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If you came into this guide right here, then we have a lot to cover!

First, this is one chapter in a 9-chapter guide on how to start a profitable online business.

We’ve covered everything from laws and nuances to product sources, and even a free template to run competitive analysis in your industry.

Let’s take a quick look.

Learn how to create your own online store:

how to create an online store

You may be wondering why really starting an online commerce chapter is so late in the game for a guide on starting an online business.

The answer is simple: planning is the key to running a successful online store with long-term success.

And planning is not difficult.

The first step is simply to get started.

Here’s what we’ve described in terms of planning up to this point on how to prepare smart entrepreneurs for the next step: we’re actually living!

1. Decide what to sell.

There are two choices here – commoditized or unique products.

In general, unique products sell best. So, find a product niche you are passionate about or trending for.

Bonus points if you can find both. Google Trends can help you spot trends. For passion you will have to look deep into yourself.

Chapter 1 provides details for examples of how other entrepreneurs have found a niche.

2. Be sure to really sell it.

Aside from other people who are potentially looking to buy what you are selling (which is another exercise almost entirely), it is important to think about the niches in your product niche before moving forward by starting a store.

For example, have you considered the weight and size of your product? Of course, you may be able to sell your product for much less than your competition, but will shipping costs erase your margins? They will be for you if your product is too big or heavy.

Chapter 2 for more information.

3. Meet other people who sell (and already buy) it.

Internet competition is fierce and your best offense is good defense.

Or rather, you know the competition best and are different from the market.

At this stage of the game, you should do some keyword research. Then you will want to have a good understanding of your product market and the overall trends driving that market.

Read Chapter 3 for more information on how to do this effectively.

4. Analyze what your closest competitors are doing.

Now that you have a better sense of the position of the land, use this competitor analysis form to get a top view of your top 10 competitors in the space.

Remember, there are three types of competitors: primary, secondary and tertiary.

You want to get a good look at each one. Highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each brand. Make a note of where they are sold. All this will help you easily find holes in the market. Those holes are yours to fill.

Chapter 4 for more details.

5. Be sure to break the laws.

Before you start anything, double-check that your business operates within the law in which you sell – local, state, federal, and even international, if applicable.

This applies even before startup (i.e. can you legally sell it?) And even after startup (i.e. have you paid the proper taxes?). This can be complicated, and different countries have different rules.

Grab a coffee and sit down for a legal online sales lesson.

6. Identify your market (and your differentiators).

Now that you have your competitive analysis on lock, you can easily identify your target market.

This will be a market that is interested in the product, but is currently underutilized. You will use this targeting to determine the look and feel of your brand, tone and overall view. You want your brand to have reliable security for these dissatisfied customers in the trending category.

So, talk to them like you.

7. Source your product.

And once you understand all the background information, it’s time to submit your product.

Will you throw a boat, make an item in the house, or use the 3PL? The answer to this is different for each brand, even within the same sales category. You are all possibilities and pitfalls.

Discover the best fit for your margin, sales channel and customer expectations.

8. Choose the right ecommerce solution.

There are a few basic things to keep in mind when choosing an ecommerce platform for your business, such as the functionality, cost, and types of third-party integrations you need.

Choosing an Ecommerce Platform:

Now that you’ve done all the research, it’s time to choose your ecommerce platform, build a store, and launch an online brand.

The vast majority of new online stores today opt for a SaaS solution like BigCommerce (even B2B companies are switching to the Internet).

This is because there is:

  • Low cost to enter
  • There are no expensive development or technical headaches
  • A scalable framework that is designed to help you grow.

Look for a platform with a large community of people who run it and use it to testify to their success in the solution.

Come to their forum, check out their blog and take a peek at their support materials.

1. Ask the right questions when considering an online store platform.

Then be sure to ask all the right questions before you begin.

You can connect with sales and support staff to answer the burning questions or test the features yourself by running a free trial.

