So you want to run your own E-commerce store? Live the location independent lifestyle? Become your own boss? Learn to sell online? Build your E-commerce business into a passive income stream that will pay you for the rest of your life. Good news…you are in the right place! Our goal is to get you setup online and then get sales rolling in. We are here to answer your questions and help you from start to end. Whether you’re a beginner or looking for more advanced strategies, this is the place. So where to begin? Start simple and start planning! Take things one step at a time. Building an online store is not as hard as you may think…
1. Set Goals and Project Milestones
First things first, we need to set some goals. What are we trying to achieve? When are we going to do it by? Overwhelm can set in with the many tasks that go into setting up a store and launching. Turn this into a new venture and become a project manager; break all your tasks up into bit size chunks and start biting them off, one by one. When developing my Shopify sit Mule Ties www.muleties.com — I used a tool called Asana to break the project down. There are many other tools like microsoft project, or basecamp; work with what you’re comfortable using. I created a project and gave myself a 3 month time line to go live with my Shopify business. Stick to your timelines wherever possible, things will come up and it’s inevitable. The key is to just grind it out! People tend to procrastinate, you may be held back by the fear of the world wide webernets…it’s not that hard. Just jump in and let yourself make mistakes.
So, using Asana I broke the project into small tasks like the following:
- Pick your niche and what you will sell
- Buy a URL and hosting
- Design a logo
- Pick a theme
- Write store content: About Page, Shipping, Returns Policy, Contact Page
- Add products to the site
- Setup a business entity
- Create social media twitter, instagram, facebook page, pinterest, and any other social media
This isn’t a complete list but hopefully gives you an idea of the process. The goal for now is to see the vision of what needs to be completed, remember bite sized chunks. Getting your store up and running will be a huge accomplishment, this is one step in the right direction to getting your first sale. Now your project is all planned out, what should you do next?
We need something to sell! And no, you probably can’t ship washing machines across the country. Think small. If you don’t have a product in mind then do a little research and find yourself a niche.
2. Find a Product/Niche
You are probably thinking to yourself that there is nothing to sell. Everyone is already doing it! But the fact is there is a niche waiting for you, it could be that it’s hard to find certain products in your city. Or hard to find online, or maybe you found a way to source it cheaper. Whatever it is there is room for you to play in many different industries. Finding a product/niche can seem hard at first. Just know that it’s easier than you think. Look at yourself, what are you interested in? What are some of your hobbies? Do you like fashion? Are you the artsy type? Can you create anything yourself? You don’t have to create something brand new to be successful at commerce, just pick something you know a lot about or gets you really excited. Do your research but don’t spend too many months deciding, sometimes its better to jump and a learn! (Fail Forward my friends).
If you are still struggling in this area take a look at the ecommercefuel blog. Andrew writes a fantastic article all about niching down by adding value, targeting the right customer, and picking the right product. I(we?) also recommend downloading his ebook which gives us fantastic little gems like this one:
The $100 to $200 price range is large enough for you to make a reasonable profit per order (assuming your margins are good and you provide value) without having to provide extensive personal phone service. Most people won’t balk at placing an order for a $150 item over the internet. This helps you invest up front in high quality content and mostly automate the ordering process online, allowing you to scale easily and without significant support and sale expenses.
Download the ebook here and learn from another great resource. Lastly a quick note: you will want to pick a product that you can possibly expand upon later. For example if you wanted to sell plates and bowls, you could also sell cups at a later time. Leave yourself room to expand, but for now focus, focus, focus!
3. Build Your Online Store
Building your store is the fun part! If you are not the developer type then either get one on your team through equity share or pay someone to help you learn. You want to create something unique and it needs to look good. Otherwise you will lose credibility right off the get go. Shopify offers a 14 day trial of their platform in order to get started. This will give you the time to stumble around and get familiar with the platform and also the power to start designing your store. Shopify provides a log in page to your store to keep it private until you’re ready to go live. Before continuing I recommend going through the build your store exercise to get familiar with the platform
Picking a theme
Shopify offers many different themes to choose from within the Shopify Theme Store. Check out the themes and pick a theme that represents your vision for your store. Themes can range from $0 to $250 and higher if you want a custom design. Install the theme and get comfortable using the backend of the platform as this is where you’ll be running your store.
