Wondering how to start an online video game store? It makes sense. After all, with over 164 million adults in the US playing video games, selling video games online seems like a no-brainer.
It’s exciting stuff. Where else can you find revolutionary changes happening on a near-constant basis? Experts say the industry as a whole could be worth $90 billion by 2020. With more and more market share moving online, it’s an exciting time to get in on the action.
Let’s dig into how to start an online video game store that can succeed in the long run.
How to Start an Online Video Game Store: The Ultimate Guide
1. Figure Out What You’ll Sell
2. Do Your Research
3. Find Your Niche
4. Build Up Content Around Your Niche
5. Sell in a Range of Places
How to Start an Online Video Game Store: Figure Out What You’ll Sell
So, video games, obviously. Thing is, the video game market is multifaceted, so there are a ton of potential options here, spanning a range of product types.
Potential products your business can sell online include:
- Physical games (both used and new)
- Consoles, hardware (i.e. controllers, cables, and head-sets)
- Game guides
- Game-related merchandise
- Downloadable games
- Hardware repairs
One of the great things about getting in on this market is the ability to sell physical products, digital products, and services all from a single store.
There’s a lot of opportunities to explore a broad product line and see what resonates best with your audience.
As you think products, remember that nostalgia plays a huge role in gaming culture.
After all, with the constant reinvention of the gaming industry over the past thirty years or so, many gamers long for the simpler games of their youth. Retro games and retro consoles are increasingly valuable collectibles. Repairing, refurbishing, and selling these items can be a great way to build a loyal audience.
How to Start an Online Video Game Store: Do Your Research
If you’re trying to learn how to start an online video game store, chances are you’re already a gamer, and that’s a huge advantage.
You’ll have a better sense of which classics are worth hunting down and which new releases have the most buzz. You’ll also be better situated to help your customers find what they need, vastly improving their experience with your store.
Personal knowledge will only get you so far, though. Keyword research can be a great way to see what consumers are already searching for. It can also help you get a sense of what is important to shoppers. Tools like Ahrefs and Moz are great for shaping your product listings and content to compete for attention in search engines.
Where to get your gaming products
You’ll also need to figure out how your independent game store is going to source your products. The profit margins on brand new games can be razor thin, so you’ll need a solid approach. Consider ordering only a couple copies of some new releases and pairing those with an upsell at checkout.
Used games, retro games, and refurbished gear will likely offer a higher profit margin. You’ll need to decide on your standard mark-up from the price you’ve bought them for and build an acquisition process into your business plan.
Look for partners
One more note: there’s a whole world of indie development out there. You might find that partnering with these smaller (or solo) developers helps to build your audience.
Smaller game companies won’t have the same name recognition or reach as triple-A developers like Ubisoft and EA. That said, they may be more likely to allow you to host some of their games as digital downloads from your site. These partnerships can drive traffic to your site and win your business a loyal audience within your niche.
Speaking of which…
How to Start an Online Video Game Store: Find Your Niche
While the video game market is huge, a handful of major players dominate most of the action. Gamestop rules physical stores, Steam covers digital downloads, and large retailers like Amazon and Best Buy get the bulk of online sales. Finding ways to stand out is key.
Selling online comes with some huge advantages right off the bat. While you will still need space to hold your inventory, you’ll also save huge amounts on rent, utilities, and all the other expenses that come with a physical store.
Getting going, you’ll probably want to sell more than just games and consoles. This is great news if you already run a business (like an online electronics store) that sells items complementary to the games market.
Video game nostalgia and hardcore gamers
Toys, memorabilia, collectibles, board games, and other physical products can extend your reach. They also make great upsells and bundles at checkout. You have a great chance here to meet the demand for nostalgia items. Who doesn’t love a great t-shirt or phone case?
You’ll probably find that hardcore gamers are an easier market to tap into.
This is because they’re more immersed in the online world of games and approach buying a little differently. Where casual consumers tend to go direct to a site like Amazon, hardcore gamers might be more likely to support smaller businesses. They’re also willing to search harder for the exact niche items they’re craving.
How to Start an Online Video Game Store: Build Up Content Around Your Niche
If you already love video games, you’re at a big advantage here. There are endless opportunities to create exciting content and a ton of different ways to connect that content to your niche.
Reviews are a huge part of gaming culture. If you want to learn how to start an online video game store you can build up currency within the community by joining the conversation.
Consider putting together your “best of” list for the current year. Be sure to add helpful links direct to your product pages. Retrospectives on the great games of different console generations or genres (i.e. The 10 Best Adventure Games of All Time) are another way to drive traffic.
Game walkthroughs, speed runs, and boss guides are both helpful and enjoyable for many gamers and can help build your audience.
In a similar vein, Let’s Play videos and live streaming on Youtube and Twitch are other ways to connect to the gaming community.
Video has the obvious advantage of allowing you to showcase actual gameplay footage. But don’t forget- written content can more easily compete for keywords on Google.
Spend some time figuring out the best approach for your skillset and your team.
How to Start an Online Video Game Store: Sell in a Range of Places
Regardless of what you’re selling, you need to find ways to get your products in front of customers wherever they would naturally hang out. It’s why businesses buy ad space on bus shelters and spend more on commercials during the Superbowl.
Online, your approach needs to be a little different.
Multichannel selling is your best bet for growing your games business. A Facebook store is a great way to create a seamless buying experience from scrolling to point of sale, as is tagging your physical products on Instagram.
Google Shopping is a powerful tool for creating ads based on individual product listings and targeting your ideal customers. This can be particularly useful if you have unique items that your customers will struggle to find elsewhere- a Japanese import of Earthbound, say, or a Super Nintendo in mint condition. Learn how to build Google Shopping ads here.
The “multichannel” concept can also extend beyond the internet. Conventions, pop-ups, and tournaments are all places to connect with potential customers. The trick is finding a specific niche, then casting a wide net.
Ready to get going? The video game industry is gearing up for a new generation of consoles in 2020. This means huge changes are right around the corner. It’s an exciting time to get your business in on the action.
Start researching and building up a presence in your chosen niche. Look for places to source your games, hardware, and merch, and put together a plan for selling across a range of platforms.
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