, 2021

Online shopping in 2021, rich in quarantines and lockdowns, has become even more firmly established in our lives. More and more companies are investing efforts and finances in developing online stores to create convenient and practical customer functionality. To understand the scope, let’s take a look at some entertaining 2021 online shopping statistics.

We have selected the most common Google searches on this topic.

  • How to start an online store without inventory?
  • How much does it cost to start an online store?
  • How to start an online clothing store in 12 steps?
  • How to use my facebook account to start an online pet store?
  • Checklist on how to start an online store?

The top 8 facts look like this:

  • 63% of purchases are made on the Internet – this includes searching for a product on the online store before buying it in an offline store.
  • More than 50% of consumers make purchases using their mobile devices.
  • Chinese web platform Taobao is ranked first as an online marketplace, followed by Tmall and Amazon.
  • 44.5% of shoppers pay for their purchases using digital wallets, including Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal.
  • 42% of consumers bought something at least once a week and 22% more than two years ago. This, in turn, boosted the purchase rate on Amazon by 50%.
  • 75% of searches are brand new.
  • 49% of shoppers abandon their shopping carts due to high shipping costs and taxes when leaving web pages.
  • By the end of 2021, the number of online shoppers will grow to 2.14 billion worldwide and sales of electronic devices will skyrocket to $4.891 trillion. Moreover, by 2024 this figure will reach $6.4 trillion.

Online stores are actively gaining popularity, and this trend is expected to continue.

Choosing a Profitable Niche

The need to choose one niche for online store is due to the quality of the subsequent work. The better you focus on one thing, the more effective business will be. The following tips will help you decide on a professional direction:

  • What are hobbies? What are you interested in every day? If you do what you love, it will be easier to open an online store and promote it competently.
  • Pick five main areas and study them carefully. Don’t think about the product but the sphere. For example, the popularity of pink panamas with blue feathers will pass in a season or two; however, hats will always remain in demand.
  • Find out the profitability of a niche – not everything you like will generate a good income. Study the market and select the profitable segments.
  • Analyze trends. It is useful to explore both the past and the present. Pay attention to the most stable niches that do not burn out after the popularity of a product or service decreases.
  • What problem does the niche solve? Find out the details, analyze and find a solution.
  • Find a sufficient number of products for the area in advance. A great way is to go to Amazon (or a similar online store) and look at the bestsellers in this direction.
  • Evaluate whether the target audience is ready to pay for the proposed product. Analyze future competitors. For example, check for reviews. What are they?

Following this plan, you will find an area for creating an online store, which will bring a steady income.

Choose the right business model for online store

There are four business models:

  • B2B. This model is when a business sells a product/service to another business. As a rule, the buyer is not the final consumer.
  • B2C. This is the most common business model in which the product goes directly to the end consumer.
  • C2C. Simply put, this is an online marketplace where sellers and buyers are not entrepreneurs. Craigslist and the online auction site eBay are good examples.
  • C2B. This is when sole proprietors provide goods/services to a larger business. An example of such a business is Upwork.

For a traditional online store, the most suitable model is B2C. To create an online marketplace with individual sellers, then C2C. The second option is more complicated, but practice shows that it can also be quite successful.

Create a business plan for online store

A business plan is the foundation of everything. This is an opportunity to calculate and foresee everything in advance and be confident in other business buildings’ correctness. And, no less important – to attract the interests of other businesspeople. A good business plan will attract potential investors, partners, qualified employees, and partner businesses. A well-thought-out business plan consists of the following points:

  • Summary. Includes the goals and objectives of the startup, namely: a brief description of the goods, the purpose of the store, a description of the market, argumentation of the viability of the online store, the company’s growth potential, as well as a description of the financing needs.
  • Detailed overview of the online store and business priorities. This should include information about what kind of product you provide, what you need to popularize it, who will be in charge of servicing/supplying the goods.
  • Product description. Describe its features, and do not forget about copyrights.
  • Competitive advantage. Describe potential competitors, opportunities, and risks.
  • Financial analysis. Make forecasts that will help you assess the company’s potential.

This template can be used as an example of a business plan.

Register domain name for online store

domain name

The purpose of a domain name is to easily identify online store. This is especially important for an online store. Registration of domain takes place in 5 stages:

  • Select top- and bottom-level domain name. It is preferable to create the lower one from the company’s name, and the upper one is “.com” since it is more recognizable – for example, “roadofstars.com.” Don’t forget to check its availability.
  • Buy a domain name from a registrar. It can also serve online stores. But keep in mind that you do not need to host the online store where the domain name was purchased.
  • Set up web hosting. To do this, select the type and company that will provide you with the hosting web service.
  • Most web hosts support WordPress.com, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify builders. Learn more about them from the registrar or from this article.

Choose a web hosting for online store

This is the key to starting an internet business. Online store needs good web hosting to keep the online store running smoothly. To decide on a host, consider a few points:

  • Determine the load and needs of the website. The type of services provided to you and the bandwidth of the server depends on how many people will visit web resources and on their functions.
  • Consider combining web hosting and building. Some hosts or web page building companies provide these services in combination.
  • Analyze the conditions. Compare online store’s cost, technical requirements, ease of management and convenience, quality of support (some web resources require 24/7 tech support), and cancellation policy.

