How to Start and Market a Successful Online Store

How to Start and Market a Successful Online Store

how to start a successful online store

In 2021, eCommerce site sales hit $4.9 trillion U.S. dollars globally.

This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you. 

In our post-pandemic world, remote work is the new standard, online shopping is more convenient than ever, and buyers hold all the power. 

This upward trend is why starting an online store is such a great business idea. 

There are a few things you need to do to get your store up and running, but once you’re up, you’ll be reaping the benefits of this lucrative tidal wave. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the steps you need to take to start and market a successful online store. 

What is an Online Store?

An online store, also known as an eCommerce store, is a website where you can buy and sell products and services. 

Unlike a regular brick-and-mortar store, an online store can be accessed from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. This makes it a great option for businesses that want to reach a larger audience and save a bundle on operational expenses.

Many businesses that offer their products in-store also have an eCommerce presence. For example, Jeweler James Allen has a traditional store in Washington D.C. but also sells its pieces on their website

Is an Online Store Profitable?

Yes, most online stores are profitable. According to data that examined a collection of eCommerce businesses, a new online store can generate around over $63,000 a month, leveraging it to roughly $127,000 in monthly revenue at the one-year mark. 

Data also shows that after three years, you can expect to churn out $352,000 in average monthly revenue. That’s an increase of over 175% between the first year and the third. That’s a lot of money up for grabs! 

This may seem like a pipe dream, but consider how much money it takes to start a physical business. Between rent, on-site expenses, employee salaries, and storage costs, you’d be lucky to spend less than $15,000 in startup capital. 

The beauty of eCommerce is that many of these traditional brick-and-mortar expenses are eliminated, allowing people to bootstrap their businesses without funding or investors. 

What Makes an Online Company Successful?

We’ve painted a bit of a rosy picture thus far of eCommerce as the golden goose of business. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of businesses that are struggling in this industry, and eCommerce is far from a get-rich-quick scheme.

It takes careful consideration, hard work, and a lot of patience. 

So what makes the difference between a successful and unsuccessful online store?

Let’s touch on a few key things you need to focus on at the bare minimum if you want your business to be successful (we’ll dive deeper into these later in the post):

Offer a unique product (or unique value)

This is probably the most important thing you can do to set yourself apart from the competition. If you’re selling something that everyone else is selling, it’s going to be tough to make a profit. Find a unique product to sell that isn’t easily found in other stores.

Find a niche

When you’re selling a unique product, it’s important to find a niche market to sell to. This means that you need to target a specific group of people who are interested in what you’re selling and know exactly what they’re looking for.

Make sure your site is user-friendly 

When shoppers visit your store, you want them to be able to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. If they can’t find what they need or if the site is difficult to navigate, they’ll likely leave without buying anything.

Make sure your store is optimized for mobile devices

As mentioned before, more people are shopping online using their phones and tablets. You need to make sure your store is optimized for these devices so that you’re not losing out on potential sales.

Use eCommerce inventory management software

This is a key piece of software that will help you keep track of your inventory and automate many tasks, like order fulfillment and shipping. 

Make sure you’re marketing your store

You need to be actively marketing your store to potential customers. This can include things like social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and paid advertising.

Offer excellent customer service

When shoppers have a question or issue, you want them to be able to easily get in touch with someone who can help them. If they can’t get help when they need it, they’ll likely be frustrated and leave your store.

These are just a few of the things you need to focus on if you want your online store to be successful. Following these tips will give you a good head start in the right direction.

And remember, there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to running a successful eCommerce business. You need to find what works best for you and your store and stick with it.

How Much Money Does It Cost to Start an eCommerce Store?

One of the most common questions people ask when starting an online store is how much money it will cost.

The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the type of products you’re selling, the amount of inventory you have, and the type of eCommerce platform you’re using.

You can expect to spend a few thousand dollars to get your store up and running. The money goes toward things like setting up your website, purchasing inventory, and getting started with marketing.

The startup costs will vary greatly depending on what you sell. For example, let’s say you decide to turn your woodworking hobby into a kids’ toy brand. If you’ve been doing this for a while, you’ll likely have many raw materials on-hand. 

At that point, the only costs you’ll have will be your website, domain, hosting, and eCommerce platform, which could very well be under the $1,000 mark. 

It’s also important to note that you will need to continue spending money on marketing and advertising as your business grows. The more traffic you can bring to your store, the more sales you’ll make. 

