Over the years, the number of customers shopping online has increased dramatically, which has created an increased demand for ecommerce stores. The advent of social media, website building platform along with innovation in technology has enabled online companies to reach their targeted audience for buying their products and services. However, starting an online business requires careful planning with an understanding of your customers and market to ensure a higher possibility of success in your business.
Key steps to know before launching your online business
- Set a business goal and study your market
Before you plan to set your business on the Internet, it’s necessary to have a sound business goal. You need to validate your business ideas using market research and study about the industry while reflecting on your personal experiences. This can help you to differentiate your business from your competitors and plan a unique product offering.
At the same time, understanding your niche market will provide an insight into the possibility of achieving success from your business. Besides, you need to learn about your target customers and their specific buying preferences and habits. Keep track of your competitors’ and browse their websites to learn about the marketing strategies that they might be used for advertising their products.
- Create your business plan
You can’t think of having a business without having a rock-solid business plan which is critical for building a roadmap and framework required for establishing a successful business. A business plan must include the approach which you will be used for financing, marketing, and advertising your business. If you are planning to use funding, then you need to decide on getting venture capitalists on board. It is necessary even though you might be able to save on overhead costs on facilities. They will need to look through your proposed business expenses as well, so have those handy.
- Choose a good business name
It’s essential to have a business name which is descriptive and describes what you plan to sell and includes the USP of your products. It also makes sense to name your business along with choosing the domain name of your future website at the same time so that they match with each other. Sometimes, this may not be possible if someone already takes the domain name. In such cases, you can come up with a list of potential business names based on your business structure or products.
- Start with a service before moving towards products
It’s always better to offer services to your customer before trying to launch your products in the market. This provides you with better opportunities to understand your customers and get familiar with their aspirations and pain points. This helps you to prepare yourself for the big launch and achieve perfection at the same time. The key to any successful marketing is to get to know your customers well and understand the issues that they might be facing.
- Select the right products
You might have already outlined the type of products that you wish to sell in your business plan, but it’s recommended to have a detail list of offerings. Include different kinds of products along with their colours, sizes, unique features, etc. Also, you need to decide on how you plan to manufacture them and whether you want to source it from suppliers. This step is very crucial for all individuals who might be looking forward to launching their online retail business.
- Choose domain name and site location
Once you are done with mapping out your business ideas and planning your products, the next step is to choose the right hosting provider. You can even consider purchasing a domain name and setting up your site all by yourself. But this requires some technical knowledge and expertise for which you might need to hire professional services.
Besides, there are some popular options which you might consider for building your online retail store such as Shopify, BigCommerce, Wix, etc. These sites allow you to purchase your development services and offer instructions for making your site from scratch.
- Protect your business with SSL certificate
Customers want their information to be safe and protected when they are shopping for products and service online. By displaying an SSL certificate, they get greater trust and confidence in your business about its authenticity and feel at ease while conducting online payment transactions. For starters, SSL is an electronic protocol which makes communication between two ends like the server and the user’s browser in a secure way. The data is encrypted while protecting all the sensitive information of your users.
Over the past few years, Google is also encouraging website owners to turn to HTTPS to ensure that the data sent using your computer to the browsing site is encrypted and securely transmitted across the server. Thus, sites which display green https letters in the URL ensure that they are secured through an SSL certificate. Apart from providing security to your online site, it can also help in protecting visitors’ data from being misused by hackers.
There are specific types of SSL certificates like single domain SSL, wildcard SSL, EV SSL certificate, etc. If you are running a single domain, then you can find an SSL certificate easily in the market. However, to buy a cheap SSL certificate, you need to do a little bit of hard work. SSL certificate can build customers’ trust and confidence as they know that your website is secure. Also, they can be assured of getting the protection of their confidential data and information.
If your website does not display a certificate, then the browsers may declare it as unsafe for your users. With HTTPS, you can get increased online visibility with higher SEO rankings for your website to gain an edge over your competitors.
- Build your site and set up a shopping cart
Choose the design for your website by deciding on the theme, headers, product categories, etc. Next, you need to organize your products into different categories and decide on the various sections you can include, such as “About Us” or a company blog for attracting your customers to your website. If you plan to go with an ecommerce platform, then it might be best to use a hosting shopping cart software. It is because self-hosted platforms might not assure security to your visitors, and they might not wish to conduct transactions.
- Advertising and marketing your business
This is one of the critical factors which can determine the success of your business and a well-planned marketing strategy can make a positive difference in building rapport with your online visitors. Use social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. to promote your business ideas and reach your target customers. Maintain an email list to connect with your prospects and make sure to be quick in responding to their queries.
In addition to all the above steps which we discussed above, you need to find out effective ways to maintain your business, which needs to be a continuous and ongoing process. Thus, all technical aspects of your online business including managing your company inventory, promotional strategies and advertising along with website maintenance are required to ensure lasting business success.