How to Create, Setup, and Launch a Profitable Online Store (Seriously)

How to Create, Setup, and Launch a Profitable Online Store (Seriously)

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For hundreds of years, one formula characterized commercial success. Get your cart into a lucrative place. Increase your volume of advertising relative to your rivals. Reduce expenses and boost your bottom line.


It’s not that easy in the twenty-first century.

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for customers to feel disconnected from big, loud businesses. The actual location is sometimes more of a bother than a help. Additionally, a modest shop might function with no stock and a minimal budget.

Due to the aforementioned factors, online-only retailers can more easily find success in highly competitive marketplaces. With that in mind, 2021 is a great year to launch an online store.

The Statistics of Selling Online 

The retail industry was hit hard by the events of last year. But the tragic occurrences throughout the world have fueled the expansion of online purchases:

  • In the past year, nearly half of all American customers (46%!) tested a new brand or shopped with a different retailer. Customers are actively switching brands due to the ease of online shopping and the blurring of geographical lines.
  • Accenture predicts that by the year 2020, the number of transactions completed by first-time or occasional online shoppers would have increased by 160%. Some consumers last year discovered and came to really enjoy the ease of online shopping, and this trend is only expected to continue.
  • By September of 2022, mobile devices will account for half of all internet purchases. By the year 2020, mobile payments from American consumers will have topped $190 billion.
  • Between October 2019 and October 2020, online traffic to smaller e-commerce stores increased by 96.5 percent, with more than a third of those stores reporting an increase of 100 percent to 200 percent. As a result, the vast majority believes this expansion will continue throughout the forecasted horizon.

As you can see, the potential for success in online shopping is immense and only expanding. Indeed, the range of possibilities is expanding. Despite widespread pessimism about the economy, now is a great time to open a web business.

Additionally, there is a chance for difference depending on this facts. How often do you visit a mobile site that lets you shop and check out without any hassle? If half of all purchases are expected to be made on mobile devices, then it’s safe to assume that consumers will use their phones as the single point of contact for a wide variety of interactions across the whole sales funnel. Providing a responsive purchasing experience across all device sizes might be a game-changer for your business.

8 Steps to Creating Your Online Store

You can get an e-commerce website up and running with very little effort thanks to some straightforward software. But how can you continue expanding beyond the “minimal viable product” and into the next phase of business development? Instructions are detailed below.

  1. Choose a niche and develop a business plan 
  2. Select your domain name 
  3. Pick your ecommerce website builder 
  4. Design the look of your online store 
  5. Add products to your online shop 
  6. Set up shipping
  7. Market your online store
  8. Launch your online store

Choose a Niche and Develop a Business Plan

The online shopping industry is extremely varied. Amazon, like many other now-massive companies, got its beginnings as a small online bookstore. Find your niche in the world of online shopping by doing some preliminary study.

1. Conduct a SWOT analysis. 

The acronym “SWOT” refers to a framework that examines a situation’s “strengths,” “weakness An easy-to-use tool for evaluating potential markets and products.

Say, for argument’s sake, you’re interested in launching a CBD enterprise:

  • Strengths: Increasing research, huge market potential, a wide variety of potential applications, and some hands-on experience with CBD all bode well.
  • Weaknesses: Many ambiguities in the law, limitations on transport, and barriers to international growth.
  • Opportunities: Market for high-end beverages infused with CBD has yet to be discovered, and opportunities for collaboration with dining establishments exist (run B2B & B2C operations)
  • Threats: Failure to obtain products that comply with regulations and that have been tested and certified as safe leads to regulatory concerns when selling internationally.

2. Find industry gaps. 

The best online shopping niches may appear to be taken at first sight. But that’s not the case at all.

Consumers’ unmet needs can be found even in established product categories when in-depth research is conducted.

Toys, for instance, are abundant. Some parents, though, are worried that their children are being exposed to potentially harmful chemicals.

Discover voids in your intended market by investigating:

  • Social media — Consider the audience’s comments, criticisms, and requests for suggestions.
  • Google Trends — Check how the interest in various product categories has changed over time.
  • Look at bestsellers on Amazon and eBay — Find out what other buyers are missing or complaining about by reading reviews.

3. Analyze your customer personas. 

In e-commerce, the most successful product concepts emerge at the point where unmet needs meet consumer wants.

