How To Start An Online Store – 6 Simple Steps To Starting An Online Sales Website

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How To Start An Online Store – 6 Simple Steps To Starting An Online Sales Website

To launch an online store, you need more than just a great idea—you also need to market it effectively to reach as many people as possible.

The sales will start to come in if you do it right. If you get it wrong, you’ll have a very time-consuming hobby.

In this article, I’ll explain how to immediately set up an online store and attract your first clients.

Top-Rated Ecommerce Website Builders to Create an Online Store

An ecommerce website builder is required if you want to start an online store. Here are your top choices.

  • Wix eCommerce —best for opening a store quickly
  • BigCommerce — Best website creator for multichannel sales
  • Squarespace —top-notch website templates
  • Square Online — Best integration with brick-and-mortar
  • Shopify — The most customizable ecommerce site builder
  • Weebly — Most affordable for small businesses
  • Shift4Shop — Best enterprise-level builder at rock-bottom prices

6 Steps to Start an Online Store

The sooner you start, the sooner you can pick up on the trends that really matter to your market.

  1. Pick your marketing strategy
  2. Find the right product niche
  3. Pick a name for your brand
  4. Create your online store
  5. Do a 60-day marketing burst
  6. Build your marketing flywheel

Step 1: Pick Your Marketing Strategy

Make sure your marketing plan is effective in achieving both your short- and long-term business objectives. Although it may not seem difficult, how well you choose your marketing strategy will determine the success or failure of your online store.

Generally, successful online stores use one of the following three tactics:

  1. SEO
  2. Paid marketing
  3. Platform marketing

Let’s discuss them in more detail.

SEO for Online Stores

Finding keywords for the products you want to sell and getting your website to rank for them in Google are the basic steps of this marketing strategy.

In this case, the organic results for the search term “bookcase” for IKEA, Target, and Amazon (the ones below the carousel and the ads) are all excellent. This implies that when hundreds of people search for bookcases each day, they will be directed to these websites where bookcases can be bought.

You can earn a lot of money with your online store if this strategy works for your company. Several advantages of SEO are perfect for a business, including:

  • The traffic streams are very dependable, which means dependable revenue for your business.
  • Search traffic usually has the highest volume of traffic of any traffic source.
  • Even at scale, search traffic can be enormously profitable.

Dependable, high volume, and profitable. It’s everything you want.

One significant drawback is that SEO requires a lot of time and work. It can take 3-6 months to see your site appear on the first or second page of search results for a keyword, even if you’re pursuing a product category with no competitors.

And until you get your page into the top 1-3 rankings on a keyword, traffic volume will be fairly low. If your category is even mildly competitive, it can take years of work to get there.

If you go with SEO as the marketing strategy for your online store, you’ll focus on three things:

  1. Optimizing your product pages for product keywords.
  2. Building useful and engaging content for non-product keywords in your category. This helps your product pages rank.
  3. Making your content so good that people will link to it as a resource.

When playing the SEO game, only two things matter content and links. So that’s where you’ll spend the bulk of your time.

Paid Marketing for Online Stores

With paid advertising, some online shops achieve exceptional success. This covers paid listings in Google searches and sponsored content on Facebook and Instagram. Buy-in ad placements are a part of paid marketing.

But is paid advertising appropriate for your company? My general rule of thumb is that paid advertising is excellent if your product is the kind that could be displayed in a mall..

Why?

Facebook and Instagram are currently the two most popular paid marketing platforms. In the past few years, online stores have become increasingly popular on Instagram.

But think of the frame of mind someone has while scrolling through their Facebook or Instagram feed. They’re relaxing for a few minutes, laughing at a few photos, and leaving quick messages for friends. They’re enjoying themselves. It’s a lot like how people shop at a mall.

While some shoppers visit the mall searching for a specific item, most go there to have fun. Malls have long understood this, and shops have adapted their layouts to enhance the browsing experience.

A paid advertisement on Facebook or Instagram will likely be successful for products that sell well in a mall. These products typically are:

  • Consumer products. Business products have a much harder time on these channels.
  • Highly visual and eye-catching. This is why apparel companies do so well in malls and have been aggressive on Instagram in the last few years.
  • Simple to understand. The offer needs to be understood within 3 seconds. If you have a more complicated sales process requiring more explanation, people will have scrolled past your ad long before you can make the sale.
  • An impulse-friendly price point. If the price is too high that people need to think through the decision carefully, they’ll skip your ad and quickly forget it.

