How to Start an Online Store Business: A Step-by-Step Guide For You

How To Start An Online Store Business: A Step By Step Guide For You

Are you considering to start an online store business?

If yes, you’re riding on the big trend. Thanks to the prevalence of internet, Ecommerce is expected to increase to $4.5 trillion in sales by 2021.

It is an irreversible trend that more people would prefer to purchase goods online as they spend more time on the internet for working and connecting with people. It’s not news that some Ecommerce stores manage to grow into a million dollar brand in just one or two years. In this article, you’re going to learn how to launch your first online store business.

Launch Your First Online Store With Low Risk

Many people think it’s a pipe dream to be your own boss. We’re taught and trained to be a good student in school and then a good employee in a company. It’s said to be the best path to live your life securely. In most people’s eyes, it is an anomaly to start a business yourself because it’s too risky.

However, few people understand that risk is something that can be managed if you use the right method. Most successful entrepreneurs are actually very risk-averse. It’s a matter of what strategy you use in your business. With the right strategy, you don’t have to take high risk to succeed.

Here, I’m going to show you the process step-by-step so that you can start your online store business with low risk.

Learn The Steps to Create Your Online Store Business

If some people can duplicate success, it means there’re principles or systems to follow. It’s not a matter of luck. The key is to uncover those hidden principles or systems, which I’m going to show you.

STEP 1: Come Up With a Lucrative Product Idea

There’re tons of products on the market. When you’re trying to think about what product to sell, it’s important for you to choose the market niche first. A niche market is a segment of a larger market that has specific needs, preference or identity. You don’t have to target everyone to create a profitable business.

A successful business only requires you to solve certain problem of a specific group of people with your product. For example, your products may be made for pet owners, travellers, gamers, athlete, yogi etc.

The easiest and the best way to choose a niche is by asking yourself the following questions to guide your thinking process:

1. What products or niches you’re passionate about or interested in?

2. What pain points do you have in your own life?

3. What product you personally use and think there’s room for improvement?

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. For example, you can take an existing product and change something or improve it to make it better. Or you may just visit some physical stores and find out some trending products and market it online. Reselling some existing products can also be a profitable model that I will talk about in the later section.

If you want to brainstorm more products ideas so that you can pick the best one, there’re many other places that you can do the research such as the Trendhunter, Kickstarter, Uncrate, Amazon.

STEP 2: Validate Your Ideas Before Investing

Once you have a product idea, you have to validate it to see if there’s a potential market or demand. This step is the most critical because if you don’t do this, you will be wasting your efforts on a product that is not going to sell. It can save you a lot of marketing efforts if you can prove there’s already an existing demand for your product. Hence, your business risk can be minimized.

The easiest place to start is Google Trends. It allows you to gauge how many people are searching for the product or the problem your product can solve. You should avoid jumping into a declining market niche.

Also, you can make use of Google’s Keyword Planner Tool, which is available inside the Google Adwords. It allows you to search for keywords and phrases related to your product and see the actual searching volume. It’s hard to market a product if only few hundred people are searching for your product.

The best way to make sure if there is already a market for your product is to find out some similar products that are in direct competition with you. Although we want to avoid entering into a crowded product category or market, having existing competitors is not totally bad because you can at least confirm there’s existing demand for your product idea. After all, to create a profitable online store, you don’t have to be the first and the only seller in the market.

To find out your competitors, you can do a simple google search or check out social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook. It’s useful to see how they engage with their customers on social media and pay attention to the negative feedback from their customers so that you know what to improve to win your competitors.

STEP 3: Get Your Product Ready for Sale

After you’ve validated your product idea, you need to figure out where to source your product for selling. There’re various ways to get your product, depending on your product ideas.

If your product is unique and innovative, you can either make it yourself or find a manufacturer to develop your product. For some simple products where you can physically produce, you may want to make it yourself. You don’t have to produce a large number upfront. That way, you can closely control the quality of your products and make adjustments as you see fit. You can also have some actual products as samples to further test your products in the market.

For some complicated products that you cannot produce yourself, you can easily source manufacturers on Alibaba. If you don’t want to customize the product, it’s possible to just rebrand products listed on Alibaba so that you can save the cost of customization. Comparing with making the product yourself, you’ll be subject to the requirement of minimum order quantities set by manufacturers, but you can try to bargain for a lower amount like 200 pieces at the beginning. Since it’s B2B, the manufacturers are quite flexible on the terms.

If the product you want to sell already exists on the market, you can easily do dropshipping. Dropshipping means you don’t carry any inventory. You just list the product on your website and promote it. When you make a sale, you just have to pay your dropshipping partner and get them to ship the product on your behalf directly. This option is almost risk-free as you can take away the inventory risk and focus on marketing only.

For dropshipping, Aliexpress is the best place where you can source many different kinds of products and sell directly without entering into any agreements. Some people may say this business model’s margin is very thin, but actually it depends on how you market it.

STEP 4: Choose Your Sales Channel

Now you have the product, it’s time to set up your store. Basically, you can choose to set up an independent website using some Ecommerce platform like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce or open a store on some online marketplaces like Amazon, EBay or Etsy. There’s no right or wrong answer for which one to choose, as it depends on your product and marketing strategies.

Let’s talk about online marketplace like Amazon first. The most obvious benefit to open a store on Amazon is organic traffic. Millions of people visit Amazon every month, giving your product free exposure. It’s like a search engine that you aim to rank on the first page of amazon for certain keywords of your product.

