Guest post by Lucy Reed

As of 2016, most U.S. shoppers purchase their items online. eCommerce has gone from a cool niche idea in the 90s to dominating the world of merchandise in 2018. Online retailer Amazon is now in the conversation of competing with the likes of Walmart in sales, and even the biggest brick-and-mortar retailers are now relying on their online audience to keep up. Here’s the point: eCommerce will be playing a major role in the business world for the foreseeable future. If you’re thinking about opening an online shop, here are some of the benefits to expect, as well as how to get your business off the ground.

Store Platforms

One advantage of creating an online store is that the initial setup can be done in minutes. Many sites, such as Shopify and Squarespace, offer top-notch, off-the-shelf platforms that make having a beautiful site easy. If you’re not a web designer or you simply want to allocate your time to building other aspects of your business, choosing a platform that automatically provides what you need for pricing, product presentation, shipping, promotion, and other tools is the way to go. If you have a knack for design and/or have an intricate vision for how your company should be presented to online consumers, such platforms may hold you back. In that case, opting for a custom platform will allow you to design your site in detail with less limitations. It’s important to note that most platform companies offer both off-the-shelf and custom rates.

Sales and Marketing

Some people may think running an online store is simple compared to a traditional store. Some areas are more simple, but sales and marketing is not one of those areas. There is always something else to think about when you’re looking to have successful sales and marketing, and here are just a few things that matter deeply to customers (whether they realize it or not):

  • An appealing interface with good photos and product demos.
  • A personalized user experience (i.e. breadcrumbs and filters).
  • Personalized communication (think of how much easier it can be in a traditional store).
  • Convenient payment solutions and extra-impressive packaging.

Online customers also love freebies. That’s because they’ve learned to expect them. Be prepared to do periodic giveaways, ship out free samples, and offer free shipping.

Packaging and Shipping

Most customers expect quality packaging and free (at least cheap) shipping ― especially if they are frequent buyers. Here’s the good news though: good packaging can inspire your customers to come back for more, and free shipping will usually sell you more items. You may need to do some experimenting to find the most cost-effective solutions for your operation, but looking at Uline for shipping supplies, getting your logo printed by a sticker company, and printing your own Avery labels is a good place to start.

Setting Up Your Success Station

Another vital step in creating your online store will be designating an office space. If you’re like most people who start an online store, said office will be at your home. A home office makes sense for many reasons ― convenience, flexibility, and the elimination of a commute to name a few. But it’s essential that your office promotes efficiency. In other words, setting up shop on your sofa is probably not the best idea. To ensure your productivity and success, consider locating your office away from distractions and choosing a room with adequate natural light to boost energy levels. If that’s not an option, purchase a vitamin D therapy light. Standing desks have also proven to help many people stay on top of their work throughout the day.

If you want to open your own store and you think it might be a good idea to make it exclusively online, it is. eCommerce isn’t going anywhere, and it’s probably just going to keep growing. But to be successful, you need to come at it with the right approach and remain willing to adapt as the market changes. Choosing the right platform, giving attention to sales and marketing, figuring out packaging and shipping, and setting up a good home office will all help you start off on the right foot.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

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