5 Quick Steps to Getting Your First E-commerce Store Up and Running

With over half of all global internet users making an online purchase this year, it is clear that e-commerce offers huge opportunities for entrepreneurs. Starting an e-commerce store used to be challenging, but the barriers to entry have been lowered considerably. Everything from store software to payment processors are available without much hassle, making product inventory and marketing far more important to success. Whether you already have an offline business or are starting from scratch, now is the perfect time to get into online business. So what are the main steps to starting your first store?

Step 1. Choose Your Niche

If you don't already have a niche or product selection in mind, it is worth thinking about the industry you will be entering. Ideally, the niche will have room for growth if your initial products are successful, but you will often get the best results by avoiding anything too broad. Choosing a more tightly defined niche will help you reach out to your target consumer at a much lower cost. The more passionate you are about your products, the better, though you need to assess demand using keyword tools and analyzing competition levels. If you are stuck for ideas, looking at the main categories on major sites like Amazon should lead to plenty of options.

Step 2. Consider Products

When you have narrowed down the niche, you can start to think about product inventory. Some stores carry a limited number of items, but you may need to carry a large inventory to satisfy customers who demand variety. You could choose to drop ship existing items, ideally partnering with established businesses from within the US or your home country. Be cautious about partnering with a drop shipper overseas as it adds time, cost and complexity to the fulfillment process. You can view a few US drop shippers in the Germinate drop shipper directory. Alternatively, you could rebrand products to differentiate them from the competition. The most work, but also the best way to build a long-term enterprise, is to develop your own products from scratch. 


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Step 3. Find an E-commerce Solution

There are a number of high-quality e-commerce solutions, making it easy to build and operate a site. Shopify is the most obvious example currently, with stores of all sizes being run using the platform. Competitors like BigCommerce and Squarespace all offer easy ways to get started but have much less functionality. One of the big advantages of a product like Shopify is the apps that let you control your inventory, payment processor, shipping, and many other factors from the same place. If you prefer to use WordPress for your website, WooCommerce is an excellent alternative.

Step 4. Create a Professional Design

There will be a level of professionalism that consumers expect from a store. Try to ensure the site design is user-friendly and inspires trust by looking modern and accessible. Most e-commerce solutions offer quality templates or themes, so choose one that fits the brand you are trying to create and the number of products you intend to offer. Site setup services such as Germinate.com can help you through this process and often help you avoid costly mistakes. Your site should also work across all devices, with a responsive design catering to this need. Design elements can play a part in building trust, so include a quality logo, trust seals, and security symbols across the site.

Step 5. Set Up SEO and Analytics Features

Setting up your site correctly from the start will put you in the best position for success. Developing a consistent SEO strategy will help with ranking, allowing each page to follow the system. Use title tags for each product page, with thorough descriptions to assist the search engines. Additionally, install Google Analytics to monitor site visitors and their actions. You could also add a tool like Crazy Egg, using heatmaps and mouse tracking to analyze the journeys visitors take on each page.

E-commerce offers a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to develop a business online. It is now possible to get started with minimal technical expertise, with the option of using drop shipping to limit initial development costs. In many industries, the difference between a successful store and an unsuccessful one will be the ability to promote effectively. Finding a targeted audience, driving this traffic to your store, and converting people into buyers will allow you to flourish. Use these steps to start your store and you could be gaining your first customer in no time.

At Germinate.com we help people launch their eCommerce dream on the web. If you have a dream and need some help, we are here to help turn your dream into reality.

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