How to Start an Online Store in 5 Steps

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We’ve put together a collection of step-by-step guide to start an online store without cracking your head!

In today’s competitive retail market, having a physical store just won’t cut it anymore. Customers no longer have to visit a store to purchase the latest product when all of this can be achieved with a few clicks on your mobile phone. An online store will also expand your brand and products to new customers who may not have the chance to visit the store in person, plus allowing new upcoming brands to able to put their products up digitally first while working on their physical space.

Setting up an online store may seem like a daunting task to many, but in this post, we will guide you step by step in setting up a professional web store in no time!   

Now, where to begin?

1. Knowing Your Target Audience

target-audience

Knowing who are your potential customers and the people most like to purchase your products is key in turning a profit for your online store. Just setting up a web store without knowing who to market is equivalent of having a ship without a captain to guide it. You must start with understanding your customer base and do as much research as possible on current market and product trends. Doing something that is too common will put you in a disadvantage as you will have too many stores to compete against.

2. Have a Business plan

When you know who your target audience is, it’s time to start with your business plan. A solid business plan is critical in ensuring the success of your online business. Using the ship analogy from the previous paragraph, a business plan is like a map for the ship to sail to its destination, without a map, one will get stranded in the ocean no matter how good the captain stirs it. From finding the right suppliers, delivery options, market and trend analysis to how do you see the business 6 months to a year from now, all of these needs to be addressed in your business plan. Reliable courier partners are one of the most crucial factors in online business as all your products have to go through courier service before reaching your customer’s doorstep.

3. Choose a Domain Name and Web Hosting Provider

In order for customers to be able to search for your store online, you will need to register it. The domain name is essentially the online address for your web store (for example, www.domainplus.com.my) which allows customers to type in their search engine to search for it. With a proper domain name, you will also be able to further improve your brand identity and have a better reach out to the local market compared to your competitors.

Read more: 8 Smart Tips to Choosing the Perfect Domain Name

Then, you will need to choose a web hosting provider. A hosting provider/ web host will assist you in domain registrations as well. Plus, some provider will also provide other relevant services that you may require to set up and maintain your online store. Check out what DomainPlus can do for you.

Read more: 5 Things to Know When Choosing a Web Hosting Provider

4. Building Your Online Store

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Installing WordPress

To create your own online store, you can use the popular platforms such as WordPress and WooCommerce. For WordPress installation, you can read more here. After installing, you can choose your theme/template, add product description, images, categories and so on.

Set up a WooCommerce Store

After you have completed creating your WordPress website, you will need to set up your shipping details, tax information and payment method. This is where WooCommerce comes in. It’s a WordPress plugin that helps you set up and manage your online store payment processing, shipping options and many other features that you can refer here.

Also, there is always another option if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all these. You can simply hire a web designer or web design company to help you create, customize your unique store including photos and copywriting for your business.

5. Marketing your brand and website.

Once you’ve set up your store, you will have to create awareness for your company. Digital marketing is a good way to promote your products/ services to your target audience and drive traffic to your store.

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5.1. Social Media

It is estimated that a total of 2.77 billion people worldwide use social media and with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram having proven themselves as legitimate marketing and advertising platforms, your brand will benefit immensely with having a presence in any if not all of these social media platforms. Constant posting and updating of the latest offers, products and services will prominently displaying all your information in an easy to read manner will make your customers who are also using that social media engage with you more.

5.2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Utilising SEO, your website will rank higher and appear in the search results on search engines such as Google and Yahoo better than your competitors. It also makes it easier for customers to search for your store online. Thus, it is important for your company to ensure your website is SEO friendly.

5.3. Email Marketing

Email Marketing is effective in targeting your customers directly with the message and information you want them to see. You can customise your email layout and design with beautiful, easy to use templates to appear more professional to your audience. You can consider looking into email marketing services such as MailChimp which offers a free version for 2000 subscribers & below.

Starting your own online store is never easy, and to make a profit, the company has to work hard, finding your target audience, working up a business plan, designing and building your own website, marketing and maintaining your store and sustaining the business. Like everything else, there is no shortcut to success but with these guidelines in mind, you will be more prepared to setting up and sustaining your business online.

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