Develop a group of hypothetical yet representative customers that include:

  • Information on the population, including but not limited to: age, location, occupation, and income
  • Information on a person’s personality, including their likes, dislikes, beliefs, challenges, and goals is called “psychographic data

4. Choose the right business model. 

During your market analysis, you should also think about the channels through which your target audience is most likely to make purchases and the methods that will yield the highest conversion rates.

  • B2B ecommerce — How optimistic are you that your firm will grow if you focus on selling to businesses, rather than consumers?
  • B2C ecommerce — Or, perhaps you choose a more “direct to consumer” approach to advertising?
  • Selling on online marketplaces — Online auction and shopping platforms like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy give sellers instantaneous access to a massive customer base.
  • Dropshipping — Rather than keeping stock on hand, this strategy outsources order fulfillment to a third party.
    Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) – Without the middleman, direct sales to consumers can save you money (multi-brand retailer or wholesaler).

Select Your Domain Name 

You might think of a domain name as an online version of your company’s name. The perfect domain name can do more for your business than just bring customers to your online store.

Create a catchy domain name for your online shop by following these steps:

1. Try to be unique. 

Small business owners used to go crazy for “exact match” domain names like buytoysonline.com, since these kinds of names made it simpler to rank in search results thanks to their emphasis on keywords. But that isn’t a good fit for most commercial enterprises.

Choose a name that stands out instead. The following is a suggestion for how to generate one:

  • Combine the words “Big” and “Commerce” to get this mashup.
  • Instead of making up a word, use a real one: Examples: burrow (den) and cave (hideout).
  • Try out some new foreign terms, like “Natori.”

2. Don’t use unfamiliar words or use creative spellings. 

However, avoid the temptation to create unusual compound terms. It’s possible that you’ll produce something purposely offensive or insensitively humorous, such as:

  • Amigone Funeral Homes => AmIGonefuneralhome.com

Find a domain name that doesn’t contain any of the following words or phrases:

  • False amalgamation of words
  • Distinctive punctuation using hyphens or numerals (unless part of the brand)
  • Typographical errors (as people will mistype them as correct ones)
  • Confusing word combinations

3. Keep it short. 

The maximum length of a domain name is 12 characters. That’s just the right amount of characters to be easily remembered and typed. Also, your website’s social media usernames should be brief like your domain name.

It’s fine to use a longer version of your company name. The ASOS marketplace, for instance, was initially named “As Seen on Screen” but became more well-known by its abbreviated form.

Pick Your Ecommerce Website Builder

The native functionality and available add-ons for e-commerce platforms vary widely amongst the various types. Establish a list of must-have features and optional extras to help you zero in on the best option for your company. Next, evaluate available free and paid software options.

1. Things to consider when choosing your ecommerce platform. 

The cheapest website builder may seem like a good place to begin. A potential drawback is the additional work involved in migrating your online store at a later date. Even if you’re simply making a prototype, you should think about the future.

When considering your options, you should ask:

  • Is it possible for my company to expand alongside this system?
  • When my company reaches a particular level of visitors or sales, will its performance begin to decline?

It’s not only about being scalable, though.

Native Features 

Whether or not the platform’s native implementation of key essential e-commerce capabilities is sufficient is a key question to ask. What will you have to buy as an add-on or build yourself to supplement the features that aren’t built in?

You should prioritize your needs by assigning a weighted score between 1 and 10 to each element on your wish list, and then comparing and contrasting the features of other online shop builders.

Security 

Financial and brand damage can result from a data breach in the online shopping industry. Consumers today have more options than ever, therefore they may think twice before making a purchase from an online company that:

  • Recently, your system was hacked or your data was compromised.
  • Lacks secure socket layer technology (SSL) for online purchases
  • Contains no details on how transactions are handled or data is stored

Mobile Optimization

Have you heard that Google has been indexing the entire web with mobile devices since the year 2020? For this reason, it is crucial that your e-commerce platform supports a smooth and convenient mobile buying process.

Data collected by Google crawlers about how your website renders on mobile devices is now used to decide the site’s position in both desktop and mobile SERPs.

There could be a big drop in traffic to your online shop if it isn’t optimized for mobile devices. In addition, you would be passing up sales opportunities through mobile devices.

