While setting up a website is fairly easy, selling isn’t. Thus, it’s important that you know how to build a profitable online store.
This article isn’t just about whether you should use WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, or Bigcommerce to build an online store. We’ll take a look at all the necessary steps required to get a successful eCommerce store off the ground.
It’s easy to set up a website. Just choose a domain name and hosting, install WordPress and WooCommerce, get a nice theme, and you’re done.
But, the real question is, would that make a profitable store?
Well, obviously, no.
In this post, we will look at software and platforms you can use build an eCommerce store, along with seven key things you should do to make those platforms work for you.
#1: Choose the Right Product to Sell
This may sound a bit obvious, but choosing the right products to sell is extremely crucial if you want to grow your business online.
By “right” products, we aren’t talking about quality, but the uniqueness of your product. When you set up an eCommerce store, you’re competing with tons of popular websites selling everything under the sun (e.g., sites like Amazon and eBay could be your competitors).
Normally, you’re going to have a hard time shifting products if you’re just selling things that are already widely available on those websites.
To run a successful eCommerce store, you need to find your niche. You need to identify a product range that’s not being sold by every other online retailer out there, but for which there’s enough demand to sustain an eCommerce business.
For instance, you could sell an instrument that’s hard to find online but has a strong demand, rather than selling a guitar that’s commonly available on Amazon and eBay.
#2: Use Keyword Research to Find Your Niche
Finding a niche usually involves a bit of keyword research.
Simply use a tool like Ahrefs to find niche markets and see what type of competition is operating in those markets. With a keyword research tool, you can identify how many searches are being performed each month for different keywords.
For instance, you might find that there are 100,000 monthly searches for the search term “buy guitar online” and only 1,000 for “buy a ukulele online.”
You might think selling guitars would be the right choice here, but think of the number of guitar shops you’ll be competing with. The trick is to find products that have a strong level of demand but with only a few online stores selling them, which in this case are ukuleles.
#3: Source Your Stock
When it comes to sourcing stock, there are two main options available: buying from a supplier and reselling it or dropshipping.
If you’re buying from a supplier, you can check the quality of stock first-hand, make sure it’s produced ethically, and establish a good relationship with your supplier. The downside is that you’ll be investing in buying a stock that you may never end up selling.
On the other hand, dropshipping is a fulfillment method where you take the order, send it to a supplier, and they deliver the product to your customer—you don’t keep what you’re selling in stock. The only disadvantage is that it’s a competitive area where you may end up selling things that are also marketed by plenty of merchants.
Most of the major eCommerce platforms offer add-ons or integrations that allow you to locate and dropship stuff produced from a wide range of suppliers. Some of the popular apps include Alibaba for Bigcommerce and Oberlo for Shopify.
#4: Create Your eCommerce Store
Once you’ve chosen your niche product and market, and identified where you’re sourcing your stock from, it is time to get your online store up and running.
You can hire an agency or freelancer to design your website for you. You can also use a store builder to create one yourself, which is more cost-effective. There are plenty of eCommerce solutions to choose from (e.g., Shopify, Squarespace, and Bigcommerce).
Among all of the e-commerce platform, WordPress with WooCommerce is so far the best solution. More than 30% of total e-commerce websites are created with WooCommerce. Do you know why?
WooCommerce offers an easy-to-use dashboard to upload and sell your products online. There are some handy WooCommerce extensions that will definitely give you the best e-commerce experience.
“What If I Already Have a Website?”
Well, if you’ve already got a website (for instance, a WordPress site) and want to add an eCommerce store to it, tools like Ecwid can come in handy. It allows you to plug a widget into your website, and users will see a fully-functional online shop at that location.
#5: Optimize Your Website for Search
Once you’ve designed your eCommerce store to cater for your niche market, it’s now time to optimize it correctly for search. SEO is important to the success of any eCommerce project.
You can use various keyword tools to figure out exactly what type of searches are performed for your kind of products, and ensure your website contains all those keywords in all the right places (e.g., page titles, headings, product descriptions, meta description, and URLs).
An important part of attracting traffic to an eCommerce store is to blog on a regular basis about topics related to the products you’re selling.
For instance, on your ukulele website, you could blog about playing tutorials, or your favorite type of ukulele strings—this is basically called “inbound marketing.” If you don’t engage in it, you’re potentially missing out on a large number of sales.
By posting top-notch, keyword-rich articles related to your area of business, you’re maximizing the odds of your website appearing in relevant search results and showing you’re an authority on the area of business you’re operating in.
#7: Manage Your Traffic
An online store means nothing without traffic. If you can boost your web traffic along with the quality of your visitors, you’ll be able to increase your site conversion, turn that traffic into paying customers!
If you want to know which traffic source generates the most sales and revenue, simply enable eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics, and you’ll find your most profitable traffic sources.
Furthermore, you can use a load balancer software to simplify global traffic management. Typically, these platforms ingest billions of metrics from different locations around the world, then process that data and stream it to their dashboard or consumer endpoint—all in real-time. It’s a great way to improve your site performance and reduce infrastructure expenses while constantly delivering the best experience to your audience.
Here are three key benefits of using a load-balance software:
- Failover: You can re-route your web traffic to a healthy server/cloud to ensure optimal up time.
- GEO Proximity: It reduces latency by routing your web traffic to the server closest to your visitors automatically.
- Multi-CDN & Cloud: You’re able to use real-time RUM data from tons of benchmarks to load-balance your web traffic between several different CDNs and cloud services.
#7: Advertise Online
Using Google Adwords involves finding relevant search phrases that’ll display adverts for your product or store alongside “organic” Google search results.
Facebook ads, on the other hand, work quite differently than Adwords. Instead of paying to display your ads to users that are entering keywords into Google, you’re paying to showcase your ads to those who’ve told Facebook what they’re interested in.
If all the steps mentioned above seem a bit complicated to you, don’t worry. You can also buy an online store that is already generating a good profit. This is actually much easier to do than you might assume, thanks to services like Empire Flippers or Exchange Marketplace by Shopify that let you browse online stores that have been vetted by eCommerce experts before being listed for sale.
Any thoughts on how to set up a successful eCommerce store?
If you’ve created your own online shop, or have any queries about doing so, we would love you to share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments below.