Technological advancements in the last two decades have allowed the online shopping industry to grow exponentially.
It has been estimated that by the year 2030, the Indian e-commerce market would generate as much as US$ 250 billion in revenue.
You and your business can be a part of this tremendous growth. One way of doing that is by building an online store.
If questions like “How can I create an online store?” Or “how to build an online store?” have crossed your mind, then you are at the right place.
We bring you all the information you need to build your own online store. Read on to find out more.
How to create an online store?
When you are trying to create your own online store, you need to follow the steps mentioned below.
1. Select a niche.
If you already have a business idea, then selecting a niche should not be so tough. However, if you want your online business to be successful and earn as much revenue as possible, then there are a few elements that you must consider before selecting a niche for your online store
Those elements are—
a) Carry out a SWOT Analysis. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats- that’s what SWOT means.
For you to sell any product, first you must understand its market demand, production processes, delivery options etc.
For example, if you want to produce and sell health drinks, then these are the things you would need to consider-
Strengths: Consumer demand, growth of interest in the products, various product verticals and individual knowledge in health drinks.
Weaknesses: Regulations related to food & drinks, shipping challenges and expansion of the delivery area beyond a particular zone.
Opportunities: The capability of forming partnerships with restaurants, cafes and department stores; and finding specific scopes that have not yet been discovered by the health drink industry.
Threats: Certain regulatory challenges while trying to sell the health drinks across the country or abroad, and trying to find regulation- friendly raw materials to produce the health drinks.
b) Find gaps in the industry. When you are trying to find a good niche for your e-commerce website, it might seem like all the good online store ideas have already been taken.
But it is not so. You can use the technique of targeted research.
This would help you find certain product demands in the industry that are still unfulfilled. These unfulfilled demands can even be in the product category of a popular item.
For example, there is no dearth of art supplies in the art supplies industry. But parents of little kids are often on the lookout for paints and colours that are non- toxic.
While starting an online store, this is how you find gaps in the industry-
i. Google trends- You can analyse the searches made on google for different types of products of the relevant genre over a certain period of time.
ii. Social media- Track all the complaints, concerns and suggestions made by your target audience. Then analyse the collected data.
iii. Keep an eye on the bestsellers on major e-commerce websites– Check out the reviews posted on other e-commerce platforms by happy customers as well as disgruntled customers.
When you check out the reviews for products similar to the ones that you are trying to sell, you end up having a better understanding of customer needs and expectations.
c) Study customer personas. In order to come up with an e-commerce business idea that truly works, it is important for you to understand the preferences, requirements and interests of the target audience.
In other words, to create a product that sells easily, you must study customer personas.
And for you to be able to do that, you would have to analyse demographic data as well as psychographic data.
Demographic data refers to age, occupation, income and location of people in your target demographic.
Psychographic data refers to values, beliefs, interests, inspirations and struggles faced by your target demographic.
When you gain a deep understanding of these elements, you would understand how much your customers are willing to spend on the product you are offering.
It also helps you understand their spending habits and shopping patterns.
2. Develop a business plan.
After the initial research for the type of product you want to sell online, it is important for you to develop a business plan.
And one of the key decisions for you to make is choosing the kind of business model you want to have.
Your online business model can be one of the following types-
a) B2B e-commerce. Under this business model, you sell your products and services to other businesses. This can include retailers, wholesalers and other online stores.
b) B2C e-commerce. This is when you carry out the business transactions directly with the target audience, i.e. your customers.
c) B2B2C e-commerce. When you sell your products and services to other businesses, retailers, wholesalers as well as to customers directly, it is considered to be B2B2C e-commerce.
d) Drop Shipping. According to this business model, the task of order fulfilment is carried out by a third party.
So, you don’t actually have to store and maintain the inventory yourself.
3. Pick a domain name.
When you are trying to create an online store, selecting a great domain name is very important.
The name of your online shopping platform acts as an unique identifier for the potential customers of your business.
So, the domain name needs to be finalised before launching the online store. Changing the name of the webstore later on is not advisable at all.
While picking out a domain name, these are things that you need to pay attention to-
a) Choose a distinctive name. In order to differentiate your business from other businesses, use a unique name.
Though keyword-rich names were popular till recently, right now, it is all about the distinctive nature of a domain name.
