Demand for online shopping is at an all-time high right now. With bars, restaurants, cinemas, and shops closed, many of us are turning online during the pandemic. As a result, savvy entrepreneurs are also turning their sights to eCommerce, opening their own stores to capitalize on this surge in online shopping.
If you’re planning to start your business from home, there are a few things you need to consider first. It’s not easy, but with a little preparation, planning, and effort, you too could launch your own eCommerce store from home. Let’s get started.
6 Steps to Setup an eCommerce Store from Home in 2021:
1. Do Some Research into Your Target Market
Before you jump into setting up your eCommerce store and ordering stock, take a step back and do some research. If you already have a clear idea of what you want to sell, it’s important to do market research to determine the demand for the products, who your target customers are, and what they’re willing to pay.
You’ll also want to do some competitor research to understand who you’re up against — what are they selling, how do they operate, and what can you do differently or better? Take a thorough look at their website and marketing content, sign up for their emails, and check out their social media accounts to understand their offering and how they connect with their customers.
If you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to sell, you’ll need to research the best products. Decide if you’re going to pursue a specific niche, or you’re going to be more general. Are you going to be selling your own branded products, or will you be a reseller for other brands? Look at current and future trends for product ideas — the most important thing is that you sell products that people actually want. Check out this amazing infographic by BigCommerce.
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2. Source Your Products
There are some different business models for eCommerce that will dictate how you source your product. You can make them yourself, hire someone else to manufacture them, sell wholesale products either with your own branding or as a reseller, or you can use a dropshipping model.
When you’re starting an eCommerce store at home, you probably won’t have lots of room to store stock, and it might be a good idea to hold off renting a warehouse or business unit until you’re more established.
Dropshipping is going to be the right choice when you’re starting an eCommerce store from home. You can find suppliers or manufacturers to work with, and then you sell the products on your site. When an order comes in, you place an order with your supplier, and they will ship the product directly to your customer — there’s no need for you to store stock or deal with custom packaging and shipping.
If you decide to go with the dropshipping model, you must pick reliable suppliers to work with and do regular checks on the quality of the products.
While it’s a simple way to get started with less investment in stock, you do relinquish a lot of the control to a third-party, so it’s essential to pick suppliers that can offer a good service. There’s also a lot of competition, so it’s worth planning how you’re going to make your eCommerce store stand out.
3. Put Together a Marketing Plan
A marketing plan will be vital to making your eCommerce store stand out from the competition, so you must think about this before you launch. Customers won’t just stumble across your eCommerce store in large numbers — to get shoppers to your site you’re going to need to establish a brand and market your business.
Put together an outline of your brand, from your business name, domain (check you can get a domain that matches, or you might have to reconsider the name) to your brand values and guidelines. Defining a clear brand will make your business more memorable and help you to connect with shoppers.
Next, look at your target market — figure out who they are, their interests, where they shop online, and the best ways to connect with them. This will help you to decide which marketing channels to use. When you’re starting a business from home, it’s important to use your resources carefully. So only use the marketing channels that you think will reach your target customers.
Paid advertising such as pay-per-click or Facebook ads will help you see traffic and sales a lot quicker than organic channels. However, if you don’t have money to spend on your marketing, you can still set up social media accounts and use email marketing, content marketing, and SEO to attract shoppers.
It’s important to coordinate your marketing messages across all channels so that shoppers have a consistent experience. When you’re setting all this up from home, take advantage of social media scheduling tools and other marketing automation software so that you can stay on top of your marketing and communications.
4. Build Your Website
With your product suppliers lined up, the next step will be creating a website for your eCommerce store. This will be the primary interaction that your customers have with your business, so you must get it just right. The website must be fully functional, easy to use, optimized for search engines, and secure.
You don’t have to be an expert developer to put together a great eCommerce store website, though. But it is important to understand the cost and process of developing your eCommerce website.
Find the best eCommerce platform for your business, and you’ll be able to create a store using customizable templates with all the eCommerce features and functionality you need.
There are lots of easy-to-use eCommerce platforms out there to choose from.
Take Shopify, for instance. Shopify offers an easy-to-use interface, out-of-the-box capabilities, and an array of useful resources and guides on offer, making it a popular choice for first-time entrepreneurs looking to grow a successful store.
This is just one option, of course. The platform you choose will vary depending on your personal needs and preferences.
Things to consider when picking a platform are how easy it is to use for your skill level and what extensions and plugins the platform offers. Also, look at how much you can tailor the design, are there any limitations based on orders or products, and will it be able to support your store as it grows.
Your website design should be in line with your branding, and you need to carefully plan out site structure, page layouts, and content. Optimizing your copy for search engines across your site, including the homepage, category pages, and product pages, is going to be essential for getting organic traffic to your site.
5. Choose Some Tools to Help Run Your eCommerce Store
Running an eCommerce store from home means that you will have a lot to coordinate remotely — so it’s worth looking at tools that can help automate or streamline specific tasks. These might not be essential straight away, but they’re going to be a necessary part of scaling your business once it’s established.
Don’t overlook setting up policies, processes, and tools to handle your customer service. Once you’ve drawn shoppers to your site and persuaded them to place an order, you want to provide them with the best possible experience.
This is especially important when you are dropshipping; you need to quickly respond and handle any problems efficiently to maintain your store’s reputation. Impress shoppers with excellent customer service from the outset, and they’ll return again and again.
Accounting software is also worth investing in to avoid hours spent figuring out your expenses and taxes. It will help you to manage all your bills and invoices, ensure you don’t miss any payment deadlines, and reduce the amount of paperwork you need to keep track of at home.
You might be able to handle the finances initially, but setting up a proper system will ensure nothing is overlooked.
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6. Launch Your Shop
Once you’ve followed these necessary steps, it’s crucial to launch your eCommerce store as soon as possible. You might not have everything perfectly refined, but you must get orders coming in and start making some money. Once you have some cash flow, you can improve aspects of your store, expand your product range, and increase your marketing efforts.
Setting up an eCommerce store from home can be straightforward with a bit of planning and preparation. You just need to find the right products to sell, create an engaging website, and market your store — from there; you’ll be able to scale and develop a successful business.