May 16, 2023, Business

How to start an online store in 5 simple steps

Joanna Kołodziejak Marketing Specialist
how to launch an online store
You have a new business idea or want to expand your physical store into digital channels, but don't know how to get started? You’re looking for new sales channels that can help your company grow? You want to impress your existing customers with some new purchase options? You find online businesses as a chance for further development and growth? Or maybe you just love online stores and dream of having your own site yourself?

Everyone says opening an online store is a piece of cake. But when you dig deeper, it sounds like online shopping for a business owner can be quite a challenge.

As digital experts, we come to the rescue and present a list of 5 (easy!) steps you need to take when building your first online store. So, grab a cuppa and let’s dive in!

Step 1: Choose a product or service to sell online

First things first, you need to decide what you want to sell. If you already own products or a store, you are one step closer to opening an online store. Problem starts when you don’t – and this is where your creativity comes in.

You could be selling products of any type – from handmade soap to cat-shaped pillows. The possibilities are endless! Just make sure you choose something you’re passionate about, because you’re probably going to own your online store for a little while.

Step 2: Create a business plan

Ah, the dreaded business plans. But don’t worry, it’s not as boring as it sounds. Just type [create a business plan to “how to start an online store”] in one of your prompts in ChatGPT. 

Just kidding.

Think of a business plan as a roadmap to success. Start with a business name. Then your goals and business model. Having done that, go over the business structure, target customers, pricing strategy with profit margins, marketing strategies, and financial projections including sales tax, business funding and monthly fees. Simple as that!

And if all else fails, just add “Make loads of money” as your main goal.

Step 3: Create marketing strategy

Creating a marketing strategy is your opportunity to spread the word about your online store. With a well-crafted plan, you can reach your customers and generate buzz around your products or services.

Creating a marketing plan involves utilizing a mix of strategies such as social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing (search engine optimization), and online advertising. Don’t forget to include marketing costs in your plan!

Have in mind that most online shoppers looking for specific products use Google search and go over several ecommerce websites to choose the best offer. Remember that your online store needs to stand out. Be creative, adapt to the preferences of your audience, monitor your efforts to refine your marketing plan.

Step 4: Go digital

When, after creating a business and marketing plan, you think that the hardest part is behind you – unfortunately, I have to disappoint you. Creating an online store is not just about a business vision and increasing personal assets. You are about to build an entire ecommerce platform, of which the online store will be only a part.

But don’t worry – there are entire system providers that will help you open your online business. And we’re not just talking about an online store, but a platform that indicates inventory, gives you and your customers online payment options, indicates ways to ship your product, and shows you order history.

The possibilities are many – you just have to choose correctly. And we will help you with that. We are experts, remember?

Choose eCommerce platform

Now, this is where we come in. As a digital product studio, we know a thing or two about ecommerce platforms. We even wrote an article about best B2B ecommerce platforms. There are plenty of options out there, so it’s not easy to decide. It’s going to differ whether you are a new small business owner or have an existing, well established brick and mortar store.

When choosing an ecommerce platform, it’s important to consider factors such as your budget, business needs, and technical expertise. Some key factors to keep in mind include:

  • Scalability: Choose a platform that can grow with your ecommerce business and handle increasing traffic and sales.

  • Features: Look for an ecommerce platform that offers the features and functionality you need to run your online business, such as payment and shipping options, inventory management, and marketing tools.

  • Ease of use: Choose a platform with a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to manage your business online and add products to store inventory without technical expertise.

  • Customization: Look for a platform that allows you to customize your online store to match your brand’s look and feel.

  • Security: Choose a platform that prioritizes security and data protection to ensure that your customers’ personal and payment information is safe.

  • Support: Look for a platform with reliable customer support and resources to help you troubleshoot issues and get the most out of your ecommerce store.

Choose a domain name and hosting

This is where you can really let your creativity shine. Choose a domain name that’s catchy, memorable, and represents your brand. You should have that, as you already worked on your marketing strategy!

When choosing a domain name try to include your business name in it. Just make sure it’s not too long, or you’ll end up like Mary Poppins trying to say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious but with .com at the end.

Set up your ecommerce store

It is an exciting stage where you can unleash your creativity and design a storefront that reflects your brand’s identity. It’s important to create a visually appealing store that is easy to navigate and provides a seamless shopping experience for your customers.

Keep in mind your target audience and their shopping behavior. For example, if your target audience is mainly mobile users, make sure your store design is optimized for mobile devices. If you have a wide inventory of products, divide them into logical categories so customers can easily find them.

Another key aspect when setting up a store is to integrate it with a reliable payment and shipping system. Make sure you provide multiple payment options and shipping options to cater to a variety of customer preferences.

Popular payment options are PayPal and Stripe, but there are plenty of other payment providers worth considering. Same with shipping details – it’s important to acknowledge what is the most popular and convenient option for your target audience.

Add products to you ecommerce website

Now, this is where the real fun begins. Add your products to your store. Include detailed product descriptions (Google search – remember from your marketing plan?), high-quality images, and pricing information – not only of the product but also shipping costs.

It’s important to follow a digital marketing strategy in the online marketplaces. It is the product descriptions and content in your online store that will drive visibility in browsers (thanks to search engine optimization) and generate organic traffic to just your online store.

Launch your ecommerce site

It’s time to unveil your online business, with an online store, online sales to let your online clients start online shopping so you can accept payments online and make online profit! Well done! While it can be an exhilarating experience, it’s essential to approach this step strategically to maximize your chances of your ecommerce business.

Make sure your website is fully functional and optimized. Test every feature, from the product pages, shopping cart, payment gateway to checkout page, to make sure that the user experience is seamless.

Before launching big, consider conducting a “soft launch” to a limited audience – it’s called “friend and family tests”. They can provide you with valuable feedback and help you identify issues that may need improvement.

Now it’s time for your marketing strategy to bloom. You can use social media platform power, content marketing energy and paid adverts reach – all that to make search engines work for your good and boost your ecommerce sales! Target specific demographics or interests that align with your products or services to maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns.

With a well-thought-out launch and strategic promotion, you’ll be well on your way to capturing the attention of your target customers and turning them into loyal customers.

Step 5: Monitor and optimize

You’ve launched your online store, but you see that you could be generating even more sales thanks to little improvements. There are plenty of tools to monitor online store’s clients behaviors.

Start by regularly analyzing your Google Analytics reports, monitor performance of your campaigns. Pay attention to key metrics such as bounce rate, average order value, customer retention rate.

Customer feedback is another valuable resource for your optimization. See recordings of abandoned carts in your HotJar or Google Clarity and connect the dots. This is your potential clients telling you what could go wrong during the process of its online shopping experience.

You can encourage customers to provide reviews and ratings through surveys or post-purchase follow-ups.

In summary, monitoring and optimizing your online store is an ongoing process that requires regular evaluation, analysis, and adjustment. By staying vigilant and responsive to customer needs, market trends, and performance metrics, you can continually enhance your store’s performance, increase online sales, and drive long-term success.