Today in the digital world starting an e-commerce store is not a tough job.
We can start to build the e-commerce store with just a few steps from different resources like WordPress, Woocommerce, Shopify etc.
But when it comes to making it the profitable business it expects some extra hard work to be done.
Today big giants like Amazon, eBay & Alibaba are giving cut throat competitions to other e-commerce stores, so new ones need to be niche and completely different in their business models.
After helping hundreds of users start their online store, we have decided to create the most comprehensive guide on how to build your online store.
If you have questions like:
How to build an online store?
How to build an online store with WordPress?
How to build an online store with niche products?
How to start an e-commerce store which turns to be profitable?
For all these questions you have come to the right place.
In this guide, we will be going through the complete process from building the website with WordPress to selecting your products for your store and how to choose the right products for your store.
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Let us get started now.
How To Build An Website For Online Store?
In this guide, we have chosen WordPress as store builder as it is easy to use and free software for anyone to use.
To build your online store you need to have the domain and hosting which you need to purchase form hosting companies.
Don't worry we have also covered how to do it and from whom to purchase with extra discounts.
The three things you need to start an online store are:
- A domain name idea (this will be the name of your online store i.e weebigo.com)
- A web hosting account (this is where your website lives on the internet)
- Your undivided attention for 30 minutes.
Yep, it is really that simple.
You can set up your own online store with WordPress in less than 30 minutes and we’ll walk you through each step of the process.
Step 1: Setting Up An Online Store
The biggest mistake what most of the people do is they choose the wrong platform to start their online store.
Don't worry you will not be doing that mistake after reading this guide.
In this guide, we will be showing you how to start an online store using WordPress and make it a profitable business.
There are two popular eCommerce platforms that we recommend: Shopify or WordPress + WooCommerce.
Shopify is a fully hosted eCommerce solution that starts at $29 / month. It’s a hassle-free solution where you just log in and start selling.
The downside to Shopify is that it gets quite expensive, and your payment options are limited unless you pay additional fees.
This is why most users choose WordPress + WooCommerce because of the flexibility it offers. It does require some setup, but it’s worth doing it for the long run.
To set up your online store you need to have Domain, Hosting & SSL Certificate.
Normally a domain name costs around $14.99 / year, web hosting costs around $7.99 / month, and SSL certificate costs around $69.99 / year.
Thankfully, Bluehost, an official WordPress hosting provider, has agreed to offer our users a free domain name, free SSL certificate, and a discount on web hosting.
It starts at $3.95/month.
Let’s go ahead and purchase your domain + hosting + SSL.
Open up Bluehost in a new window using this link and follow along.
The first thing you need to do is click on the green Get Started Now button to get started.
Bluehost home screen image
On the next screen, select the plan that you need (starter and plus are the most popular).
After that, you will be asked to enter the domain name for your website.
Lastly, you will need to add your account information and finalize the package info to complete the process.
On this screen, you will see optional extras that you can purchase.
Congrats, you have finished setting up hosting and domain part.
The next step is to set up your WordPress site and then your online store.
Step 2: Setting Up WordPress
Once you purchase the domain and hosting, Bluehost has automatically installed WordPress on your server.
When you first open up you see the welcome message by WordPress.
Go ahead and click on ‘I don’t need help’ link. Don’t worry we will walk you through all the necessary steps.
Closing the setup wizard will show your WordPress admin dashboard which looks like this:
Change your site title and description.
Setting Up HTTPS & SSL
Go to Settings --> General page, you need to change your WordPress Address and Site Address to use https instead of HTTP.
Step 3: Setting Up WooComerce Store
You will see WooCommerse Setup notification go ahead and click Setup Wizard.
This will launch the WooCommerce setup wizard where you need to click on the ‘Let’s go’ button to get started.
Once you click Let's Go you will be asked to create normal pages like Shop, Cart, Account & Checkout page.
Then next is to currency and unit measurement.
Once selected currency and location, then fill the tax and address details.
WooCommerce can be used to sell both digital downloads and physical goods that need shipping.
Next, you will be asked to choose a payment method for your online store.
The easiest way to accept payment is using PayPal Standard.
Once you’re done, your WooCommerce online store is all set up.
