Here you will learn how to start an online store – from an absolute blank to an online store with your products in it, ready to greet your first customers.
Here’s what is particularly useful in this guide:
- We go through the process step by step.
- We do not leave out the challenging technical details that could be an obstacle for you.
- We don’t just cover them tools also methodology and the the decision-making process involved in building an online store.
- We are committed to completely do it yourself – read: you don’t have to hire anyone to help you.
It’s time to learn everything you need to know about starting an online store.
How to Start an Online Store: Content
We’ll go through this:
Before we get right in, let’s answer some common questions about how to run an online store:
Frequently Asked Questions about Starting an Online Store 🛒
One of the most common questions we hear from people who want to know how to start an online store is:
Can I build an ecommerce store for free?
At the end of the day, Not, not really.
Okay, to be more precise, you can “technically” build a store for free, but such a store won’t allow you to accept payment. And accepting payment is kind of the point of owning an online store, so …
How much does it cost to build an e-commerce store?
These things change naturally, but I’d say it’s a minimum of about $ 60 a year. You get a domain name for this price (
yourstore.com) and a hosting plan (where your store is stored).
- In this budget model, your store will run on WordPress and WooCommerce – and free open source software.
- For a more elaborate solution – where someone else is worried about technical heavy lifting – you’ll have to pay about $ 348 a year, plus $ 15 a year for a domain name. In this model, everything is going on a thing called Shopify.
More about both approaches later in this guide.
can i learn how to start an online store myself?
That, you can really learn how to run an online store yourself. No programming or web design skills required. It really is no longer as complicated as it seems, thanks to the latest transformations in the digital world. Modern tools allow you to spend as long as you want to spend a few afternoon going through the motions.
Who will design my store?
When you learn how to start an online store, you will mostly do most of the design work yourself. In this DIY approach, we will select the finished design from the web and bring it into your store.
- physical products
- digital products (eBooks, downloads, files, software, images, etc.)
- consulting etc.
How do I handle payments?
There are online payment methods – “gateways” – integrated into all modern online store solutions. Your customers will be able to pay for everything directly from your site.
How to Start an Online Store: A Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1: Define your store type 🏪
Ok, so the first step in thinking about how to start an online store is one of the most basic. You need to decide what to sell to your targeted customers.
What can you offer from your online business that will make your site stand out in the search engine and encourage customers to use their credit card?
I guess you probably already know what you want to sell – at least roughly.
“Hey, I want to sell custom-made linen.” Or, “Hey, I got an idea for an online boutique.” Or, “I have an idea for a cool new app.”
Whatever it is in your case, it does core the idea will help you define the type of your store.
Remember, you can build an ecommerce business of almost any size these days. You do not need to start with a large corporation. Tools like Ebay and Etsy, as well as endless shopping cart systems, start your online business lightly.
This step is important because it has implications for the tools you will use to build your store, as well as your overall strategy and approach.
Here are the questions you should try to answer 🤔
- Do I want to sell physical does it produce and deliver to the customer?
- Do I want to sell digital products and allow users to download them directly?
- Do I want to sell services?
- Regarding the list, do I want to …
- … did I deal with it?
- … Use third parties to deal with me (like Amazon FBA)?
- … Send product to buyer directly to buyer (drop-shipping)?
- Do I want to show wholesale rates as well?
- Do I want to sell overseas?
Every place where you have a “yes” requires that your e-commerce platform be able to deal with that particular one want.
When you start developing your online business strategy, make sure you know exactly what you want to do with your ecommerce site.
So start by creating a direct list to define the absolute basic requirements. Something like this:
I will sell digital and physical products, my own inventory, no services.
The more information you need to get started with your business model and sales strategy, the easier it is to find a builder and shopping cart manufacturer that is right for you.
Step 2: Narrow down your niche ⛳
As you learn how to start an online store, expose yourself to a lot of jargon. Like, something you probably hear, “You need to build the perfect personalized user”, or “You need to define a niche.” This may sound incredibly vague and difficult to act on.
“I just want to sell my stuff!” he tells you.
