How to Start an Online Store from Scratch
The launch of an online store is a responsible and meaningful event. This is because an eCommerce website is not a visiting card that encourages customers to shop at the platform or serves as a kind of an ad for your business. This is an effective tool for organizing direct sales, which can bring you substantial profit, if you know how to manage the process correctly.
Creation of an online store is not limited to the technical nuances only. It should involve such steps as the idea development, the platform choice, creation of a business plan with all the related financial expenditures, the search of suppliers and other things we will discuss further.
The Choice of Suppliers
Having an online store is a notable benefit for large companies, which have been in the market for years, the entrepreneurs and even people, who are not financially aware at all. This is a fact that does not require any proofs. You don’t have to be a businessman to start selling online. There is such a notion as “drop shipping”. It implies selling products that belong to suppliers. You don’t have any money, products or warehouses. Instead, you showcase the products, having initially discussed the terms with suppliers, and get the percent from each sale. Your task is to redirect the orders only, while the supplier is responsible for paying for the delivery, packaging etc. You get the money. This is a widespread practice, by the way.
The search of suppliers, who will provide you with products for your online store is one of the most crucial and responsible steps. This is because your profit and business efficacy will depend upon the success of your negotiations with the suppliers. A nice variant to make wholesale purchases is a well-known Chinese trading platforms. You can find any products you are interested in there, while the prices will be affordable as well. What’s more, you’ll further be able to charge more for the products you have bought there, thus getting the revenue. Even after that, the cost of the prevailing amount of products will remain reasonable.
Another option is to “steal” the contacts of suppliers from the niche competitors. Unfortunately, this approach does not guarantee the same terms your competitors have got from their clients. A nice alternative is to buy wholesale products using the Google search option. This is how you will be able to find trusted retailers. The best variant, though, is to buy products directly from suppliers. This is an ideal, safe and convenient option, because of the absence of dealer charges. However, not all entrepreneurs can find such sources. Much depends upon the trade region and the type of products offered for sale.
All in all, launching an online store is not a technologically complex task. You just need to choose the best tool and have enough time and desire to get involved into this job. What you have to do right from the start is to find the suppliers (if you don’t have them yet) and learn more about the niche you have chosen and the competitors. These factors will affect the success or failure of your endeavor. Do you want to create an online store just to have fun or showcase it to your friends? Probably, not. That’s why, start your web-based business not from the development of your eCommerce website, but from sounding out the situation.
Making a Business Plan
When making a business plan, you should cope with the following tasks:
- Define the target audience, considering the psychological characteristics of your potential customers, their age, purchasing power and other features. The better you explore these factors, the more successful the endeavor will be;
- Define the market capacity and its characteristics, including the level of competition, average charge percentage, demand rate etc.;
- Explore your future product assortment, including the categories of products you are going to showcase, the positions, price categories, manufacturers etc.;
- Calculate the expenses on the development of your website, its promotion and functionality maintenance. If you are going to hire someone, consider the size of salaries and other related expenses;
- Make a project cost recovery forecast.
Listed above are your business objectives, which will help you realize how successful and effective your business is.
The better and more detailed your business plan is, the easier it will be for you to handle the tasks, which require your attention. By considering these important nuances, you won’t miss anything and will be able to improve your business efficacy. The result will not be long in coming.
The Start of an Online Store
If your business plan is ready and you don’t have any doubts regarding the niche and the product source, it is high time to take care of the technical aspect, namely the creation of an online store. The choice of the platform you are going to use to build a website affects the quality of your project and the amount of time/effort you will invest into it.
When it comes to the choice of the best website builder, we can’t but mention Shopify or Volusion, for instance. It is up to you to decide, whether you are going to use any of these tools or keep looking for another alternative. What really matters is the ease and convenience of use. If you have the experience of using any system, which makes it possible to build powerful eCommerce websites, then you are welcome to use it. This will help you save time, when learning the nuances of the web building process. We recommend using a website builder, which comes with a rich variety of quality templates, export/import of products from the charts (CSV, XML) etc. This will notably simplify the completion of the task.
Give preference to the website builder, which meets your web design needs and requirements and start working! Let’s have a look at the sample of the process of starting an online store of clothes.
