If you’re an entrepreneur looking to start running your eCommerce store, you may also be overwhelmed with several big questions, such as where to start, what to sell, how to build an online store, etc. Becoming an online retailer might be easier than you think, although it requires dedication and enough time for you to do some research. From developing your idea to launching the store or joining a b2b online marketplace, there are many subjects you’ll need to cover and fully understand. Thankfully, eCommerce businesses seem to be continually on the rise, so your chances of success can be pretty high once you learn how to become an online retailer and how to build an online store. It doesn’t matter whether you focus on selling via online marketplaces like Safex or independently, we’ve listed and explained all the required steps that will help you achieve your goal:
1. Build a business plan
Every successful business starts with a robust plan; without it, any move you attempt to make will end up being a shot in the dark. A business plan for your online store should cover everything from managing, financing to marketing. Once you establish a clear idea of your business and what you want it to become, you’ll ensure a good start and steady growth for your company. The following tips can help you build your business plan:
- Get to know your customers. By familiarizing yourself with your audience, you can save a lot of money you’d otherwise spend on marketing and ads.
- Define a clear goal. You’ll be much more productive once you define a singular and clear intent.
- Invest enough time in research. Conducting some research on how to become an online retailer should be your daily task until you achieve your goal.
- Keep your plan to the point. It should be easy to read, short, and concise enough.
2. Select products to sell
Even though you’ve probably covered this topic briefly while making your business plan, it needs to be further developed and thought out. For instance, if you don’t have a particular idea of what your products might be, you can turn to Google Analytics and find a market that’s not over-crowded. Having something you’re passionate about and turning it into a product you can sell online is fantastic. However, if you’re struggling with that option, you can always find a niche that won’t bring too many competitors but will ensure an opportunity for you to stand out.
3. Get to know your competitors
Let’s be honest; you can’t expect to run a business without any competitors. So if that’s already an inevitable case, you should always pay attention to them. Competition is not necessarily a bad thing - moreover, it’s an excellent source of information and inspiration. Therefore, you shouldn’t just be aware of it - you should get to know it. To be sure - no one supports hacking into your competitors’ systems and stealing their data, but there is valuable information you can get just by paying attention to how they work. Take a look at their website, products, social media and see their position on the market. With a bit of research, you’ll find what works for them and what their challenges are. And then, you’ll be able to use their weak spots and turn them into your strengths.
4. Keeping your own inventory vs. Dropshipping?
Your next step in becoming an online retailer should be choosing between keeping your inventory and dropshipping. Let’s first briefly explain the meaning of these two before getting into their pros and cons. Keeping your own inventory means having a warehouse to stock your products and ship them to your customers once you receive an order. On the other hand, dropshipping refers to operating an eCommerce business without actually holding the inventory. Dropshippers receive orders from the customer, forward them to their suppliers, and then suppliers send the products directly to the customers. That way, a person who does dropshipping never even gets in touch with the products. To select one of these options, you first need to understand their advantages and disadvantages.
- Keeping inventory pros and cons: Keeping your inventory allows greater control over customer service and shipping options. It also brings a lower risk of of stock shortages shortages. On the other hand, it requires a significant initial investment since you typically have to provide a warehouse and take care of the picking and packing costs.
- Dropshipping pros and cons: Dropshipping doesn’t require much of an initial investment since you don’t need to pay for a warehouse or buy products in order to sell them. It also allows you to sell various products at virtually zero risks. However, it also reduces the control of order fulfillment since you can’t guarantee that your supplier will restock on time.
5. Register your domain name
Look at it this way: your website is a house, so it needs its address. The address consists of a string of convenient letters for people to remember and a series of numbers, also known as an Internet Protocol (IP) address. Computers use the IP address, and the domain name is used by your customers when they want to access your website; it’s almost like a fingerprint in terms of its uniqueness, and it can’t be shared among other websites. Here are a few tips on choosing the right domain name:
- Keep it simple, short, and memorable; avoid making it a complete sentence,
- Avoid using numbers and hyphens,
- Make sure not to have a misspelled domain name.
6. Learn about eCommerce laws
Although eCommerce laws are somewhat similar to brick-and-mortar business regulations, there are a few things you’ll need to pay more attention to:
- Security and Privacy concerns: It’s no news that online buyers are much more concerned with their security and privacy. After all, you’ll have access to their valuable information, including personal data, contact information, credit card numbers, etc. If at any point your customers get a feeling your business does not provide security, they’ll be gone in a blink of an eye.
- Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks: You don’t want any legal complications after setting up your store. That’s why you need to pay close attention to these three terms and make sure not to violate any of them: patents (which protect inventions), copyrights (which protect works of authorship), and trademarks (used to protect logos, brands, and company names).
- Online sales taxing: Online businesses in the US collect sales taxes in two ways. The first one refers to companies with a physical presence, so they must collect sales taxes from customers in their state. The second one relates to businesses that don’t have a physical presence and therefore don’t need to pay for sales taxes.
7. Create your website
For some of you, this may be the fun part - creating your website. Once again, you have several different platforms to choose from. These platforms typically provide themes, product categories, headers, etc., for you to choose from. Shopify is one of the most popular options, but you can also choose from numerous Shopify alternatives. We advise you to consider selecting a blockchain-based eCommerce platform (such as Safex Market powered by Safex Blockchain) because they offer more security for your business and its transactions, lower commission fees, and a new approach to worldwide trading.
8. Develop advertising and marketing strategies
Once you’ve completed all the previous steps, you can launch your online store and start making sales. Still, keep in mind it doesn’t mean you should sit back and wait for customers to come to you. To ensure your business’ growth and improve your sales rate, you’ll need to establish a few more strategies, including SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Email Marketing, Social Media Marketing, etc.
After you’ve thoroughly researched, fully understood, and implemented the steps we listed in this How to Become an Online Retailer guide, you can start enjoying your business. Some strategies you implement will pay off in a short time, and others will require some patience. That’s why it’s essential to give your online store some time and space to grow, and frequently review the analytics, and conduct A/B testing. That will help you realize what works great and what needs to be changed or updated. Knowing how some online markets are working could help make some decisions. Don't be shy, try them out by learning, researching and, ordering online.