9 tips to help you
START AN ONLINE STORE
By Holly Cardew from Pixc.com
The product and market you choose should be something you are first and foremost
passionate about. You will be selling this product and marketing to your customers every day.
Make sure you conduct a detailed market analysis and take a close look at your competition.
You don’t want to be in a crowded market unless you have a unique offering that will help set
you apart from your competitors.
Check out this case study where Shopify’s team researched a niche and built a business from
1. Choose a product & market
2. Select an eCommerce website
Whatever you do, don’t get a web developer to build you an online store from scratch.
With most store builders you can simply select a template, customize it and tweak the
settings. One of the best features about store builders (like Shopify, Bigcommerce,
Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, Volusion, TicTail, Bigcartel etc.) is you can get something online
within less than a week.
There’s no need to spend months slaving away over a website! Get your store set up quickly
and you can move on.
3. Take great product photos
Your product photos and product descriptions are the most important components in your
online store. When a visitor lands on your shop page, the product photos are the main things
that will draw them in.
You should provide multiple product images, including photos of your product on a plain white
background and photos of your product in context. By providing multiple photos of your
product from different angles, you allow the customer to visualize the product before they buy
4. Create awesome product
With the product description, you want to give the customer details they are unable to see
from the photo. Make sure you include dimensions, material composition, and any special
Providing more detail will lead to fewer customer inquiries, fewer instances of purchase
resistance, and fewer returns.
5. Set up your social media campaign
It’s not easy selling online and getting traffic to your online store, so I do suggest you start your
social media campaign as soon as possible, if not even before you launch your online store.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are the best social media platforms for
eCommerce. Snapchat is also on the rise as a useful eCommerce tool.
6. Prepare your email marketing lists
An email marketing list is also a great way to build an audience you can remarket to. Don’t just
rely on social media, as each platform is always changing their rules about who they show your
content to. Having a mailing list allows you to reach out directly to your customers.
I recommend Mailchimp for your email marketing. You might also want to use SumoMe, which
will help you build your mailing list from new site visits.
7. Offer amazing customer service
Customer service can make or break a sale. Set up a default email address such as
‘email@example.com’ and make sure you or someone else replies to all customer enquiries in
eight hours or less if possible.
It’s important that you read enquiries and reply to customers, especially when you’re first
starting out. This will help you understand their needs and feedback.
As you grow, you can set up a customer service team or use a service like Influx, which
provides customer service on demand.
8. Plan your shipping policy
If you can, offer free shipping and free returns. It can be expensive, but you can look it at as a
marketing expense. By offering free shipping and returns, you are making it just that much
easier for the customer to buy when they’re mulling over a purchase.
If you can’t offer free shipping and returns, you can always offer a flat rate (e.g., $9.95 for any
order size) or free shipping over a certain cart size (e.g., free shipping when you spend $150).
This can ultimately increase your cart size.
Make sure your shipping information is clearly stated on your website. You can place the
shipping rate (if it is free or a flat rate) at the top corner of your website, and include a page
link in the footer linking to more detailed information.
9. Track your success with key
When you start out, you should create a list of key performance indicators (KPIs) such as
number of visitors to your online store, order numbers per week and number of repeat
customers. Once you have some idea of the metrics or goals you want to hit, you’ll have a
clearer path of moving forward. If you’re not hitting your goals, don’t worry. You may just need
to tweak your marketing plan.
Most eCommerce store builders offer basic analytics that let you track the number of visitors
to your online store, as well as how many people added an item to the cart and either chose to
purchase it or not. I also suggest you install Google Analytics. This will give you detailed
information about where your visitors came from and other goals and metrics you want to
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Holly is building her own company, Pixc.
Over the past year she has used hundreds of tools and thought it
would be great to share them with other business owners and
Holly loves eCommerce, food and travelling.
Follow Holly on Twitter @hollyccc