More sales means more revenue to pour into traffic-generating efforts, and thus the flywheel of success continues. 

Starting a Successful eCommerce Store in 20 Simple Steps 

Now that you know that online stores are profitable and have seen what makes one successful, let’s discuss the steps you need to take to start your own store.

Before you start these steps, it’s always good to bounce off your ideas to a professional to get some expert advice.

Your local non-profit SCORE chapter, which is affiliated with the Small Business Association (SBA), has mentors that can help you with anything from filing your taxes to finding a niche.

Business attorneys and tax professionals can also help you with aspects of your eCommerce store like economic nexus laws and how to classify your workers and structure your business. 

1. Choose a Product or Service to Sell

The first step is to choose a product or service to sell. This can be something unique and niche, or it can be something that’s popular, but you can offer a unique spin on. It helps if the product is something that people are already searching for online.

It’s also a good idea to hop on trends early, and doing so allows you a way to establish a place for your brand. 

Once you know what trending products are, launch an eCommerce site to take advantage of them before they reach peak popularity. 

Good tools for analyzing market trends include:

  • Google Trends
  • Semrush’s Market Explorer Tool (use the Trend tab)
  • YouTube Trending Topics
  • Pinterest and Instagram Trends
  • Twitter Trending Topics
  • Quora Trending Questions
  • Fast-growing Subreddits

 

Don’t neglect the social channels like Quora and Reddit. Social signals are always faster than any other online datapoint. Oftentimes, it takes months or quarters for the groundswell of social buzz to reach Google search records.

Also, try to avoid “flash in the pan” trends. For example, the ketogenic diet is extremely popular right now. But so was the Atkins diet from about 2005 to 2011. Now, its search volume is barely visible on the Google Trends graph.

Build your business on evergreen products, things that consumers will always need. A good framework is to ask yourself, “Is there any reason this won’t be relevant in 3-7 years?”

If so, it’s probably best to avoid it. 

2. Research Inventory Management Software

Once you have selected your product, it’s a good idea to start looking into ways to manage your inventory — even if you plan on maintaining a very small amount of low-value stock. One eCommerce product to investigate at this step is inventory management software.

Powerful inventory management software can help you keep track of your stock and automate many tasks like order fulfillment and shipping. Inventory management software can be found for a variety of prices and features, and many of them are flexible enough to scale up with your business.

And do yourself a favor, don’t make the mistake of trying to retrograde your business with an inventory management strategy after you’ve already grown. Laying a foundation of strong inventory management early will save you tons of costs and headaches down the line.

3. Analyze Your Competition

Once you’ve chosen a product, do some research to see what other stores in your niche are selling and what the competition looks like overall. You want to make sure you can offer something different and better than what’s available elsewhere. By knowing your competition, you’ll be able to create a plan that sets you apart from the competition.

By using an SEO and marketing tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush, you can plug your competitors’ sites in and immediately see their estimated traffic numbers, top pages, and advertising patterns.

Don’t reinvent the wheel — if their strategies work well, swipe them and use them for your own business.

Strategies for competitor analysis

We can’t overstate the importance of competitor analysis. Having competition in your niche is not just a good thing, it’s a necessary thing. It validates that firstly, there’s an audience for your offering, and secondly, they’re willing to pay for your product or service. 

It should be a major red flag if you don’t find another eCommerce selling similar products to yours. 

Here are some more tips for conducting market and competitor research:

  • Sign up for your competition’s email list to get notified of new arrivals, sales, what they are promoting, etc.
  • Follow them on social media to see what kind of content they share.
  • Check Amazon and other eCommerce platforms for price anchoring. 
  • Analyze what features their products offer that yours don’t, and vice versa.
  • Subscribe to their YouTube channels to watch their product reviews and how-tos. 
  • Look at their online catalogs and product description on their website. 
  • Do they have any brick-and-mortar stores? If so, visit them and take note of the layout, the products they sell, and how customers are interacting with the store.

 

Also, you’d be surprised at how many competitors are actually willing to share strategies with you. If you’re lucky enough to get their attention, ask them: 

 

  • What are your top-selling products?
  • Why do you think your customers would buy from you instead of me?
  • Do you have any advice on how I can improve my website or product offering? 
  • Are there any other strategies that have worked well for you in the past?

