ONLINE BUSINESS: WHERE TO START
Have you ever bought anything online? I am sure that the answer is “YES”. There are very few people who do not purchase online, because it is really convenient and cheaper. Statistics proves that almost every year the amount of people purchasing online increases by 10-15 percent.
It has turned into a necessary measure for merchants to go online if they do not want to lose their clients. Fortunately today it is not necessary to be a professional web developer in order to build an ecommerce website, there are a lot of third party providers that simplifies the process of website building. So how to create an online store? And what do you actually need in order to start selling?
Analyze the market
There area lot of different factors that influence sales, but the core of a successful shop is high quality products, competitive prices, variety of products available. It is quite difficult to give recommend specific in this case, because a lot is going to depend on the location of your business, tastes of people and your personal preferences.
When you decide what products you would like to sell you can start looking for vendors and competitors. It is not surprising that there are always people who do things more or less similar to the ones you want. So you need to monitor their strategies, prices and updates in order to understand how the sphere you selected is operating and who the leaders are. But there is also good news, you will not have to spend a lot of time looking for vendors, because it is most likely that they will provide you with their offers as soon as you share you contacts and say that you are interested in some sort of products.
Develop your marketing strategy
Marketing plays a very important role nowadays and you need to realize that it is an everlasting process that requires a lot of patience and creativity from you. Yo may have products of the best quality with lowest prices, but still will not be able to sell much. The reason is very simple, people do not know about your offers. Find resources where you can share information about your business with others. It might require some time, but you could try to go the following directions.
Be social: social media is a very powerful tool. People use social networks in order to discuss things, share news, ideas, thoughts, search for products and solutions. It is very important to have pages on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, be active in groups and communities. And of course, do not forget about graphical social networks like Instagram and Pinterest, they are simply perfect when we want to display products that we have and to tell a little bit about products.
Talk on forums: forums seem to become less popular than they were before, but it still works. When we do not know something or we are not sure we go to forums to ask for help or a piece of advice, it is a perfect place to find your first customers.
Negotiate with bloggers: bloggers are people who are always in contact with others, they like to communicate with people and they value their opinions. You can try to talk to bloggers who have their websites or channels, tell them about your shop and offer to organize a contest together with them.
These are some basic things that are free and can be done by everyone, so you do not need to have a huge budget to start promoting your store.
Find third party providers
Four basic components are needed in order to obtain a functioning online store. They are
a domain name provider (select a name for a website, a URL that will be used by visitors and customers);
a hosting providers (choose a provider which will store your data, important to remember that sometimes servers have to possess some advanced features in order to be able to host a shop, for instance, Magento stores);
a website builder / ecommerce platform (find a platform to build your store it can be an ecommerce platform like Magento or a website builder based on drag-and-drop principle like Wix or Weebly);
a payment provider (processing volumes of small businesses are not high so it is enough to open PayPal or Stripe account to accept payments on your website).
Put these components together
This step is a little bit tricky when you need to integrate different services together like an ecommerce store and a payment provider conflicts may appear and you will have to hire a professional to fix them, but fortunately there are many platforms that already have these integration and it is enough to add the account number to start using it on the website.
I personally vote for Magento (and services based on it), because they offer access not only to the easy integration with payment providers but also with international delivery companies like DHL or UPC. Ad it is very important to provide customers with various delivery options, because time and price of delivery can differ.
Content includes images/photos and descriptions. Images should have high quality and they should be real, because people want to see what they are going to buy and not just a good looking picture made by a designer. Real photos increase the level of trust to the store.
Descriptions are indirect communication with your visitors. They should meet two fundamental criteria: be short and catchy and optimized for search engines.
Now you are ready to sell you have everything you need to process orders of your clients.
Begin to promote your website
We have already discussed resources where you can begin the promotion of your website. Also, consider the idea of using some paid campaign. The combination of these two might be more effective.
Ecommerce is gaining popularity, so it is a perfect time to start your own online business that can provide you with more flexibility and independence. Hope this information will help you to open an online store.