Building a business from scratch is a difficult venture. But with today’s digital age, entering the world of commerce is within reach — as long as you have the time and the strong will to do so.
Even if you haven’t tried creating a website before, a wide array of tools available now can help you easily build an online store. This article will be your quick guide on what you need to get started on your online business.
Why sell on a website?
Before people can purchase something from you, they first need to know about your business and what you’re selling. Ever since the outbreak of COVID-19, more and more shoppers have shifted to buy online. If you still don’t have your own website, you’ll miss out on a lot of things including:
- Huge Market
The pandemic made a huge impact on the online business as eCommerce sales grow by 49%. Business owners who stayed offline during this pandemic will miss out on profits from the growing market of online shoppers.
- Cost Savings
Running an online store costs less than having a brick and mortar shop. A physical storefront will require you to pay for rental space, utility bills, proper licensing and permits, paychecks of staff that man the store, cleaning supplies, etc. These all add up to more expenses for your business and most of it is ongoing.
Online businesses make it easier for shoppers to buy whatever they want without driving and going to the store physically. Browsing online also makes selections easier and faster, which means people are more likely to spend money when it’s convenient to do so.
What do you need to start an online business?
Compared to a standard website or a blog, building an eCommerce website will be a bit different. Whatever product or service you intend to sell, there are primary things you need.
Here’s a rundown of the requirements when starting an online business:
1. Domain Name
To start your business, you will need a domain name as well as a web hosting plan. Without these two, your eCommerce website can’t go live. There are many providers you can use to secure this and you can either purchase them separately or all together.
2. Market Research
What do you plan to sell? What type of business do you want to run? If you already have something in mind, do you think someone will want to buy what you’re offering?
You definitely won’t want to let all your efforts go to waste only to find out that you’re not getting traffic and making sales. Ideally, you should conduct research for your small business to uncover a pressing need in the market and fill it with your product or service.
Find Trending Products
A good way to drive traffic and make sales right away is to align your business idea with things that are currently trending. Riding on what’s trending at the correct time will let you get the best out of it. Remember, don’t hop into a trending market when it’s already on the decline as you’d want to find a product that’s growing in popularity.
There are different ways to spot a trending niche, below you’ll find some of the most common.
- Google Trends – This tool allows you to check the past and future of specific product keywords. It analyzes popular top search queries in Google which allows you to get a better look if the market is waning or growing in popularity.
- TrendHunter – This site shows you different niches that are currently trending around the world. What’s more, it has quite a useful filter that lets you sort according to different industries.
- Influencers – These are people who have an expert level of knowledge or have a huge influence on social media in their respective fields. Because of their popularity on various social media platforms, chances are pretty high that the products promoted by these influencers sell well and are a viable niche.
Align It With Your Passion
After you’ve gathered a handful of niches to consider for your new business, narrow that list even further by doing self-evaluation. It’s easier to sustain your momentum if you actually love what you’re selling.
Once you’ve finished narrowing your list of potential niches to a group you care about, go a step further and validate your idea in the marketplace. For instance, you can go to Amazon product marketplace and do quick keyword research on the product. Find out what kind of things are people actually buying.
3. eCommerce Platform
Have you found the products you want to sell? Then, it’s time to get to the next step which is to find a suitable eCommerce platform. You have plenty of platform options, but for a new entrepreneur like you, some of the most popular options are:
Since you’re new to running a business online, find an eCommerce platform that offers a free trial, is easy-to-use, and flexible to your needs. Also, make sure you won’t have compatibility issues with the platform you intend to use so that you have access to plenty of themes and add-ons.
Most eCommerce platforms have a specific step-by-step guide to get your store set up. If you encounter problems as you build your website, don’t hesitate to reach out to designated customer support.
4. Elements to Include
Before you start building your online store, think about what functionalities you should include in your web design. At the least, it should be based on how people shop so that they can easily find what they’re looking for.
For instance, if you plan to sell pet food and supplies, you may have to organize your site based on the types of pet (e.g. cat, dog, fish, etc.). Then, add subcategories for each product type like foods, toys, or treats.
Here are the most essential elements you should include for your shoppers to have the best user experience.
- Search Bar
A search bar, box, or field is a website element that allows you to search through multiple pages for anything you want to find. For shoppers who know exactly what they’re looking for, a search bar allows them to go directly to the page that contains it.
- Customer Reviews
Shoppers greatly rely on customer reviews for credibility and quality of the products they intend to buy. Including a review feature like this one from ecomwarrior testimonials gives your shoppers a guarantee that what they’re buying from you is worth their money.
- Shopping Cart
Not all potential customers will see an item they like and go straight ahead to purchase. You need to install a shopping cart so that customers have the option to save items while they browse for more. You can also send follow-up emails as reminders to your customers who left their shopping carts to push through their purchases.
- Wish List
A wishlist functionality gives shoppers a place to point friends to a gift-giving event. Other than that, many people do research before buying a product as it gives them a chance to save items they like for future purchases.
Are you ready to start selling and dominate search engines? If you’re done creating your product pages and satisfied with the overall look of your site, then congratulations, you can now launch your store! Make sure everything’s polished before you begin selling – after all, you only have one shot to make a good impression.
Keep in mind to double-check every page for things that don’t work. Lastly, you may want to consider talking to an eCommerce expert for advice about what else you can improve on your online store to stand above your competition.