E-commerce is taking over the world. In fact, most businesses want to try their luck in selling their goods and services online since it’s less of a hassle than putting up a shop. Fortunately, starting an online store is easier than you think. Creating one is simple and intuitive that even a person with no coding experience can join the e-commerce community.
Here are eight simple steps in starting an online business so you can start earning in no time!
1. Choosing an Online Store Platform
There are three ways to sell your goods online:
- Website platforms with a shopping cart add-on. Website platforms let you set up your website easily and even offer a shopping cart add-on.
- Dedicated e-commerce hosting. Dedicated e-commerce hosting is for businesses that mainly sells products. It offers more comprehensive management features compared to website platforms.
- Blog platforms with a shopping cart plugin. A blog-based platform lets you sell product and publish content at the same time.
2. Stocking Products and Filling Orders
The term fulfillment refers to the process of stocking items, filling, and shipping orders. It’s important to have an efficient and accurate fulfillment process, so make sure to choose a fulfillment basin on your business’ needs.
There are four ways to manage fulfillment:
- In-House Fulfillment: This gives you full control over your orders.
- Drop Ship Fulfillment: Your product supplier is the one who stores, packs, and ships the package to your customer.
- Hybrid In-House and Drop Ship: This is when business owners mostly use in-house fulfillment but they drop ship other items.
- Outsourced Fulfillment: A third party handles all the tasks for you – from picking to shipping and customer service.
3. Managing Orders and Shipping
Managing orders and shipping will depend on the type of fulfillment you use. Obviously, you’ll have no control over managing orders and shipping if you’ve chosen outsourced fulfillment or drop ship vendors. However, if you want to do everything on your own, here are three options you can choose from:
- Shopping Cart Order and Shipping Management Features
- Basic Shipping Software and Online Options
- Advanced Order Management and Shipping Software
4. Packaging Methods
What will you use to package your products prior to shipping? There are many options to choose from, such as tubes, boxes, triangles, envelopes, flats, and mailers. You can customize these types of packaging to reflect your brand.
5. Managing Inventory
Backorders and stock issues are one of the downsides of e-commerce. While you can’t entirely prevent these issues from happening, practicing a good inventory system will help you dodge common inventory mistakes most businesses make. It’s important to constantly update your website with inventory numbers to prevent oversells and backorders.
6. Accepting Payments
Thanks to technological advancement, accepting payments online won’t be a problem. You can choose from the following three types of secure payment options for your online store:
- Secure Payment Providers: Examples of secure payment providers are PayPal and Stripe.
- Secure Shopping Cart Checkouts:By securing shopping cart checkouts, businesses wouldn’t have to bear the burden of protecting customer data.
- Secure Payment Gateways and POS Integrations: You can use your existing merchant account as long as it integrates with a secure payment gateway.
7. Listing Products and Information
Before launching your online store, you’ll have to create your store’s main pages, along with product information. Most online stores have the following:
- Store Contact Information
- Customer Service Policy
- Shipping Rates and Policy
- “About Us” Information
- Product Information
- Product Images
8. Bringing Loyal Customers In
While it’s important to optimize your store, write great content, and choose the best platform, it may take time for you to be on top of the search results. And since search engines are fickle, being at the top does not guarantee sales.
To keep customers coming, other forms of engagement are important for e-commerce, such as:
- Social Media Presence
- Email Newsletters
- Video Marketing
- Pay-Per-Click Ads
- Promotions (coupons, gift cards, free shipping, etc.)
- Offline Engagement
Still not sure about the entire process? SMB Compass believes that small businesses – e-commerce or not – are the backbone of the US economy and they’ll do anything they can to help business owners succeed. If you want to know more about starting an online store, don’t hesitate to contact them through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (646) 569-9496.