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9 tips to help you start an online store

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Do you have a product you want to sell online, but you’re not sure how to get started creating an eCommerce shop? Don’t worry! Here are seven easy steps to start an online store.

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9 tips to help you start an online store

  1. 1. 9 tips to help you START AN ONLINE STORE By Holly Cardew from Pixc.com
  2. 2. 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 scratch. 1. Choose a product & market
  3. 3. 2. Select an eCommerce website builder 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.
  4. 4. 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 it.
  5. 5. 4. Create awesome product descriptions 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 features. Providing more detail will lead to fewer customer inquiries, fewer instances of purchase resistance, and fewer returns.
  6. 6. 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.
  7. 7. 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.
  8. 8. 7. Offer amazing customer service Customer service can make or break a sale. Set up a default email address such as ‘hello@storename.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.
  9. 9. 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.
  10. 10. 9. Track your success with key performance indicators 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 achieve.
  11. 11. 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 startup founders. Holly loves eCommerce, food and travelling. Follow Holly on Twitter @hollyccc

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