Considering opening an online store? E-commerce has grown significantly over the last decade or so, and there are now hundreds of marketplaces and website builders out there which let you set up shop and begin selling your products. An example of these website builders is Shopify and its many integrations which let you set up modern, responsive and intuitive online stores in a matter of minutes.
Although it only takes a minute to set up your basic website, there are a lot of things to consider before you get to this stage. If you are thinking of opening an online store, ask yourself these 10 questions before you jump in.
- What Am I Selling?
Sounds obvious, right? Well, it is… but you need to think outside the box. What exactly are you selling? If you are selling shoes, who is your target market? Men? Women? People with certain medical conditions? By knowing what you are selling, you will find it much easier to learn about your market and competitors.
- Who Are My Competitors?
Tying into the above, it is important to know who your competition is. Identify other players within your market and study them carefully. Look at what they are selling, who their customer base is and how they interact on social media. There is a lot to be learned from this which will give you the all-important competitive edge.
- How Much Do I Want to Sell?
If you handmake your products, this is a very important question. Having an idea of the sales volume you want prior to launching will help you determine how much you should invest into your new business venture at the very beginning. Factor expected growth into this too, for best results.
- Do I Have Barriers to Entry?
Depending on the product which you want to sell, there may be barriers to entry (e.g. legal restrictions or licensing requirements) which can prevent you from getting going straight away. Knowing about this right off the bat is important as you’ll be able to plan for it.
- Who Is My Target Market?
When figuring out how to go about setting up your online store, you need to know who your target market is. By knowing this, you can create, design and launch your site in a way which will attract these people. To do this, you will need to perform market research and find out who your demographics are.
- Do I Have a Viable Product?
Honestly, ask yourself whether your product is viable. Will it sell? Is it trending? You have probably noticed product trends on Facebook (e.g. all these shaving clubs and new mattress brands.) To launch a viable product which will be successful, you need to provide a unique and novel factor which people will be attracted to.
- How Will I Design My Site?
Whilst Shopify is a site builder, the very best stores on there have their own bespoke site designs. Building a site can be difficult if you’re not familiar with programming languages, so figuring out a plan for this early is important. It’s fine to use a pre-made theme in the beginning, but as time goes by you are going to want something as unique as your product.
- How Am I Going to Process Payments?
It’s staggering how many people launch stores without thinking about this. There are lots of payment processing platforms available with varying fees, terms and conditions, so you need to decide which ones you’re going to use prior to launch.
- Do I Need to Register a Business?
This depends on how much you plan to earn and where you’re located, so research is necessary. Don’t get caught out not paying the right taxes or you could be liable for some huge fines!
- How Will I Provide Customer Service?
You MUST offer customer service, ideally through social media, and monitor it each day. There are options for you though, such as the use of chatbots to provide basic-level customer service or paying somebody to do it for you.
Whilst the act of opening an online store is easy and quick, failing to think about key considerations before launching you may find that you are not quite as successful as you originally hoped.