Used to be, the reach of a business extended roughly to its front doors, with a listing in the Yellow Pages or ads in the local paper to draw in potential customers.
Then the internet has changed everything. Growing businesses can connect with customers across the planet, limited only by their ability to ship their products.
That said, the internet is a vast, chaotic mass. How can you start an online store with global reach that will stand out and cut through the noise?
By adding an online store to your current website, blog, or social media accounts.
How to Start an Online Store With a Global Reach
1. Sell on Your Blog
2. Sell on WordPress
3. Sell on Blogger
4. Social Selling
Learning how to start an online store involves more than just getting your products on the page- it’s about digging into a niche, connecting with an audience, and developing a sales funnel that pulls in potential customers and gets your products out there.
Luckily, the eCommerce market is constantly growing and developing alongside the overall economy. Embedding products is one the most important techniques out there because it allows you to seamlessly sell your wares anywhere your audience hangs out online.
Already running a blog, or active on social media? One of the most exciting aspects here is the opportunity to build up a persona and a brand that work hand in hand. You can intertwine your business with your existing content for a richer, more engaging online presence. It takes tact and a little technical know-how to do it right, but don’t worry- that’s what we’re here for.
In this article, we’re digging into some key platforms for expanding an online presence into a storefront, and we’ve got plenty of tips and tricks to help you do it right.
How to Start an Online Store (That Exists Across the Web)
Let’s start with the basics. There are two main ways how to start an online store with a range of digital homes: embedding products and embedding full stores.
Embedded products take the form of buy now buttons and widgets, which are small code snippets that you can paste into just about any site with an HTML editor.
Buy now buttons are single products. These can be a great way to showcase a related product in a blog post, for example, or to hype a new release on social media.
Widgets, on the other hand, feature multiple products. Adding a widget to a page showcases your offerings more broadly. These are particularly strong options if your product line is eye-catching and you want customers to get sucked in by your range of exciting visuals.
Embedding a full store works similarly to embedding buy buttons and widgets.
The key difference is one of scale- you’re just placing an online store you’ve built on an eCommerce platform within another site.
This is a particularly useful tool if you already have an online presence and want to add a new page to your site that features your entire product line.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re already running a blog focused around health and wellness. You’re getting a lot of traffic and you’ve developed a range of products that you’re proud of. You can quickly embed a full online store into your blog, use buy buttons to add clear calls-to-action to specific posts, and include eye-catching widgets in your guest posts on other sites.
Embedding an online store for purchases from your blog is easier than collecting payments by email or with an untested plugin. It’s also more secure.
Wondering how to start an online store on your blog? Let’s get into it in some more depth.
Sell on Your Blog
We’re a far cry from the time that blogging was a niche hobby, relegated to the dark corners of the internet. Millions of individuals have found blogging to be an exciting way to share their ideas and perspectives with a global audience.
It’s not just individuals, either. According to recent research, over half of marketers find that content creation is their number one priority for inbound marketing. In part, this is because it gives their brands a more human face and allows them to engage their customers and provide value long before a successful sale.
Sites with a blog are also far easier for search engines to crawl, meaning that they often rank higher in searches. Regardless of an individual company’s priorities, 70% of consumers come in contact with a company via their content rather than their ads (source).
Strong content establishes you as an authority in your niche. It puts forward a convincing argument for your product at the same time as it provides value to your audience.
The good news: If you’re already running a blog or a website hosted on a blogging site, you have a huge leg-up getting started in eCommerce. You’re already building up authority in your field (and on search engines) so once you know how to start an online store you can upcycle the wealth of content you’ve created to market your new product.
Don’t worry if you’re not that far along, though. If you’re looking to dip a toe into the blogging world alongside your broader business plans, there are a ton of sites out there that streamline the process of web design and integrate seamlessly with eCommerce platforms.
Sell on WordPress
WordPress is the first site that comes to mind for blogging, and with good reason. WP powers almost one-third of the internet, and has an intuitive editor that combines power with simplicity. WordPress makes it super easy for you to embed individual products or a full store into your site.
Already running a successful blog? Check out our simple guide to building a business on that foundation.
Maybe you’re just trying to embed a store into a WordPress site and looking for the simplest option. We’ve got that too.