If your product satisfies each of these requirements, you ought to give paid marketing serious consideration.

One exception to this is Google Ads (previously known as AdWords). You display your advertisement in front of people actively looking for that product because you are bidding on keywords within Google. It will function very well as long as the keyword has a sufficient volume of searches and the ad bids aren’t overly aggressive.

The biggest drawback of paid advertising is that you have to spend a lot of money upfront before you know if you can make a profit. Many of us lack the thousands of dollars to invest in something without a strong chance of profiting from it.

Most paid campaigns are initially not profitable; they typically require a lot of work and iteration before they start turning a profit. Before their campaigns are profitable, most experienced paid marketers need three to six months.

So be careful and ensure you don’t invest more than you can afford to lose here. If cash is tight, choose one of the other marketing options.

Platform Marketing for Online Stores

This is an entirely different direction than the two methods above.

Instead of creating your store and using a type of marketing to acquire traffic, you’ll leverage one of the leading eCommerce platforms:

  • Amazon
  • Etsy
  • eBay

Any of these three has a good chance of being successful. I suggest that most people target Amazon. Because Amazon’s much larger audience and almost every product niche is already covered there, you have more potential.

The main exception is if you run some craft business, like creating bookends to sell to customers. Since the audience is more likely to be interested in handcrafted items in that situation, Etsy is a better fit. If you do a lot of buying and selling, eBay remains excellent. However, Amazon has much more potential if you consistently produce the same kinds of goods.

Any platform you decide to use will serve as your marketing channel. On that platform, you must create your store and add all your products. Second, you’ll do everything you can to optimize your store so that the platform wants to highlight your products.

Optimizing your store usually involves focusing on two areas:

  • Targeting your product pages to specific terms searched for within the platform
  • Getting as many 5-star reviews on your products as possible

As you improve your search terms and reviews, more people will see your products on that platform, producing more sales for you.

How to Choose the Best Type of Online Store for You

The type of online store you open will be directly tied to your marketing strategy. Those options include:

  • SEO — Focusing on content and links, which requires time and patience.
  • Paid Marketing — You’re paying for exposure. This strategy requires money upfront, an easy-to-understand product, a friendly price point, and about three to six months of work to pay off.
  • Existing platforms like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay — You’ll focus on winning the search terms within that marketplace and stacking up 5-star reviews. Success here requires a commitment to that platform.

Choose one of these, and base your entire company on it, is something I highly advise. Yes, only one, that’s correct.

Why can’t you do more than one? This error is one that I have committed myself to countless times. After ten years of working in online marketing alongside some of the most reputable marketers in the industry, I’ve noticed one overarching pattern: businesses that excel at one area of marketing tend to struggle with others.

Here’s why it’s hard to be good at multiple types of marketing:

  • Every marketing channel is unique. Although some marketing principles are consistent across all channels, you’ll need to learn every tactic from scratch. You slow down when you try to learn new channels all the time.
  • Online marketing channels constantly change. What works now won’t work a year from now. I’ve been doing SEO for ten years, but I still feel like I’m learning it all over again. You’ll find it much simpler to keep up if you concentrate on just one marketing channel.
  • Online marketing channels are power laws. This implies that a small number of major players reap the bulk of the rewards while the rest compete for meagre rewards. You won’t be making much money if you’re not one of the winners.

If you stick with one marketing channel, you’ll get through the learning curve much faster. You’ll make real money with your online store faster you unlock your marketing channel.

This step is crucial, so don’t rush through it. Landing on the right choice here will set up the foundation for your online store.

Step 2: Find the Right Product Niche for Your Online Store

The most crucial decision you’ll make is selecting your product niche, which comes after deciding on your marketing strategy.

One tip: Avoid launching straight into product categories. Yes, having a personal interest in the industry benefits business development. Yet it’s also a simple trap..

You might select a market that won’t enable a successful company. No matter how much time and effort you put into it, it won’t matter. The business won’t be successful if there is no demand.

Here are some of the things I look for in a good product category for an online store:

Avoid picking a category that’s too niche

A common best practice in marketing is to differentiate yourself. And this is powerful advice — it’s a huge advantage when you have it.