Also, if you join the Amazon FBA, Amazon will handle warehousing, packing and shipping for you. However, the competition on Amazon is very intense as there’re many similar products and you may have to compete by price, which will greatly squeeze your profit margin. It’s also very difficult to build a unique brand image on Amazon to differentiate yourself, which is very important for a sustainable business. And most importantly, you have much less flexibility in the marketing strategies you can use.

Therefore, unless you’re confident that your product can rank on the first page of Amazon search and gain lots of organic traffic, it’s better to set up an independent website on an independent Ecommerce platform and Shopify is the best one.

If you don’t know Shopify, Shopify is a dedicated Ecommerce website builder that enables anyone, regardless of whether you know coding, to build your own online store very easily. There’re readily made themes that you can use and customize. You will have full control and flexibility in designing your website and build your brand. You can also add any elements you like on your website to boost the conversion rate.

STEP 5: Start the Money-Making Machine

Now you have your online store set up, and you should start driving traffic to your website. Actually, a better approach is to start building an audience before you actually launch your store so that you can see sales coming in at the time you launch your store. Otherwise, it may take some time to make your first sales.

Here are some marketing tactics for you to build an audience and drive traffic to your store:

Blogging for Relationship, Traffic and Authority

Creating a blog on your online store can help nurture customer relationships, generate recurring traffic and build your authority in your niche. If your product requires demonstration or explanation, a blog post is a great way to demonstrate your expert knowledge and answer questions that customers may have.

For example, you can use the content created to increase opt-ins for your email list. By targeting low competitive keywords on your content, you can drive traffic from Google, Google drives billions of searches a day. If you don’t have a blog, you’ll miss out a lot of visits of potential customers. There’re many tools out there you can use to do keyword research and Jaaxy is probably one of them that you can consider using.

Here’re some blogs of online stores that you can make reference:

Au Lit Fine Linens

Press’s Squeeze Magazine


Email Marketing For Easy Money

Before you officially open your store, you should set up a landing page to collect email addresses so that they will be informed when you officially launch your product. For example, you can offer incentive such as early-bird discount to encourage people to opt in. To automate the process, you can use autoresponders such as Klaviyo to send emails to your list at a scheduled time.

In fact, you should keep building an email list and sending emails to your subscribers to maintain and strengthen relationship. It plays an important role to encourage customer’s second purchase and more. If you don’t do this, you will be leaving a lot of easy money on the table.

To grow your email lists, you should place your signup forms in different locations of your store such as header, footer, about us page, blog posts or pop-up form etc. After you got the emails, make sure you take note of any seasonal events or holidays that you want to run a special campaign and start scheduling emails, for example, Black Friday Cyber Monday emails, Mother’s Day email, summer savings email etc.

To be Liked on Social Media

You should build your audience as soon as you have chosen a market niche or got a product idea. For example, you can start building an engaged community around your product concept or idea on Snapchat, Instagram, twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Instagram is the best platform to begin with given the number of users and engagement rate.

Social media is the most critical for your whole sales funnel. It helps you drive brand awareness, create demand for your products, acquire leads and get sales. Anyone who can build a loyal following on social media basically wins the game of online marketing.

At the beginning, you should focus on developing one social media account such as Instagram. Instagram allows you to post images, videos, stories and even Instagram lives where you can engage with your followers and build up your brand. For example, you can take shots of your product being used, get customers to contribute content and collaborate with influencers to boost your brand image. Or you can get creative with the collaboration with influencers such as having a product review by influencer or hosting giveaway campaigns.

If you want to know more about Instagram, I have a blog post on how to grow instagram account fast.

Leverage the Power of Facebook Ads

The above 3 strategies are all about organic traffic and brand building. To make a 6-figure per month, the traffic required is so huge that you may have to invest on paid ads. So far, the effectiveness of Facebook advertising is unparalleled comparing with other social media platforms.

A study found that 52% of consumer’s purchasing decisions, including online and offline, are influenced by Facebook. Facebook is so powerful because with over 2.4 billion monthly active users, it has more data on people’s personal interests than anyone in history. It allows you to target consumers based on demographics, interests and behavior.

To be successful on Facebook advertising, you have to understand your ideal customers so you know what kind of people to target with your ads. You should have some ideas on what your customer persona is by engaging with your followers on social media and do research on Facebook’s Audience Insights (can be found in Facebook Business Manager).

And once you have made some purchases, you can use the data to create a lookalike audience, which is the most powerful function of Facebook ads as Facebook would be able to help you find out many other people who share similar characteristics in terms of demographics, interest and behavior and show them your ads.

Also, with Facebook pixel installed on your website, you will be able to retarget your website visitors using Facebook ads. The longer someone stays on your website implies higher likelihood of converting into customer. If you don’t retarget your website visitors using Facebook ads, you would miss out a lot of warm leads who are just one step away from finishing checkout.

There’re many tactics when it comes to Facebook ads, but the key principle to be successful on Facebook ads is keep testing different variants of ad copy and audience targeting until you find the best converting combination.

Continue to Learn on the Way

Now you should have some ideas on how to start your online store business. If you follow the process I lay out for you, you should be able to launch your online store in a decent way.

I can assure that you would encounter many problems on the way but always remember that any problems can be addressed if you persist in finding the solution. Starting a successful online store is not easy, but since you don’t have to launch an online store overnight, you just have to follow a plan and start with the easy stuff first. And most importantly, keep learning and make adjustments.

Now let’s hear from you:

Are you ready to start your online store business? What questions do you have about the process?

Share this blog post with your friends who want to know how to start an online store business.

If you have any questions, comment below and let’s discuss.

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Career & Business

Related Articles


Your email address will not be published.