How to Start an Online Store in 8 Simple Steps – Starting an online store is a great business idea for those looking to create a strong online presence for their business, as well to extend their market reach. But, unfortunately, even with such a great idea, so many people find it “a long distance race”, to start an online store.
Yes, I agree to that, it is “a long distance race”. However, if you know the right steps to follow to start an online store, you will not only find it easy to start in just a few minutes but also get to grow your business in no time.
It is my pleasure to guide you through all these steps to start an online store for your business. Here, I will be more practical guiding you through, with all the necessary information you need to know to start your online store and grow your business.
I like to share this information, because, I know that you would likely want to get your business online, that notwithstanding, your business may be a kind that does not only target your geographic location but the world at large, and getting an online store will yield great benefits.
Before we proceed to the next step, How to Start an Online Store. Let me quickly bring to your understanding, the importance of starting an online store.
Importance of Starting an Online Store.
Today companies of all sizes and industries establish a successful online presence. This is an extremely important factor considering the fact that the Internet never sleeps and every portal you offer online gives your business a virtual showroom open 24 hours a day.
This allows potential customers to search for your product or service after business hours and in the privacy of their home. If you sell products, an online store allows you to place an order 24 hours a day to enter a sale as soon as the customer is interested, instead of waiting for the opening of your physical store, by which time, the desire to buy may have passed.
2. Improving Your Brand Image
If you do not have an online presence then you can’t expect your prospects to take you seriously and you will lose business to competitors that do have an effective online presence.
Providing online presence not only gives your customers or clients access to your product or service, but also allows them to “check” your business.
Online reviews, your interactions with other customers, and the frequency and quality of your posts help create a positive impression of your business in the mind of a potential buyer, which increases the likelihood of future sales.
3. Target the Global Market
With your physical store, you are limited to the number of people who can visit you at any time, not to mention finding you. With a good website, you can literally have thousands, if not tens of thousands even millions of people visiting your online store at once.
Imagine the potential of your business if you could expose your products and services to a potentially unlimited number of interested people. This could open up a much-wider-customer-base than relying on face-to-face interactions would.
4. Easier and Extensive Marketing
It’s a well-known marketing fact that business minded people like to buy but do not like to be sold. A well-written copy of your products or services on your website allows buyers to make a more relaxed and informed buying decision, as opposed to the pressure of a potential aggressive seller.
Marketing your business is also easier and more extensive because the electronic format allows for wider, more cost-effective distribution, as opposed to traditional marketing, which typically includes printing and mailing costs.
5. The Internet Was Made for Business
Relationship with customers is really important for business success. The Internet helps companies connect with client communication channels and build strong networks.
The beauty of the internet lies in the fact that your prospective customers or clients can literally be just a click away from your online store. Through the internet, you can now educate, instruct and solve their problems.
You can accept orders and payments and receive them directly to your inbox. The more people who find you online the more leads and sales you will make.
No doubt, with these reasons, we are sure you will agree with us that getting your business online that is, starting an online store, will reap great benefits.
If this is so, let help you get started!
How to Start an Online Store.
The biggest mistake most users make is not choosing the right platform for their online store. Thankfully, you’re here, and you will not be making that mistake
If you are thinking about starting an e-commerce business, that is, having your own online store, there are two popular eCommerce platforms that we recommend: Shopify or WooCommerce.
Shopify is a fully hosted eCommerce platform that usually starts at $29/ month. It’s a powerful eCommerce solution that includes everything you need to create an online store.
The downside to Shopify is that it gets quite expensive, and your payment options are limited unless you pay additional fees. This is why most users choose WooCommerce because of the flexibility it offers.
WooCommerce is an e-commerce platform built on WordPress. It can be installed using a WordPress plugin or, even better, customize it directly from your web hosting providers, such as Bluehost, Siteground, Hostgator, Namecheap, A2Hosting, and any other provider of your choice.
