Online selling has become globally popular with nearly one-fourth of the world’s population shopping online[i]. It is estimated that the annual business from e-commerce or online selling in 2017 was $29 trillion. It is believed[ii] that by 2040, 95% of all sales will happen online. This represents a huge potential for earning that you can explore. All you need to do is start an online store and you can reach out to the millions of online shoppers and sell your product.
The demand for online selling is growing every year. Thousands of entrepreneurs are earning money from the comfort of their homes by starting an online store. You don’t even need an office or pay rent. If you have a product to sell, you can start an online store and establish a presence in the world of e-commerce. If the idea interests you, then read on to know how to start an online store.
- Decide the product to sell
The basic pre-requisite to start an online store is to have one or more products to sell. The product can be anything. It can be a book that you have written, cookies that you have baked, a painting that you have created, a dress that you have designed, or a device that you have manufactured. You may be having a production unit where you create the product or you may make the product at home. It all depends on the product you are planning to sell.
It could be a product that you are already selling offline or can be a new offering. What you need to note is there would be similar products like yours available online. If you want to run an online store, you need to be able to differentiate your products from competitors. Try to create a niche offering that will help you find buyers easily. Your product must have something unique about it to attract customers.
- Establish a business model
Creating a unique product will allow you to sell it a price of your choice. Pricing is an important aspect to keep in mind while starting an online store. You need to create a business model that explains how you will create your product, how much money is involved in making the product, and at what price will you sell it. You can define your business model and put in down on paper in the form of a business plan. A planned approach to business will help you do things systematically.
It is not necessary to have a unique product, you can even have a product that is commonplace in the market, like a dress. You can even buy the dress from someone else and sell it online. The key here is the pricing. You need to buy at a low price and sell at a high enough price to get a profit. In online sales, volume makes a difference. Even if you earn a very small profit, if you are able to sell large quantities, you can make a neat profit.
- Do a test run
Once you decide on your product, do a test run to find out the reaction of the market. You can register on a popular online store like Amazon and sell your product. Find out if customers are willing to buy your product. Take their feedback and use it to improve your product. If you do not want to sell on other portals, sell it using social media. Promote the test run of your product on websites like Facebook and Instagram.
A test run will help you find out if you can get the price you demand. You can also know how effective your business model is. It also helps you find out issues related to product delivery, packaging, sales, etc. The experience you gain in this test launch will be helpful later.
- Launch your own website
It is now time to launch your own website. First, decide on a name for your online store. Try to get a website address that has your brand name. Ensure that the name is simple and easy to recall. Registering a website is easy and you can do it on any of the online web registrars. After registering the website, you need to add content that is well designed. If you are proficient in web design, you can do it yourself. Else, you can hire someone to do it for you. Select an experienced developer who can create a top-quality website. Remember that the appearance of the website will help to attract customers.
- Stock up on the product and plan for delivery
Whatever may be the product you are dealing, make sure you have sufficient stock. Deciding stock levels is tricky. You need adequate stock to be able to deliver orders on time. Decide on how you will deliver the product. You can partner with a courier or logistics company to deliver products on your behalf. Once you are established, you can think of having your own delivery fleet.
- Add e-commerce functionality to your website
Your website must be e-commerce enabled. This will help you create an online catalog where customers can view your products online and add them to a virtual shopping cart. Once they are done shopping, they can place an order and make the payment. You need to enable online payment on your website for convenience of customers. You can leave the technical aspects to professional e-commerce developers or do it yourself, if you know web development.
- Market your online store and start selling
Once your online store is up, launch it formally. You can use social media to promote your website. You can also place online ads to promote your online store. Have a marketing plan in place to promote your store. It is very important that your initial customers are extremely satisfied. You can then look forward to them promoting your products to others.
If you have a quality product, which is delivered on time, and offer good customer service, you can look forward to running a profitable online store.