Are you looking to start a business? With unemployment at record levels worldwide, people are trying to set up new streams of income.
The internet offers an attractive opportunity to make money.
With global eCommerce estimated as a $25.6-trillion market in 2018, you know it’s very possible that we get closer to the $30-trillion mark after consumers had to spend months locked in their homes in 2020.
With eCommerce on the rise, you can catch the momentum and start a website yourself.
Selling products online might seem like a fantastic way to make a living.
Working from home on your laptop in your pajamas sounds crazy, right?
However, you might feel a sense of intimidation in setting up your site and selling online.
People’s general response to the unknown is fear.
The reality is it’s easy to start an eCommerce store.
In this post, we’ll unpack six steps to start selling products online.
1. Find Your Niche
Starting an online business requires you to operate in a niche.
Whether you’re selling pet accessories or hardware equipment, you need to specialize in one specific niche.
If you spread yourself too thin, it results in too many product listings and a challenging site for newcomers to manage.
Keep it simple. Choose a niche you enjoy.
Let’s say you’re a mountain-biking enthusiast.
You could set up a site for mountain biking accessories or specialize in a specific type of accessory – like riding gear.
After deciding on your niche, it’s time to start your product research.
Before you start spending money on your site development, it’s a good idea to determine if it’s a viable niche.
Read up on keyword research and build a list of hot keywords that improve the SEO of your site.
2. Source Products and Suppliers
If your research works out, it’s time to source suppliers.
There are many ways to do this. Sites like Oberlo offer you a complete product sourcing and distribution solution that’s a handy choice for beginners, otherwise known as dropshipping.
Another route you can take is to find low-cost products through online wholesale markets like Alibaba.
You import the products, warehouse them yourself, selling them for a larger profit than you would vs using a dropshipper.
Choosing your suppliers is finding a balance between convenience and cost.
However, when you’re starting, you may want to consider a supplier that dropships so that you don’t need to purchase, store and ship inventory yourself.
3. Setup 3PL Logistics
If you’re deciding on going with sourcing products yourself, you’re going to need someone to warehouse your products and distribute them for you.
Working out of your garage with the USPS is not a viable or scalable option.
A 3PL partner manages every aspect of the logistics and warehousing aspects of your business.
You run your inventory and logistics through an integrated software dashboard on your mobile device or laptop, from a remote location.
As a result, you don’t have to deal with picking, packing, and shipping your orders.
Some 3PLs also handle customer returns. It’s a great way to delegate your logistics tasks, but it comes at a cost.
Still, it’s a great way to leverage valuable resources you typically don’t have access to as an independent when you’re starting.
4. Pick Your Platform and Choose a Host
Now it’s time to build your website. You have the option of creating an independent website on WordPress, using plugins like WooCommerce to handle your eCommerce needs.
However, building and launching a WP eCommerce store can become an expensive endeavor.
Development costs to customize the platform will not be cheap, so unless you can work with the templates and WooCommerce, you’ll need some budget to hire a developer.
I believe it’s easier to go with a drag-and-drop eCommerce store builder when you’re first starting out.
Platforms like Shopify allow you to quickly launch your online store and included in your monthly subscription costs, are a bunch of free templates.
You get to skip the development cost associated with designing your site, doing it all yourself without the need for any coding experience.
As you begin designing your site, you’re also going to need to find a domain and hosting.
Choose a domain that’s relevant to your business. Remember the rules of choosing the right domain name.
- Make it memorable
- Make it unique
- Make it simple
- Avoid using special character, numbers, and hyphens
After settling on your domain, you’ll need hosting if you decided to use WordPress or build a custom site.
There are various types of hosting available.
When starting, you can go with the more affordable shared hosting model.
As your business grows and traffic increases, you can scale to a dedicated hosting solution.
If you take the Shopify option, you get a domain and free hosting included with your monthly subscription.
Shopify tries to give you a “business-in-a-box” model where you have everything you need in one place.
5. Populate and Optimize Your Site with Compelling Content
Populate your eCommerce site with product listings and content.
Some sites allow you to install blog modules to add content to your site.
Remember to use your keywords in your product listings to optimize your site and make it visible to the search bots.
Conduct an SEO audit on your site, and look for ways where you can optimize.
Get rid of broken links and duplicate pages to ensure your website loads smoothly.
Ensure your site is mobile-ready.
More than 50% of all website traffic occurs on mobile devices, and you don’t want to miss out on that market due to an unoptimized site.
6. Launch the Site and Start Marketing
Congratulations, you’re ready to launch! However, this is where the battle starts.
Your marketing efforts determine the success of your business.
An SEO strategy can help you reach out to authority sites and develop relationships with partners that build your credibility and visibility view search engines.
However, it can take months for SEO strategies to pay dividends.
In the meantime, you’ll have to rely on other methods that bring results fast.
Facebook ads and other social media platforms can be explored to immediately start driving traffic.
Be careful with how you spend your marketing budget in the early days of launching your site and strive to get a positive ROI on your ad spend as quickly as possible.