How to launch your own E-commerce store?

The world of commerce is shifting exponentially from a person to person live exchange of products and services in a retail or physical location to the digital. Nowadays if you have a great product that you have created and you wish to get it out to the public it is no longer necessary to dig deep into your pockets looking for cash to rent a brick and mortar store so you can gain visibility in the public and start selling. No longer is needed to put billboards or posters on the streets or give out flyers about your new offering. The world is changing fast and the only thing you need these days to reach out to your customers and sell the great product you have created is a laptop and an internet connection. If you don’t have a great idea about a product you want to sell yet. There are many resources where you can do research and market analysis online. Picking the best products to sell is a big challenge. Many times people would have the product beforehand though more often than not we also have people wanting to start an e-commerce venture without the definite product idea in their mind. Coming up with an adequate product is done through idea generation. Brainstorming and market research in places like AliExpress Most Popular Products, Amazon Best Sellers, eBay Daily Deals, etc. Looking out for popular categories, items, trends, seasonal products or just something that makes sense to you is key. Another key is niching down in with the particular category or product. You need to look to supply niche products that are underserved by larger players. Don’t fight the big stores and try to avoid too broad and general categories. The masses are already exposed to thousands of offers daily. You can also use social shopping sites – There are over 100 million products on Polyvore and 30 million on Wanelo, Fancy, and Pinterest. Find out what is popular what is liked and what are the current and future upcoming trends. Don’t limit yourself to your own research rather speak with friends and discuss your ideas and brainstorming. Add a price filter that gives you enough mark-up on inventory and accounts for marketing costs. Use Google keywords planner and google trends to find out if your idea is actually trending or it is on the rise. Read the search patterns and look for trends. Remember, that you have to avoid any branded products as you may stumble upon faces or copyright infringement laws.

Assuming you have managed to find or create your groundbreaking product and the market to sell to, this article is going to look at what is required for you to create an online e-commerce store where you can sell this product. When we think about e-commerce, names such as Alibaba and Amazon may spring to mind. Although there are 100s of thousands of private label e-commerce stores that sell their unique products. Think of it as your “street corner shop” in the digital world.

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Before you start thinking about your website design and colors you are going to use, creating an initial business plan can greatly boost your success chances. Having a business plan can greatly help you at organizing your ideas, tools, costs and generally putting everything in one place where you can easily refer and develop your next step with your idea. One of the most important aspects of your business plan would be choosing your niche and the product you would like to be selling. Doing a comprehensive market and competition research is of paramount to your success before looking into where would you like to source your product from, how to do the marketing and reach out to your customers. Building out your market research and competitors list using excel alongside additional products is also a great way to brainstorm and progress with your store idea. Summarizing your business and lying down your purpose statement and main drivers and motivation to start your venture can give you a lot of clarity as well as expose any weaknesses in your idea. Creating a business and marketing strategy no matter how small your idea or market is, will allow you to get a full 360 view of your venture. Example content structure that would go into such a business plan can be seen in the picture below.

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You have your business plan now and you know exactly what, where and when is happening. The next big step would be actually registering your idea as a business in your country. That being either a sole proprietorship or a limited company. In the UK, HMRC company registration is done online which also offers a set of instructions, requirements, and support for setting up your venture. Once you have the legal aspect out of the way, the fun part comes in building out your store. Gone are the days of brick and mortars with limited reach to customers and expensive overheads. In a matter of minutes, you can have your very own online store with one of the best and most popular platforms out there – Shopify. One of the best solutions out there that I have personally used is Shopify. The company offers an online e-commerce platform website builder that is suitable for anyone from entrepreneurs, small businesses to high volume large merchants. A sleek website designs available, online support and a host of many different additional features, widgets and apps that come with the platform makes it a stable and flexible solution for your needs.  Alongside a comprehensive ecosystem of different widgets, add-ons, integrations, and apps, Shopify is one of the leaders within the e-commerce space. The Canadian company facilitates many small business owners and entrepreneurs to showcase their products and create a beautiful and sleek online store with great functionalities without having to hire expensive website developers on their payroll. Choosing a theme that aligns with the products and your branding is important in order to gain more visits and convert them to sales. Having a nice logo is also important, but don’t get too focused on this intricacies as the branding tend to change and develop over time. You can get a custom domain aligning with your brand from Shopify, but I also use Namecheap as a great service offering discounts on domains as well. The Google Office suite could provide you with everything you need for your digital office and running the administration of your business. a couple of other tools that I have found very useful and are must-haves, in my opinion, are Asana for project management and a good email marketing system like MailChimp.

Oberlo is a great tool to source products and drop-ship them from China straight away if you are reselling somebody else’s product or if you are looking to add up-sale additional products to your current offering. Oberlo works perfectly with Ali express. Moreover, you control your own margins and you can extract 100s of descriptions and products straight to your store. You are not bound to a suggested retail price (MSRP) and can decide your retail price on your own. You can also start with it immediately, for free. AliExpress dropshipping is possible even without contacting the supplier as the website does your intermediation. You won’t need an established business entity before starting
your online store. Though you will need one when you grow and start making sales each month.

Sales and marketing are one of the hardest parts to get right and one of the most important for running a financially healthy business venture. It’s critical that you have a marketing plan in place in order for your business to get the proper exposure to its customers. Depending on your type of product and customer base some channels for advertising work better than the others. Facebook advertising is possibly the most effective way to promote your products to more than 1.5 billion people around the world. Instagram & Pinterest are great for reaching out an audience base for a particular product or niche while LinkedIn is the go-to tool for B2B sales and professional services. Getting enough traffic to your store will be defined of your marketing toolbox and your understanding of the audience you are selling to. Prior to sending traffic to your eCommerce store, you are going to want to make sure that you have the highest chances of converting each visitor into a  buyer.  There are always going to be many other retailers selling the exact same products as you and most internet shoppers will be visiting at least three of their websites before making a decision on where to purchase from. Optimizing page titles, meta-keywords, meta-descriptions, unique digital content can increase your conversion rates. Yes, ranking high in organic search results will bring you hoards of customers through using different SEO techniques. No, you should not invest heavily (or at all) and hire an SEO company as the break-even point of spending on SEO and doing the basic techniques that are free may suffice.

This was a quick overview of some of the components required for you to kick off your e-commerce venture. Making your e-commerce online store is hard work. To create a sustainable online business, you must be ready to work your buns off. Additionally, an initial chunk of capital has to be committed as well as a good marketing strategy. Some of the biggest challenges that start-ups face are the lack of capital and marketing their products to their customers. You may have a great e-commerce store and product although the marketing of your business can make or break you.

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