During a period when many brick and mortar stores are forced to stay closed, more businesses are turning to eCommerce as a sales channel to diversify their revenue streams.
If you’re looking to start selling online, here’s how you can get started in 5 easy steps.
1. Choose the Platform
One, you’ll need to choose an eCommerce platform. The one I recommend is this Managed WooCommerce solution. You can start with their starter plan which is only $19 per month and includes the following:
- AffiliateWP + Direct Link Tracking
- WP101 WooCommerce Tutorials
- Image compression (via Jetpack Free)
- Astra Pro
- Image lazy loading (via Jetpack Free)
- PDF Invoices & Packing Slips WooCommerce extension
- WP All Import Pro for WooCommerce
- Stripe Payment Gateway
- iThemes Security Pro
I also use the same company to host this website. I’ve previously compared Shopify and WooCommerce here.
2. Brand Your Store
Two, you’ll need to style your new online store to match your branding. You can find someone on Fiverr to create logos and images if you need them.
There are also free options like Brandmark you can use to create logos for your store. You can customize the look by entering a few words that describe your brand and choose the color themes you like.
If you need background images for your store, you can use a library of free images from Unsplash.
On your storefront, there are a few essential pages that you should always have. These include:
- Contact Page — how can your customers get in touch with you? Include at the very least an email address and address. Ideally a phone number too though it’s not essential
- About Us Page — share your story, who you are, what your store is about. This will enable your customers to be able to connect with you and will set you apart from a sea of random eCommerce stores
- Shipping and Refund Policy Page — let your customers know when you ship, where you ship from, and how long they have to get a refund
3. Add Your Products
Three, add the products you have in stock onto your store. If you have a lot, it might be a good idea to start with your best sellers or the ones that you think will be popular online.
Make sure that you have good product photos with lots of different angles. The better the product photos, the better since these are all your customers will have to go on.
Next will be to add the relevant product details including:
- Product description
- Shipping times
The more the details, the better. When you sell in person, it’s easy for a customer to ask a question or check a detail. Online however, it’s a different ballgame. Most potential customers will not bother to message you if they don’t understand something. They’ll just leave the page so it’s up to you to provide them with everything they need to know.
4. Email Marketing and Newsletter
Not everyone that comes to visit your store immediately. In fact, most will not be ready to purchase immediately.
That’s why it’s a great idea for you to capture their email address and send them regular newsletters to keep them informed about what you’re doing, new products you’ve added to your product collection, and any other engaging content that you think will be relevant for your customers.
I recommend Klaviyo but any email marketing software will work.
To grow your email list, you can offer prospects a 10% off discount code once they subscribe. If you have excess inventory, you can also offer a free product promotion (the customer should still pay for shipping) in exchange for their email address.
You can play with different ideas for growing your email list.
5. Sales Channel
This is typically the most challenging step in ensuring the success of your eCommerce store. What sales channel you use will depend largely on what you’re selling and what your budget is.
If you don’t have any advertising budget, then you can start by posting on relevant Facebook groups (with the group admin’s permission), messaging Influencers on Instagram, posting on your own social media network to announce that you’ve launched your store with a promotion code, and so on.
If you do have a budget, you can consider these online channels:
- Facebook Advertising — this includes Instagram too
- Google Advertising — this includes Google Search and Shopping Ads, Google Display Network, and YouTube
- Bing Advertising — a smaller competitor to Google but sometimes you get cheaper clicks
You can check what your competitors are doing by going to Similarweb and seeing whether they advertise on any specific platforms.
There’s a good chance that if they’re advertising similar products to you, then the advertising platform will work for you too.
You can then take free courses on YouTube or paid courses on Udemy to learn the necessary skills to start advertising.
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