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If you have always wanted to be your own boss, work from anywhere you choose without having to justify yourself, and take the holidays you want (when you want), then running your own online store is probably something you’ve thought about a few gazillion times before. However, starting from scratch for the first time can seem a daunting task. Here are a few simple takeaways to find out if running your dream shop will turn out to be heavenly or your worst nightmare.
Outlined below are a few simple steps you need to address when thinking about opening your very first online shop:
Decide which products to sell
Choose an ecommerce platform
Choose which payment provider you will use
Decide how you are to deliver your products
Consider how you are going to market your products
Consider your customer service policy
First things first, what is it that you would like to sell online? If you have a good idea of what that is then that's one hurdle jumped already. Well done you.
Popular products which are profitable to sell online include clothing, shoes, jewellery and niche products, so if you have a hobby or interest that you have expertise in, look at what products you could offer that relates to you.
Customers are more likely to shop with you if they believe that you believe in your products and if you have the knowledge to share. You will also most likely have access to groups of similarly minded folk that you could begin to market to.
Next to consider is the system to use to sell your items online. Do you need to have someone design something for you or can you set it up by yourself? Perhaps you might prefer to use a marketplace instead like Etsy? Bear in mind however, that it is often a better idea to have both an online store as well as a presence on a marketplace to maximize visibility and sales. This will also give your customers more confidence in your business and thus will more likely lead to sales and repeat sales.
It’s great if you can afford to commission a designer to create a bespoke online shop for you, but there is really no need to go to this level of expense when there are so many great, and easy to use, ecommerce solutions out there. If you do it yourself, you will be able to make changes as you go along without having to incur further charges from your web developers to make future changes that would be easy for you to do yourself with a hosted solution.
When choosing a suitable ecommerce system there are a few considerations to think about. You could use something like Magento but you will have to have some knowledge of coding to make best use of it, and to make any changes in the future. It is far easier, especially when starting out on your ecommerce venture, to use a hosted system and one that you can easily design yourself, using an easy to use interface. There are many to choose from including Shopify and Sellr. Both are incredibly easy to use and offer you full control over the design and any product management changes, they are also loaded with tools and features to help you market your products and sell more both in store and online.
So you've got your products loaded and your website is looking all fancy. How are you going to take payments from your customers? There are lots of choices, from the usual debit and credit cards, how about Paypal and don't forget to include a buy now pay later, or pay in installments option. This is a great way to encourage conversions.
Once you have decided which products to focus on, spend some time thinking about the best way to offer those products. Perhaps you do not need to hold any stock and ship the items yourself? If not then look into drop shipping to maximise your time, and allow more flexibility and freedom for you. You may also find that using an order fulfillment company such as ShipBob or Huboo, works for you, allowing you more space to store your items than using your spare room. You could be on a luxury holiday in the sun while someone else is shipping your orders for you. Sounds like a good plan to me!
You can have the best shop and the best products in the world, but if you don't indulge in a bit of marketing your brand and products won't get seen and therefore you won't make sales. Simples.
To start with make sure you utilise email marketing. This is an incredibly successful and low cost way to reach the people who will be interested in your products.
Have fun with social media and post regularly to raise exposure of products and increase your brand awareness.
Write a blog on your website to reach a relevant audience and encourage website visits by including links to available products.
You can also contact traditional reporters who specialise in your industry to create content or do product reviews.
Social media influencers are a great way to get your brand in front of a large audience quickly.
It is essential to think about how you will treat your customers after you have made a sale. It is important to consider the fact that once someone has made their first purchase, the likelihood of them coming to purchase again is quite high - if you have provided them with an excellent customer service experience the first time round.
Try and respond immediately to any email contact with your customer and answer their questions in a timely manner. However, If you are using a system such as Sellr as your ecommerce provider then you will have the option of a live chat feature enabling you to interact directly with your customers as they browse the store. This is a great way to convert browsers into paying customers.
Typically an ecommerce store will offer a returns policy of 15-30days. There are instances where you do not have to offer to accept a return, for instance when the customer is aware that a product is in 'seconds' condition or the product is a personlised item. Carefully look into your returns policy and clearly display it on your website along with your T&C's etc.
I hope this article has given you some helpful information and if you are looking into opening your first ecommerce online store then do check out the extensive features that Sellr has to offer. A complete shop in a box that makes it easy to get you started selling online, and will provide you with all the features you will ever need to sell online (and in store too).
Sellr support is happy to offer you guidance if you need it, so you never need to feel alone.
See more about Sellr and how you can get started today with your very first online store at www.sellr.com
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