Gone are the days when businesses run on physical stores only, and advertisements are seen on TV or heard on the radio. Nowadays, most businesses have an online shop. The shift in the trend was due to customers’ activity. If you want your business to succeed or if you want more customers, the best way is to build an online presence.
If you think having an online shop is not practical, then think again.
There are about 7.7 billion people, and 25% (1.92 billion) of these people do their purchasing of items online. It has also been predicted that online customers will rise to about 2.14 billion in 2021.
While the market is still hot, it’s best to get your hands on setting up an online shop. You don’t have to worry because here we will guide you on a step-by-step process on how you can start your online business.
DECIDE YOUR BUSINESS STRUCTURE OR ENTITY
Before setting up a shop or deciding what name you want for your business, you must decide what business structure you want to venture on. There are different kinds of business structures, but most people who start their business online are under sole proprietorship.
This business entity is the most common and simplest form since anyone under this structure aren’t required to file any paperwork. Unlike those registered under corporations or limited liability companies.
If you’re only beginning your shop, it’s safe to choose sole proprietorship.
DECIDING YOUR NICHE AND TARGET MARKET
Now that you have decided to operate as a sole proprietor, it’s about time to know what and who you want to target with your products or business idea in mind.
Most first-timers, when it comes to business, often make the mistake of jumping right in without any plans. When you decided that you want to run your online shop, every aspect of it, even the minute details, must be planned.
Finding a niche is difficult, but once you know what you like and what the people need, everything moves smoothly.
But why do you need to decide on a niche?
Online stores account for 13.7 percent of sales worldwide, and it is estimated to reach 17.5% in 2021. This alone will let you know that selling online is quite a competitive world. But you don’t have to worry.
Standing out from the crowd is the best way to make your product or business sell out. If you target to open a shop selling clothes, you have to be specific. Instead of saying women’s clothing, it’s better to narrow it down. Customers categorize their searches for items online. They are specific with what they want, therefore narrowing your niche down to something specific helps customers quickly find your business online.
Choose a niche that will always offer a useful/ helpful service or product to your customers, and one that you know.
NAMING YOUR BUSINESS
When setting up your business, your name is at the forefront of it. It’s the first thing people will get to know and get interested in. That is why choosing the right name, crucial as it may be, requires time and effort.
Here are some simple tips when deciding what name you want for your business.
- Choose a name that is easy to remember, to pronounce, and to spell.
- Make sure that the name can register with a .com.
- Choose a name that can grow along with your business. Do not use a name with a specific product on it.
- Be unique.
- Do some research.
- Make it sound catchy.
- Say it out loud. If you think it sounds good when saying out loud, chances are customers will like it.
REGISTER A DOMAIN
Now you have decided what name you have given your business, it’s time to set up an online shop or website.
There are tons of places to register your domain name. Some places where you register your domain name also offers web hosting. You can purchase all in one place, but most prefer to purchase their domain name from one company and choose their web host on another.
DESIGN YOUR WEBSITE
After hand-picking the perfect name that goes along with your niche, designing your website is needed.
When designing a website, always picture yourself as the customer. Decide how do you want an online shop to look like when you are purchasing from them. Do you like a shop with a clean, simple look or a website that has a lot of content?
These are a few things to keep in mind when designing your online shop.
- Keep it simple. Choose minimalistic designs and easy to navigate features.
- Include an online store builder like Shopify.
- Allow users to view the cart by including a view cart button.
- Use quality photos, and add more images for each product to emphasize details.
- Always add a review and comment section for your customers.
- Categorize your products.
- Include a search bar and filter button.
- Add social media links.
- Include an FAQ page for your customers.
- Add contact info.
DELIVERING YOUR PRODUCTS
Before you launch your website or online shop, take into consideration how to deliver your products.
The form of delivery you choose depends on your products. If you sell digital products, the need to send out orders is easy. Meanwhile, physical items require effort and a safe delivery method.
If you run a drop shipping business, there is no problem as to how you’ll ship your items and do the inventory. But if the physical items are in your hand, you need to go to the process of choosing the right delivery service.
What to take into consideration when choosing a delivery method?
- Safety of delivery
- Customer service
- Type of service (international or local)
If you are shipping worldwide, you must get to know certain laws of other countries.
MARKET YOUR BUSINESS
Once you launch your online shop, this doesn’t guarantee an instant sell-out or potential customers dropping on your online store. Online businesses require time and effort, not only at the beginning but all the time.
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell
There are various ways to market your business, and you have to choose which one best fits your brand.
- Content Marketing and SEO ranking
- Social Media Marketing
- Pay-per-Click (PPC)
- Email Marketing
- Influencer Marketing
Now that you have an idea of how you can market your products, it’s time to dive into it. If you feel overwhelmed by the choices, you don’t have to worry. Each marketing strategy can be done one step at a time.
Content Marketing and SEO
Content is King! This statement will never fade away, no matter what. Therefore, invest in good content. A website or online shop with good search optimization will have a bigger chance for it to grow.
SEO has a large impact on business and spending time and effort to achieve a high rank on Google’s search engine matters. This drives traffic to your store and increases your visitors that could potentially turn into your customers.
Social Media Marketing
One of the biggest places to promote your presence online is on social media platforms. There are about 3.4 billion social media users worldwide, and taking the opportunity to market your products on these different platforms can help your business.
This may sound complicated, but PPC is one way to drive customers to your shop. This campaign allows shop owners to increase their sales more than they spend per click of their ad. Additionally, you only pay the publisher of your ad when it is only clicked.
This sounds old school, but email marketing is still one of the best ways to market your shop. In this year alone, there are about 3.9 billion active email users, and a lot of people check their emails daily. With this said, diving into email marketing might be right for you and your business.
Influencer marketing has gone a long way, and now it plays a huge part in marketing products to reach a larger group of individuals.
A staggering 49% of consumers depend on recommendations by influencers, and 40% of these consumers purchase the item after seeing it on social media platforms.
These statistics alone can give you some ideas on how you can promote your business.
Other areas to consider when starting an online business are taxation, accounting, licensing, trademarks, and more. This can be managed while you are growing your business.
Now everything’s set, all you have to do is rin your online shop with patience and perseverance. Keep on track of all your sales, inventory, and traffic that are coming into your website. And, deal with customer services and other business matters as you go along building your shop.