Is it profitable to create an online store and sell goods? In practice, yes.
- What is an online store
- How an online store works
- Business plan and choosing a promising niche
- How to open an online store: step by step instructions
- Is it profitable to open an online store
The benefits of online shopping have been appreciated by users all over the world. Now you do not need to run around all the shops in the city, comparing prices and assortment – you can choose a product, study the characteristics and make purchases without leaving your home. All this is very convenient and saves time. Opening such a store requires relatively little expense. There are no expenses for the purchase of retail equipment, rental of retail space, outdoor and indoor advertising, the creation of signboards, plaques, design of entrance groups, etc.
However, the owner will have to invest in contextual advertising, buying a domain name and paying for hosting, an SSL certificate, and money will also be needed to pay for the services of freelancers (programmers, layout designers, web designers, namers, copywriters, contextual advertising setup specialists, SEO optimizers and etc.) True, if you wish, you can do without freelancers and figure it out on your own. But it’s a long way. In addition, the work of an amateur can be seen from a mile away and such a site, frankly, does not inspire confidence among users.
In this article, we will give answers to all the basic questions that interest people who want to have their own online store, and start with what it is.
What is an online store
How an online store works
Many people know how an online store works. Let’s repeat:
- A buyer comes to your store through natural search results or contextual advertising through an aggregator site.
- Using a search filter, the user selects the desired product, examines its photos, characteristics, description and makes a choice or immediately gets to the product page. In this case, the search filter on the site is needed only for additional purchases.
- After the choice in favor of a product is made, the user adds it to the cart and places an order.
- The project manager calls the client back and clarifies everything, or the order is processed automatically.
- The courier service sends the order to the specified address.
- The customer pays and receives the goods (prepayment is also possible).
The scheme of work of an online store largely depends on the niche, on the type of trade. In particular, it is worth distinguishing between the B2B (wholesale) and B2C (retail) segments. The functionality of B2B portals can vary greatly. As a rule, B2B projects are developed by professionals. Such projects are much more difficult to implement.
Business plan and choosing a promising niche
Despite the fact that today the e-commerce market is highly developed, there are still promising niches with a low entry threshold. Now everything is sold via the Internet: clothes, household appliances, flowers, medicines, souvenirs and even food. But with a detailed analysis, it may turn out that there are not so many options.
So, electronics and household appliances are very often bought in online stores. But do not forget that in this niche you will have to compete with the largest market players who have not only online, but also offline stores with branches in every city of our country. In addition, such a business requires serious investments, primarily for the purchase of goods. If we are talking about medicines, we need a license, special permits. Running a flower business has its own characteristics. In particular, we should not forget that the business is seasonal, sales peaks come on holidays, the goods are perishable, so it is important to make purchases in the right quantity. You can not do in the flower business and without a good florist.
Based on this, we can conclude: consider not only the principle of operation of the online store as a whole, but also the basic rules of doing business, which are also applicable in offline trading. In other words, it is advisable to trade pet products, flowers, food products on the Internet if you have experience in offline trading, know this niche well, demand, storage conditions for goods, seasonality and other factors.
Of course, it is better for beginners to opt for a product with a long shelf life that does not require special storage conditions or licenses for sale. Such niches include women’s and children’s things, toys, souvenirs (handmade, cute trinkets, etc.). It is also profitable to sell Chinese accessories: universal chargers, all kinds of phone cases, as well as Chinese smartphones.
Many are interested in step-by-step instructions on how to open an online store. However, it is important to understand that 90% of success depends on a well-chosen niche. Try to come up with an original idea on your own, think with friends, relatives, family members. Interesting ideas can be found on foreign websites, ad portals, etc. The more original the idea and the fewer competitors, the better. But do not forget about the demand.
Ideally, if this is a serious project, and you intend to attract investors, you need to write a detailed business plan for an online store. Everything should be indicated in such a project: creation costs, monthly expenses, planned profit, competitor analysis, risk assessment. Drawing up the right business plan is a whole science. That is why many turn to specialists. Also on the Internet you can find paid and free ready-made business plans with calculations.
By studying them, you can quickly assess how promising this or that direction is. However, it should be understood that such documents should only be taken as a basis, and then adapted to suit your own needs. In particular, in finished projects, irrelevant prices may be indicated (since the plan can be drawn up several years ago, and the dollar is in a fever), etc.
How to open an online store: step by step instructions
After the niche is selected, the business plan is drawn up, you can begin to implement the project. Consider a brief diagram of how to open an online store:
- Purchasing a domain name and hosting
- CMS installation, preferably CRM.
