Have you been thinking about starting an online store for a while now but just feel too overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? Relax. Breathe. We’re gonna do this together.
Today I am discussing the first steps you should be taking to starting your own online store.
First things first. Forget a pretty website. Forget a catchy business name. Forget what payment options you offer…
1. What are you going to sell?
One of the biggest hurdles to starting an online store is the very first step of figuring out what products you are actually going to sell online. There are just so many possibilities and this choice usually ends up being the main reason most people don’t actually start their online store in the first place.
No matter what industry you are passionate about there are only two kinds of products to sell:
1. Commoditized products
These are products everybody needs like clothes, accessories, toys etc.
2. Niche Products
These are goods or services that serve a specific segment of customers. Usually, these are unique and one-of-a-kind, handmade products. E.g. Unique jewelry, leather iPad cases etc.
The best way to get started is to create a list and capture all of your ideas on paper.
A few tips:
- Identify or create products that solve a problem.
- Find products you and other people around you are passionate about.
- Find products with branding potential.
- Find products that fulfill guilty pleasures.
- Snoop around other websites for inspiration like eBay, Pinterest, Alibaba, Esty etc.
2. How you are going to source your products?
So you have decided on the perfect products to sell. Next question… how are you going to source these products?
There are 3 main sourcing options to consider:
1. DIY products or services
This is pretty straightforward and startup costs are typically low although you’re going to need to put in some time and energy into your business.
You’ll want to make sure you’re always thinking ahead about how you will scale and possibly grow your product line over time in order to stay competitive and offer your customer base something new.
2. Work with a manufacturer or wholesaler
This is a great option if you aren’t able to make a product yourself however you may need to invest more heavily upfront. Here are a couple of options on where you can find your products:
- A friend
- Product sourcing using Alibaba
- Partnering with an existing business and taking their business online
- Hiring a manufacturer
3. Hire a Dropshipper
Dropshipping is product sourcing that lets you purchase from a vendor and list their products on your online store. It is a great option for starting a new online store because the vendor charges you for the products as they are sold and typically ships orders on your behalf.
Here is a list of the best Dropshipping Suppliers:
3. Build an online store
The first thing to consider when deciding how you are going to set up your online store is if you are going to:
- Build it yourself
- Hire someone else to do it for you
There are perks to both of these options such as building it yourself is going to save costs but because you are using a template your site might not have all the functionality you wish it could have.
Hiring a designer/developer will cost more but will save you the headache and time of doing it yourself. You basically tell them what you need and by when and they can set this all up for you.
At Seven Sands we custom design all of our website so yours will be one of a kind and tailored to work for your business.
You can read more about our services here.
4. Get Ready To Trade
The most basic requirements required to start a business also cost very little:
5. Acquiring Customers
There are several ways to start building a community around your store. Here are a few of the most popular things you can start working on today:
- Tell Friends and Family – Your network of friends and family will most likely be your easiest first sales. They will also be your biggest personal cheerleaders. So don’t be embarrassed to tell them about your ideas.
- Start an Instagram Account – Next to Facebook, Instagram is one of the most popular social networks for time spent on the platform. Which means you have a good chance of getting in front of your customers. Instagram also allows you to be creative and gives you the opportunity to show your customers a side of your brand they may never see. Use Instagram to give them a sneak peek of your new products.
- Start a Facebook Page – All of your friends and family are on Facebook, so it just seems obvious to create a facebook page for your online store. Even better once your page is created you should invite all your friends to like it and share it on your private profile. A lot of people don’t know this but once your shop is all set up you can actually connect it to Facebook and sell your products from their as well. Win Win.
5. What Are You Waiting For… START?
While it certainly isn’t easy coming up with the perfect product idea, it’s never been easier to take your idea and set up an online store.
If you have a question Seven Sands might be able to help you with, please leave it in the comment below.