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Do you want to setup an online store? The online shopping market has seen steady growth for years. But in 2020, it experienced a dramatic spike. In March, for instance, AP News notes most e-commerce categories saw a rise of 74 percent in transaction volume compared to March of 2019. And the evidence suggests that e-commerce will claim a significant portion of all retail sales for years to come.
Therefore, if your small retail business hasn’t embraced online selling, now is the time to do it. Let’s look at the advantages of setting up an online store, as well as how you can succeed in the e-commerce realm.
The Advantages of an Online Store
While there are several third-party marketplaces that can expose your products to a wide range of potential customers (e.g., Etsy, Amazon, Facebook, etc.), creating an online store of your own comes with its benefits. First of all, you have the freedom to make your store look and function like you want, which will help your brand stand out from sellers found solely on marketplaces. You can take advantage of retargeting visitors via Google and social media sites, and when they arrive at your site, request that they join your email list.
Furthermore, companies that rely on marketplaces to sell their products often must lower their prices to compete with other companies on the platform. However, when you have your own store, many of your visitors will put more emphasis on your uniqueness than the price, which means that you can prevent the need to slash your prices.
Last but not least, if you keep your inventory in a warehouse, you need to find ways to make inventory tracking and order fulfillment easy and efficient. According to this guide from 6 River Systems, you’ll need to focus on streamlining your picking, packing, and shipping procedures, set guidelines for last-minute shipping, and take advantage of different tech to make everything seamless. Doing so will help you compete with other businesses and keep customers happy.
Choosing a Platform
You basically have two ways you can go when it comes to your online store’s platform: off-the-shelf or custom. Many small business owners go with an off-the-shelf platform because of simplicity; with some providers, you are only required to fill out information like products and prices, and you get a functional, appealing online store in return. However, if you want your store to stand out and have more control over what it does and how it looks, then you might consider going with a custom platform.
When you’re creating your online store, consider hiring a web developer with expertise in version control, such as a Git developer. This will help ensure that your website’s code is backed up and that it will never get deleted or overwritten by accident (which happens more than you would think). The easiest way to find qualified Git developers is to look at freelance sites. Find someone with relevant experience, then cull your pool to “the one” via interviews.
Marketing an online store looks a little different than it does for a physical store. The good news is that it’s typically more cost-effective, and the web can help you reach a much wider audience. The key is to focus on building your online presence so that people get to know your brand. A few ways to do this include utilizing paid advertisements, promoting your brand/products on social media, writing guest posts on other websites, and linking to quality blogs on your own site.
Finally, as SUMP explains, do not underestimate the costs of starting an online store. Yes, it’s cheaper than opening a brick-and-mortar shop. However, it still requires money, and failing to factor in the expenditure can make the success of your store short-lived—if it doesn’t prevent you from getting it off the ground altogether.
Along with the products and/or materials to make the products, be sure to budget for things like website hosting, domain fees, advertising, packaging, and operating costs. Moreover, if you sell on a third-party marketplace, you will owe commissions.
Now is a great time to expand your business to the e-commerce sector, and it comes with many benefits. Remember to choose a platform that will best meet your needs, make a plan for how you will market your brand and products online, and delineate all your costs so that you can set yourself up for long-term success. By taking your store online and doing it the right way, you will open your business up to a whole new world of possibilities.
Guest Blog Contributor
Dean Burgess, Excitepreneur.net
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