Finally, we have a fantastic guide Start Selling on WordPress in 9 Simple Steps to get you through starting your blog, from purchasing a domain name and hosting plan to integrating it with your eCommerce platform.
Sell on Blogger
Launched in 1999, Blogger is another popular site that makes it easy to get your content out onto the internet without complex coding and web design knowledge. They offer a range of stylish templates for building blogs, and you can use a free domain within their site, or purchase your own in minutes.
Similar to WordPress, you can embed a full store, buy buttons, and widgets with no hassle. 3 Simple Ways to Create a Blogger Online Store explores a handful of different ways to supercharge your Blogger site with eCommerce tools.
At this point, you might be wondering how to start an online store that seamlessly connects to your social media presence. Not to worry- we’ve got everything you need right here.
We’ve covered a range of social media platforms in depth over the years, like Facebook, so we’ll focus in on a couple of media channels that we’ve given less attention.
Let’s start with Twitter. Using buy buttons on Twitter is a fantastic tool for connecting your audience with your specific products. As of 2018, 280 characters is the limit for a single Tweet. This is essentially the length of a quick product description, which can be a powerful selling tool when combined with strong imagery and the history of your social presence.
Selz lets you share products directly from your store to Twitter, so you can get your products out in minutes. Running a special discount or pushing a particular product? Consider pinning that post to the top of your page.
Tumblr is a particularly strong platform for artists looking to connect with their audience. Founded in 2007, Tumblr’s calling card is its gorgeous visual design, not to mention its engaged community. Luckily, Tumblr also integrates seamlessly with eCommerce. Check out our guide on How to Add an Online Store to Your Tumblr Site to learn more.
A couple of tips for Tumblr:
- Digital piracy is an issue across the web. If you are selling images, consider using watermarks on anything you post online.
- Post a range of content. Don’t focus exclusively on calls to buy.
- If you’re running a blog elsewhere, don’t rebuild it on Tumblr. Focus instead on building up a base of exciting, fun content and attracting followers.
- Get creative! Tumblr users appreciate exciting, unique content.
Beyond selling, video is a fantastic method for getting information across, showing off products, and building up your digital persona. For inspiration, check out the ways that these five entrepreneurs use Youtube to sell online.
Sell Online Like a Pro
Selling online requires tactful, razor-sharp communication skills. Before we wrap up, let’s talk about some best practices to increase conversions.
Remember that overloading customers with too much information and too many calls-to-action will hurt your sales. Instead, pinpoint places on your site that naturally lead to a sales pitch.
We recommend using targeted blog posts and landing pages for these kinds of communications. The rest of your site can focus more on providing value to consumers and offering the kind of content that will keep them coming back again and again.
Consider embedding your products in a sidebar on your page. This technique is less invasive than constantly embedding products in text, and comes with the added bonus of following users across your site. It’s also a clean, professional look. Check out the linked article to learn more about this technique and other best practices for working with buy buttons and widgets.
Overlays are boxes of new content “overlaid” over the page when your customer takes a specific action. They are a helpful tool for giving users a great shopping experience without having to leave your site. This builds customer confidence and increases conversions because they don’t have to jet back and forth across the web for a single purchase.
Try visiting the home pages, blogs, and social media of some of your favorite brands. See how they approach sales, and make note of what you like and don’t like. For inspiration, try comparing and contrasting the approaches of Patagonia, Modcloth, Dollar Shave Club, and Adobe, and remember that megabrands get huge for a reason.
Continue to Learn and Grow
Learning how to start an online store involves so much more than just creating a page. It’s about building connections with customers that you may or may not ever meet face-to-face. Don’t worry if that sounds intimidating.
Continually refine your messaging and content, and find new, innovative ways to approach your existing platforms. While you don’t want to spread yourself too thin, you may choose to add new platforms to your approach as you move forward.
Grow your product line over time, and explore partnerships with other brands in complementary niches. Guest post around the web to build up high-authority links back to your site.
Whether you’re looking to create a stylish online store for your brand or use buttons and widgets to spread your products across the internet (or both!), Selz is a streamlined and intuitive eCommerce platform that turns brands into online powerhouses. Learn more and try a free 14-day trial of Selz.