We hear that, but here’s the problem:
On the internet, every shop is one click away.
Here’s what I mean: If you work locally, you can really be a “neighborhood sock store.” There are no other stores like the one within five blocks, and people need socks, right?
It does not work online. Online, people can go to a thousand other stores instead of yours. They are all one click. And everyone will ship to any location. As long as your customer has a credit card or bank account linked to their PayPal service, they can find millions of ecommerce business opportunities to choose from
This means you need to differentiate yourself and be more focused on lasers as to who you offer your products to.
Although marketing strategy and search engine optimization campaigns will be helpful for you internet shopto get started you will need to ensure that you are accessing the right user base.
Misconception # 1 in defining the user base
You don’t just need to “define” your customer base by pulling them out of the air. You need to include some real research here.
In the end, not everyone will like your products and services. No matter how much your high quality business plan tries to please everyone, some customers will like what you have to offer more than others.
We have a whole other guide on how to find your target demographic, so feel free to seek detailed tips.
In the meantime, start with the following:
Identify the keywords that people use when searching for your products online
Google is probably the first stop for many people when looking for something they can buy.
Because of this, almost every ecommerce business starts with some kind of search engine optimization. When you build your own online store on eBay, Etsy, BigCommerce or almost any other web site maker, you will need to keep in mind search engine performance.
Keywords are an essential component of search engine optimization, Google adwords advertising (PPC), and just about any other marketing strategy you can think of.
Although many will simply put “socks” on Google, these customers are probably interested in any type of socks and will buy what is cheapest = Amazon. You can’t compete with that, so let’s run a little deeper.
Many people know the specific types of socks they want to buy:
- “Warm socks”
- “Hiking Socks”
- “Motorcycle Socks”
- “Cheap Motorcycle Socks”
You can take any of these keywords and place them using a tool called Google Keyword Planner (GKP). It will let you know how many people search for any phrase every month. GKP will also suggest other keywords to you.
Therefore, your first order of business is to replace “socks” with product names and try to research to find some phrases that are consistent with what you want to sell and that are also popular online (1000 searches per month or more).
Here’s how to use the GKP.
Once you have a handful of these phrases, you can pinpoint your niche more precisely. Maybe you want to target handmade bags to toddler mothers? Or your dad’s clothes in a hurry? Whatever it may be, it’s officially a niche!
Knowing a niche for your ecommerce business will help you speak the language of your target audience when designing your marketing strategy. The more you understand your audience and what they want from your product descriptions and online markets, the more you can convince them to use their credit card with your online store.
Step 3: Market Research 📊
There is basically only one goal of market research when learning how to start an online store. And that’s it make sure there are really people in your niche who want to buy them.
After all, you don’t want to wake up with a shiny new store, only to find that there is no one willing to check the goods.
Research is something you will need to get used to when building a successful online store. We live in a world where customers expect websites to be tailored specifically to their wishes. If you want your online store to thrive and your ecommerce sales to grow, then you will need to understand the online marketplace.
There are several ways to do market research:
- (a) Research what your competition is doing and to some extent imitate them.
- (b) Examine where your potential customers hang out online, how they decide what to buy, how they compare products.
- (c) See what are the most common questions or challenges in your niche.
From the top:
(a) Spy on your competition
First order of business, if there is no obvious competition in the niche, there is no niche. Being first in the field only works in movies.
The best way to start is to go to Google. Do some searches using some of the keywords you found in the phases described above. That way you will find few competitors, or at least people who sell similar products. Plus, you might already be able to name a few competitors right off the top of your head.
Now is the time to spy on what they are doing online.
To that end, I have two favorite tools. You can do basic research with any of them for free, but if you want to get to know it in more detail, you’ll need to buy a subscription … which you can still cancel after a month, of course when you’re done researching. .
The first is SEMRush. They advertise themselves as a service to research competitors, which sounds perfect.
When you enter your competitor’s domain name, you will see all kinds of information about their site:
- their main keywords
- their best feedbacks
- their texts / anchors on the link above
- general statistics on their projected traffic, number of backlinks, and more