You can start an online shop if you have thought about it. If you set it up correctly, you can sell your products 24/7 without worrying about renting space, capacity limitations, or other issues brick-and-mortar merchants worry about.
Here are six tips to help you start an online shop. These steps will help you get started quickly and save time.
Plan your business before you start.
It takes much more to start an online shop than just setting up a site and adding “buy” buttons. All businesses, whether physical or virtual, require extensive planning to be successful. You’ll have to do the following:
- Decide what niche(s) or product(s), if any, you want to specialize in. Choosing a place you are passionate about is a good idea, even if many entrepreneurs focus on profit potential.
- Find out if the market is ready for your product. All businesses are there to solve problems. It doesn’t matter how you build your online store if nobody is interested in buying the solutions that you are selling.
It is also the perfect time to create a brand for your new business. You’ll get the details down in time, but you should have an overview of your business and its values.
Legalize your business
Online stores may require less paperwork to register than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Even if you only sell digitally, your business must be registered legally. This requires:
- Choose a name for your business or “Doing Business As” (DBA). within your state.
- Create a legal structure to help you run your business. Some standard options are sole proprietorships—partnerships, limited liability companies, and c corporations. Please read our article Registering your Small Business for a more detailed explanation of the pros and cons of every corporate structure.
- You are obtaining an employer identification number from the IRS. This federal tax ID can be compared to a Social Security Number for your business.
- Obtaining any licenses or permits relevant to your eCommerce store. Online retailers are required to get seller’s rights in many states. You may be required to obtain industry-specific licensing depending on your niche. For example, online merchants who sell alcohol must complete more paperwork than those who sell electronic gadgets.
We’ve created a resource to help you with any trouble with these steps. It is called How to Start a Small Business.
Map Inventory Fulfillment
You’ll also need to plan how to secure the supplies you need to fulfill online orders. It is common to partner with a distributor for logistics. It may be best to establish relationships with multiple partners. Even though online stores were open throughout the pandemic, disruptions in supply chains left many vendors with depleted stock.
While some eCommerce merchants still manage orders manually with the Inventory Management Platform, it can automate the entire process – including low-stock alerts and auto fulfillment.
Create an eCommerce website.
Next, you must create a virtual shopfront to sell your products. Some online merchants hire a professional to create their eCommerce site. This approach can allow you to create a truly personalized eCommerce storefront, but it could be time-consuming and expensive to make future changes if you’re unfamiliar with the code. It may be easier to start with a ready-made template that works right out of the package.
There are plenty of themes, both free and paid, that are designed specifically for eCommerce websites. Choose a theme for your website that:
- Display your inventory in stunning multimedia galleries and with the help of multimedia.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to ensure that your website ranks highly for relevant keywords
- The shopping cart is integrated (this is standard for most eCommerce themes).
In the real world, merchants process payments in person using point-of-sale (POS) terminals. Payment Gateways act as the virtual equivalent of these POS readers. These gateways are responsible for securely capturing payment details entered by customers during checkout. Payment gateways then pass these details on to your payment processor, who then passes them to the card networks for authorization.
Clover supports in-person and online payments. We use PCI-compliant data security, P2PE encryption, and card tokenization. This helps you and your clients stay safe from payment fraud.
Our Clover App Market solutions include inventory management and seamless integration with our eCommerce platform partners. You can use custom reports with detailed business analytics to quickly identify important metrics, such as the best-selling products or the busiest weeks of the week. These insights will help you make more informed decisions about the opportunities and challenges ahead.
Launch your online store.
When your business is officially opened, it’s time to set up a PCI-compliant payment-accepting site and SEO-friendly SEO-friendly website.
Virtual launches typically generate a different buzz than their physical counterparts. With enough social media and digital marketing, customers can be lining up (metaphorically) around the corner to buy what you’re offering. You can use a program for customer engagement to send promotional messages via email, text message, or app. This will help you drive sales and convert customers into repeat purchasers.