2. Ecommerce website builders to choose from. 

Store management is made easier by ecommerce website builders. The best option can be determined by thinking about the store’s technical needs in conjunction with the business’s goals, operating strategy, and vertical. Then, evaluate some well-liked choices, such as the ones provided below:

BigCommerce

BigCommerce is a SaaS ecommerce platform that provides a wide variety of built-in commerce services, as well as payment integration and safe hosting. BigCommerce may be readily expanded with new features and integrations to accommodate your company’s needs as it expands. Connect it to a totally custom front-end, or any front-end you like, and use it as a headless commerce solution.

Features: 

  • HTML and CSS editing in a visual, drag-and-drop interface
  • Support for 55+ different payment methods
  • Hundreds of product variations are supported, up to 600 per product.
  • Allows transactions in 95+ countries using 140+ local currencies

Shopify 

Shopify is a software as a service (SaaS) e-commerce platform that provides an extensive set of tools for setting up and managing an online store. Shopify’s inherent functionality and third-party integrations with other business software strike a solid mix, making it suitable for both small businesses and, more lately, bigger mid-market shops.

Features:

  • In-house payment processor and compatibility with 100+ payment gateways
  • Visual page builder as well as direct editing of HTML/CSS If a business doesn’t use Shopify’s primary gateway, it may have to pay an extra 2% in transaction fees.
  • Protection for your cart contents during online purchases

Magento

Magento is a free and open-source shopping cart software. It’s extremely modifiable, but also more difficult to maintain technically. Magento is a web store that you may install on your own server or in the cloud.

Features:

  • Free and open-source software
  • Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or on-premises deployment models
  • Possibilities for personalization and expansion are practically limitless
  • But set away a sizable sum of money. The initial investment for a simple Magento store built on a template and the open source platform might be as high as $20,000 to $45,000.

WooCommerce 

WooCommerce is a plugin for the WordPress content management system that serves as an online storefront. Many companies rely on it to streamline the process of accepting online payments from visitors to their WordPress stores. Users of WooCommerce, like Magento users, are tasked with managing their own installation, including but not limited to hosting, security, configuration, and extension.

Features: 

  • It’s easy to set up because it’s a WordPress plugin; it works with 140 different payment processors from across the world; and it takes very little time to setup.
  • There are literally hundreds of add-ons available to facilitate various business operations, including logistics, finance, advertising, and more.

Design the Look of Your Online Store

When you use an e-commerce website builder like BigCommerce, you get access to a wide variety of pre-designed website themes categorized by industry.

Pick a format that works for you and your firm, and then tweak it to reflect your identity.

  • Alter the size and style of your typefaces
  • Create a brand identity by include high-quality images and other assets, and establish the color palette.
  • Integrate your social network profiles and branded content Try out various page formats and types of product listings

Add Products to Your Online Store

Set up your product category pages, write engaging product descriptions, and upload eye-catching product photographs to make shopping in your store a pleasurable experience for both customers and staff.

1. Product descriptions.

A convincing product description solves the customer’s issue, enumerates the product’s features, and emphasizes its primary benefits.

Professional copywriters employ a tried and true method to create compelling product descriptions:  

  • Define the target market for this offering.
  • Please enumerate the most crucial features of the product (size, material, etc).
  • Recommend this item whenever possible.
  • Assist the purchaser in visualizing it in use.

With just three punchy bullet lines, Bliss manages to make even the most mundane product (a body wash) feel exotic: “silky lather,” “pick-me-up aroma,” and “exceptionally smooth skin.”

Following the lead of Bliss, please omit these from your product description:

  • Intricate jargon
  • Nonsensical or overused references to current culture
  • Very wordy sentences

2. Product images.

Don’t skimp on professional product photography.

  • If you can afford it, have a professional photographer take the photos.
  • If not, you should put together a makeshift studio in order to take appealing product images for online sales.

In addition, furniture, equipment, and even some types of clothing can benefit greatly from having 360-degree images taken of them. According to statistics provided by Webrotate 360, incorporating 360-degree views of products onto a company’s website can boost online sales by anywhere from 5 percent to 40 percent.

3. Product categories.

Website taxonomy is useful for setting up and maintaining connections between various product pages. Particularly important for facilitating catalog perusability and order fulfillment is the use of product categories.