Just make sure you go through the following ecommerce planning list for each platform you consider:

List of e-commerce platform functionality:
  • Does their website builder have everything I need, including drop-down menus or an editor?
  • How easy is the platform to use? Do I feel comfortable using it?
  • Does it offer reliable hosting? Will my site remain denied even when I get a flood of traffic?
  • Who will be there to support me when I have questions? Should I pay support?
  • Will the platform support the type of product I want to sell? If the product has variations, how does the platform portray all these capabilities? How easy is it to operate?
  • Is there a limit to how many products I can sell? Are there transaction fees?
  • Can I sell directly to buyers on Facebook, eBay, Amazon and Pinterest without managing separate inventory?
  • How can I manage inventory?
  • What options do I have to accept to pay? Should I use PayPal or Stripe for credit cards? How much do they cost?
  • What options can I offer for shipping?
  • What are my options for topics? How flexible are these topics?
  • What will my store look like on a mobile device? Can I personalize my mobile experience?
  • How can I appear on Google search results and improve my search engine optimization (SEO)?
  • Does it offer integrations with additional apps so I can adapt my ecommerce business as it grows? Do I need to pay for any additional functionality I may need?
  • Are there open APIs that I can adapt to and automate my business growth so I don’t have to transition to a new solution?
  • What are the common UX features that will make it easier for customers to shop on my site (i.e. faceted search, HTTPS, etc.)? Do I have to pay for these features?
  • How will this platform help me appear in search engines so that potential customers can find my online store?
  • What material is available to help me learn more about the growth of my online business?

Even after you get the answers to these questions, be sure to make an ecommerce solution before signing up for the plan.

Most solutions exclude at least a 14-day free trial. Take advantage of that!

The remaining steps are one of the major problems for new store owners when looking for an ecommerce platform.

2. Compare platform costs.

Ecommerce platforms are not free.

The services they offer combine the need for multiple technologies all in one:

  • Server services
  • Check
  • Payments
  • PCI compliance
  • fraud
  • DDoS attacks
  • Analytics and more.

And they organize it all throughout the day, so you can easily access every spot you need.

However, their pricing models differ and it is crucial that you explore your options. Pay special attention to what is included in the price.

For example, it costs roughly $ 6,000 – $ 20,000 more a year to help Shopify merchants achieve feature parity with the extraordinary functionality of BigCommerce.

Don’t believe it?

Shopify Vs. BigCommerce:

As of February 2019.

functionality Price on Shopify Price on BigCommerce
Product delivery dimensions

$ 228 – $ 1200

$ 0, built-in

Related product recommendations

$ 108 – $ 2000

$ 0, built-in

The amount of pause

$ 180 – $ 1200

$ 0, built-in

Extended forms for collecting customer information

$ 72- $ 840

$ 0, built-in

Swatch options

$ 60 – $ 120

$ 0, built-in

Hide products in stock

$ 108

$ 0, built-in

Easy email marketing opportunities

0 – 60 USD

$ 0, built-in

Custom form fields

$ 0 – $ 230

$ 0, built-in

Not enough / in stock notifications

0 – $ 180

$ 0, built-in

Low levels of stock in the live store

0 – 120 USD

$ 0, built-in

Customers also purchased … a feature

$ 60- $ 70

$ 0, built-in

Other buttons to select product options

$ 96 – $ 180

$ 0, built-in

Faceted search

$ 3,000 – $ 6,000

$ 0, built-in

Discounts (GOD, basket height, etc.)

$ 228 – $ 1200

$ 0, built-in

Edit placed orders

$ 228

$ 0, built-in

Customers can edit account information

72: $ $ of 360

$ 0, built-in

Calculates shipping prices on a shopping cart page

$ 60- $ 70

$ 0, built-in

Basic connectivity

$ 120- $ 300

$ 0, built-in

Wishlist options

$ 0- $ 590

$ 0, built-in

Product pre-order

$ 0- $ 590

$ 0, built-in

Show CTA products, send to order

$ 72

$ 0, built-in

Billing checkbox conditions

$ 60

$ 0, built-in

Quick product overview

$ 0- $ of 600

$ 0, built-in

Product comparison

$ 60

$ 0, built-in

Product costs / ability to calculate profits

$ 60- $ $ 360

$ 0, built-in

Batch import 301 redirects

$ 0- $ of 60

$ 0, built-in

Discount for customers

$ 360

$ 0, built-in

Image optimization / resizing

$ 480

$ 0, built-in

Category structure / subcategory

$ 120

$ 0, built-in

Gift wrap and delivery to multiple addresses

$ 360- $ 600 from 600

$ 0, built-in

Rearrange functionality

$ 0- $ of 360

$ 0, built-in

Digital products

$ 0- $ 180

$ 0, built-in

Customer credit

$ 100 $ 780

$ 0, built-in

Sign up to see the price

$ 288

$ 0, built-in

Total additional costs on top of the subscription fee

$ 6,000- $ 20,000

$ 0

3. Determine which platform is best for your store design.

Designing your website is an essential part of your business.