 

If they’re not willing to give feedback, then you could try reaching out to their customers through surveys or social media.

Once you have this information, you can create a list of pros and cons for each competitor. This will help you better understand what your strengths and weaknesses are compared to them.

By researching your competitor thoroughly in the beginning, you’ll have a better idea of products that will interest your client base.

Afterward, you can begin to set your eCommerce business apart by targeting a different market through your unique selling proposition (USP) or by offering lowers prices.

4. Find a Niche

Just like in any business, it’s important to find a niche and target a specific market that your online store will cater to. This will help you become known as an expert in that area and increase your chances of being successful.

When selecting a niche, make sure the products you’re selling are something people are interested in buying. Also, take into consideration what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about. This action will help when it comes time to create your branding and content.

For example, if you’re into fitness, then selling health and fitness products would be a great niche for you. Or maybe you love dogs and want to sell dog-related items. 

There are endless possibilities when it comes to finding a niche.

Establishing yourself with a particular audience also opens up opportunities to expand your product line. For example, let’s use the above example and say you get into the dog niche. 

You may start with something hyper-focused, like all-natural, biodegradable toys for small dogs. Then, as you establish your authority, you can expand your expertise and products into things like small dog grooming, small dog accessories and clothing, and small dog treats.

The key is to think outside the box and find a unique angle that sets you apart. This can be done by targeting a specific market, such as luxury items for women or eco-friendly products. 

You could also focus on a certain type of product, like home décor or fashion accessories.

When selecting your niche, make sure there is enough demand for the products you’re selling. You can do this by doing some market research to see how many people are searching for those types of products.

Start by using a free tool like SearchVolume.io, which shows you how many monthly searches are made in Google for a given keyword. 

You can then use Google to search variations of your product or niche and see if any reputable sites appear on the results page. 

If you have a passion for something, then chances are there’s a niche out there that revolves around it. So don’t be afraid to think outside the box and explore all your options.

5. Name Your Online Business

Your business name is one of the most important decisions you’ll make, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly. 

It will be the first thing your customers see, and it needs to reflect who you are as a company. Therefore, make sure to do your research and select a name that represents your company well.

Facebook is an example of a descriptive brand name. It’s like a digital book of faces. We get it.

However, you can use abstract names to enhance memorability. Screaming Frog (an SEO tool) is an absurd, but very memorable, name. 

What does an exclamatory amphibian have to do with SEO? Not too much, but I can guarantee you people will remember that name.

You’ll also want to make sure there are no other businesses with that same name. Additionally, make sure your company’s name isn’t too close to another company’s name.

If it is the same or too close to the same name, the original business may accuse you of trademark infringement. When that happens, you could be forced to change the name or be ordered to pay them compensation. 

Another thing to keep in mind is your domain name. The domain name is the web address of your website, so make sure it’s available before you start building your site. You can check availability on Google or at sites like Godaddy or Namecheap. 

In fact, many seasoned entrepreneurs will actually start with the domain name to make sure it’s available. 

It’s also a good idea to get the .org and .net versions of your domain name if it’s feasible and affordable. That way, you can prevent someone else from using them to compete with you, especially if your domain name is descriptive.

Also, if you’re going to be using social media to promote your business, then make sure you reserve those handles as well.

Once you’ve chosen a business name, make sure to register it and trademark it with the appropriate agencies so no one else can use it. This precautionary step will protect your brand and help you establish yourself as the official owner of that name.

You want your name to be unique and reflect who you are as a company, so take your time and brainstorm a few different options before making a final decision.

Once you’ve chosen a name, make sure to protect it by registering the domain name and trademarking your business name. This will help to prevent other businesses from using your name and protect your brand.

6. Develop Your Business Plan

Now that you’ve chosen a niche and name for your business, it’s time to develop a business plan. This document will outline your business goals, strategies, and how you plan on achieving them. 

Developing a business plan is essential for any new business, so don’t skip this step. It will help you to stay organized and focused on what needs to be done to achieve your goals.

There are many online tools and templates you can use to get started, including the SBA’s page that shows you how to write a business plan.

Your business plan should be tailored to your specific business and include information about the following:

 

  • Your company overview
  • The products or services you offer
  • Your target market
  • The competitive landscape
  • Your marketing and sales strategies
  • Your financial projections
  • How you plan on growing your business

 

The more detailed your business plan is, the better. So, make sure to take the time to create a comprehensive document that outlines everything your company plans to do. This will help you stay on track and achieve your business goals.