So, how to choose a domain name for an e-commerce website? You can combine two words, use a word of a foreign language or use a descriptive word.
b) Use the correct words. When it comes to naming the website or app for your online shopping platform, it is best to stick to actual words rather than using altered or creative spellings of a word.
When trying to choose the best domain name, try not to use hyphen or numbers, unintentional compound words or hard-to-pronounce combo words.
It is also advisable not to misspell the words of a domain name as people would type the correct spelling while trying to find the webstore online.
C) Make it short. It is best to make the domain name of the online store as short and simple as you can.
A short and simple name is easy to remember and easy to type as well.
Also, you would need to have similar simple and easy social media handles for your business website.
4. Choose an e-commerce website builder.
Choosing the right e-commerce website builder is an important part of building a profitable online store.
It is easy to get tempted to turn to the cheapest website builder you can find. But in the long run, you would start discovering its flaws.
So, while trying to launch a webstore, you should always try to find and use the best online store builder out there.
There are certain aspects of creating a webstore that you must take into consideration before choosing a website builder for your online store.
Those key aspects are-
a) Core Features. One of the most important things to pay heed to while choosing a website builder for your online shopping platform is the core features offered by the webstore builder.
One question to ask yourself is will the online store builder provide the vital e-commerce features natively or will you have to invest in an extension to get the feature you want?
b) Security. While running an online business, web security can be a real issue. Data breaches in the e-commerce sector pose not only a financial risk but reputational risks as well.
So, while choosing a website builder for your online store, make sure that it provides all the online security tools needed to protect your online shopping platform.
c) Optimisation for mobile. Search engines like Google have started using mobile-indexing for the whole web.
So, in order for your e-commerce website to have a good ranking in the search results page, it would have to offer a great mobile shopping experience.
Having an online store that is not mobile friendly would lower your business website’s SEO page rankings considerably.
5. Determine the look of your online store.
Online store builders provide a lot of options to its customers.
The website themes are often customisable and hence, can be moulded according to the preferences of the online store owner.
Though it is advisable to hire a website designer to build an online store, the final say rests on the owner of the e-commerce website.
While trying to finalise the look of your online shopping platform, these are the elements that you need to take care of-
a) Text size and font. Customise the text size and font in a way that is in tune with the theme or genre of the products and services you are selling through your webstore.
Keep the text consistent throughout the online shopping website.
b) Images. Always use high quality images. If you use low quality images, potential clients would not get an accurate representation of the products for sale.
Using high quality images in an online shopping platform is so important that it might even affect the overall sales revenue.
c) Colour scheme. Specific colours and colour schemes are associated with certain types of products and services.
Make sure that you hire a web designer who is well aware of these website design principles.
d) Page layout. You have the liberty to try out different page layouts. Choose one that works best for you and the products and services you are offering through your online store.
e) Product listing style. Did you know that the way you list the products and services offered by your online business also matters?
Well, it does. So, find a product listing style that is in-trend and most appealing to potential customers.
f) Social media accounts. Make sure that you embed all your social media account handles on the website.
Also, everything that you post on social media platforms needs to be branded with the logo of your e-commerce website or app.
6. Add the products to your online store.
Adding the products or services to your webstore is a crucial step in creating your own online store.
While doing do, you need to take care of the following factors-
a) Product Categories. Categorising the products and services you are offering through your e-commerce website helps potential clients in finding their preferred products and services easily.
Product categories are also useful in establishing and managing relationships between the pages of various products or services.
b) Product images. Humans are visual creatures. Which means that we respond better to visuals than audio.
And this is why using high quality images for the products and services offered on an online store is so important.
Remember that representation matters. So, it is important that you use the correct images for the products and services on offer.
It is best to hire a professional photographer for the photos you use across your online shopping platform.
And if possible, try to get 360° photos for high value products.
A survey among online business owners has found that after adding 360° product view functionality to their website, they saw about 5% – 40% increase in sales.
c) Product descriptions. Writing a great product description is winning half the battle of making a sale.
Product descriptions that lead to sales usually contain the important characteristics of the product, suggestions about the usefulness of the product and also who the product was made for.
7. Set up a shipping system.
Setting up a shipping system that keeps working without any hindrance is one of the most important elements of an internet shop.
Remember that your customers would not choose your online store for the second time if they have a bad delivery experience.
