Although the title of the article may seem a bit exaggerated, really to make an online store you will only need a small financial investment, and above all a large investment in the form of time, I wanted to convey the idea that it is possible to create an e-business. commerce without the need for a significant financial investment.
As you already know, today it is possible to sell products over the Internet to everyone. It is also possible to create an online store without the need for computer skills. Wholesalers or drop shippers can send their products directly to your customers.
There is enough information on the Internet to learn the basics of online marketing, and companies like Paypal make it very easy for us to implement an effective payment system. So, what is the excuse to learn how to set up the online store you want?
The 10 steps to create an online store
I am going to summarize the process of how to start an online store in 10 steps, very briefly and above, so that you can get an idea of what would be essential to start selling from your own online store:
1. Choose the name and domain of your online store
This is one of the most attractive parts of any project, so I put it at the beginning to encourage the staff. Choosing a good domain is essential in an online store.
Both the name and the domain must be easy to remember and write, they must be as short as possible and be descriptive.
In the case of the domain, if it also contains any of our keywords, it will help us position ourselves in search engines for those terms. Try to make it a .com. We use OKReally.com to buy our names.
2. Choose a good hosting company
This is practically the only investment you will have to make to create your online store, so do not be stingy and look for a company that offers you quality hosting and guarantee.
The speed of your online store is key, both for users and for search engine positioning. A slow page makes your users tired of waiting and abandon the page, while Google, for example, penalizes pages that take more than X seconds to load by sending them to the bottom of the search results. You should even pay more in Adwords for having a slow page!
So make sure that your hosting company guarantees you enough space for your online store and a good connection speed. By hiring a good hosting service you will also avoid unnecessary server outages and you will be able to have your store available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We host most of our sites on AWS (Amazon Web Services).
If you want to simplify your life, you can also use an online store service like Shopify that already has everything you need so that you only have to dedicate yourself to selling.
3. Choose a Warranty Dropshipper
Some time ago we explained how the dropshipping method works. Basically, it is that our wholesaler or distributor directly sends the products that our customers have bought in our online store to their home .
Obviously, the drop shipper wholesaler will ship the product without any company hallmark, adding your own invoice to the package if you wish.
In this way, the customer is equally satisfied and we avoid having to invest in the stock of products or worry about logistics. The dropshipping company will take care of all of this.
Logically, as a general rule, the margins will not be as great as if we bought the products first, but to open an e-commerce business, start having clients and see how everything works, I see it as the ideal solution for those who cannot invest in a large number of products.
There are many lists of wholesalers and dropshippers, be sure to choose one of the guarantees, perform some tests before selling directly to your customers, and have some more selected in case you have to change.
4. Use a good CMS for e-commerce
As we mentioned in the hosting section, if you want to sell without worrying about technical things, it is best to use an online store service such as Shopify, especially if you are starting. But if you dare to mount it, you need a CMS.
Nowadays there are many free CMS solutions for e-commerce. All of them are designed to a greater or lesser extent so that they can be used by people without much technical knowledge.
In addition, being open-source tools and known by a large number of professionals, there are many companies and freelancers that for a small fee can tweak or expand those functionalities that you cannot do on your own.
I would choose Magento Open-Source without hesitation, mainly due to its ease of use, but also because of its “lightness”, good natural positioning and a large number of easily configurable options. We expound on the benefits of Magento in this article.
Other CMS that are also recommended would be: WordPress, Oscommerce, Virtuemart (Joomla), Zencart, Opencart, Digistore Drupal Ecommerce or Shopify.
All of them allow the selection of various design templates, both free and paid, that will cover all your needs. Choose a template with an attractive, usable, and action-oriented design to create your online store.
When choosing the hosting, keep in mind that it has the CMS that you have chosen pre-installed, so the installation will be automatic and simple.
5. Customize your products
Many wholesalers provide online stores with their product catalog in formats that can be uploaded to your store automatically, and thus all products can be displayed in a very short time. It is not a bad idea to start, but it is essential to customize all the texts in the store .
In the long run, the only products that will be positioned correctly will be those that you have modified, and users will appreciate not finding the same text that they will see in other stores. Expand the information with product details, photos, methods of use. Use imagination.
6. Add all possible payment methods
It is essential to offer the maximum possible payment methods in your online store . If you can offer 4, better than 3. There are still people who do not trust to buy online, and only order from stores that offer the Cash On Delivery method, since they will only pay when they receive the package. Others always use the card since they understand that there will be a company behind them and some use bank transfer because it is more convenient for them.
You can add payment gateways with different banks but if you find it very complicated, either because of the banks or because of technical limitations when integrating the payment gateway (the implementation is somewhat complicated and requires knowledge of PHP), There are alternative solutions such as the integral PayPal gateway.
Paypal puts at our disposal a payment gateway that will allow us to charge our clients with a card. Its “installation” is extremely simple and the only cost that it will have for us will be the commission (quite high) that Paypal will charge us for each transaction carried out. All in all, it is a very good way to offer this much-requested form of payment from the beginning.
7. Create a blog to accompany the store
As I explained in the mini SEO guide for online stores, there are cases in which it is practically impossible to make long descriptions or that provide valuable content to our online store. In these cases, the creation of a blog is essential to attract some traffic to the store.
Although it is always advisable to create a blog that talks about our sector and everything that surrounds it, and that also helps us to promote our products in some way, directly or indirectly.
Little by little you will position yourself by the topics covered in the articles and this will bring you quality traffic willing to buy your products. So when creating an online store do not forget to create a blog to accompany it.
8. Regulate your legal situation
You cannot legally sell products unless you do it as a freelancer or as a company. Furthermore, in most cases, the creation of a formal company is recommended, especially for the issue of civil liability.
Creating a Limited Liability Company is a process that’ although we can carry out ourselves, it is likely that we decide to leave in the hands of an attorney or service.
Make sure you have all the papers in order, take out insurance and comply with all the laws in force before starting your adventure, a fine or financial sanction for not acting correctly could make your company and your project disappear.
9. Create online advertising campaigns
Thanks to online advertising, we can publicize our online store economically but above all in a scaled way. By correctly using the free analysis tools that the Internet makes available to us, we will be able to know exactly which advertising campaigns give us benefits and which ones do not work, being able to quickly rectify and avoid unnecessary losses.
In this way, we will be able to obtain benefits in a short time, and reduce the investment to “what we are earning each month”, so less the small initial investment, the rest of advertising could pay for itself. Everyone’s ability to expand those benefits can make a difference in the future.
To start advertising on the internet, I would recommend using advertising in Google search results using Adwords.
10. Work online marketing
Your online store works correctly and you have already made a sale through Adwords, some other advertising system, or naturally. Okay, now is the time to expand the number of sales.
Create your own online marketing strategy: Make special offers, prepare a social media strategy, organize contests, carry out a personalized follow-up of your clients, write press releases,… Do everything possible to publicize your brand and your products.
As in all businesses, you must sell to survive. It is useless if your store is the best if no one knows it, it is useless if your prices are the most competitive if no one sees your products. You must make the effort to go out and sell, or at the very least, carry out the relevant marketing actions to achieve the necessary sales.
The ideal is to start with marketing at the beginning of creating an online store, do not wait because otherwise, customers will take time to arrive.
For the sake of simplicity and to focus on the topic, I have left out some fundamental issues in the creation of any business such as conducting a previous market study, the feasibility of the project, creating the business model with a business model canvas, or documenting all the steps.
If you would like to create an online store and would like some assistance, contact us. We’d be happy to help.