Once you have a business plan in place, make sure to revisit it often and update it as needed. As your business grows and changes, so should your plan. This will help ensure that you’re always moving forward and achieving your desired results.

7. (Maybe) Get Funding for Your Business

Once you have a solid business plan in place, you may consider seeking funding for your business.

Whether or not to raise capital is a tricky subject. There are some highly successful entrepreneurs that believe most businesses should not raise capital

Especially if there’s no rush to scale and the resources to start the business are readily available. Plus, remember that raising capital means you’re likely giving away equity of your business. 

If you’ve got what you need to turn a profit and bootstrap your startup costs, why muddy the waters? 

However, some physical products have expensive inventory requirements and thus necessitate funding.

The three main ways to procure funds for an eCommerce business are loans, grants, and investment capital.

The best way to find funding is to network with other business owners and entrepreneurs. Attend local events and meet-ups or join online groups where you can connect with people who might be able to help your business grow.

You can also look for funding through online platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. These platforms allow you to raise money for your business by crowdfunding from the general public.

Also, if your first investment is relatively small, you can get away with crowdfunding without giving away equity. You’ll most likely need to build an audience beforehand to make this work. 

If you’re having trouble finding funding, then consider looking into government grants and loans. The Small Business Administration is a great place to start, and they have a variety of programs available to help small businesses get started.

But remember: funding fuels rapid growth. If rapid growth is not a main value for you, bootstrapping may be a better way forward. Always consider the implications of funding not just now, but for your future self and business. 

8. Get Your Business License

Before you can start selling products or services, you’ll need to get a business license. This document is proof that you’re authorized to operate a business in your area, and it’s required by most states.

Part of getting your business license is deciding what business entity you’ll want to be, and each of the types have their advantages and disadvantages. The main types of business entities are:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Corporation
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) 

Each of these entities has its own set of rules and regulations, so make sure to do your research (or hire a CPA) before deciding. You can find more information on the SBA website or by contacting your state’s licensing agency.

Once you’ve decided on a business entity, you can apply for a business license through your local municipality or state government.

The application process will vary depending on where you live, but it’s typically a simple process that can be completed online or in person. 

Once you have your business license, make sure to keep it updated and on file at your business location. You’ll need to show it to any customers or clients who may ask for it.

9. Register for Taxes

Once your business is up and running, you’ll need to register for taxes. This will include registering for state and federal income taxes, as well as other applicable taxes, depending on your business type. 

The best way to register for taxes is through the IRS website. They have a variety of resources available to help businesses get started, including an online course called Tax Tips for Small Business. 

It’s also a good idea to brush up on economic nexus laws when you are a remote seller. These laws are fairly new, and they determine when a business has to start collecting sales tax from its customers.

You don’t have to have a physical presence if you are selling products in different states, and you can find out more information on what qualifies your business for economic nexus on the Sales Tax Institute blog.

10. Open a Business Bank Account

Once your business is registered for taxes, you’ll need to open a business bank account. This will help keep your finances organized and make it easy to track your expenses.

Keep in mind that the tax laws are always changing, so make sure to stay abreast of the latest regulations. You can find more information on the IRS website or by contacting a local accounting firm.

11. Choose the Right eCommerce Platform

Once you’ve decided to start an online store, you need to choose the right eCommerce platform. This will be the foundation of your business and will determine how successful you are in selling products online.

There are several different platforms available, so do your research and find one that fits your needs. Some popular platforms include Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce

Once you’ve chosen a platform, make sure to familiarize yourself with how it works. There are many tutorials and resources available online, so take the time to learn everything you need to know about using your eCommerce platform. The more knowledgeable you are about the platform, the easier it will be to run your online store.

12. Set Up Your eCommerce Store

Now that you have all the basics in place, it’s time to set up your eCommerce store. This will involve creating a website and adding products to sell. 

There are many web design templates available online, so choose one that fits your business style and niche.

As mentioned earlier, mobile users account for a big portion of online traffic, so it’s important to make sure your website is responsive.

Thankfully, all of the templates on the aforementioned eCommerce platforms come mobile-responsive out of the box.

13. Design the Look of Your eCommerce Shop

An eCommerce site also offers you the chance to build your brand, connect with more customers and sell more products—but only if you’ve got the right website design. 

