If you are wondering how to start an online store, you must know the formula: set specific goals and step-by-step think through the journey. You can surely do it yourself or follow our recommendations to make it a bit easier and avoid common mistakes.
We imagine you already have a clear picture of what you are going to sell, who the target audience is, and what's more important, you've already decided that it will be an online store. So, what's next?
We've been dealing with ecommerce for a while now. That's why we have come up with an essentials kit to launch an online store. In short, it includes:
- domain name and hosting;
- design and development;
- promotion and marketing.
Looks plain and simple, right? Now let's dive a bit deeper.
Domain Name and Hosting
This item comes as the first on the list and for a good reason. Hosting is the place where your online store will dwell, and the domain name will be its address. Which one to choose depends heavily on your budget and plans. If your online store is relatively small, then a $3 fee per month may be sufficient. If the ecommerce business grows, it will be necessary to reconsider the hosting plan.
As to the domain name, it's usually the actual name of the online store. Yet, if it's already occupied, you'll need to think of something else. Our experience shows that in ecommerce, this problem can be possibly solved in three ways:
- One can try and buy out the online store domain name. As the practice shows, it's actually an option and not that expensive.
- Play with the name by adding an extra word, hyphen, or underscores.
- Finally, one can always think of a different name.
Design and Development
Here we'll review what ecommerce solutions the market has to offer today.
You must have heard of website builders like Wix. Their significant advantages are affordable pricing, usability, and simplicity. One can build an ecommerce shop literally in a day. What is also attractive is the perk of having a hosting plan included in the package.
The other useful factor is buying a ready-made design theme if one doesn't want to invest much in design. These two benefits indeed make such an ecommerce solution look like a perfect choice, however, it's not always the case.
Your choice is limited by what the website builder foresees if you want to add any additional functionality. Moreover, if it's not included in the package you've purchased, it'll cost extra.
Secondly, such websites can't be scaled. You'll have to migrate to another ecommerce platform.
Thirdly, SEO promotion can't be performed for these websites, so if you have any long-term plans to promote your ecommerce store, they won’t happen with website builders like Wix. The only option available in this regard is paid advertisement.
Finally, your online store doesn't quite belong to you. The reality is that you are just renting it.
The second option on our list is creating an ecommerce website using the framework. Here you'll need coding knowledge or an expert in the area. It's not a cheap alternative and is a sound choice for large businesses. They normally have a dedicated development team or reach out to software development agencies to implement their project. Such ecommerce projects imply proper long-term planning with an already existing business process that serves as a basis for software. To read more on the matter, follow to see our article. As you see, there can be a whole team working on ecommerce project design and development.
The third alternative is opening an online store on open-source platforms. It doesn't require that much time and effort compared to the previous solution described. It all depends on your requests, nowadays it's increasingly popular and works for many cases. Such platform examples are Magento, WordPress, etc. Having a convenient ready-made CMS is a huge benefit for any ecommerce project. The other is the variety of plug-ins and extensions, and each meant best for a particular ecommerce need: documentation audit, SEO, payment methods, etc.
Like with website builders, one can go with a theme or implement a custom design to stand out. The pros list also includes scalability and multi-functionality.
Creating an online store using an open-source platform may take a few weeks or months; everything depends on customer traffic. Such ecommerce projects are well-optimized for search engines, which allows setting your marketing strategy way ahead.
Promotion and Marketing
We are reviewing this point at the end of the article, but it’s important to stress that it should be among the priorities for an ecommerce product. Online stores can be promoted in various ways, but your target audience is most likely to come from search engines. To promote an online store via search systems, it's crucial to think everything through generating the content and expanding the product selection. It means playing the long game, but it's worth it.
PPC advertising, social media, and turning to influencers are also among efficient ecommerce promotion tools. Everything relies on target audience behavior.
In this article, we've covered the major online store development options. Apart from them, you can certainly sell your product through Instagram, Facebook, or Amazon, but it's a bit of a different story and is better studied separately.
If you have any questions left on the matter, don't hesitate to contact us!