Now you are ready to add products,
Step 4: Add Products To Your Online Store
You need to visit Products » Add New page to add a new product.
On the right-hand column, you will see the ‘Product Categories’ box. Click on the ‘+Add New Product Category’ to create a category for this product.
Now add product related information like pricing, inventory, shipping etc.
Below product data box, you will see a box to add product short description.
Lastly, in your right-hand column, you will see boxes to add the main product image and a product gallery.
Once you are satisfied with all the product information you have added, you can click on the Publish button to make it live on your website.
Repeat the process to add more products as needed.
Step 5: Customise Your WordPress Theme
Themes are those which help you customize your website look and feel, so you can edit them in Themes section.
There are 1000s of paid and free themes available in WordPress.
Head over to Appearance » Customize page.
If you don't like the storefront then you can use another one by going to Appearance » Themes page.
Step 6: Install Useful Plugins To Make Your Store Efficient Enough
Now that you have your online store ready, you probably want to get started with adding other usual elements on your websites such as a contact form, about page, and more.
To further customize WordPress and add features like contact forms, galleries, sliders, etc, you need to use WordPress plugins.
Now let us see How To Grow A Profitable Online Store?
How To Grow A Profitable Online Store?
Step 1: Choosing A Product
Find A Product To Sell
1. Your product should solve the customer's pain point.
2. Ask hobbyists what they want to purchase.
3. Find out what are you passionate to sell.
4. Sell what you have already used or you have personally experienced the product.
5. Find out the trending products.
6. Read the customer reviews of the products purchased.
7. Analyze what products people are searching on Google and then sell them
8. Check out what is trending on online marketplaces.
So these 8 points above will help you out to choose the right products to sell in your new online store.
Now we have got the idea on how to choose the right product then we will have to find and evaluate whether these products will get sold or not in the market form your online store.
Evaluating Your Product
Once you have a product idea in your mind, how will you get to know that it will sell? What are the approaches you need to use to evaluate your product idea?
Here are all those 10 steps to evaluate your product idea:
1. Find out and understand what is the market size, potential and demand of that product.
2. Understand about your competitors
3. Analyze whether the product you are choosing is trend, fad, flat or growth market.
4. Understand whether your customers can buy your product locally.
5. Understand and study about who are your target customers.
6. Plan for what price are you ready to sell your product.
7. Understand and analyze the cost incurred for you.
8. Calculate the number of stock keeping units you need.
9. Are you ready to offer new subscriptions?
10. Check out whether you will be facing seasonal variations for the consumption of the product.
So these 10 steps will help you out to analyze and evaluate your product idea and get to the result whether your product will be sold in the market or not.
Now as we have evaluated the product idea then we need to understand how will we obtain our product to sell.
Obtaining The Product
Now once you finalize which product to sell, then you need to finalize, how will you obtain the same. Whether you will manufacture on your own, or purchase it from others or will you drop ship it.
When it comes to obtaining the product to sell either we need to manufacture on our own or we need to get it supplied form someone else to sell.
Make Your Product On Your Own
Making your product is a common approach for many hobbyists.
Whether it be jewelry, fashion or natural beauty products, making products yourself allows for the precise control over quality.
Another viable option for acquiring your product and inventory is to find a manufacturer to produce the product for you.
When sourcing a manufacturer, you have the option of sourcing one domestically or from overseas.
As you might expect, a domestic manufacturer in general will cost more than a manufacturer from overseas countries like China, Taiwan or India.
Buying In Wholesale
Buying wholesale is a fairly simple and straightforward process.
You're buying your product inventory (usually other brands) direct from the manufacturers or from a middleman supplier at a discounted wholesale rate, which you in-turn, resell at a higher price.
Now as we have understood how to obtain the product to sell on your online store, then we will head on to further steps of research and analysis to start your online store.
Step 2: Research & Planning
Now you have got the idea of which product to sell, evaluated your product and then found out the customers as well as manufacturers and suppliers then you need to work on your competitors and study how you can be different among them.
What is competitive analysis?
A competitive analysis is a comparison of your competitors’ strategies that can be used to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different marketing approaches within an industry.
What are the things you need to consider when you are doing competitor analysis?