It also doesn’t hurt to consider the top 10 web hosts:

Type of Web Hosting Services

It should be noted right away that web resources such as Shopify and Bigcommerce do not need a server since they have their own portfolio and database. For the rest, there are various web hosts to choose from, such as:

  • Shared. This is an option for small to medium-sized online stores.
  • VPS. A virtual server is great for fast-growing e-commerce online stores. It includes high-speed SSD storage, monitoring services, and security.
  • Dedicated. This is required for a high-performance online store that requires a separate server. This type of web hosting includes automatic migrations and backups, dedicated IP addresses, and operating system selection. The only drawback is the price. The first-class service is not cheap.

Each web hosting type is designed for different online store sizes to analyze an online store’s capabilities and needs. If you expect no more than 1,000 visitors per day during the year, choose a cheaper server for 10–20 euros per month, or Shopify, where hosting is included.

Select an E-Commerce Platform

An online store differs in capabilities and functionality from a regular website, so it is important to choose a specifically designed platform for e-commerce. Let’s take a quick look at the most popular ones.

Shopify

The specificity of this web platform is that it does not need a separate server, since Shopify has its own servers. Features of the platform include:

  • Shopify themes adapt perfectly to the mobile version of the online store.
  • The presence of experts on the trading platform. You will find professionals to handle support, SEO, store customization, visual content, and more.
  • Shopify companies include Cee Cee’s Closet, Nalata, Neso, Tokyobike, Kirrin Finch, Coco and Breezy, Brooklyn Museum, and Adore Me.

BigCommerce

Just like Shopify, the web platform doesn’t require a server, as it has its own. Other features include:

  • Allows you to sell on other online store, including social media (Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram) and marketplaces.
  • Supports dozens of e-wallets, including Apple Pay, PayPal One Touch.

The web platform has separate work programs for B2B. Companies that appreciated the advantages of the web platform include Black Diamond Equipment, Peter Christian, Tommie Copper, Davidoff of Geneva, Clarks, Kelty, Gillette On Demand, and Fujitsu.

Magento

This is an Adobe Commerce product and is CMS platform that needs to be installed separately on the server. It also provides:

  • The ability to analyze customer preferences. Magento shows the last viewed products and the last products added to the cart.
  • System directory management function.
  • Virus resistance. In addition, the pages of online stores load quickly.

The global Magento partner system ensures clients’ work, taking into account modern trends. Therefore, its clients include HP, Prediger, Högl, Asus, Paul Smith, Lladró, and Amped.

WooCommerce

WordPress powers this customizable plugin. It includes the following features:

  • Allows you to set up ads and communicate with customers on Facebook and Google.
  • Demonstrates online store statistics in real time.

WooCommerce is expanding and providing training all over the world. Companies such as Wildlabs, Bang On Books, VerifyWP, Nuria Beauty, All Blacks Shop, Brown Brothers, and Yoast.com have developed or expanded their websites thanks to the plugin’s capabilities.

Attracting buyers

Think about when and how to attract buyers – study the actions of successful competitors. Analyze which methods are working in niche. In particular, look for the following opportunities to get more people involved:

  • Create and analyze content thoroughly. Even for an online store, it is helpful to have a small blog with practical articles. Also, provide engaging visuals, do polls, etc.
  • Create an email newsletter. To do this, provide on the online store the possibility of quick registration.
  • Arrange a press event, write a release, or order news from a popular magazine. This will reach many new people.
  • Delight customers with discounts. Sales, coupons, bonuses – who doesn’t love those?
  • Involve friends in the process of selling through social networks.
  • Do quality surveys. Encouraging customers to speak up about the quality of the service or to suggest innovations – involves people and helps you see where you can improve.

Simple yet working methods will attract potential buyers and ensure good word of mouth about you.

Analytics of visits online stores

To build a smooth and well-functioning online store, it is important to analyze traffic on time and eliminate shortcomings. Google Analytics and Plerdy tools will help you with this. What are their functions?

Google Analytics helps you get to know customers better. Specifically:

  • Join eCommerce to see conversions.
  • Analyze traffic channels and determine which ones yield more profit.

Plerdy offers several useful tools for online store owners, each of which fulfills a different task.

Plerdy Heatmap

Scroll Map

This is a set of tools for tracking user actions on the online store. It shows:

  • Clicks
  • Scrolling a web page

Heatmap will tell you about the interests of your visitors and show the advantages of an online store and its disadvantages.

Pop-Up Forms and Net Promoter Score

This allows you to customize the timely appearance of pop-ups on the desired pages without involving programmers and designers. Features include:

  • Targeted informing of visitors about promotions.
  • A form with a proposal to place an order in one click or receive a callback.

Good deals in dynamic forms keep shoppers on the web. Remember that 75% of users generally don’t return to a site.

SEO Checker

This helps to analyze the SEO of a online store, semantics according to algorithms, and investigate the quality of the site on the mobile and PC versions. A tool for marketers for SEO optimization of online stores and sites.

Session Replay

The entire recording of actions on the site is kept in real time, as in the Heatmap, which allows you to view it, create a “buyer profile”.

Event Tracking

This tool synchronizes events with Google Analytics and records the interactions of visitors with the online shop. It collects data that can be configured as events and see in reports which items receive the most attention.

Sales Performance

This tool collects data about the sales of an online store and determines which element on the online shop influenced the purchase decision the most. This will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of the user interface.

Conversion Funnel

With the help of this extension, you will see the analysis of a person’s actions in stages – where they go, where they linger, and what they ignore.

Conclusions

Launching and establishing an online store is a demanding task that requires a careful approach. With the help of tools for analyzing the work of an online store, you will simplify interaction with it, establish all internal and external processes, and attract active buyers.