The design of your shop determines how professional it looks and how credible you appear to potential customers. So, you’ll need to take the time to create a design that makes a fantastic first impression. 

You can use a professional web design company to help you create a stunning website, or you can DIY it using online tools and resources.

Pro-tip: Do not waste a bunch of time fiddling with your website. Get a nice template going, get your products online, and build out your key pages.

In our experience, website maintenance can be a massive time-suck and also a fancy form of procrastination. If you find yourself spending more time tinkering with site code than actually selling products, you may want to hire or contract out a web developer to help.

Whichever route you choose, make sure the design of your shop is top-notch and reflects the quality of your products.

You also want to make sure the overall look and feel of your site are consistent with your branding. If you have a specific color scheme or logo, make sure those elements are included in your shop’s design.

14. Add Products to Your Online Shop

Once you have a website design down pat, start adding products to sell. You can add them manually or use an import tool to quickly upload your products.

If you’re selling digital products, then make sure to add download links and instructions for buyers. 

Why Product Images Matter

When it comes to online shopping, the quality of your product images is extremely important. 

If you have a fast, mobile-responsive site with high-quality copy and an incredible design, it will mean nothing if your product photos are unprofessional. 

If potential customers can’t visualize what they’re buying, they’re less likely to make a purchase. 

So, make sure to take high-quality photos of your products from different angles. You can also add videos if you want to give buyers a more in-depth look at your products.

If you’re selling clothes or accessories, make sure to include images of models wearing the items. This will help customers get a better idea of how the product looks “in action.”

15. Make Sure Your eCommerce Store is Secure

When it comes to online shopping, security is a top priority for buyers. They want to know that their personal information is safe and that their payment details are protected. 

You can ensure the security of your eCommerce store by using a secure payment gateway. This will protect your customers’ credit card information during the checkout process.

You can also add an SSL certificate to your website, which will encrypt all data transmitted between your site and your customers’ browsers.

16. Optimize Your Website’s Navigation

If you want to increase your online sales, you need to make sure your website is easy to navigate. Your customers should be able to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. 

To that end, make sure all your main product categories are listed on the homepage and include clear menus that help shoppers find what they’re looking for. If you have a lot of products, you can use filters to help customers narrow down their search. 

You should also consider adding a search bar to your website. This will allow shoppers to quickly find the product they’re looking for without having to browse through all your categories.

17. Provide the Best Payment Options for Your Customers

When it comes to online shopping, buyers want convenience. This means including a variety of payment methods; credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal. 

Taking Bitcoin for payment is another way to attract buyers who are looking for alternative payment methods, though this is rare among eCommerce sites. 

18. Offer Excellent Customer Support

When it comes to online shopping, buyers often have questions about products or orders. 

That means they need someone they can contact for help and support. To meet that need, make sure you have a customer service department that is available to answer questions and resolve any issues. 

You can provide customer support through email, phone, or online ‘Contact Us’ form that’s featured on your website.

Additionally, don’t just hire any customer support representative. Instead, make sure you hire someone who is knowledgeable about your products that is also friendly and helpful. 

They should be able to answer customers’ questions quickly and effectively. You may also want to consider offering live chat support so that buyers can get help instantly.

Even better, head off objections and questions by adding an FAQ section to your website. This will help customers find the answers to common questions without having to contact customer service.

19. Make Use of eCommerce Analytics

eCommerce analytics can tell you a lot about how your online store is performing. You can use this information to improve your website’s navigation, make changes to your product lineup, and more. 

There are several different eCommerce analytics tools available, such as Google Analytics and Shopify. Google Analytics is completely free, and Shopify Analytics comes packaged with all Shopify sites.

Analytics is essential for understanding where customers are coming from, the efficacy of your marketing tactics, and which products are most popular with your audience.

20. Set up Your Warehouse Operations

If you want to run a successful eCommerce store, you need to make sure you have systems and operators in place for receiving orders. You’ll also need to have a space where you can store your products, as well as someone who can pick, pack and ship them. 

You may also want to consider using a third-party logistics company (3PL) to handle your shipping and receiving. This will take the burden off of you and allow you to focus on running your business.

If you’re not sure how to get started, SkuVault offers a range of fulfillment solutions that can help automate and streamline your warehouse operations. 

