Opening your first online store is a venture that is going to spark a number of questions. In fact, you may still be figuring out some of the finer details of how to create an online store even if you’ve done it a dozen times. After all, the internet is a medium that’s still evolving at the speed of light and the wants and habits of today’s customers evolve almost as fast.
Still, an old piece of wisdom says that the key to getting the right answers is asking the right questions. With that said, here are the top four questions on how to create an online store and their answers.
How do I Get Started?
If you aren’t sure how to get started building an online store, you’re in the right place! Researching information from a reliable source is certainly a step in the right direction when you’re first figuring out how to create an online store.
Fortunately, creating an online store isn’t a difficult process at all. It’s creating a successful one that is going to take a little work. Once you’ve chosen a product, a basic business strategy, a domain name, and a hosting service/e-commerce platform, building an online store is relatively simple. Of course, how simple it truly ends up being depends largely on the e-commerce platform you choose, so be sure to pick one that walks you through the process of creating your store and makes designing it from the ground up as simple and intuitive as possible.
How Much is it Going to Cost?
For many new startups, budgets can be razor thin. Fortunately, building a website is likely going to be one of the more affordable parts of starting a new business. Compared to stocking inventory or purchasing any necessary supplies, building a website shouldn’t take up too much of your startup budget.
The first cost you are likely to incur is securing a domain. While premium domains can be quite costly (think thousands of dollars or more) domains that are not comprised of extremely common search words or phrases are quite affordable (think ten to thirty dollars a year). Your next cost will come when you choose an e-commerce/hosting platform that you use to build your store. E-commerce platforms will charge either a recurring subscription, a small percentage of your sales, or some combination of both. Again, though, depending on the e-commerce platform you choose these fees are usually quite affordable.
While there are other, optional costs you may incur when creating an online store such as hiring a web designer to help you build your website or a writer to help you write your product descriptions, home page, and so on, a domain name and an e-commerce platform are the only charges that are just about unavoidable when starting an online store, and both of them are relatively small.
How do I Market my New Store?
“Build it and they will come” is not an axiom that applies to creating an online store. With so many different websites, blogs, stores, and more on the internet, the chances of any substantial amount of visitors wandering into your online store on their own are next to zero.
Thankfully, there are a near limitless number of ways you can drive traffic to your new store. While entire manuals could be written on how to market an online store, here are a few methods that certainly warrant further research:
- Social media marketing
- PPC advertising
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Guest blogging
- Link building
While the tactics listed above are a great place to start, in the end, the number of ways to drive traffic to your new online store is really only limited by your own ingenuity and marketing know-how.
How do I Build a Store that Sells?
Conversion rate is a telling statistic when it comes to running an online store. The fact of the matter is that, regardless of how much traffic you drive to your online store, if you aren’t turning visitors into customers then no revenue is going to be coming in.
It’s crucial then when considering how to create an online store that you make sure to build a store that sells. This starts with creating a site that has a great, user-friendly interface. Load-times on your website should be kept as short as possible, and the website’s navigation should be completely intuitive. All of the images and graphics you use on your website should be 100% professional as should the written content you use.
When piecing together your site, you will want to try and envision your customer’s experience. What is the first page they are most likely to visit? Where are they likely to go after visiting this page? Ideally, you will create a site that gradually leads a visitor from the first page they visit to the purchase page of your product, building their interest and desire with every step in-between. This is called creating a sales funnel, and creating a great one is something that certainly warrants a lot of effort and research.
It’s also important to note, though, that creating a website that sells doesn’t always come down to immediately getting the sale. Successful companies spend a lot of their efforts and advertising budgets on generating leads that they can later turn into a sale, and this is something that you should take into consideration when designing your online store. You may want to have a sign-up page for your newsletter in a place of prominence on your site or you may want to consider implementing an exit popup that prompts visitors to sign up for your mailing list when they go to exit out of your website. You may even want to end up using part of your advertising budget to drive visitors to a landing page designed to capture their contact information. In the end, leads equal future sales, and generating leads is a key part of building a website that sells.
Of course, to be an effective seller you’ll also want a website that showcases your product in the best light. High-quality images, intelligent design, and an attractive layout will all contribute to making your store a success. Some ecommerce platforms, like Selz, provide beautiful and easy-to-use themes that will make your website (and your product) look great. These themes, like OneUp above, were designed by professionals to impress customers and make viewing and buying your product a breeze. Having an awesome website goes a long way to drawing in and retaining customers.
Learning How to Create an Online Store One Question at a Time
The four questions outlined above are a broad overview of the most common concerns people have when first venturing into the amazing world of selling online. By knowing the answers to these questions, though, you’re already one step ahead of the curve and well on your way to creating a wildly successful online store.