Finding a genuine advantage that the market will pay for is another difficult task. There are many ways to distinguish a product, but only a few are crucial…

Does the best-selling toothbrush holder on Amazon have to be weird and different? In no way. It must be straightforward, user-friendly, dependable, reasonably priced, and have many positive Amazon reviews. I’m done now. Find a category with competitors who aren’t monopolizing their marketing channel rather than attempting to set yourself apart from every other product in your category.

Do all of the best products’ Amazon reviews have poor ratings? The SEO results are they of poor quality? Are there no businesses supporting a product with significant advertising spending? If the answer is yes, you can outcompete them through your marketing..

A moderate price is key.

Avoid any product category with too low of a price.

After all, if you earn only $1 in profit for each sale, you’ll have to sell 100,000 products yearly to support yourself. After taxes and overhead, that’ll give you about $50–60K per year to live on.

Selling 100,000 of anything is a lot of work.

Is it terrible? Not necessarily. Could it be better? Definitely.

Now let’s assume you’re selling something for $80 and making $40 in profit on each sale. To make $100,000 per year, you’ll only need to sell 2,500 items. That’s much more manageable.

But you also don’t want to sell something at a price that is too high. Buyer behaviour adjusts to changing prices. Prospects want more justification. They might even insist on an entirely different purchasing procedure…

How many consumers purchase cars without ever giving them a test drive? Hardly any. Before making such a large purchase, they want to see the car and speak with a live person. Because of their higher price point, cars require a lot more effort and sales expertise to sell successfully.

Finding a product that you can sell for $50 to $100 is what we advise. It is high enough for you to see a quick increase in sales. However, it’s also low enough that making a purchase will be simple.

When trying to find the right price for the product you want to sell, it is important to assess the costs involved accurately.

Research is necessary to determine the right price for your products. Calculate the cost of purchasing, storing, and shipping the goods. Look at the competition to see what price points you will be up against.

You will need to sell twice as many items to reach the $100,000 per year we mentioned if you forecast a $40 profit but only make $20. When looking for a product with a reasonable price, it is crucial to research your costs thoroughly…

Make sure there’s demand.

You can tell if there’s a demand by doing easy research using your chosen marketing channel.

The Keyword Planner feature in Google Ads offers details on monthly Google search volume for SEO. A keyword that receives fewer than 1,000 searches per month for your product is probably not suitable for the foundation of a business.

Amazon is comparable. If you have trouble locating products in your category with more than 100 reviews, it’s probably too small. Nowadays, I’d much rather work in a field where there is demand, but I lack experience. That’s far preferable to discovering later that my passion has no market.

Step 3: Pick a Name for Your Brand

Heads up: This is a TOUGH step.

That’s because a lot of the good names have been claimed. The websites are taken, the best names have been trademarked, and you’ll feel like you’re hitting dead-end after dead-end.

You might feel tempted to cut corners. You might even want to choose a less-than-ideal name to get on with it.

Do not do this.

It’s 100% worth the effort to find a good one. It will pay off.

Here’s the naming checklist I use:

  • Easy to spell. I never want there to be any difficulty finding my website.
  • 3 words or fewer. I try to keep it as short as possible to make it simpler to remember. The ideal word count is one or two; three is still acceptable. Anything over that is excessive.
  • Pass the bar test. In a busy bar, I ought to be able to pronounce the name without repeating it. That’s a great indication that it’s simple to comprehend. This is very important for future word-of-mouth advertising.
  • Can get the .com domain. A .com is required for every online store. It has become too commonplace. Some people employ strange domains, such as a company.online or company.io. This, in my opinion, leads to issues down the road because whoever owns company.com will be aware of its worth once you try to purchase it. I either purchase the domain before it becomes available or find one that is.
  • Relevant to your category. Make sure the name relates to your product category in some way.
  • No trademark conflicts. Any corporate law firm can perform a fast check on this for you. Find 3-5 name options that satisfy each of the aforementioned criteria because legal time is expensive. Then, have an attorney simultaneously check for trademarks. Rarely does one of them fail to function?

Here is a detailed guide on choosing and purchasing a domain name. After choosing a name, use your domain registrar to purchase the domain. Alternatively, if you purchase a domain from someone else, have it transferred to the domain registrar you intend to use in the long run.

Step 4: Open Your Online Store

This is a crucial step if you’re pursuing an SEO or paid marketing strategy.