It is your first leg forward with your consumers. And today’s consumers are used to great web design and UX.

When starting an online store, it’s important to find the theme or template that best represents your brand.

Also, you want one that is flexible enough to instantly differentiate between startup and long-term overtime.

Most platforms have free and paid themes.

I recommend starting the tracks with your best choices of ecommerce platform, loading the contents of the filler into the pad, and then browsing the site on multiple topics to see what will work best for you.

Pay particular attention to device size, ease of use, adaptability and scalability over time.

Here’s how to do it in BigCommerce.




4. Test the functionality of the store and ease of use.

When it comes to ease of use, you want to be able to do your job (usually sell your brand) without becoming a technologist.

This means that the platform should be easy to navigate, set up and use properly over time.

Here are some things to look for.


Does the platform offer a simple setup workflow, explaining everything you need to do before launch, including product loading, tax setup, domain name registration, payment processing and the like?

Here’s how BigCommerce walks you through it.

setup flow


Product and SKU management

Bulk uploading products from CSV files is a much faster way of adding products to your catalog after laying down the basics.

Be sure to have the platform on which you enable it, especially if you have a large or growing catalog.


One-click app market

You will need a multitude of one-click applications or pre-built integrations to help you grow without having to hire a developer.

Use the App Store of your platform to browse and integrate the tools you want or need to use.


Centralized channel management

The current state of e-commerce in the omnichannel.

Customers buy everywhere and everywhere – and it’s important that your product is there so you can win sales. Once you start and start seeing sales, you’ll probably want to expand to additional channels pretty quickly.

With many e-commerce platforms, you will also need to manage your e-commerce site platform as well as any other channel platform.

This can get confusing and even get you out of certain market places for unintentionally breaking the rules.

Instead, look for a centralized channel management platform where you can push your product directly, manage pricing, product descriptions, and more without any page level.


5. Determine the scalability and adaptability of the platform.

Because you have planned your job so well, you will grow over time. And as you grow, you will need additional support from the e-commerce platform.

What support?

Well, that’s hard to predict. Every job is unique. Because of this, many brands use APIs to customize and automate stores based on their needs.

Businesses in their infant phase are still not quite like that, but it’s something you’d like to plan if you plan to scale (and if you’re reading this, then you probably know it).

Plan this step-by-step plan for your brand growth well, and look for platforms with trusted and fast APIs.

Some platforms limit API calls to 2 requests / sec. Upon request, they can increase this to 10 requests / sec.

In the short term, this is fine, but it does not allow directory synchronization or real-time current data (for example, you can perform automation in various warehouses).

The BigCommerce API provides 100 request requests per second. To translate this, BigCommerce updates its product catalog of 25,000 over other platforms that updates the same catalog in about 60 seconds over two hours. Four hours, even if you mention 2 requests / sec.

Think long term here. Your future person will not have that time

Starting Your Online Store:

Now that you have chosen a platform, committed to a product, and worked to reach your target audience, we can focus on the essential tips for creating and running a store.

Certainly, you can connect to the site for a couple of hours, connect to the internet and just wait to see what happens.

But I’ll spoil the surprise and tell you that you’ll only have a few visitors and an empty bank account.

1. Make sure your online store looks professional.

If you want to have a sustainable internet business, you need to focus on quality from startup.

You need to build a store that looks professional, attracts the right kinds of customers and has the right calls to action once they arrive.

The following three steps will show you a basic plan to make sure you have the right things to do to run a successful online store.

It’s not about your site, it’s about your product.

It’s easy to blur the lines of “design” and “functionality” when creating your online store.

Not to say that design doesn’t matter, attractive website design can drive internet sales. But your design should not overshadow what you are trying to sell.

Make your products the star of the show!

Online shoppers will decide if they trust and want to buy from your site in about three to five seconds.

This means that you need to have a simple, reliable and simple website.

What you sell and where the buyer needs to find it to be crystal clear. Resist the urge to overload your site with so much “stuff” that people get overwhelmed or lose their patience waiting for everything to load.

Marucci Sports is a great example of clean, focused design. Their unique product is front and center in every respect.

Marucci Sports Design

Build your design on the right foundation.

Don’t worry about colors or logos yet. Start by choosing a design template that really displays your products or services.

Your website should serve as a tool for effective online shopping. Overly styled sites run the risk of distracting customers instead of directing them to sign out.

Second, while choosing a design template, make sure the navigation menu is clear and does not overwhelm your customers.