WordPress powers more than 28% of all websites in the world. This shows that creating your online store with WooCommerce is a brilliant idea because millions of entrepreneurs like you have been using this wonderful e-commerce platform, but still, they have never regretted it.
With this comparison and points in mind, we are sure you will agree with us that WooCommerce is the best affordable platform to launch your products online.
If this is so, let proceed to the next step of starting your online store.
Requirements to Start an Online Store
Below are the core requirements needed.
- Domain name and Hosting
- SSL Certificate
- Premium Theme
- Premium Plugins
- Contents (for pages, products’ titles and descriptions)
- Images (for your products and logo)
Now that you are aware of the few requirements to start an online store, it’s time to set up your online store. Here we go;
1. Choose a Domain Name
This is the first thing you need to do if you are intending to create your online store on Woo Commerce, choosing a domain name.
A domain name is any name given to a website on the internet. (For example, when you type mmoinstitute.com into your browser to visit the site, that’s the website’s domain name).
Now, it’s time to pick a name for your website and make sure that your future readers out there are able to find it.
Bluehost offers new customers a free domain name for the first year of their web hosting service. You can also choose the extension to use for your domain name, such as .com, .io, .ai or otherwise.
While a .com is still the preferred domain extension, it’s becoming less important as time goes on, so don’t shy away from other less common domain extensions, especially if they’re more affordable.
For those of you who cannot claim your first choice of a domain name, take a few minutes to exchange ideas with friends and family. Think aloud and experiment with different words and variations to find the most appropriate domain name for your new site.
2. Pick a reliable hosting service
To make your website accessible to other people on the Internet, you need a “host.” The host keeps all your website files safe, secure and makes sure that people can access your site when they click on a link or type in your URL.
There are tons of web hosting providers to choose from. I recommend Bluehost to anyone wishing to start an online store on WooCommerce because it acts as a one-stop shop for great and affordable hosting, quick and easy registration of your domain name in one swoop.
3. Install WordPress
By now, you should be in fantastic shape on your journey to building an online store on WooCommerce. If you still remember, WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, so it’s time we set up WordPress
There are several ways to install WordPress by Bluehost, Softaculous, FTP, Localhost, etc. But for this post, we will use Bluehost.
After creating your profile on Bluehost, you can log in and start using all the features you have chosen. One of the unique features of Bluehost is that it comes with a one-click installer for WordPress. Instead of playing with files and databases, you can install WordPress and set up your website in minutes.
How to Install WordPress on Bluehost
- Choose your preferred hosting page. I recommend the starter package. It offers a lot of speed, performance, features, and storage for your first website. You can move to a more advanced hosting plan as your website grows.
- You will be prompted to choose a domain name, choose your preferred domain.
- On the next page that appears, enter your personal information and credit card details. And make your payment.
- A green button indicating “install” on cPanel from Bluehost, click on the button to start the process.
- Although not necessary, you will be asked if you want to use your website with or without “www.” Before the name of your website (www.YourWebsite.com or YourWebsite.com). If you are unable to decide, you can leave it as it is. It can be easily changed afterward.
- WordPress installation details such as email ID, username and password can be set. Read and accept all necessary terms and conditions under a license agreement. Then click on install!
- Once the installation is complete, you will see a clear message at the top stating “Your installation is complete!” And a button showing “View credentials”.
- Clicking this button will take you to a page where you can find your newly installed WordPress login credentials.
4. Add SSL Certificates to your site (for Security)
SSL stands for “security sockets layer”. It adds a special security layer on your website, so you can accept sensitive information such as credit card numbers and other personal information. This is required for you to accept credit card payments on your website.
The URL that appears as “https://” (and, often, also shows a green lock symbol). SSL is quite easy to set up with Bluehost since they offer it as a premium add-on during the payment process when signing up for the hosting.
when signing up for the hosting.
5. Install WooCommerce
- Just log in to your WordPress dashboard.
