How to Start an Online Store

Hi, I’m Neil Hartman. I have been in business for over 15 years selling everything from copiers to software to real estate, all commission based industries. Like most I struggled to find that perfect vehicle that would provide the income growth I desired and the lifestyle I always dreamed about. Although I am grateful for the opportunities I was given at some very nice businesses, to truly grow I knew that I needed to go out on my own. Having a desire to travel and work whenever I wanted limited my options. At the time I knew little about the internet and even less about how to sell online but I quickly realized the power the internet could have over my life. Determined to find a way to make money on the internet I began researching all I could about online marketing and selling online through e-commerce. I increased my efforts focusing all my energy on learning how to start selling online. Today I have a world-wide audience and lots of support around the globe. What at first seemed difficult has become very easy. Setting up an online store has become standardized and somewhat automated. I have sharpened my skills over time and now business that took months to develop happens automatically while I sleep. Such is the power of the internet and modern e-commerce strategies today.

In this article I explain how simple it is to start an online store, and I will share tips with you on promoting your site so you will get noticed. If you have the passion to learn how to make money on line then read on so you can see how easy it is to start a store online.

First, What is E-commerce?

Ecommerce is short for electronic commerce. It is the trading of goods and services using computer networks most notably the internet. It covers a wide range of businesses such as retail stores, auction sites and business exchanges trading goods and services. Ecommerce incorporates various technologies including electronic funds transfer, electronic data interchange, supply chain management and internet marketing to conduct business. The path to creating a successful online store relies on careful planning, a strong marketing strategy and understanding the technology at play.

Why Start an Online Store?

If you’re looking to increase your retail business then opening an online store is a great way to go about it. Many businesses can benefit from taking their products online; if that wasn’t true then there would be no Amazon today. But now the typical brick and mortar store has emerged to become a hybrid of walkup store fronts and strategic online e-commerce sites. A good example is Zappos. If you want to buy shoes, Zappos is the online place to shop, of course there are thousands of other websites to buy shoes, it’s just that Zappos has found a way to capture the market.

How Can You Compete?

You don’t have to dominate the market however having an online store can bring your business additional revenue and profits. There are many ways to attract attention to your site, including correct search engine optimization, SEO, strategies that will rank your site higher in the search engines; creating a good email list to make customers and prospects aware of your latest offerings and using social media such as Facebook to drive traffic to your website. Using multiple techniques typically generates the greatest returns.

How Much Does it Costs to Start an Online Store?

Starting an online store does not have to cost a lot. If you’re good at building websites or have someone that can help you it might not cost much at all. However if you’re a larger business and you lack the resources to go it alone, there are many service companies out there that will get you up and running fast. They will even manage it for you so you can focus on your business.

How Can You Add E-commerce to Your Existing Website?

If you all ready have a website, and most businesses do, then the next obvious step is to add an online store to it. Your web hosting company likely has e-commerce capabilities they can add to your website. Most likely you won’t have to rebuild your whole website they will just attach a shopping cart to it so now your customers can buy online. Another option is to use an ecommerce solution company. These companies offer complete turnkey ecommerce solutions saving you a lot of time. Their plans let you organize your products, customize your storefront, accept credit card payments, track and respond to orders — simply by pointing and clicking.

How Can You Get People To Your Online Store?

There are several choices to drive traffic to your website. If you have the money for it then paid advertising is a good way to go. Google AdWords is a pay per click advertising campaign that will list your site on the top or side of Google’s search engine results when people search under specific key words. You pay a small fee every time someone clicks on your ad. You can set a budget so you only spend what you’re willing to part with to get people to your site. If managed well this could be well worth the investment.

Another way is to use a solid search engine optimization strategy that will rank your website higher in the search engines. This takes a good bit of time and expertise to do however it pays off over time. Many large companies have SEO specialists who work on getting their website ranked higher. Outsourcing to a freelancer can save you time and money.

Whichever option you choose it’s important to understand how keywords fit into this strategy. People search using keywords so you want to be sure to use keywords on your site that will draw the right audience to your website. For example if you sell luxury pillows an obvious key word would be pillows, however that would be too wide. You want to be more specific to reflect what type of pillow your target customer would prefer, for instance key words could be, “decorative pillows”, “contemporary decorative pillows” and “decorative couch pillows”.

The Bottom Line

If you have a business selling goods and services you probably should be selling online. Creating an online store may seem difficult at first but now many of the processes of moving a business online have become extremely easy. The online store will bring a whole new dimension to your business opening up markets that were previously out of reach. Plus you don’t have the overhead costs of the typical brick and mortar store. It's amazing how a business can take off when its customers only need to point and click.

All the best!