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Things are crazy at the moment, but now is the perfect time to get your online shop off the ground and into the limelight. And this blog post is going to teach you how to do just that.
Starting with the basics, what is e-commerce? A very simple question deserves a simple answer right. E-commerce is the buying and selling of products and services through the use of the internet i.e., online. That means sales and purchases are conducted online. No walking into a store physically (but virtually) to buy stuff.
Now that sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? Able to buy all the stuff you want from the comfort of your toilet…… I mean, couch. But maybe you’re interested in getting your own online store, but you have no idea how to do that.
First of all, it’s important to know that e-commerce is on the rise. It generated over $60 billion in sales in the US last year and is still on an exponential rise.
You can start your online store and still make big during the first year. But of course, it doesn’t come on a platter of gold, and you just need the right product and marketing plan to make it.
But first, what are you going to go with? Dropshipping or housing your own product? Sure, dropshipping is becoming popular because of the one advantage that you can start it with no investment and have the third party take care of everything for you. But it also makes it almost impossible to market your brand.
Those ugly brown boxes with no special wrapping make it hard at convincing people why they should buy from you a second time.
Let’s not forget customer service. What happens when the product is damaged or even the wrong one? Your customers are going to be blaming it on you when it wasn’t even your fault at all because they don’t know you’re not the one doing the actual shipping.
Research says that people are more likely to talk about a bad experience rather than a good one. In simple words, the more mistakes your shipping company makes, the more hits your business takes that could lead to its death. Yikes!
Housing your own product is way better as you can expect higher profit margins, and you have the opportunity to build your brand and make a name for yourself in the industry. Although it will require money (buying and housing products), it’s well worth it.
You can earn a nice amount from both, but if you just want to hit and run, dropshipping is a better option. On the other hand, if you plan to have your business for longer, then a little investment never hurts. They’re both great ideas, but situations are different.
Have you decided? Great! Moving on!
Get a place to sell (Shopify or your website)
Okay, now for every great online store, you need a, well, a great online store!! You can do that by using Shopify or getting a website and turning it into a store with the use of some plugins.
Okay, if you do perhaps go with Shopify, all you need to do is sign up with them, choose from their templates, do a little color experiment, and voilà! You’re done. Your store is alive! Then you add products and descriptions, slap in a payment method (debit card, PayPal, bitcoin, etc.), and you’re ready to start selling. Just note that after the 14-day free trial, you’re going to have to pay moving onwards. But hopefully, you would have made enough sales to cover costs.
But if you want to go with your own store, then having a website is a must. A good plan from Bluehost should do the trick and a few plugins to add the sparkle to your store. There are so many plugins to choose from, be it free or premium ones. The essence of plugins is just to give your store the functionality it should have (payment methods, automatic refresh, etc.). It is always nice to use free plugins, but then again, it never hurt to invest in some premium ones.
Just in case you’re deciding to go with dropshipping, you can always slip in an oberlo plugin, and you’re ready to go.
But if you didn’t mind paying for storage space, then you might need to use a couple of plugins to give your website the right touch.
Okay, we’ve created the ultimate store! Fantabulous! Now it’s time to get some sales. Anyone want to buy a new pair of red bottoms!?! Anyone? No one??
That’s a major problem, don’t you think. But don’t worry, marketing has got you covered.
We’ve done all the easy stuff, now let’s get to the more serious ones. Let’s face it, If you don’t market your store it’s either no one will know about it or if (and that’s a big if) they (potential buyers) happen to stumble across it, they wouldn’t want to buy anything, probably because, I don’t know, THEY’VE NEVER HEARD OF IT. It’ll be like you stumbled upon a creepy inn in the middle of nowhere. Getting that “I’m not taking that” vibes.
That is exactly why you need to market your store if you’re going to make sales. They’re a lot of ways to market. Let’s start with SEO.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO is a no brainer when it comes to marketing. Basically, every business online uses it to generate sales and rank up in search pages, so why shouldn’t you? I advise that before getting into the business, it’s always better to know a bit of it.
And this is where a blog comes in. You’re obviously going to need a website for written content to keep buyers and even visitors engaged with fun and creative content. If you do that using long-tail keywords coupled with the help of some SEO tools like Ubersuggest, you should be able to make your store more visible on google. Your blog boils down to getting organic leads and doing all things possible to lead them down the conversion funnel (purchasing something from your store)
It’s only sad when the conversion rate for a business is 1-2%, and those figures are very small. That’s why you must do everything possible to increase your conversion rate. You can do that by acquiring more leads while maintaining your existing ones. It is always a good thing to have repeat customers. Try to keep your customers on repeat.
SEO is a major building block for your online store, it might take some time to see results, but it’s worth it if you’re pulling your business for the long run. It’s indispensable.
But If you’re looking for a quick result, then ads should be your first resort.
Paid ads (Facebook or Google or both)
Facebook and google offer ads that help market your store, but nothing comes free. Paid ads are very effective, no doubt, but they can also eat up your money if you don’t utilize them properly.
Aim to target your ads at the right people and lead them down that funnel. Ads also give you some valuable data that can help you when you’re figuring how to improve sales or looking for a section of your store to reinvest into.
Email lists are priceless in every online business. For every $1 spent on email marketing, expect $44 as your ROI.
Your email lists are very important. But you don’t want to build any list, and you want to build a special list for special people. People who really need your product or services, that way it would be easier to convince them to head over to your store to purchase something that they already need or were looking for.
A general list can also generate sales but a special list for special people seeking that “one product” can increase conversion rate exponentially. It would also be effective to combine both. You’re also going to need an email provider, Mailchimp is good, but there are so many to try so feel free to experiment with them till you find the one that fits you.
Social media marketing.
You’re on the internet, and if you’re on the internet, then you have to be on social media.
Yes, you also have to market on social media. According to smart insights, active social media users have passed the 3.8 billion mark. Holy Grail that’s a lot of people, and that is also a great opportunity to earn money.
Your social media marketing strategy should be keeping people interested in your store by posting exciting content about the products you sell. You can also spread the word of your wonderful store to millions of potential customers. That’s where influencers come in. You can get influencers (for a price) to market your store by telling their followers about the products you sell there that are of interest to them. By doing that, you’re covering more ground in less time.
Now, starting a store isn’t easy. You have to niche down by deciding what products you want to sell, choose how you want to sell them, and marketing the hell out of yourself.
Everything is for the profit if you’re hoping to delve into it and jump out of it within a small time frame. But building a brand, on the other hand, takes more time, years mostly. It takes more work and dedication. But on the bright side, you make a name for yourself and make some decent money.
In truth, it’s never really easy. It is all hard work. But If you want success faster, here’s a tip.
Never wait for the right time. There’s never a right time. You make it happen. You can decide to act now and learn along the way or keep dreaming and waiting for the right time (which will never come)
The choice is yours. I wish you success in your venture into the world of e-commerce.