- Developing a unique website design, logo, layout, programming or using a ready-made template.
- Linking payment systems.
- Filling the store with products.
- SEO optimization, technical optimization of the site (setting robots.txt, creating a sitemap, metrics, regionality, etc.).
- Project promotion (contextual advertising, maintenance of social networks, YouTube channels, etc.).
And now let’s talk in more detail.
How to choose a name for an online store
The well-known expression “whatever you call a ship, so it will sail” is more true here than ever. The domain name should evoke the right associations.
Brainstorm, sketch out some good ideas and ask your target audience if they think they are good. If you are serious, it is advisable to contact specialists, namers who deal with this issue professionally. The name of the store should be memorable, resonant, related to the topic of sales, goods, it is desirable that it matches the domain name of the site. Short names in one word are easier to remember.
Creating a website
Conventionally, the creation of the site can be divided into 3 main stages:
- Technical launch.
- Filling content.
- Setting up analytics systems and final testing.
As already mentioned, logo, design, layout, programming, SEO optimization, SMM promotion can be ordered from specialists. In this case, the question of how much it costs to create an online store will be more relevant for you than ever, and the lion’s share of the budget can go to paying for the services of specialists.
Of course, turning to specialists, you can avoid numerous mistakes, get a professional job. Moreover, even when contacting specialists, you can save. For example, you can order development in a turnkey agency, or you can contact individual freelancers. In the latter case, you will have to independently control the project, look for intelligent specialists from various industries. But in general, this one will be cheaper.
The next problem that those who prefer to do everything on their own will have to face is the choice of an “engine” – a content management system. They are paid and free. One of them, used for blogs, that many are familiar with is WordPress. But for online stores, OpenCart and PrestaShop are more suitable. These are free engines with simple functionality. That is why many experts recommend them to beginners. These engines have Russian versions, Russian installation documentation and FAQ (which is important), Russian community, as well as built-in paid and free templates.
Ample opportunities for working with content allow you to effectively build work. The engines have a visual editor (you insert plain text, and it is automatically converted into html text with the necessary tags), a “news” block, a “work with products” block, the ability to create new pages (for example, for SEO promotion of articles – you can publish texts “how to choose a product”, “nuances of operation” and other articles useful for the target audience that prove your expertise).
How to attract buyers
- Proper search engine optimization.
- Advertising in social networks, creating and maintaining thematic groups.
- Contextual advertising.
- Partnership with product aggregators.
- Advertising on thematic forums and blogs.
- Offline advertising.
Where to get goods for resale
Just like in other cases, the answer to the question of where to get goods for an online store directly depends on your niche.
If you decide to trade in clothes or children’s goods, you can negotiate with private tailors, it is better to buy building materials directly from manufacturers. Decided to sell handicrafts? Good suppliers can be found on classifieds sites. Chinese goods are ordered on sites such as Aliexpress, alibaba.com, Dealextreme.com.
In fact, at first you can do without employees. Freelancers can be hired to fill out product cards and maintain groups. It is also beneficial to outsource bookkeeping and IT services.
In the future, with an increase in sales, you will need a warehouse for storing goods (respectively, warehouse workers), employees for handling calls (it is desirable that they know the product well, be polite), and your own logistics service. But all this will be required at the stage of business scaling, and at the initial stages it is simply not advisable to inflate a large staff.
Is it profitable to open an online store
There is no single answer to this question. It all depends on the chosen niche, the level of competition, involvement in the project, professionalism of employees. It is important to regularly invest in advertising, updating and improving content, following market trends, as well as the requirements of search engines. For example, with proper optimization, high-quality and unique content, your site may be on the first page of search results, but as soon as the search engine applies new filters, the requirements of which you did not foresee, the position of the site will drop. You need to follow this.
And finally. The most common mistakes that lead to crashes are:
- Non-unique content;
- Bad design (too bright, flashy colors, which “dazzle in the eyes”, small or large print, clumsy layout and other flaws that arise when you want to do everything yourself, without the help of specialized specialists);
- Inconvenient usability (lack of search filters, complex, inconvenient structure, etc.);
- Technical failures – such annoying little things as late payment for hosting, etc. can destroy your business.
- Poor consultant work. No matter how perfect your store is in terms of design, convenience, quality of content, all this can cross out the dismissive attitude of the staff.
- Poor quality of goods, failure to deliver on time – poor service.