Why? Simple: The quality of your site greatly impacts how much of your traffic will turn into buyers.

To ensure you make the highest-quality site, we recommend using Hostinger.

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It’s not that we don’t like Shopify and Bigcommerce; we do.

It’s just that Hostinger offers a great deal on WooCommerce (starting at $3.99 per month), and they make the setup of your online store as easy as humanly possible.

Even if you’ve never created a website before, much less an online store, Hostinger offers a truly plug-and-play solution. Less than an hour after signing up, you can begin adding your first products, even if you are new to ecommerce.

This tutorial will show you how to set up your WooCommerce store with Hostinger. There is a much more intricate process involved.

You probably want something like Shopify or BigCommerce built to scale if you intend to carry thousands of items or have multiple inventory locations (brick-and-mortar stores, warehouses, etc.). WooCommerce is still a good option even though those two platforms are better suited for managing bigger operations. However, running WooCommerce on Hostinger is all most people need at a much lower cost when opening their first store.

Every ecommerce platform I’ve suggested has integrated marketing resources. Additionally, you can link your online store to marketplaces like eBay and Amazon and social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest.

Let’s talk about how to drive some digital foot traffic to your new shop.

Step 5: Do a 60-day Marketing Burst

When your online store debuts, there’s a good chance you’re starting small. You still need to get your first review and Google-ranking page to help you in these early stages and make your first purchase from a paid advertisement.

Finding quick victories will, therefore, really help you gain momentum. Don’t worry about scalability, effectiveness, or system optimization in the initial days. Find simple strategies to generate momentum instead, even if it means putting in a lot of time and effort.

Examples include:

  • Tap into your network to see if anyone is willing to do an interview, and publish it on their website. This will help you get your first few backlinks.
  • Ask personal friends and relatives to leave reviews on Amazon.
  • Spend some of your cash on paid ads to test the offer.

These aren’t sustainable strategies over the long term, but they’ll get you some quick wins.

Do some research on your marketing channel and create a list of 50 ideas that you could do on your own. Then prioritize those ideas and create a 60-day Marketing Bust. The idea here is to ship as many ideas as possible within those 60 days.

Be reasonable with your time and effort here. You don’t need to put in 90-hour weeks and burn yourself out. But expect to roll up your sleeves and put in some work.

By the end of this 60-day burst, you should have your first handful of sales. That sales stream should be enough to start building your marketing flywheel.

Step 6: Build Your Marketing Flywheel

Once you’ve gained some traction, it’s time to start creating the marketing flywheel that will expand your company continuously without your direct involvement in every task. Describe a flywheel. It is a large wheel in an engine that aids in generating and storing energy. We’re applying the same idea to your marketing strategy to generate significant growth.

Many of your first product reviews on Amazon will need to be solicited personally initially. But that cannot continue. Instead, search for marketing strategies that can generate Amazon reviews without your involvement.

Here’s an example:

A popular tactic on Amazon is to ask customers to leave a review. If a review is published, some will even promise a discount code on the next purchase.

That technique can be automated. Every new customer should receive the same email from an assistant asking for a review and promising a discount code on their subsequent purchase. You can send direct messages to customers through all of the platforms.

Therefore, even though you shouldn’t email your entire customer base at once, you can have a helper do so for you once a week. That flywheel can be repeated and doesn’t require your time.

You can do a ton with email marketing that doesn’t cost a dollar.

A brief aside regarding this review strategy: Be sure to check the rules and regulations of the platform you’re using before attempting something similar. Every platform is a little bit different, and there are always rules regarding these kinds of things. Don’t push things too far, or you run the risk of having your store completely removed.

Look for as many of these repeatable marketing flywheels as you can.

Instead of creating content yourself, can you pay someone for content?

You could produce a lot more content to aid you in succeeding with an SEO marketing strategy if you carried out the keyword research, created a list of requirements that you want on each piece of content, and hired someone else to write the post itself. A flywheel, then.

Can you assign optimizing your paid advertisements rather than doing it yourself? You can purchase more customers with the same amount of capital if your conversion rates are steadily rising and your cost per acquisition is decreasing. That helps your company grow without requiring your effort. A different flywheel

Concentrate on your primary marketing channel before creating a marketing flywheel that will keep your online store expanding without any work on your part. This is the secret to starting an online store, making sales quickly, and accelerating its growth.

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