We can help you set up warehouse operations and implement a Warehouse Management System for end-to-end tracking of your goods in real-time.

 

Instant inventory transparency

Implement an IMS to gain greater inventory control, and less costly mis-ships.

 

Promote Your Online Store

If you want your eCommerce store to be successful, you need to promote it. That means creating a marketing plan and implementing a variety of marketing tactics. Additionally, your marketing strategy should include both short-term and long-term goals, as well as tactics to achieve those goals.

You can start by creating a website for your store and adding content that will attract buyers. Additionally, you can reach out to bloggers and other online influencers and ask them to write about your store.

Here are 18 more tips for promoting your online store.

1. Create an “About Us” Page That Tells A Compelling Story

When people visit your website, they want to learn more about you and your business. Therefore, it’s important to have an “About Us” page that tells your story and grabs attention. 

Your “About Us” page should be well-written and interesting so that buyers will want to stay on your website longer. It should also include images of you and your team, as well as photos of your products.

Make sure to update your “About Us” page regularly with new information and photos. This will keep buyers interested in learning more about you and your business.

2. Develop a Comprehensive SEO Strategy

If you want your eCommerce store to be successful, you need to have a strong SEO strategy. This means optimizing your website for the search engines so that you can rank higher on the Google results pages. 

There are a number of different things you can do to improve your SEO, such as:

  1. Adding relevant keywords to your website’s title and meta tags.
  2. Creating high-quality content backed by keyword research.
  3. Reaching out to industry partners to form relationships and acquire backlinks. 

 

You can also use a tool like Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) to help you track your website’s SEO performance.

Paid SEO tools are often the most helpful, but they can get pricey. 

For new businesses, consider UberSuggest. It’s a powerful keyword research tool that only costs $29/month and even allows for multiple free searches.

If you’re really strapped for cash, you can simply use Google. Just type in your head keyword, hit the spacebar, and go through each letter from A to Z. Google will auto-populate the search field based on common queries.

That alone should give you plenty of content ideas, but you can also then hit enter to make a search and scroll down to the “People Also Ask” section. Each of those questions are potential pieces of content.

3. Understand Your Buyer Personas

If you want to sell products online, you need to make sure you are targeting the right visitor with the right product. This means understanding your buyer personas and using them to create targeted content and ads. It also helps increase your chances of making a sale.

You can also use data-driven marketing techniques like retargeting to ensure that you’re reaching buyers who are most likely to purchase your products.

Retargeting involves displaying targeted ads to people who have visited your website but haven’t made a purchase.

4. Drive Traffic to Your Online Store with Social Media 

If you want to drive traffic to your eCommerce store, you’ll need to use social media. This means creating profiles for your store on the major social networks and sharing content that will interest your followers. 

You can also use social media advertising to reach a larger audience and promote your products or services.

Additionally, you can run contests and giveaways on social media to increase engagement and drive traffic to your store.

If you don’t have time to monitor social platforms all day, consider using a scheduling tool like Buffer to batch create posts and tweets and automate the process. 

5. Use Live Chat to Boost Sales

We mentioned live chat earlier when we discussed customer service. However, if you want to boost your sales, you should consider using live chat and teaching the customer service agent the art of upselling (or at least massaging the sale a bit). 

Using that little corner chat box is a great way to connect with potential buyers and answer any questions they may have about your products or services. It also helps your current and potential customers make faster buying decisions. 

Live chat also helps build trust with potential buyers and can increase the chances of making a sale. You can use a tool like LiveChat software to provide live chat support for your website.

6. Keep on Going after Your First Sale

Making your first sale is a trip. There’s no other feeling quite like it.

However, don’t let your foot off the gas. If you want this eCommerce thing to work, you’ll need to continue working hard and driving traffic to your store to get more sales. 

This means continuing to create valuable content, promoting your store on social media, and using live chat to connect with potential buyers.

Make sure you also keep track of your sales data so that you can see what’s working and what’s not. Use this data to make changes to your marketing strategy and improve your chances of making more sales.

7. Create a Discount Strategy

When it comes to eCommerce, you always have to think about ways to get more people in the door. And what better way than with a coupon? Well, yes and no—coupons are a great way to drive traffic and sales, but only if they’re used correctly. 

You need to make sure that your coupon strategy is intentional and that you’re not constantly devaluing your products.