With clear navigation, you will be able to present different product categories and let your customers know where to go in your store, and it will never get lost.

If you have only a few product categories, choosing a theme with navigation at the top of the menu will work great.

If you have a plethora of products and categories, consider consolidating them as best you can (get feedback from friends and family if you need an outside expert’s perspective) and select templates with navigation moving down the left or right.

You do not want to force buyers to scroll far to get the information you need. Potential buyers should be able to see almost all relevant and compelling parts of your website upon arrival.

It is best if you have many categories, use your homepage to allow buyers to choose their own shopping route.

Last but not least, keep in mind the solid design template you choose.

You will 100% lose sales if you do not provide your customers with a good mobile experience and streamlined check-out process.

Instead of quoting statistics, I want you to answer one simple question:

What is the distance between you and your mobile device right now? Is he right next to you? Is it in your pocket or purse right next to you? Do you read this blog post on your smartphone or tablet?

Yes, I thought so.

Replace all nuts and bolts in place.

Several key pieces need to be entered to make sure your store is ready to accept orders.

The following steps are essential to starting a store and setting it up for long-term success.

2. Select the payment gateway.

If you want to get paid, this is a pretty important step!

Payment passes are how you collect money from your customers. Your ecommerce platform can tell you which gateways work with their system.

Bigcommerce supports over 60 different payment gateways and includes one-click digital wallet capabilities such as Apple Pay and PayPal One-Touch.

Once you have a list of options, you need to get a complete picture of how it works and how it will affect your final line.

You also want to choose something that can grow with your business. So, before locking, ask the following questions about each payment solution:

  • Are there any set fees?
  • Are there monthly and / or transaction fees?
  • Are there penalties? If so, what drives them?
  • Is there a minimum balance?
  • What about transmission delays?
  • When do I need help or support to contact? How do I contact them? What hours are available?

Council of the profession

E-commerce platforms like BigCommerce can help you get the lowest rates possible. For example, the price offered to a BigCommerce customer using PayPal powered by Braintree is the lowest price out there. Explore. Go on. We’ll wait

“Compared to our sales, the cost of BigCommerce is negligible. Only Braintree prices can easily pay what your store costs.”

– John McCann, CEO, Spectrum Audio

3. Set up delivery integrations.

This step can feel a little overwhelming if someone starts an online store.

Delivery options depend heavily on your product, your business model, your target audience, and your ecommerce solution.

The trick is to make sure all of these factors work together. Fortunately, we have some tried and tested best practices to help ease your mind and increase sales.

Delivery is an important suggestion from your store. It has the power to attract customers, but it can also drive customers away.

So, if you are new to online sales, consider starting small.

This means that you may want to stick to home shipping and master it before diving into international shipping.

There are a few tips to keep in mind when starting online delivery.

  1. Start exploring your competition, you can discover some really great insights on what works and what doesn’t in your category.
  2. Keep the delivery rules very clear, this will prevent confusion or surprises, making it more likely that your potential buyer will follow the purchase.
  3. And lastly, offer more shipping options based on different shipping speed or carrier. How quickly a customer gets their product can be as important as paying for shipping.

Now, if you can offer free shipping on your products, do it! According to a study by BigCommerce and Square, high shipping costs are the number one reason for leaving a cart.

You can actually increase your average order value by free shipping or by offering free shipping at a minimum.

Getting something has a huge impact on the psychology of shopping. If you can also provide local pick-up as an option, you should. It is often easier for everyone, except that the buyer does not have to pay for any shipping costs.

On the back, you need to plan and organize the process of completing your order.

A lot of new marketers neglect this step and it can be extremely damaging to your business as you grow.

If your products are immediately spread over a cafe, you have more work to do. Even if you only carry a few items, you need to work on developing a process for what happens when an order arrives.

Here are the questions you should answer about fulfillment:

  1. How do you know you have an order?
  2. How do you print an invoice? How do you print a packing slip?
  3. What Packaging Materials Do You Need?
  4. What information goes with the product in the box? Assembly or use instructions, batteries, or accessories? Maybe a thank you note or a coupon? The options are endless.
  5. What does a presentation look like when opening a box? Do the look and feel of the packaging match your brand?
  6. How do you organize products that have to be shipped? Are they in buckets, refrigerators, rooms or storage? Can you place a product location in your online store so that it prints on your invoice for more secure access?

If you do not spend time planning this process, customers may not receive their orders on time, which creates a bad first impression.

You have already turned your browser into a buyer, so do everything you can to keep them happy and coming back for more.

