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Starting an Online Store
Selling online has never been easier, faster, and more scalable than with an e-commerce website. The sales figures for online retail have been rising for years. An online store is ideal for professional sellers who want to reach new target groups and sell their goods online. Selling online can also be a worthwhile venture for hobby traders: from luxury items to self-produced products, nowadays there is hardly anything that cannot be bought online.
In the long run, having your own website with an online store is by far the best way to build your brand, reach new markets and gain repeat customers.
Things to consider before creating an online store
Business owners who want to start their online store have chosen a growing market in the form of e-commerce. In order to successfully implement it, however, there are several factors to think about: which shop features do I need to consider? Which payment methods should I offer? Who can help me if I want to create an online store?
Determine your business model
Before you create a store, you must take into account certain things, especially regarding your offer and sales strategy.
What do you want to sell?
The focus of your store is ultimately the products, so it is advisable to have at least an approximate plan regarding product type and quantity.
Product number and focus
Do you want to market a core product, or offer a wide range? This is also an important question. In general, it is advisable to stay within at least one product category. It can also be recommended to focus on a product that is automatically associated with your store and thus strengthens the brand identity.
No matter what you sell, your products should always be the focus of your store. Therefore, make sure that you present them in the best possible way, by introducing:
- professional photos that encourage people to buy your product
- well-written and convincing texts that contain the right amount of information
Who are your products aimed at? Do you have a specific target group, or do you want to appeal to the masses? One of the most important things is to be certain from the beginning which target group you want to reach, as it plays a role in all aspects of the store.
Who can help you to create an online store?
If you want to create an online store, certain technical know-how is indispensable. Professional store software is very flexible and customizable, but accordingly also significantly more complex than a simple store construction kit. Therefore, it would be advisable to seek the support of professionals at least for the installation and setup of the store.
Which shop features do you need to consider?
If you want to create an online store, the first step is to think about what requirements must be met:
Which payment methods do you want to offer?
Choosing the right online payment systems is crucial. For example, a study by payment provider Ecommerce News finds that offering alternative payment methods to credit or debit cards can help online retailers generate more sales.
There are a large number of payment options such as direct debit, PayPal, credit card payment, bank transfer, invoice, cash on delivery, and installment payment, among others. Your customers will appreciate being able to choose between different payment methods and use their preferred option. It is therefore recommended to offer PayPal and credit card for selection.
Which shipping options should be made available?
- Interfaces to logistics companies such as FedEX and UPS
- Price calculation according to regions and countries
Should there be an automatic import/export of goods?
This is used to manage extensive product portfolios that are too large to manage manually (more than 100 products).
Which marketing options do you want to take advantage of?
You have now had your online store created, but the customers are staying away? Without appropriate marketing measures you will not be able to generate relevant sales. There are a handful of different marketing strategies that are useful within the e-commerce sector, such as:
- SEO (URL structure, etc.)
- Integration of price search engines
- Email marketing
Whether it's search engine marketing via Google AdWords, sending newsletters to existing customers, or so-called affiliate marketing – the possibilities for attracting visitors through online marketing are immense.
How international do you want your website to be?
Think about how many languages and currencies your store should include and support. Offering websites in different languages is a great way to make them more user-friendly and reach new audiences for greater success. With the help of certain tools like ahrefs.com, you can check via traffic search which languages are most likely to increase traffic to a website.
What necessary security features need to be installed?
Website security describes all online security measures that can protect a site and its users from malicious attacks. A secure webpage is therefore not only protected on the server-side, but also in its communication with the user's browser. Every website is vulnerable – but there are several measures you can take to protect yourself, such as:
- SSL encryption
- Automatic and regular backups
- Guaranteed website availability (SLA)
What support options do you want to offer my customers?
The most common options are phone support, email, and live support via chatbots, a text-based dialog system that enables chatting with a technical establishment. In 2021, chatbots will continue to improve the usability of websites, especially as they provide excellent customer service and create potential new customers.
E-commerce is a constantly growing market, increasing the importance of online marketing and trading. In order to successfully implement an online store, however, there are several factors to consider, such as determining your business model, reaching out to professionals for technical know-how and thinking about the shop features you want to offer.
About the Author
Emily Walker was born and raised in Charleston.
After graduating from high school, she studied a double major in economics and journalism and has been working as a freelance journalist for several years. She specializes in topics related to e-commerce, digitization and security issues.