Typical department store clothing sections include “men’s, women’s, accessories, new in, and sale.” Websites selling more products typically organize them into additional categories for easier browsing. As a rule, they are based on seasonality or frequently used search terms by customers. At Christmastime, for instance, you may choose to include “present categories.” Alternatively, “Favored sustainable brands” if there is a growing interest in such products within your demographic.

Design category pages for products with additional filters to help shoppers narrow down their options. Size, Price Range, Color, Material, etc. are all very useful filters.

Set Up Shipping 

The next step is to plan how customers will be able to acquire your new offerings. More than half of customers (56%) say they will never shop at a store again if they have a negative delivery experience, so having a solid e-commerce shipping plan is crucial. Therefore, make sure that everything is wrapped up nicely.

1. Determine your shipping policy. 

New clients might have their expectations properly set by a shipping policy. Your delivery prices, terms, and restrictions must all be spelled out in detail.

When formulating your store’s shipping policy, keep the following in mind.

When it comes to shipping costs, do you charge a fixed rate or do they vary depending on where the customer lives?

Determine a reasonable “free shipping” threshold to attract more customers and boost your average purchase value. If you must, implement a flat-rate pricing structure with several tiers for varying delivery speeds and intervals (overnight, next day, etc.).

Which transport company(ies) do you use?

Different shipping companies have different rates, deadlines, and policies. Think about everything you can get your hands on and give preference to the things that provide you the most bang for your buck. One potential downside of going with a less expensive service is that they might not be able to handle your heavy belongings or provide insurance in the event of damage.

Will you be offering worldwide shipping?

To expand your business’s reach, you may choose to start by selling and shipping to nearshore locations (such Canada and Mexico). Then, you should investigate options for foreign shipping and fulfillment.

2. Select ecommerce shipping solutions. 

Shipping options enable you to easily compare shipping costs, create shipping labels, and schedule automatic shipping status updates. Consider shipping options that are simple to incorporate into your existing e-commerce infrastructure and flexible enough to be personalized to your operational processes.

The best shipping software for online retailers is covered in depth here.

Market Your Online Store

It is every entrepreneur’s greatest nightmare to check Google Analytics on launch day and discover no engagement at all.

Guarantee that your brand-new online shop is flooded with customers by doing the following:

  1. Select multiple online marketing platforms to focus on.
  2. Create a marketing plan to get the word out before they officially start.

The majority of industries rely on the following to introduce consumers to a brand-new internet shop:

Social media: Before your website is complete, you should begin cultivating an online audience. Show off sneak peeks of the product, behind-the-scenes footage, or teasers to get people excited. Then, promote the launch date and increase interest with exclusive discounts and other incentives for all followers.

For example, if you are opening a store that specializes in selling old posters, you may find potential customers and spread the word for free by participating in online communities and forums that cater to your target demographic.

Influencer marketing: A lack of an existing customer base may necessitate the prioritization of influencer marketing efforts both before and after product launch. As a bonus, influencer marketing offers threefold advantages:

  • An effort to raise product recognition
  • Subject interest in your organic content
  • Inbound inquiries and sales

In addition to bringing in those initial few customers who may not have otherwise heard of your business, forming early-stage partnerships with influential people can increase your website’s visibility in search engines by encouraging interested consumers to use your brand/domain name in their queries. This should have a substantial beneficial effect on your rating.

Paid advertising: Marketing strategies on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest can be specifically tailored to boost exposure for a particular company or product. The main benefit, similar to other performance marketing approaches, is that you only pay for actual results (such as clicks, visits, queries, or purchases).

Long-shot methods include search engine optimization (SEO) and email marketing. Both require additional resources and time to fully develop. You’ll get more momentum the sooner you get started.

In other words, before releasing your site to the public, be sure that the fundamentals of on-page SEO have been implemented. After the site goes live, content promotion and off-page SEO should be started at a slow but steady pace.

In a similar vein, you can immediately begin expanding your email list by putting up a series of signup forms on your site and offering incentives for enrolling (such as a first-order discount).

Launch Your Online Store 

When you are satisfied with the site’s look, performance, and navigation, you can push it live.

