Starting an online store is something virtually anyone who has access to an internet connection can do. There are services like Shopify that will allow you to create professional-looking fully-functional websites with absolutely no coding knowledge. You can even start an online store without spending a dollar on inventory. If you are intrigued by the idea of owning an online store, here are the steps you need to take to build one.
Choose the Model
The first thing you have to do is understand the growing e-commerce sector and the different types of e-commerce stores that you can open. You could open a store selling your own items that you create from home. Or you could source your items from China or a local supplier and have them shipped directly to your clients.
You also have the option of having someone manufacture your branded products and you storing them. Go with a white-label service that will allow you to slap your brand on their pre-made products, or go with manufacturing on demand.
So, make sure that you look at all of these options and see which ones would work the most for you based on how much money you have to invest, how much effort you’re willing to put into the business, and how much risk you can handle.
Choose a Platform
You will then need to choose a platform for your store. Here, your two main options would be to go with a hosted service like Shopify or Wix or build your website on your own hosting through WordPress.
If you absolutely know nothing about coding and you can’t afford to have your website made by a professional, then hosted platforms can be a good option. But we have to warn you, they can have severe limitations. If you decide to scale up, for instance, then you may not be able to move your site to your own hosting. You may also notice that some of the plugins that you need cost way too much and that there are too many to buy.
With WordPress, you would have full freedom to do whatever you want with the site, hosting or design-wise. And it’s not that complicated to learn either. So, if we were to give you one piece of advice, it would be to at least learn the basics of WordPress and consider hiring a designer to build a solid site for you.
Finding reliable suppliers is probably the single toughest part of e-commerce. If you’re going to go with a manufacturer, then you can’t start visiting plants on your own. Especially if they’re located overseas. You will need to work with a sourcing agent or company who will represent you and give you some sort of credibility.
If you’re going down the drop shipping route, don’t go on Aliexpress and randomly pick suppliers based on how many orders they have. Instead, use a service like Oberlo.
A lot of the people on their database are on Aliexpress, but they have a verification system that allows you to tell which ones are trustworthy. They also have a vast repository of local suppliers. Spocket is another option you can try. Their product selection is not as extensive, but the ordering process is much simpler, so give them a look as well.
Once your store is up, it’s time for you to start advertising it. Start looking at options such as PPC, affiliate marketing, and SEO. You should also explore alternative options like social media marketing. TikTok is a goldmine for e-commerce products right now and offers quite a few interesting advertising options, so check them out to see if they could work for your business.
Starting an e-commerce store is pretty simple, but succeeding as an owner is a completely different thing. This is why you should start with a solid education and take baby steps at the beginning as you’re bound to make errors.