How to Start an Online Store
Here’s how to start an online store in 5 simple steps:
Choose What to Sell Online
Consider Fulfillment and Dropshipping
Find an eCommerce Platform
Name Your Business and Get a Domain
Brand Your Online Store
01. Choose What to Sell Online
If you’re starting an online store from scratch, choose your products based on your audience. What age, gender and interests do you want to market to? This is your target audience. Keep your target audience in mind and research what they’re buying online now.
Optimize a popular product. Check the leading brands’ reviews to see what customers like and what they’re missing. For example, if you want to sell backpacks, read up on reviews for North Face, Herschel and Fjallraven bags.
Sell items that are easy to ship. With eCommerce, it’s best to stick with products that are non-fragile, lightweight, and contain few moving parts. Shipping gets complicated when batteries or magnets are involved, so avoid those as well.
Check that you’ll make a profit. Estimate your ROI (return on investment): first, look at your competitors to determine your approximate pricing. Then calculate how much you’ll need to sell to cover your business costs.
Check that your product fulfils a need. What can you sell that can help or excite your customers?
Here are some ways to find trending or niche products:
Look at product roundups in top shopping publications, like New York Magazine’s The Strategist
Check top search terms with tools like Google Trends
Get inspired by up-and-coming products on Kickstarter’s most popular lists
02. Consider Fulfillment and Dropshipping
If you’re dedicated to selling your own products, think creatively. What cost-effective item can you produce? Choose something that’s easy to store in the space you have.
To save space and upfront costs, start your eCommerce business by dropshipping. With a dropshipping service like Modalyst, you can sell other suppliers’ products. The supplier will manage inventory and fulfillment of your orders—you’ll only need to handle your online storefront and marketing.
How does dropshipping work?
You choose the products you want to dropship and set your own prices
A shopper purchases one of the products by paying on your site
You forward the customer’s order and pay the supplier
The supplier ships the product directly to your customer’s address
03. Find an eCommerce Platform
Your website will be the face of your brand. To make the best impression on customers, make your pages stunning. Choose an eCommerce platform that gives you professional business tools and full design customization.
There are plenty of website-building platforms to choose from, including Wix, WordPress and Shopify.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing an eCommerce platform:
Pricing: Does the platform have a package that meets your eCommerce needs? Are marketing tools and business management built into the plan?
Design capabilities: Does the platform offer website templates? How easy is it to customize your storefront’s design?
eCommerce features: How easy is it to navigate the platform’s product gallery? Can you customize your checkout experience or add online chat?
Mobile view: Does your website builder optimize for mobile? Will shoppers be able to browse on their phones?
A website builder like Wix checks out on all these categories, especially with affordable pricing plans and flexible design capabilities. Set up your online store with Wix or explore other options for your business.
04. Name Your Business and Get a Domain
Work on creating a memorable name for your business. Brainstorm words associated with your product, industry, values or what makes your brand unique. Use this word bank to put together your brand name. You can also use a business name generator for more ideas.
To guide your business name choice, consider SEO. Find terms shoppers are using by checking related online searches and Google Trends. For more tips on keyword research, use Wix SEO Guide.
Include your product category or a specific product in your name so shoppers know what you offer right away. For example, if you’re selling hats, you can include the word “accessories,” “fedoras” or “caps”.
Above all, make sure your business name stands out.
Here are some ways to choose a unique brand name:
Research your direct competitors
Search your name ideas on Google and social media
Check your local business registration service
Once you’ve decided on a name, get a professional domain for your site. To choose the best domain name, match your store name exactly. This will help your customers find you online.
05. Brand Your Online Store
Make your eCommerce store unforgettable with strong branding. Branding includes everything from your business’ name to your image. Play with colors that are relevant to your products, like blues and greens for environmentally friendly water bottles.
Create a logo with simple shapes and clearly legible words. You’ll want to create an image that’s instantly recognizable, whether it’s a small social icon or a part of your packaging.
An effective brand identity can help foster customer loyalty from the start. Given a professional website and a consistent brand, your customers are more likely to purchase.
Your Checklist: How to Set up an Online Store
Decide what products to sell
Choose to dropship or produce your own products
Build your site on an eCommerce platform
Name your business and register a domain
Brand your business with a great logo