A brief checklist is as follows:

  • Check the form names and CTAs on the home and landing pages.
  • Prove how it feels to buy something online.
  • Verify all connections to your chosen method of payment (credit cards, PayPal, Stripe, etc).
  • You should optimize all of the high-definition photos you use.
  • Check to see if there are any missing product features, categories, or details.
  • The site’s structure needs to be examined.
  • Integrate your support system’s email and/or software.
  • Verify that all buttons and forms load correctly.
  • Make sure that the relevant taxes have been applied.
  • Find out how reliable your email marketing company is.
  • Make sure everything in stock is accounted for.
  • See if the discount codes you have are still valid.

Make sure your online storefront is accessible both on desktop and mobile devices.

2 Examples of Successful Online Stores 

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur who is curious about the experiences of those who have already launched successful online shops? Please find below three truly moving accounts of our clients’ experiences with us.

1. LARQ. 

Lare-store

Environmentalist and hiker Justin Wang has come to terms with how difficult it is to give up disposable water bottles. Even the refillable plastic bottles on the market didn’t fare well. Constant use made it difficult to maintain cleanliness in most of them. After much deliberation, he settled on the concept of the LARQ, a reusable bottle that cleans itself, and launched an online store selling a variety of related products.

His internet store’s revenue increased by 400% year over year. By integrating BigCommerce’s multi-currency checkout in 2019, LARQ sped up its worldwide expansion by 80 percent over the course of three months.

2. Burrow. 

Burrow-store

Burrow’s co-founders had a hard time finding reasonably priced, high-quality furnishings during their time as students. They were averse to purchasing inexpensive, reusable things for fear of contributing to environmental degradation. However, they lacked the time or resources to have furniture made specifically for their home. Therefore, they devised the concept of ‘out-of-the-box’ modular components that can be put together with little effort.

BigCommerce, an ecommerce platform as flexible and user-friendly as Burrow’s goods, was the foundation of the company’s 2019 online presence. According to Kabeer Chopra, our headless commerce solution enabled them to build a one-of-a-kind purchasing experience that was seamlessly integrated with their operational backend.

Wrapping Up

Different people will arrive at different conclusions about how to best approach online business.

Some businesses add online stores as an additional revenue stream. Others start out as enthusiasts and eventually develop their businesses by raising personal capital or finding outside investors.

The fundamental method of setting up stays unchanged. Choose an e-commerce platform that is “fit for purpose,” populate your product catalog, adjust your design and other settings, and crank up your marketing efforts!

How to Create an Online Store FAQs

1. How much does it cost to set up an online store? 

The total amount you spend on setting up an online shop is going to be determined by factors like store size and chosen ecommerce platform. Starting a modest online hobby shop on BigCommerce costs as little as $29 per month. More money will be needed to implement a complicated system with individualized design, extensions, and payment mechanisms.

2. Can you create an online store for free?

There are certain e-commerce programs available at no cost, but hosting a website will always cost something. Keep in mind that you’ll need to provide your own hosting, security, and maintenance if you’re using open source software (the kind you can get for free).

3. How profitable are online stores?

Initial investment, profit margins on product mix, and marketing, advertising, operations, and shipping costs will all have significant bearing on your capacity to turn a profit.

4. How do I start my own online store?

Before you can begin selling your wares, you need to develop a marketing strategy, select your inventory, and iron out the kinks in your supply chain. Then, choose on an affordable e-commerce solution that has all of the features you need.

5. Do I need to use a developer to start an online store?

No, that’s not always the case. With the help of platforms like BigCommerce, it’s simple to open an online shop even if you don’t have any programming experience. You may want to hire an agency or freelance developer to assist with customer-friendly tweaks as you begin to scale, though.

6. How can I make an online store successful? 

There are four main components that determine an online store’s success: product quality and relevancy, website functionality, price strategy, and focused advertising. Make sure you purchase things that are in demand, sell them at competitive prices, advertise to the right people, and provide a fantastic digital shopping experience.

7. How long does it take to create an online store?

When it will be ready for sale is dependent on how large your store is. Less than a month is enough time to launch a side hustle or pop-up shop (factoring design, content creation and configurations). To be safe, small businesses should allot three to four months for the process.

8. What integrations do you need for an online store? 

What you give your consumers will determine the answer. You’ll need a payment gateway, so it’s a good idea to do some research and find the one that works best for you.

9. Can you start an online store without inventory?

Drop shipping allows you to operate an internet store without keeping any stock on hand. Collaborate with a manufacturer or distributor, and agree on pricing and delivery arrangements. Then, you would include their products in your online shop and communicate shipping details to them.

 

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