Apart from growing your business, knowing your customers is perhaps the foremost important aspect of building a successful online store. Implementing the right technology, marketing your brand smartly, and drawing on expert help can provide you with significant financial and growth advantages, but that is all dependent on understanding your customers.
COVID-19 has created unprecedented opportunities for sellers, with more and more consumers turning to e-commerce for their shopping needs.
Building a Profitable Online Store
E-commerce is a business model that allows firms and individuals to buy and sell things over the internet. Over the years, online shopping has seen steady growth spurts and has since become a multi-billion-dollar industry.
According to recent research, a collective $3.914 trillion in e-commerce sales is expected in 2020, and global e-retail sales will grow up to $4.8 trillion by 2021. These numbers are impressive, and it means that there is ample opportunity for anyone looking to go into e-commerce. Starting from scratch isn’t as hard as you might think. It’s much easier to start an online retail store than your traditional brick-and-mortar store.
Global e-commerce retail giants like Amazon and Alibaba have revolutionized online shopping by setting a very high standard for customer satisfaction. Customer experience can make or break your online store.
How to Start an Online Boutique
Over 2.14 billion people are expected to buy goods and services online worldwide in 2021. This is the perfect time to start an online boutique. Starting off your very first business might be scary, but we are here to guide you every step of the way. So without further ado, here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can build an online boutique.
Choosing the Product You Want to Sell
Product selection is essential in the initial stages of building your online store. The first thing you need to do is conduct extensive market research. It will help you realize who your competitors are, what they are doing, what works for them (or not), and their challenges.
Unfortunately, you will compete with a vast number of popular sites selling everything. This is not a cause for concern if you go with a unique quality product. If you scour the internet, you will find a wide variety of websites selling virtually any product or service you can think of. From t-shirts, designer outfits, face masks, tuxedos, shoes, accessories, the list is inexhaustible.
However, the key is not to sell everything but to balance products you are passionate about and products that are trending. Assessing local demand is also crucial because even if you sell popular products also sold by your competitors, your geographical proximity can give you an edge through faster shipping or delivery.
Choosing a niche is also a critical component of product selection. A niche market is a focused, targeted portion of a broader market, defined by its own unique needs and preferences. For instance, “clothes” are a fairly broad niche. “Women’s dresses” is a much narrower niche.
Tracking the trends, looking for high dollar options, and using keyword research are some foolproof ways of choosing a sustainable niche market. Keyword searches can help you identify trendy, well-established products in the market that are relatively easy to sell. Social media can play a huge role in this area of market research.
Google Trends is also an effective tool that allows you to use keywords to look into specific dates in particular products’ past and future. This can help you understand the growth trends of particular products. Instagram influencers sometimes promote trending products or at least influence their demand, so it would help to follow some of them.
Choosing a Business and Domain Name
Once you have identified the products you want to sell on your online store, the next step would be to choose a business name and create a domain. A business name should reflect the product you sell. It is also the foundation of your brand, so you must choose it carefully because it gives your store a unique identity.
The fundamental distinction between an average online store and an online boutique is the brand name. You could sell the trendiest clothes in the world, but if your brand is not unique, consumers can easily overlook your business.
A domain name gives internet users access to your online store. For example, bellissimo.com would be a potential name for an online store selling “beautiful” clothing brands. A domain gives you credibility and customer trust in the long run. You can buy a domain name from a range of domain registrars. Domain.com, Bluehost, HostGator, GoDaddy, Namecheap, DreamHost, and Shopify are among the most popular options.
After narrowing down your niche and choosing a business name and domain, the next step is to figure out how to source the products to sell. The ideal model would be one where you can combine your products and some from a manufacturer or dropshipper.
- DIY Products
Making your own clothing or accessories has immense benefits. You would have complete creative control over your products and be able to tailor-make them for your customers. The focus should always be to provide the best service to your customers. This can positively affect your sales revenue and customer-return potential.
- Manufacturer or Dropshipper
Getting products from a manufacturer is an excellent option if you have the capital. You can therefore get stock from the manufacturer, store it, and then sell it. It’s important to consider all the costs associated with this option, such as warehousing and shipping costs.
With that in mind, this option allows you to assess the quality of stock first-hand and ensure that it meets your customers’ standards. You can also build up a good relationship with your supplier.
Dropshipping is probably the most popular business model because of its cost-effectiveness. Dropshipping is an order fulfillment method where the retailer does not keep goods in stock. Instead, the store purchases the products from a third party, who then ships them directly to the customer.
As the middleman, you don’t have to meet or have direct dealings with the supplier. Unfortunately, that also means you cannot vet the quality of the products yourself.
How to Build an E-commerce Website From Scratch
Building an e-commerce website in 2020 is within reach for anyone with the desire to take part in the online retail industry. Choosing the right e-commerce platform can have a tremendous impact on the success of your online business. It must encompass your business objectives and must be suitable for your niche’s needs.
There are two main options when considering how to build an e-commerce website. You can either use the services of a web developer or a website builder.
- Web Developer or Designer
This is the least popular option because it can be expensive, depending on whether you use an independent developer or agency. Either way, you will part with a substantially sizeable amount of money. So, it’s not ideal if you are on a tight budget or looking to channel your funds towards marketing and sales.
On average, using a web developer’s services to build an e-commerce website will cost you anywhere between $1,000 and $50,000. However, you’ll have full control over your website’s design, features, and payment systems.
- Website Builder
Using a website builder is usually the most affordable option because there are so many options out there. They design many of these sites with beginners in mind, making it easy for anyone to quickly put a website together. Most website builders support e-commerce, so you can add product pages that include photography, product descriptions, and SEO fields.
Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, Wix, and Squarespace are among the most common options. These will cost you anywhere between $6 and $50 per month on average. Once you choose the e-commerce platform that suits you best, you will organize your products, manage your blog content, and accept orders through various payment systems.
Path of Building a Successful Online Store
These days, anyone can start an online store. Your success will depend entirely on making business decisions that set you apart from your competitors. We can narrow this down to two key factors: customer satisfaction and marketing.
- Customer Satisfaction
Without the customer, you have no business. It only makes sense that the customer should be the cornerstone of your business model. The customer expects to find complete product descriptions and technical specifications on your online store. By enriching your product content, you’ll attract more traffic and sales conversion.
Research also shows that by listening to customers and taking into account both positive and negative feedback, you’ll be able to identify your weaknesses and strengths and therefore make necessary improvements. On average, an online shopper will read at least five reviews before making a purchase. Therefore, encouraging reviews can build up your credibility.
The average cart abandonment rate is about 70%. This behavior often stems from a lack of accurate information and sudden expenses during the checkout process. Providing the customer with obvious details on shipping costs, average shipment times, and arrivals from the onset can significantly reduce the cart abandonment rate.
Marketing is another critical aspect of building a successful online store. Through effective marketing strategies, you can better serve your niche and reach out to other potential customers. By collecting as many email addresses as you can, you can develop a strong email marketing strategy. You can use these to inform prospective customers about product launches and promotions.
You can also boost your digital engagement by posting engaging content on your social media platforms. Google Ads are also an excellent opportunity to bid on keywords so that your website can show up first in search engine results.
You can also try advertising on social media platforms, partner with complementary brands, and use influencer marketing. These are splendid avenues for efficiently marketing your products online.
A generation ago, no one would have ever imagined that it would be possible to start a genuine business in one day, even with no money at all. With e-commerce, anyone with time and commitment can build and run a successful business. Just like fashion, business is always growing.
So, now that you know how to start an online store from scratch, it’s crucial always to center your business around the customer. Remember, without the customer, you have no business.