Owning your own e-commerce business is definitely exciting. Not only are you able to get in touch with a huge number of potential customers, but you also get to do things sitting right at home. And of course, additional income is the best part of it all.
What’s surprising actually is the fact that not many people want to move in this direction. In fact, most are too scared to try the idea of creating an online store in the first place. Well, if you know the basics and are willing to spend some quality time in front of the laptop, the whole process is not as complicated as it seems.
Keep in mind that you might struggle initially. But as long as you do your planning, things will turn out in your favor.
So without further ado, let us dive into the world of DIY manufacturing of an e-commerce store.
1. Researching and Planning
This is the first and most important step that you need to start with. What products do you want to focus on for your e-commerce store? Is it something that is already too readily available in the market? Do people know about it? And most essential of all, are customers willing to spend money on your target niche?
These answers will only be apparent when you research thoroughly. Also, check out your competitor’s website so you can get ideas on what you should do and what you should avoid entirely.
Once the guesswork is out of the way, and you are confident on what you plan to sell, you can start creating a business plan. You wouldn’t think about any kind of physical store without a proper business plan, would you?
With the help of a good plan in place, you will be able to make sure that all the steps are taken, and nothing is missed out at the final stage of launch.
Do keep in mind though that there will be hundreds of changes along the way and you do not have to follow your business plan to dot. Just have a general outline ready which includes everything from market research, finances to advertising and marketing your products. This action plan will also assist you in getting a loan from a bank or sponsor if needed.
2. Platform, Domain Name, and Web Address
This is the step from where your online business starts taking shape. Once you are done with planning and product(s) research, you will now have to decide which kind of hosting provider you intend to use.
Unless you are some software expert, purchasing your own domain and creating a website for yourself will be rather difficult. There are too many technicalities involved, and it is best that you avoid diving deep into the technical details unless you already know the nitty-gritty.
The simplest and most affordable option for setting up a small budget yet functional and attractive e-commerce store is investing time and money in hosting providers.
There are quite a few available options that you can choose from like Shopify, YoKart, Wix eCommerce, Magento, and Bigcommerce. These websites take monthly charges ranging from $30-$300 and will provide you with multiple options for you to come up with any kind of e-commerce store that you need.
You can literally use any kind of theme and setup that you like best. These websites also let you purchase your own domain name so that you are more in control of what you do and how you run things without dealing with technical confusions of web development.
You also have the option of hiring a web developer who can create a fantastic website for you, but that pretty much takes hundreds of dollars that you may not possess, as you are only starting up.
If you have an extravagant budget, great as you can then have a website just like Sophie & Trey, otherwise you can start the business with a hosting provider and then get your own business website once the store is up and running.
3. Design & Theme
Not many people pay attention to website design, but you will be surprised to know that this is what matters most to site visitors. They are interested in the product, yes, but if your website does not appeal to their aesthetics, then the chances of their coming back are meager.
Think of it this way, would you want to buy toys from a site that looks like it’s made for collared business people, meaning it is mostly in monochromes without any beautiful pictures and videos?
The answer is obvious. Hence the reason why you need to think of a theme and design that is as per the liking of your target market. If you want to impress parents who are shopping for their toddlers, go all rainbow colored with lots of big fonts and kiddie pictures.
On the other hand, if your products are related to medical equipment for seniors, you need to have videos on how to use them and colors that are soothing and comforting. Even a slightly dull background color can throw off the experience.
If you have a store, it means you have varieties of things, even if it is the same product. For example, if your e-commerce store is about hair products and accessories, then you need to have categories for different brands and all the types of accessories you own. Come up with inventory, have good pictures and arrange everything categorically.
The clearer things are, the more likely people will be to shop from your store. Be sure to list out prices right below the product, so visitors do not have to search for actual costs.
Your inventory requires constant supervision. Therefore once the website is up and running, check up on products every day. If you run out of anything, mention it, so that no one is disappointed or feels cheated.
5. Call to Action
Every website has a call to action where you clearly tell the visitor how they need to proceed on your site. You need one too for your e-commerce site.
Be clear, precise and emphatic. Nobody wants to search for meaning in your prose nor does anyone have the time to go over large chunks of boring text. So tell them exactly what you want the visitors to do and how to do it. The simpler you are, the more they will be willing to follow your instructions.
6. Shopping Cart
Your shopping cart or the checkout procedure must be simple so that people from all age groups can use it without any hassle. The slower this process, the less likely anyone is going to come back. One-step checkouts and guest checkouts are always a hit with the customers. Remember, the first step of you checkout sets the tone for the entire buying experience.
Make a clear sign of the checkout processes and the payment options customers have.
Giving people the option of free home delivery increases chances of a sale. So be sure to include this in your customer’s shopping experience.
7. Market Your Heart Out
Just because you now own an online store does not mean that people will find out about it magically. Word of mouth is good, but you need to publicize and advertise as much as possible. This is where social media comes into the picture. Be sure to have a Facebook page, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube accounts. These places are going to increase your exposure to the world and let people from all over discover you. Email marketing also does wonders, so be sure to use that as well.
One of the best ways to make any marketing campaign successful is to give people a sense of urgency. Be ready to send out small samples or gifts to let’s say, first 20 visitors to your online store. You can also have discounts or gift coupons for people who check out your age and refer it to other or if they make a purchase. This will not only cause fame for your website but also increase visitors.
8. Ask for Feedback
There is nothing a customer wants more than being able to give their honest opinion. So allow them to have a voice. Before they leave the page after shopping (or even before) question them on what they liked, disliked and might want to be changed. You don’t necessarily have to do everything a customer says, but their opinion might be beneficial. And it will also create a sense of closeness between the store and the customer.
Coming up with an entire online store is neither as difficult nor as easy as it may seem. Yes, it requires hard work, but once things are in the process, the day to day running does not demand too many efforts. You just need to be in love with your idea and plans to execute them in the best way possible. So follow all the tips mentioned above and see how smoothly things go. Good luck!