Have you ever thought about running your own shop? Well, thanks to the internet it’s just got so much easier.
What are you going to sell? This is the first step, if you don’t already have a product, what is it that you want to sell?
You need to do a good amount of research before starting an online shop, study consumers buying habits, who is your target market? How much money do they have to spend on the products that you want to sell? How much room is there for upscaling?
Profile your target customer, who is the ideal customer for your online shop? What age are they, where do they live, what are their hobbys?
What will you need:
- Web Hosting – the only reason you would not need to buy this is if you were using shopify which includes web hosting in the costs.
- Web Domain – You will need a web domain
- Marketing budget
- A market
- Time to dedicate to your business
- A platform
- A good supplier
Establishing your competitors
Is there anyone else already selling the same or something similar? If the product that you are selling does not yet exist are there and patents that may be standing that your product infringes? If there are other people selling the same thing this is often a good sign, it means there is a market for the product, however it does often mean you need to differentiate yourself, or have the time/money to beat people in search engine rankings or social media.
You should try to make your shop unique, establish your own niche within the market.
Places to get everything you need to start your own online shop
- Shopify – Hosting is supplied
- Woocommerce – It is free, and because it is a plugin for WordPress you get all the power of WordPress too. A lot of great themes you can buy on their site also.
- Ebay – Ebay is often a good choice in getting started and testing the waters, many people will tell you that they prefer being able to manage their own shop on a platform such as WordPress for example.
- WordPress – Want to host your shop yourself and avoid the fees? You wont have to worry about a 1% transaction fee but you will need to do a bit of development yourself.
- Namecheap hosting and domains
- E-Junkie – Can be used alongside WordPress to help you easily sell product
- Marketpress – Powerful, free and feature rich with good support and documentiation, again with the power and support of WordPress. (Sell physical or digital products!!)
- Businesslink – business advice
- User Voice – Indispensable customer feedback software.
- Tweepi – Build a strong twitter following
- Trendy Flash – Flash shops, facebook pages, mobile pages etc..
- Ultimate coming soon page – It is free and works with WordPress
There is little point in entertaining yourself with other scripts that don’t have as widespread support as WordPress, Shopify, Ejunkie and Ebay, unless you really need something that these don’t provide however that is quite unlikely.
An online shop does not have to sell your own products, you can in-fact sell other peoples products as an “affiliate”.
You could make just as much if not more money as an affiliate, however there is a lot of criticism around this, does not though mean it is not possible. With the right idea, much like shopow, you could for example make an Amazon “astore” just for one product range, perhaps mobiles, and you’d find all of the cheapest and best smartphones, working with Api’s and affiliates to create a custom store may require hard coding, (programming knowledge), there are some scripts around, like price comparison scripts but to be unique you really need to customise them quite heavily or build your own.
How to get people interested in your new online shop?
Make a big hazoo, because SEO takes quite some time, your going to want to find other ways of getting attention, you can’t rely on Google to start with. You could buy some ad space in Google searches, and as a new business you’ll probably get hold of a free voucher quite easily for Adwords and Bing, you may want to create a “countdown to launch” page and use social media to direct traffic to the page and collect emails, the idea is to give away some sort of incentive to the people who first discover your shop.
Testing the waters
You can always start out small, with 1 product for example, see how it goes, then implement more, it is often far-better to be concise and focus on one product then it is to go in with too many products. You may find that you want to tweak things as you go along, as you learn more about what your audience wants, remember audience feedback is paramount there are plenty of ways that you can gain this.
If you are doing business online you should have some sort of social presence, it is great to inform your customers of new products, promotions and to generate leads. You can get leads by using Twitter search, find people who are talking about things related to your product, follow them, wait a few days and then tweet out an offer. Use Tweepi to gain targeted followers, follow related peoples followers, wait a week then unfollow those that don’t follow you back in that time.
Create a Facebook fanpage with a welcome tab that convinces them to “like” the page, maybe give them an exclusive voucher code. Encourage sharing, be personal with your followers.
Getting repeat customers
Most if not all shops need repeat customers to sustain their business, it makes perfect sense to offer related products, or the same product again to a customer, if they like it, maybe they want to buy one for a friend, for a birthday, or maybe the product needs refills, what related products could you sell to make some more money?
To get repeat customers you could try things such as subscribing customers to a newsletter unless they opt-out to give them news on your products, updates and special offers to entice them to come back. Well here is a related product but we know you’ve already spent out some money on the first product so we have created a voucher code to save you some money!
Use social media to create a “following”, twitter is often good for this, try to follow targeted people who are talking about your product or things relating to your product, use twitter search and tweepi..
- Get customer feedback
- Start small and expand slowly.
- Keep emphasis on quality and service.
- Expand your product line when you are sure your marketing is effective.
- Research existing competitors
- Build a good following
- Create special offers and send your voucher codes out to voucher code sites to promote
Good Luck! for more help, join us in our forum.