These are the things that you need to figure out while setting up a shipping system-
a) Chart out a shipping policy. Creating a strong shipping policy for your online business helps you keep things running smoothly.
It also helps in having solutions ready to be executed for shipping issues that may arise during the course of conducting business online.
While charting out a shipping policy, you would have to determine various aspects of shipping.
Those aspects include:
i. Shipping charges- Would you offer free shipping? Or would you charge a flat rate for all products?
You also have the option of charging different rates for different products based on the location and the distance of the shipping address.
ii. Which carriers to use for shipping off your products?- Costs, timings for making the deliveries, shipping restrictions and other similar elements differ from one shipping company to another.
So, while trying to find the best carrier for your products, take these important elements into consideration.
iii. Shipping internationally- Do you plan on selling your products in multiple countries or only in the country where you have set up your webstore?
It needs to be thought over while making decisions about the shipping policy of your e-commerce app or website.
b) Figure out shipping solutions. There are various shipping software that are available for online businesses.
These shipping software provide easy shipping solutions such as printing shipping labels, comparing shipping rates and automating shipping updates.
Basically, it makes the whole shipping process a lot easier to handle.
8. Market the online store.
Marking is vital for the success of any business. The same applies to online businesses as well.
In order to ensure that your new online shopping platform gets a lot of visitors, you would have to come up with a pre-launch promotion plan.
You would also need to choose various e-commerce marketing channels.
When it comes to online stores, there are various ways of advertising the website or app along with the products or services on offer.
Some of the methods of marketing an e-commerce website are-
a) Paid advertising. There are different forms of paid advertising.
Paid marketing campaigns that are run on various social media platforms such as facebook and instagram are often targeted towards potential customers.
Another form of paid marketing is off-page SEO. This is where blogs are posted on other relevant websites.
Potential customers land on your business website after clicking on the links that you embed in those blogs.
b) Influencers. Within the last five years or so, marketing through influencers have become even more popular than before. That is because it truly works.
Utilising the services of social media influences to market a product or a service is one of the quickest ways to introduce the masses to your online business.
One of the reasons why influencer marketing is so successful is that potential clients can actually see other people using the type of product that they are looking for.
This gives them an idea of how that particular product or service might work for them. It helps them in making purchase decisions.
A factor that is very important in increasing the sales of an online store.
c) Social media. We’ve already mentioned paid advertising through social media platforms.
That is not the only kind of advertising that can be carried out on social media.
One of the most important things you can do for your e-commerce app or website is to build a huge following on all your social media handles.
For this to happen, you would have to start building online followers before your business website is even completed.
You can post product previews and sneak peaks of the new online store being created.
This way, people would get curious about your online business and the products or services on offer. It is also a great way for you to find potential customers.
e) Emails. Email is an important tool when it comes to marketing. You can send regular newsletters to keep potential clients well-informed about the latest products and services.
You can also send promotional emails to notify your potential customers about upcoming sales and shopping festivals.
9. Launch your online store.
So, are you all ready to launch your online store? But still not sure how to start an online store?
We’ve created a checklist for you.
a) Review the homepage and landing pages. Pay extra attention to all call-to-actions and form titles.
b) Test the whole checkout process keeping in mind a customer’s POV.
c) Make sure that the payment processing integrations (credit cards, net banking etc.) have been tested properly so that there are no complications later on.
d) Check if all the links and forms are working properly or not.
e) Check if any of the product descriptions, categories, characteristics or any other necessary details on the web pages are missing.
f) You would need to make sure that all the images used across the online store are of high quality. Also, make sure that the images are well optimised.
g) Test if the website navigation system is working efficiently or not.
h) Run tests for your email marketing service provider.
i) Double check if all the tax percentages are set correctly or not.
j) Test run promo codes and discount coupons.
k) Make sure that all the products and services you are offering have been listed properly on the online shopping platform.
l) Last but not least, while launching an online store, you would need to make sure that everything related to the webstore is working properly on both- on desktop as well as on mobile.
Build an Online Store with Fullstack Development
Many people have business ideas for e-commerce websites. But when the question is “How to create an e-commerce website?”, they feel lost.
Are you in the same position? Well, do not fret. Fullstack Development is here to help you out. We are here to help people create online stores in India and abroad. Our services include website building, web hosting and website maintenance.