The Right Approach to Starting an Online Store

The Right Approach to Starting an Online Store

The digital landscape can be fertile ground for those with an entrepreneurial spirit and a meticulous eye for detail.

Technology has provided those with e-commerce aspirations a set of far-reaching tools that lend a new online store and website significant convenience and efficiencies. Coupled with an ever-connected consumer base thanks to smartphones and other devices, those that take an organized approach to an online store startup can find success with a bit of diligence and preparation.

These simple but critical steps will help digital entrepreneurs maximize the chances of a successful online store and website, gain competitive advantage and build ever-important brand recognition. While there are no shortcuts to e-commerce riches, a well-planned, methodical approach boosts the chances of enduring success.

1. The Right Platform Makes All the Difference

Assuming you already know the specific types of goods and services you will be providing, the first step in the process is a critical one that will impact your new venture for years to come: your chosen e-commerce platform.

While there are only a handful of basic platform types to choose from, opting for the one most appropriate for your level of technical expertise and available time is crucial.

  • A Blank Canvas: For those with advanced computer skills, you can purchase a domain and contract with a host from which you code your entire venture. While this option obviously depends on extensive knowledge and availability, it also allows you to completely customize your online store and website.
  • A Head Start: If you possess formidable coding skills but don’t want to start from scratch, you can purchase your domain and use an open-source framework from which you build your store. Many of the popular open-source platforms have ready-made integrations — built-in plugins that can interact with third-party applications — for you to immediately implement.
  • A Fully-Formed Template: Most people lack advanced coding skills and opt for a comprehensive platform with plug-and-play templates available for you to customize for your specific needs. Although the out-of-pocket expenses are higher with this option, they include your domain, hosting, encryption for transactional security and require minimal computing experience.

2. Design the Look, Feel, and Tone of Your Brand

Whether you start from scratch or utilize a full-service e-commerce platform for your online store and website, settling on the aesthetics of your brand is the next vital step.

Choose a color palette and overall design that suits the image you’re trying to convey well. Don’t make the appearance too cluttered, and take full advantage of negative/white space to make your inventory catch the attention of your customers.

3. Fill-Out Your Website

As you launch, your website doesn’t need to be elaborate but should at least cover the basics. Begin with a storefront that immediately immerses the viewer in your brand and what you have to offer. Of course, you’ll also need a product page that displays your inventory and provides links for the goods you are selling.

Lastly, a contact page will allow customers to conveniently communicate with you, and an “About Us” page gives you the opportunity to describe your vision, tell your story and what makes your online store unique.

4. Choose Appropriate Add-Ons

This final step can differentiate your store from the others, provide a competitive advantage and give you a significant jumpstart in building a loyal customer base.

Chatbots are quickly becoming the preferred medium for customer service, particularly for millennial and Gen Z customers. Likewise, many reputable online payment processors can accept credit cards, cryptocurrencies and other forms of digital payment on your behalf through a simple platform add-on.

Platform add-ons like virtual dressing rooms and AR-driven, immersive apps let your customers see what they look like in a particular shirt, how a table will appear in their living room, or any other number of interactive, 3D experiences.

The digital marketplace thrives on personalization, allowing your brand to form enduring bonds with your audience. Choose add-ons that will separate you from the competition and envelop your customers in your products.

Starting an online store and website doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming if you follow these steps and make decisions suitable for your knowledge, expertise, goals and expectations. Once your store is running, don’t forget to properly market your venture by leveraging any of the numerous, comprehensive digital marketing solutions specifically tailored for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

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