How to Build an Online Store of Clothes
According to statistics, around 38% of people buy clothes online. This is a bit less as compared to the percentage of customers, who buy electric appliances on the web. Prior to choosing a certain niche, it makes sense to find out what clothes exactly customers are ready to buy without fitting. It is obvious that selling fur coats is not that reasonable, because the prevailing amount of women shopping for them prefer to try on several models before making their choice. The same is about cheap clothes, the quality of which is under the question. People, who are interested in these products, generally shop for them at local markets and shops. These customers generally have low/average income and that is why, they don’t wish to face risks associated with online shopping.
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Build an Online Store of Clothes
- The Choice of the Niche
- The Search of Suppliers
- Online Store Creation
Let’s have a closer look at the steps you need to undergo to build an online store of clothes.
Step 1. The Choice of the Niche
Kids, youth and women attires are among the best selling clothes nowadays. When selling kids clothes, you can enrich the assortment of products with diapers, bottles, comforters, chairs and other related accessories. The same approach can be applied when selling uniforms (for doctors, barbers, waiters etc.) and overalls. These are comparatively young niche markets, which make it possible to find your target audience in a simple and hassle-free way.
Step 2. The Search of Suppliers
When disregarding dropshipping as a major source of products, many online store owners prefer to deal with those suppliers, who offer quality attires at reasonable prices. As mentioned above, it makes sense to go for the wholesale deals, which can bring you the expected revenue if you approach the process properly. If you manage to find a reliable local manufacturer, make it a deal then! This is an ideal option, which involves an affordable cost of products and low shipping expenses.
Step 3. Logistics
Shipping is an essential element of the shopping process. You can make use of the services offered by the local delivery companies, mail services or offer a customer pickup alternative. It is important to think over the realization of this step in advance.
Step 4. Online Store Creation
When choosing a website builder and launching the project, we recommend considering the following nuances:
- An online store should be convenient and easy-to-use, the product descriptions should be informative, while the shopping cart and order buttons should be visible and accessible;
- Offer an online consulting option. This approach will appeal to customers, who have any doubts or wish to specify the nuances. It may be very effective when it comes to the conversion growth. So, don’t overlook this opportunity.
- Dissipate the fear of customers by displaying quality certificates, offering a money back guarantee option and showing the purchase benefits. It makes sense to hire experienced and knowledgeable managers/consultants to cope with these tasks;
- Offer more than your customers may expect. Special offers, bonuses and discounts always work well. Combine the products, offering a discount for the second item. Who doesn’t like bonuses?
- Stay connected. It goes without saying that there is no sense in sending dozens of spam letters to your clients, but you can still make the mailouts notifying your customers about the assortment updates, special offers, versatile bonuses etc. There is a serious objective behind these actions, which implies converting the first-time visitors into returning customers.
If you manage to choose a right approach to the creation of your website, your financial investments will pay off in 2-4 months. Let’s say, you have invested $10000 into the project. A notable part of this sum will be spent on purchasing the products, so, if you offer over 500 of items for sale, the average monthly revenue may be substantial. When practicing drop shipping, you will save money for the procurement. You will additionally have to pay for the website builder plan you have chosen and online promotion of your online store (context advertising, social networking etc.).
The building of an online store does not involve the technical realization of the project (the choice of a website builder) only, but it also implies handling a number of other nuances. You have to find suppliers, decide on the products you are going to sell, solve shipping problems, offer warranty, discounts, convenient payment terms and what not. If you have any doubts, check the websites of large online stores. How are they built? What design do they have? What do they offer? You can make up a checklist of everything you will need to make your project a success. The samples of powerful, functional and effective online trading platforms will help you manage the process in the best way possible.
Technical realization of an online store may require around one week to be fully completed, while the web development process and further promotion of the site may take up to several months. Keep that in mind. Your business will hardly become lucrative and popular without a reliable base and promotion in the search engines. Creation of an online store is a complex task. Be consistent to have high chances for success. Having gained the first results, you can register your business and rent an office. Official business registration and availability of an office always make a positive impression. What’s more, you won’t have any tax problems.
When renting a premise for your office, it makes sense to choose an office building located far from the center of the town to save the money. You can use this place to dispatch orders to the local customers. As soon as your visitors see that you have a local office, specialists working for your company and all the related official documents, the client confidence will increase. This will be a great start for your online business. Good luck!