1. Who are their target customers?
2. What is their main difference in the business or their unique value preposition?
3. What are their key features or benefits they highlight in their sales materials?
4. What are their pricing strategies, acxross all online marketplaces?
5. How do they do the shipping?
6. What is their way of investments in the business?
Going deeper you can even do the research on the elements like:
1. Website features (like search tools, product images, design/layout, etc.)
2. Customer experience elements (cart abandonment strategy, customer support, mobile UX, etc.)
3. Social media approach (channels used, the frequency of posting, engagement, etc.)
4. Content marketing tactics (blog topics, content types, etc.)
5. Marketing tactics (types of promotions, the frequency of discounts, etc.)
6. Email marketing approach (Newsletter, promo codes, etc.)
7. Customer reviews (the language used around products, recurring complaints, etc.)
Write The Business Plan
Once we complete the competitive analysis, now it's time to write the business plan for your online store.
Writing business plan includes the most important tasks to be done like when and where to locate the business, how to get started, the executive summary of the improvement and moreover the growth strategy of the business.
When we are writing the business plan we need to make sure that we include all the contents which help us to know what should we do moving on further.
Here are things which you need to include in your business plan:
1. Executive summary: An complete overview of the business plan on one page.
2. Business Overview: Complete information related to ownership of the company, products, and services, startup summary, mission - vision, goals, and objectives.
3. The Market: It should include who is your customer, what is your customer size and what are your customer segments.
4. Industry Trends: What are the local and global trends in your industry and the best place to signify the costing and pricing of the trends.
5. Competition: Who are your competitors, what is your competitive advantage, and include an explanation of the benefits your competitors offer to buyers.
6. Marketing & Sales Plans: What are your plans to show you are out of the crowd in your segment?, What will your initial and ongoing marketing activities look like, and what’s your budget for those? How many new customers should your marketing activities bring you? How many subscribers? How much website traffic?
7. SWOT Analysis: Analyze your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. What are the best things about your company? What are you not so good at? What market or industry shifts can you take advantage of and turn into opportunities? Are there external factors threatening your ability to succeed?
8. Operations: What are your opening hours? What is the process for bringing on a new customer? How about getting reviews, feedback or referrals?
9. Management & Staff: Describe your management team’s background & summarize your personnel needs here, including your hiring schedule, approximate wages, and your organizational chart.
10. Exit Strategy: Do you plan to operate this business forever, or eventually sell, license or franchise it?
11. Financial Projections: The most crucial part of any business plan which should include the real figures about what will be your financial projections for your online store.
Step 3: Setting Up The Business
Choosing The Name For Your Store
Another challenging work is to find out the better brand name for your online store.
Here are the 5 brainstorming strategies you can use to keep your brand name.
1. Research on what already the names have been used.
2. Find out some creative names which are catchy enough.
3. Discuss with your team members and family or peer members.
4. Organize all your names and review them.
5. Test your names.
Creating The Logo
Once we have kept the name for your online store now we will have to design the catchy logo which increases the visual appearance of your brand.
Here are the 5 logo design tips:
1. Keep it simple and easy to understand
2. Optimise for mobile sizes, where they should be clearly visible on mobile screens.
3. Reveal your USP in the logo
4. Maximise your web pages with horizontal as most of the sites are horizontal broaded.
5. Use images which are hd or make the SVG copy.
Understand The SEO Basics
Now we have kept the name and designed logo now its time to understand the SEO basics.
However, before you jump into it, you should understand the basics of search engine optimization so that you can properly structure your site and pages for Google and other search engines.
Building The Store
With a better understanding of search engines, it’s time to build out your store.
Now below we have written down all those essentials you need to know while building your store, which is better optimized for people to navigate and better optimized pages for search engines, high-converting product pages, write captivating product descriptions, shoot beautiful product photography, and much more.
You see that people are coming to your store but they are not converting and purchasing any products.
There are some which you need to consider enough to make your products high converting products page.
We know that a high-converting product page is worth its weight in gold (and a little bit more, since web pages are notoriously light) so we asked our squad of experts how you can level up your product pages.