4. Setup taxes properly.

We are talking about taxes for your business at this point, not local sales tax. So this step is pretty short and sweet – talk to a tax professional.

This may require you to be an accountant or CPA, it can also be a state comptroller or other tax authority in your area.

They will help you do things like attain your tax ID and understand your area’s tax classes, rates and structure. All of these can vary from location to location.

Trust me, save money and headaches in the long run by consulting a pro.

5. Choose a great domain name.

Picking a domain name is critical. It is your web address as well as your brand and an important marketing tool.

Your domain name will serve as a way for potential customers to find you and then come back to buy more. They keep it simple. Resist the urge to include difficult spellings or unknown acronyms.

If you have an established business already, change lanes and switch your domain!

Choosing a credible domain will instill confidence in customers and build customer loyalty, so take your time.

The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce SEO.

Your domain name is important for a variety of reasons – but probably the most important reason is because it is the URL off which you will build your entire brand. And that means it is the bedrock of your SEO strategy.

Make it irrelevant to the products you sell, and continue to have a long way ahead of you in communicating to Google (and the world) what you site is about.

Learn more about SEO best practices in the guide below.


6. Set up analytics to measure your success.

You need data and benchmarks to grow your business.

We recently highlighted 55 ecommerce metrics you should be tracking. Download the spreadsheet to get started with that here.

To start, examine your platform’s in-store analytics.

At the very least, your platform should be able to help you with basic metrics like:

  • Unique visitors
  • Conversion rate
  • Most popular products
  • Average revenue per customer

Also take a peek at platform options like in-store site search that could provide you with valuable insights into what your customers are looking for.

Very safe to say that no matter what, you should use Google Analytics for your online business.

This will help you understand what the search giant sees happening both inside and outside your store. Google Analytics can give you the following insights to help you expand and improve your business:

  • Get to know your target audience
  • Track where shoppers come from, where they go and where they leave
  • Track how your visitors engage with your store
  • The ability to annotate your efforts

That last one is my personal favorites. You can tag the important actions or events on your timeline, like adding new products or a sale, so you can see the impact they have on your store.

Talk about efficient!

Analytics in general are a key element in helping you act on facts rather than assumptions about your customers and business.

6 Data Driven Strategies to Sell More Now

Read the full free article here or click below to get the downloadable PDF to print out.


Online Store FAQ:

Can you make an online store for free?

Many open-source platforms are free, but can have steep learning curves and added functionality fees. Expedite online store setup, SaaS solutions are often a better option because they have all the necessary functionality and a free trial (to test the software), but up to a monthly fee.

How easy is it to create an online store website?

Setting up an online store is easier because it does not require advanced technical knowledge. For example, many platforms allow you to use well-designed themes, easily add products, set up payments, shipping and other essential functionality to quickly launch your store.

When should a business start creating an online store?

Businesses that do not sell online have are at a huge disadvantage because online sales are rapidly increasing each year. A business should launch an online store ASAP to take advantage of this growing trend and add additional revenue to their company.

How do you set up an online store quickly?

Time is money when setting up an online store. It is much faster to utilize a SaaS ecommerce platform to launch your web store. There are many open-source ecommerce platforms you can download and install yourself but it will require technical knowledge.

How much does it cost to build your own online store?

Building an online store yourself can be expensive due to hosting, development work and security costs. These costs also increase as your traffic and sales do. Luckily a solution like BigCommerce costs $29.95/month to quickly launch a web store and can be upgraded as your company grows.

Is building an online store complex?

The complexity of building an online store will vary. If you are building a customized solution it will likely require technical expertise. If you are creating an online store with a SaaS solution it is possible to quickly build and launch a web store

What are common mistakes made after launching an online store?

  1. Thinking all you need is a store (and that customers will magically find it).
  2. Not tracking your conversions with Google Analytics ecommerce tracking.
  3. Not having a marketing plan to drive customers to your store.
  4. Not utilizing the power of social media.
  5. Not implementing an ecommerce SEO strategy.
  6. Forgetting to create and about and contact page.
  7. Not having a customer service plan.
  8. Using low-quality product images and bad descriptions.

You’re Ready to Launch

Tackle these key areas — site functionality, business basics and analytics — and you’ll have created the solid foundation you need to build out your online store.

Now, you’ll need to read up on how to drive traffic to your online store.

Thanks for visiting our site. As a way of saying "thanks" here's a FREE course on how to make $688 a day online using FREE methods: 


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