Starting with e-commerce made easy (-ier)

E-commerce websites are still gaining their popularity. Even though some people still rather go to a physical store and buy from actual people, many of us appreciate the comfort of shopping in their pj’s with a glass of wine or in my case with screaming baby on their lap. Since the industry is still growing, many people every day are thinking about starting their very own online store. How to get around to it? Those few steps might help you get some idea.

1. Something to wear, something to eat and fun toys from China

The first big decision you have to make after deciding to go into e-commerce business is …what are you actually going to sell. You need to remember that there is a ton of stuff everywhere and you are not going to have a comfort to be ‘one and only’ selling this type of goods. Ok, maybe it’s not impossible but highly unlikely (Empire State Building highly unlikely). So in order to find out what is the most profitable product to sell you need to go ‘window shopping’ online.

Googling products is a good idea. You can also go and use Google keywords to find out what is really ‘hot’ on the market. Some also say that it is good to sell products of limited local availability. If people can’t go to the store to buy it, then they are forced to shop online.

Keep in mind all the qualities that are associated with the product like price, the margin you can add to it, shipping size. Those all raise valid concerns. You don’t want to end up with tens of widescreen TV’s all over tiny apartment because you didn’t plan on renting a unit.

Also, even though it is the online market, regular market rules still apply. Remember to find out whether there is a valid need for the goods you are trying to sell. Pushing things that nobody needs will make you miserable and chances of success are low.

Finally, ask yourself if you are passionate about the product and if you are ready t stand behind it 100%. You are going to spend a lot of time promoting it so you better believe it is worth all the hustle.

2. How many batches can you make by Friday?

Once you have your heart set on the kind of products you want to sell, you need to find suppliers. It might take some time, and even more, time if you are brand new on the market.

Here you have few options. You might decide to go straight to the manufacturer but it’s not always possible. Some of them have already set network of distributors. That is your second possibility. You are getting in touch with the wholesaler and negotiate with him. The third option is dropshipper, which might be convenient because they are handling most of the heavy lifting and you are basically just sending them orders.

They all have their advantages and disadvantages, and I am not going to cover all the details associated with getting suppliers here because it is a subject for a separate article. If you can’t wait for that I recommend this one here: click. That should help you with initial search.

3. It will be big, it will be great and the sales will be skyrocketing!

Now that you decided on the product, and how to obtain it, you need to check out the competition. The aim of that is not to discourage you, your competition is obviously ahead of you already, but to give you a starting point. Many people go to competitors websites and are so full of envy that they forget to learn. Don’t be one of them!

Treat your visit to each competitor e-commerce website as mystery shopper visit. Keep a list of things that you liked and things that you thought were bad. Don’t stop after few shops. Make a fair analysis of as many as you can, because you really need to find those few things that connect them all – a pattern. See, there is really no need for you to reinvent the wheel. You might not be the first on the market but still, you can be the best.

After extensive research it is the high time to create your own.. business plan. Yes, that’s right. If you thought that e-commerce is just a website that is going to make you some money on the side, don’t fool yourself. It is a business with all its blessings and curses and needs to be taken seriously. So come up with a name. And when you do, please make sure that the domain name is free. Remember – domain name of your e-commerce is like an address of the physical store. If it’s 3rd door on the left from the back of Giovanni’s restaurant somewhere in the middle of High Street, guess how many people are going to visit. Don’t make your domain name 3 miles long, don’t put any made up words in it, keep it simple and straightforward because it is only going to make your life easier.

4. Let’s build a store.

Now the time has come for you to build your e-commerce website. There are many ways in which you could do this. You might decide to try and build it on your own, but if you are serious about being successful you should probably hand it over to the professional company (wink). There is a number of reasons to do that. First of all, it saves you a lot of time and possibly will help you stay in better health. Secondly, if you are going to handle payments and your customer’s data you really need some too notch security in place. Also, e-commerce websites, once they attract some decent traffic, need to be put on special kind of servers or the cost of hosting your store will eat you alive. So for the sake of your mental well-being find yourself a web developer to help you build your e-commerce (wink).

5. Ready, set go…

Now that you’ve done all previous steps, congratulations! You are now an online store owner. It might seem like a long way from idea to execution to the launch date. The truth is though, that is only a beginning. And although everything you’ve done so far was very important, you are yet to discover the king of success kingdom and his name is Search Engine Optimization. His rule is though so you need to be prepared to absorb all the jargon and fulfil every order. But that’s the story for another time.
For now, I think you will keep busy with steps from 1 to 4. Don’t get discouraged, even though it seems like a lot it is still a great idea for a business in vast, growing digital world.

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Barbara Pajak
Barbara Pajak Creative Director, Web Designer

I'm a designer with love for everything that's beautiful. In my case, an expression 'love what you do and you won't work a day in your life' gets it full meaning. I enjoy taking on new projects and learning new things. I like clever designs, the energy that comes from people when they create new things and basically everything that falls within the term of 'living full life'.

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