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Customers have taken up online shopping and ordering. And for sure, the demand for online retail business is not going to vanish. It is reported that an average of 58% of the retailers’ revenue comes from online sales. 

So how about starting an online retail business? It actually carries many challenges and it makes it harder for young inexperienced ones to start it, especially entrepreneurs who are limited to a budget. 

Before you start the business, you need to take a little time to do the research and understand what is needed. Maybe you need to use the method of “trial and error” to know what makes you successful. 

Here are a few steps that will be on your way to being an e-commerce entrepreneur. 

What is it about starting an online retail business? 

starting an online retail business

Running your own eCommerce business can be exciting, but many online stores fail to make any kind of profit. And within a short time, they get out of business. One of the biggest problems is that entrepreneurs find it hard to recognize the profitable product niche.

An e-commerce product gets its success when you try to solve an actual, meaningful problem. So first you need to find an actual problem and find a solution. This helps you to find a successful product. You can talk to your friends, and neighbors, and go through online to see what they are experiencing. 

You can research your competitors and find what areas you can find the already existing offerings that don’t meet the needs of customers, and through that, you can come and establish a unique value of products. 

How to start an online retail business? 

Find your market

There are a lot of options when you wanted to start an online retail business. Before you enter, make sure there’s a need in the market for the products you want to sell. Find out a list of potential industries in which your online business is going to operate. Whether it is selling cosmetics, food, clothes, or anything, each of them will have its set of challenges and opportunities. 

Doing competitor research helps you to see the types of companies that are most popular and the products they sell the most, and the type of people who buy them. You can go to a particular industry and find out what products they sell, the way they sell, pricing points, branding, and reviews. By analyzing it, you can get a proper view of how to choose your industry and do business. 

Choose a product

The general types of products would have been probably outlined in a business plan.  Find out the exact product that would increase your success.  You need to consider the unique colors, features, sizes, and various other factors.  While deciding the type of product you would also need to decide how they are manufactured. 

If you are not producing the product yourself then you need to get a supplier or find a solution that will allow you to distribute through reselling. Getting retail products from a third party can speed up your retail store to get to the market. 

You need to be in mind the product you want to sell and accordingly identify the suppliers from whom you can purchase the goods.  For example, if you want to sell clothes,  you can search the products via a search engine on what type of clothes people look for.  And you would get a lot of potential products.  Make a list of the products and find suppliers. 

You can contact the company directly to find out if they supply you with products, and it would be probably cheaper than getting it from a wholesaler.  Compare the cost of sourcing directly from the manufacturer and purchasing it from a wholesaler to decide which options will provide you with the highest profit margin. 

Choose an e-commerce platform

shipping and delivering from online business

There are many e-commerce platforms that are easy to navigate. They help you build, customize, and use the store according to your business.  You need to choose an online store platform that helps you to manage all the aspects of your online retail business including inventory management, marketing, payments, and ways to grow your business. 

For example, if you prefer to ship, pick up and deliver, then you need to reach the customers in a timely manner. To do these it is important to choose an e-commerce platform that will ease those things.  More importantly because important to ensure that the customers have a good experience with the platform you choose.  It should allow the customers to multiple ways to pay. 

It should also help you to scale the business, no matter where you sell.

Develop your brand

Branding can be incredibly extensive but it is the one that helps you to achieve. Even though you have great products that are needed by people, they would have no sales, if you do not have a strong brand. In order to get success with your online retail business, you need to develop one. 

It is more important for an online store to have solid branding including, a strong positioning statement, overall design, great copy, and a business that fits your audience and your products perfectly. 

All you need to do is care about fixing your store’s name and logo. Take some time to think about your business name. Discuss with people and search as many as you can.  Think about a name that can explain or give an idea of what your business is all about. Most importantly, you want to create a name that appeals to your target audience.

To see the type of colors and logos they use, check your competition, and what your audience seems to connect with. You will probably see that they all have a similar appeal and look which is also a bit edgy and professional at the same time.

The logo should be unique while appealing to the people who are likely customers of some of these brands. Take notes of their approaches to brand and use them as a guide to your own company.

The brand can have the following to look unique and drive sales, 

Customize your online store

After developing a brand, which is important to create a website that would be able to reflect your brand. It should make sense to a business no matter whether you are a retailer in any industry. When you customize, it helps to Showcase your brand and story while highlighting the featured products and engaging potential customers. 

To customize your website you can find templates that provide flexible designs to create an ideal layout, and you can choose colors, fonts, and other elements that would make the most sense for business.  Moreover, you need to picture that it is suitable for people who are doing online shopping on the phone. 

Set up product listings

list items with high quality photos in online business

One of the things people get attracted to is the images. and they are the first things that customers get exposed to when they visit your online retail store.  So you need to make sure that you set up your store with high-quality photos on your website.  If you take photos yourself, you can use the photo studio app to capture high-quality images right from the phone.

Add photos to your online store by editing and managing the item listings by setting up item types and inventory. You can add the pricing information, and customer review options to make the purchase process easier.  Once you add the product photos and created the item listings, you need to make sure that you write the product descriptions which will help the customers to get a better idea of what you sell and the keywords that you can use to describe the products, so that the shoppers will find it easily. 

Set up secure payments

For any online store, this is an essential part. Because the customers should find it easier to pay when you have set up to accept online payments. 

This is important since many customers prefer to pay digitally, and setting up digital payment methods can boost your chances of making an online sale. It is also important to customize and simplify the checkout experience because a checkout page that is hard to navigate or that asks for too much customer information can result in empty cart items, so customizing and simplifying your online checkout page can help increase purchases.

Create a marketing plan

Setting up your online retail business with all those products, images, and payments is not enough. You need to do marketing in order to get people to it. This is the most important thing you should do after setting up your business. 

It can range from almost $0 to thousands of dollars. There are plenty of low-cost and free ways to get exposure for your brand If you are aiming to start an online store with no money. A few ways you can market your business are through email marketing, influencer marketing, and social media marketing

marketing plan for online business

One of the great ways to build long-term relationships with your subscribers is through Email marketing. This can add value to their day in a way that’s related to your brand. Make sure that you’re not spamming them with sale announcements.

Another way to build a following of engaged people is through Social media marketing which helps to turn people into customers. Post content that matches your brand image. Add value to their life instead of only talking about your awesome products in every post.

You can partner with micro-influencers to do Influencer marketing. They will often post a shoutout for your brand and in return, you can send them free products to test. Instagram is a great influencer marketing channel. In Facebook, you can start with  Facebook Ads, if you have some budget to spend. 

Is it profitable to start an online retail business? 

An online retail store connects you to more customers than the average customers you would meet in physical stores. You can raise awareness among many customers about your business and brands and it will help you sell across more channels. 

It is reported found that 37% of consumers’ monthly retail purchases are done online, while retailers reported that an average of 58% of their revenue comes from online channels. So online retail business is definitely a profitable business to start. 

How to start an online business? 

Customize your online retail store

You need to publish your site and so you will have the option to purchase a new domain name, or to use an existing domain name. 

How much does it cost to start? 

This type of store can be free or a very low-cost option. The overall cost of starting an online retail business can be influenced by capital expenses, start-up expenses, and operating expenses and moreover, it depends on the business type. 

Benefits of starting an online retail business

Final thoughts

Once you think of opening an online retail business, you need to remember that you run your own business now and should think and act as a business owner. Make sure to choose the right products and offer great customer service. You need to refine your marketing plan.

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