- In the dashboard, you will see “Plugins” under “Appearance”, click the Plugins item, and then click the Add New option. Search for “WooCommerce” and the WooCommerce plugin should appear as the first result.
- Click the Install Now button. This will automatically download and install the plugin files and should only take a minute.
- Once the plugin is installed, you must click the Activation link of the plugin to start using WooCommerce. (You can use the free or premium version).
- Then you should be prompted to start the setup. It’s much easier to follow, so click on the Let’s Go button to start.
- The installer will first ask you if you want WooCommerce to automatically create your key pages for you. These pages include your main store, your shopping cart, your order, and a default customer account page. You really want all these pages, so click Continue.
- The next step is to set up your store location, currency format, and units of measure. This is important so that your customers know how much you charge and what they get for their money. So make your selections and click Continue.
- When WooCommerce is activated for the first time, the WooCommerce Setup Wizard helps you set up your shop.
- Select “Let’s go!” To begin. Or select “Not now” if you prefer to manually set up your online store.
- Set up your store.
- Now, choose your delivery address.
- Your next screen is the setup of your payments. If you still cannot afford credit cards, WooCommerce makes it easy to get two of the highest rated online payment services, Stripe and PayPal, by checking the appropriate box (es) yes, you can use both on this screen.
- When the Payments setup screen is complete, click Continue to access the ‘Shipping’ setup screen.
Your WooCommerce installation is now complete. After the steps above, you can start installing your theme, product information, and additional plugins.
6. Choose a theme and design your online store
By now you should be saying, hurray! But, hold on a minute, you know why? If you still remember, we promised you that we’re going to help you get started.
What we actually meant was that we’re going to help you build an eye-catching (attractive) online store, for your business. It’s our nature to help you get the best out of your business, so there is absolutely no need to thank us now, let finish it all well.
After activating the WooCommerce plugin, you must start with the customization, which begins with the selection of the theme. You can think of a theme as a template for the visual layout of your store, having a good theme makes the design and organization of your site a snap.
We do not recommend the use of free themes that have been downloaded on wordpress.org or that have been obtained elsewhere. Because free themes will lack some vital features that you need.
You need a premium theme (paid theme). Paid themes are incredibly great and most of these themes are relatively inexpensive, like the one I most recommend, Mythemeshop.
Once, you buy a theme, you will own it forever and get all the benefit of excellent support and customization options that come with premium WordPress themes.
How to Install your theme
- After downloading your theme, go to your WordPress dashboard
- In the dashboard, you will see “Appearance”, hover on it, sub-menus like theme etc. will appear.
- Click on theme >>> Add new >>> Upload file.
- Select the theme file you just downloaded and click Install.
- Wait a few minutes and the installation will be complete.
- Finally, “Activate” the theme!
Now let start customizing your theme.
When you uploaded your theme, there is a layout or drawing that you can easily re-edit to your liking. What we mean is that theme developers usually make it easier for users to edit these elements.
(i) Name of the Site, Tagline, and Logo
- Go to your dashboard >>> Appearance >>> Theme >>>> Settings
- In the theme settings, you can change what you want, but it depends on the theme.
- Finally, click on “Publish”
(ii) Homepage Setup
This is very important. If you do not do it, you will not get the desired design.
- Go to your dashboard >>> Page >>> Add New page
- Create two new blank pages with the title “Home” and “Blog”, publish the pages as they are (blank).
- Return to your dashboard
- Go to Settings >> Reading
- Under Reading Settings, choose “static page”
- A drop-down menu appears. The first is “Home Page”. Under it, select the blank page you created with “home” as the title and proceed in the same way for the “Post page”.
- Click on “save changes”
(iii) The Slider
Any versatile theme comes with an option for a slider. You can edit slider images by going to your dashboard, locating slider text (it can be Slider Revolution, Unison, etc.), change the images and texts to yours and save it.
