About 40% of purchases are made through online channels. Then a whopping 96% of Americans shop online, with another 80% making digital purchases at least once a month. Therefore, if you are looking for a business to do, e-commerce should definitely be the best choice.
The only question is, how do you create an e-commerce store in the fastest and easiest way?
What it takes to open an e-commerce store
Before you start building your online store, you will need to choose which website builder you will use. There are plenty to choose from, but for this article, we’ll be using Shopify.
Here’s a quick overview of the steps you need to take ahead of time:
- Find the type of product you want to sell (niche preferred, eg beauty products, health supplements, baby toys).
- Select a store name (which will ultimately be your domain name).
- Buy your domain name (you can buy it cheap from Namecheap or through Shopify).
- Find a supplier or manufacturer of the products you want to sell.
- Do market research to find out who else is selling your products and determine your price (only go for cheaper if it doesn’t hurt your bottom line).
- Find photographers (and models) for a photo shoot with your products.
- Decide who will store your products – dropshipper or fulfillment.
- It’s now time to start a free trial with Shopify (or make a purchase if you’re sure you want to use it). When you visit Shopify.com, select Start Free Trial.
Set up your Shopify site
- Now, it’s time to start your free trial with Shopify (or make a purchase if you’re sure you want to stick with it). Once in Shopify.com, select Start Free Trial .
- Then enter your email address, password and store name. Don’t worry if you don’t know the name of your store – you can change this later.
- You will then be prompted to set up your profile, including your address, place of work, and expected income range.
- After completing two steps, Shopify will take you to your dashboard.
- On the left side of the control panel, click Online Store. This will bring up the options menu.
Select a Store Theme
- On the right side of the dashboard, click Online Store . This will lead to a drop-down list of options.
- Then click on “Themes”, after which you will see the option to either customize your current theme or choose a free or paid Shopify theme.
- To save money, you can click Explore Free Topics. The options are few, but you can customize them to your liking.
We’re going to pick a supply theme. When you click on each topic, a list of its functions appears. The Resources theme includes:
- Large Catalogs
- A collection filter in the sidebar.
- Featured Collections (displayed on the home page)
Then you have two styles to choose from – blue or blue. It also shows you how your site will look on a mobile device.
- When ready, click Add to Theme Library.
- You will see an area with your theme – select “Customize” to start creating your own design.
From here you can add things like:
- Collection Lists
- Featured Collections
- Rich Text
- Footer / Header
You will find this under the Sections tab at the top. You can see how the site layout changes as each section is added.
Then when you go to the Theme Settings tab, you can customize:
- Social networks
- Price format
What’s great about Shopify is that you can build a fully functional website without knowing any programming knowledge.
Select a Payment Processor
You do not want to publish your online store without the ability to accept electronic payments. Luckily for you, there are several platforms to choose from.
One of the most famous is PayPal, which connects to your store’s cart. You can then accept PayPal, credit cards, debit cards, and e-checks. PayPal also allows you to provide credit to your customers so they can fund your products. This is ideal if you are selling high-value items.
Here’s a list of the best payment providers:
Be prepared to pay transaction fees. For example, with PayPal (and most others) there is 2.9% + $ 0.30 per transaction. However, there is no setup fee.
Where to buy stock
The key is to find a supplier of the products you want to sell. One of the most popular is Alibaba You will find thousands of manufacturers and suppliers here who will not only wholesale products for you, but also customize your product.
For example, if you want to sell UV protection glasses, you can customize your product by including a case and microfiber cloth. This will help differentiate your product from others in the marketplace so that customers are more likely to purchase from you.
Another option is to use the services of a dropshipper. These companies will supply and ship products to you. Some also offer customized product settings. One example of dropshippers is Chinabrands
How to get products to your customers
When you’re just starting out, you may not have enough space to store a lot of inventory.
There are two main ways e-commerce sellers maintain their inventory – dropshipping and fulfillment.
If you choose to use dropshipping, you are entering into a relationship with a manufacturer. They manage the storage of goods and ship them to your customers for you. There is no need to buy anything in bulk as the items are delivered exactly as they were purchased. You then share the cost with the manufacturer.
On the other hand, fulfillment services require you to buy an item in advance and send it to the fulfillment warehouse. Then they will create an item and send the items to you. This is ideal if you have a good relationship with the manufacturer but need someone to handle warehousing and shipping.
The costs for the two options vary, but you can expect to spend more in advance when ordering as you need to buy bulk products in advance.
Also be aware of the location of your customers. You will need to find dropshippers and fulfillment service providers in the regions you plan to sell to.
Set up your e-commerce store in a jiffy
If you play your cards right, your online store will be published and ready to go in a few weeks. Dropshipping is the best option if you are trying to get started ASAP.
However, if you want to spend more time finding manufacturers and improving your product, order fulfillment may be the best solution. Don’t forget to invest in quality photos and product demo videos to sell your wares.