Pricing psychology is a tricky thing. Sometimes, higher prices will actually drive more sales due to their transmission of value to the product. 

Additionally, you need to think about when you should offer a discount. Is it better to do it on Cyber Monday? Black Friday? During a holiday season?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, so you’ll need to test different methods and see what works best for your store (and don’t forget to study how your competitors do it!).

8. Make Checkout Effortless

When someone adds a product to their shopping cart, you want them to feel like they’re making a good decision. This means providing a smooth and easy checkout process and ensuring that the customer’s data is safe and secure.

A big problem all eCommerce stores face is “checkout abandonment.” Essentially, it’s when someone adds something to their cart but doesn’t follow through with the purchase. The lack of conversion could be due to getting cold feet or simply forgetting to check out.

Using Google Analytics’ free eCommerce tool, you can actually visualize where in the checkout process people abandon their browsers. This data helps you make decisions on how to streamline the process further.

You can also use tools like Amazon Pay or PayPal to make the checkout process easier for your customers. 

9. Create an Email Marketing Strategy

Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to connect with potential buyers and increase sales. 

You need to create a strategy that will help you reach more people and convert them into customers. This means creating valuable content that’s relevant to your target audience and sending it out on a regular basis.

You can also use email marketing to run promotions and special offers or to announce new products or services. 

And don’t forget about retargeting! You can use email retargeting to reach potential customers who have visited your website but haven’t made a purchase.

Another good email marketing strategy is a referral program. You can offer customers a discount or other incentive for referring their friends to your store through email or somewhere on your website. This is a great way to increase traffic and sales.

Even if you don’t have a strategy set in stone for what to send, start building your email list today. You can always decide what to send in the later stages of your business. 

10. Develop a Shipping Strategy that’s a Fit for Your Store

Shipping can be a bit of a pain, especially when it comes to international shipping.

When developing your shipping strategy, you need to take into account the cost of shipping, the weight of the package, and the destination country. You also need to make sure that you’re using a shipping carrier that offers good rates and reliable service.

If you’re selling products that are heavy or bulky, you may want to consider using a freight forwarder to help you get your products to the customer’s door. 

Many inventory management platforms like SkuVault offer seamless shipping integration. This way, you can view both your in-transit and on-hand inventory from one convenient dashboard

11. Ask for Customer Feedback and Reviews

One of the best ways to improve your eCommerce store is to ask for feedback from your customers. This can help you identify any areas that need improvement, and it can also help you come up with new ideas for products or services.

You can solicit feedback in a number of different ways, such as through surveys, email marketing, or social media.

You can also use tools like TrustPilot or Feefo to collect customer reviews. This can be a great way to show potential buyers that your store is legitimate and that you’re offering a quality product or service.

12. Add Customer Testimonials to Your Website

According to socialfresh.com, “Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%.” Testimonials are also a great way to build trust and show potential buyers that you’re offering a quality product or service.

You can add them to your website in a number of different ways, such as through video, text, or social media. So, make sure that you’re always asking your customers for feedback and testimonials. 

13. Harness the Power of the Newsletter

Email newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with your customers and keep them up to date on the latest products or services that you offer.

You can use your newsletter to announce new products, run promotions or simply provide valuable content that’s relevant to your target audience.

When creating your newsletter, make sure that you’re using a tool that will help you create a beautiful, responsive design.

You also need to make sure that your newsletter is mobile-friendly, so it looks good on any device.

You can also use a tool like Constant Contact or MailChimp to manage your subscribers and send out your newsletters. This will save you a lot of time and hassle.

14. Show Customers They Can Trust You

One of the biggest challenges for online stores is building trust with potential buyers. This can be a bit dicey, especially when you’re competing against well-known brands.

But there are a few things that you can do to show shoppers that your store is trustworthy. One of the best ways to do this is by using a secure payment gateway like PayPal or Stripe.

They use secure payment processing methods like SSL encryption, which helps to protect your customer’s data. You can also use a trust seal like the ones offered by Trustwave or Verisign.

Another way to build trust is by adding customer reviews and testimonials to your website. You can also use social media to show potential buyers that you’re a legitimate business.

So, make sure that you’re doing everything you can to build trust with your customers.

15. Make Sure You Use Social Media the Right Way

You can use social media to promote your business in so many different ways. For example, you can use it to drive traffic to your website, increase brand awareness or even sell products and services.