(iv) The Footer
- Go to your dashboard
- Hover on “Appearance” >>> “Widget”
- Choose the widget you want at the bottom of the page (3 is recommended, for example, “Pages”, “Email Newsletter Subscribers”, “Collection”.)
- Then save!
7. Adding Products
This is the main reason why you are creating an online store, to sell your products. Follow the steps below to add products to your store and start selling.
- Go to your dashboard
- Click on Products >>> Add New
- If you get to the page, you will know the next step because it is self-explanatory.
- But be sure to use an attractive image as your “Featured image” because it will appear as the image (it will be visible to customers).
- Write a good title, description and make sure you use keywords in them. Do not forget the keywords in the ALT image title.
- Put the price etc.
- Preview it, if it’s OK, then “Publish”
You are ready to start selling your products. Then, if you have new products, add them and repeat the processes as explained above.
8. Market your online shop
Hang in there – you’ve reached the last section of this bumper guide on how to start an online store. Now, you should be confident enough to shout, I did it!
But, before you do that, there’s one last piece of the puzzle that hardly anyone will openly talk about: Promotion.
Building a successful business online takes more than selecting brands, writing product reviews, and starting selling products online. Even the best business ideas can fail if you do not drive enough traffic to your site (potential visitors).
Here is a list of four simple digital marketing strategies that any business owner can implement to help their business grow and make money.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a marketing discipline focused on increasing the visibility of the results of organic search engines. SEO covers the technical and creative elements needed to improve rankings, drive traffic and increase awareness in search engines.
Making money with digital marketing via SEO is very simple once you get to know the specifics.
The main objective of SEO is to increase the visibility of your site in the search field. Each search engine gives a result based on certain keywords or key phrases of the search query typed in the box and the most relevant result arrives at the top.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the best partner for any business that wants to reach its target audience without spending a lot of money. In fact, most of today’s business ventures such as Airbnb, Amazon, eBay and several others rely on SEO.
Focusing on increasing the visibility of your site in organic search engines, (like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.), is the best way to drive traffic and attract potential visitors to your site. And all these things can be done effectively using SEO tools like SEMrush.
Email marketing is an innovative way of marketing. This is a marketing tool in which an advertiser sends an email to the recipient detailing the products and offers available. It has the potential to reach millions of clients with a click.
It’s a blend of graphical contents and links that provide the customer with easy purchase and information. This is an easy way to measure customer response and marketing charts of products.
A lot of email marketing tools come with the possibility of unsubscribing to eliminate unwanted customers and secure potential buyers.
The best part of this type of digital marketing is, the product is advertised to a large audience and it has a far outreach than the traditional method of marketing.
Here are some examples of email marketing tools that you can try
1. Contact form
Social Media Marketing
As an aspiring online entrepreneur, you cannot ignore the impending dominance of social commerce. As the name suggests, it is digital marketing (online marketing) that is performed in social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms.
Most social media networks have their own data analytics tools that make it easy to create and promote social media marketing campaigns.
Due to the continuous dissemination of social media discussions and opinions, there would be an immediate notifiable product and it would also be shared on other platforms, which would help to publicize the product.
You can post a marketing campaign on your social media account and make money for the number of campaigns published in your account, and the number of views you get from your friends and campaign performance will ensure you profitable online money making with Digital Marketing.
You can also share a post on social media about how to monetize through digital marketing to attract more views and take advantage of them for product advertising.
Content marketing refers to the creation and publication of free online content for the purpose of promoting a particular product or service. It is a bridge of information between the consumer and the seller. Content marketing is used in search engine searches.
If you are creative and have a strong suit in writing, this is one of the ways to make money from online marketing. When writing content, you must be able to understand the dynamics of the product. Content must be presented in such a way that a layperson can understand and buy the product.
So far, you’ve learned how to start an online store, without spending extra money on website designers. If you are looking to start your online store with WooCommerce, we suggest you follow this guide.
Do not hesitate to hire us if you are still confused or the processes seem too tedious/technical.
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