Here are the 10 to do things to make sure you need to know to build your store:
1. Have a clearly visible Call -To- Action button i.e. CTA Button
You’ve got one goal on a product page: get your customer to hit “Buy” (or “Add to Cart,” or whatever you label your main call-to-action button).
2. Consider having the best product photography.
You can sell to the world! You don’t have the high overhead of retail space! But you also have some challenges, and one of the biggies is that your customers can’t usually see, touch, taste, or try your products IRL before they buy.
That’s why product photography plays such a major role on your product pages.
3. Have the right product photography.
There are a lot of ways you can create great product photos and some clear guidelines that apply to everyone.
That said, your products are unique, which means your product photos need to be, too.
4. Link your images to your variants
Naming your product variants (colors, scents, etc.) can be a great way to add some personality to your products, but if you take it too far, your potential customers might not know what “Frosted Dreamscape” actually looks like on a t-shirt.
Is it pink? White? Multicolor? Transparent?
That’s why linking your images to your product variants is so important, and can help increase your conversions on your product pages.
5. Give the complete details for your pricing.
If you’re selling at a low price point, you might not need the same amount of detail as a luxury item.
But if you are on the higher end of the luxury (and price) scale, you’ll need to take that into account when you’re writing your product page.
6. Give The Complete Details For Your Customers.
Your product and its price are two things that can guide the amount of content you have on your product page, but the most important factor is always your customers.
You need to provide enough content for every customer, whether they’re already an expert in what you sell, or if they’re just starting to learn about your products.
7. Have The Right Branding For Your Product Page
Your brand isn’t just your social media graphics and your logo.
It’s everything you stand for, who you serve, and why you do what you do (although yes, the graphics matter too!) And your brand can be a make-or-break part of your product pages.
8. Have Aspirational Content
Most customers (other than your mom) aren’t buying your products because they love you.
They want your products to do something for them—solve a problem, make them better, help them do something.
9. Have Human-Friendly Content.
When you’re trying to get all your features onto the page, it can be easy to slip into boring bullets and uninspired paragraphs.
That’s fine for a first draft, but before you publish your page, make sure to go back and build in a bit of your brand voice.
10. Have Some Social Proof
At the end of the day, a product page is a landing page, so you can steal some of the best practices from the more “traditional” landing page advice.
It wouldn’t be a landing page without some social proof, and the same goes for your product pages.
Choosing Sales Channels
Now we have understood, how to build the store with right product descriptions, products pricing, high converting product pages then we need to know which all sales channels dow we need to use to sell our products.
The right mix of sales channels will depend on your products and your target customers, but there are a number of great options that can complement and support your self-hosted store.
The different stores are like Amazon, Etsy & Shopify
Shipping & Fulfillment
As you prepare for the launch of your new business, there are several shipping and fulfillment elements you need to prepare for.
Here are some different ways for shipping:
Yes, you can offer free shipping!
- Increase product prices to cover costs for shipping (customer pays).
- You pay the full price of shipping out of your margins (you pay).
- Increase prices of products slightly to cover partial costs of shipping (you and your customer pay).
- Offer a discount code to certain customers for free shipping.
Charge On Real Time Basis
Another effective shipping strategy is to charge real-time carrier rates for shipping.
Charge Flat Rate
The last popular option is to offer flat rate shipping.
The best practice for this option is to try and make sure that you don't drastically undercharge or overcharge your customers.
Flat rate shipping works best when you have a fairly standard product line of items that have similar sizes and weights.
How to calculate shipping costs?
Consider your margins
Packaging and marketing
Insurance and tracking fees
Customs and other taxes
Step 4: Launch Your Store
Acquiring the First Customer
Now that you’ve launched, the hard work of marketing your products begins. While many new store owners should consider selling their physical products in person, the rest of digital marketing rests on doing one thing well: driving targeted traffic.
Marketing Your Store
You’re well on your way and now likely have a few sales under your belt. It’s time to get serious and focused.
Use channels like:
Social media marketing
Building your own e-commerce business is as exciting as it is challenging.
At a rapid pace, you’ll learn a ton about choosing a product, evaluating its viability, figuring out how to get it produced, building an online store, and marketing and selling to new customers.
The process can feel like you’re solving a head-scratcher of a puzzle, but it’s rewarding all the same.
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