But, before you start using social media for marketing purposes, you need to make sure that you have the right strategy in place. You also need to make sure that you’re using the right tools and platforms.

For example, if you want to drive traffic to your website and build a community, you should focus on using platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

If you want to increase brand awareness with video, you should focus on using platforms like Instagram and maybe even TikTok. 

If your products have a highly visual component, leverage Pinterest. And if you want to connect with B2B professionals, you should focus on LinkedIn.

Also, don’t forget YouTube, the second largest search engine on the planet. YouTube is a highly underutilized social platform for business, and it’s excellent for long-form content. If you’re comfortable on video and have a phone capable of recording 1080p or higher, you can start a YouTube channel today.

You can also use social media to track your competition’s activities. So, make sure that you’re following them on all the major platforms.

This will help you stay current on their latest marketing campaigns and product launches. Finally, make sure that you have a clear strategy in place before you start posting content.

16. Learn from Your Competitor’s Mishaps

It’s important to keep a close eye on the competition, especially if you’re just starting out. This will help you stay ahead of the curve and learn from their mistakes. It’ll help you stay ahead of the curve and compete on a level playing field.

You can track your competition by using competitive intelligence tools that help you keep tabs on what your competitors are doing and how they’re performing. Some examples of these tools include:

  • The Alexa Browser Extension: This extension is free to download, and you can do competitive intelligence dives on millions of websites with it, including insights into their traffic and online market share. The tool helps you determine which products and services they’re offering, as well as how popular they are. The only downside is that Alexa.com is retiring on May 1rst this year. 
  • Spyfu: This is a tool for doing competitor analysis, and it offers insights into their AdWords campaigns, organic search results, and paid keywords. It also has a “Domain Overview” report that shows you how your competition is performing on the web.
  • Ahrefs: This is a comprehensive tool that offers insights into your competitor’s backlinks, organic search traffic, and paid keywords. It also has a “Content Explorer” feature that allows you to see the most popular content on the web.
  • Buzzsumo: This tool lets you see the most popular content on the web. It also offers insights into your competitor’s backlinks, social media followers and shared content.
  • Crayon: If you want to analyze your competition’s behavior, Crayon will do the job. It provides competitive analysis by looking at their website traffic, online market share and launched marketing campaigns. It also offers insights into their social media followers.
  • Visualping: This tool is good for tracking your competitor’s changes on websites, social media and marketing campaigns. It alerts you when there are any changes to their website, and it also offers insights into what those changes are. 
  • Moat: Giving you insights into your competitor’s website traffic, ad campaigns and brand health is Moat. The tool offers data-driven insights to help you make informed decisions about how to keep up with your biggest competition.
  • Semrush Traffic Analytics: This app is great for doing niche and new market analysis. You can also use it to see your competitor’s top organic keywords, paid keywords and display ads. Lastly, it offers insights into their website traffic and estimated ad budget.

 

Keep in mind that you don’t have to use all these tools – just pick the ones that work best for you. 

17. Align Your Brand with Others in Your Niche

When you’re starting a new business, it’s important to align yourself with other businesses in your niche. This will help you to build relationships and create partnerships that can be beneficial for both parties.

You can do this by attending industry events, joining industry forums or even collaborating with other businesses on joint projects. By doing this, you’ll be able to create a strong network of businesses that can help you grow your business.

18. Track Your Analytics and Double Down on What Works

One of the best ways to improve your online store is by tracking your analytics. This will help you to see what’s working and what’s not.

You can use analytics to track a variety of different metrics, such as website traffic, conversion rates, social media engagement, and even email open rates.

By doing this, you’ll be able to see what’s working and repeat it. Plus, you’ll see where you need to make changes so you can improve your business.

So, make sure that you’re tracking your analytics and using the data to improve your online store.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, starting an online store can be a challenge, but it’s definitely not impossible. The rewards can be great, but you need to put in the work.

Meanwhile, if you follow the tips in this article, you’ll be well on your way to starting a successful online store. 

About SkuVault

SkuVault is an eCommerce Inventory Management Software company that helps online store owners manage their inventory and track their sales.

We offer a variety of features, such as barcode scanning, pick, pack, ship workflows, unlimited integrations, and more.

To learn more about SkuVault and our services, please visit our website at skuvault.com or request your personal demo. We’d be happy to help you get started with your eCommerce business.

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