Adding products to your store
From my experience I recommend having product pictures with white backgrounds, the picture needs to be clear. The customers need to sold based on the photo. We purchased a white box and a Nikon camera when we first started our Shopify business but eventually resorted to using an iPhone (works great). You can use the white box photo editor on Fiverr to edit the photos to have a white background. For each product create a detailed description, include things like size, colour and other features. The description will also help customers find your product through Google search. So do your best to write an informative description.
Buying a url
Shopify provides a url for your store but it usually isn’t custom (i.e: ‘storename.myshopify.com’). It’s recommended that you purchase your own url and redirect traffic to your Shopify store. Customers won’t be able to remember your full store url, pick something easy to remember. Go to either godaddy or bluehost and purchase a simple url that customers will be able to spell.
There are numerous payment gateways that you can setup, at the beginning don’t implement them all (1 or 2 is fine for now). A good start is to use Shopify payments which is powered through stripe. This way you can accept major credit cards and also setup Paypal. Here’s a link if you would like to find out more information about Shopify payment gateways.
Set this up in your own country first, get comfortable with shipping closer to home. Next, open your store up to all North America, Internationally, or your specific region. I created shipment costs of $8.95 for any order under $65 and orders over $65 free (within Canada). Choose shipping fees that fit your area of the world.
4. Build your brand
We talked a little bit about brand in the previous section, it’s worth touching on in more detail. You can do a lot using online tools instead of paying thousands of dollars to top notch designers. Sites like Fiverr and 99designs can greatly reduce this cost. Fiver allows you to create logos, banner designs and a lot more. 99designs is a little more expensive but you will get a higher quality product in the end. You are able to choose the design you like the most out of many submissions. You could even create designs for your packaging on 99designs, but for now just focus on branding basics. You will also want to think about your products and how they will be viewed on your site.
If you take a look at MuleTies.com you will find a common theme among all the products: jewelry, watches, ties, bowties, and other fashion accessories. The overarching theme is obviously fashion. Take the same approach when you build your brand, we alluded to this in point number two (If you sell cups and plates you could also sell bowls). For your brand you will want to think of something that ties into what you are selling. You want the theme of your products to match your brand and your brand to match the look and feel of your site. This also ties into how you will eventually start marketing your site, we have a more detailed post on commerce SEO being written, so stay tuned! Briefly on this topic…you want to narrow down your keywords and social media hashtags. Be specific on what you are selling AND what you think people will be searching for.
5. Utilizing Social Media
Social media is one of the best ways to attract customers to your commerce site, all you need to do is post once a day and that’s it…
No we are just kidding, this is NOT the case! Social media IS a great way to attract traffic to your site but it is by no means the only way and it’s a little more involved than posting once/day. You don’t have to be on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all day either…there are ways to automate this process!
You do not need to be on every social media outlet, choose them strategically. If you are selling craftier products then for sure be on Pinterest. Use your best judgment on where you will get the most traffic for your efforts. When we launched our first business we started out with Twitter. The business used Twitter for 6 months in order familiarized ourselves it’s benefits, we then got into automating the process then moved onto the next social media tool. Make everyday a learning experience with social media and soon enough you’ll be an expert.
If you’re looking for a tool that can help automate your social media for your business I recommend checking out Hootsuite, this tool allows you to schedule your tweets or post for certain dates and times. This tool has helped my business in such a way that I can never repay, all I can say is thank you Hootsuite. You have saved countless hours and helped to build our brand to where it is today.
Some other tools that are recommended to check out are unfolllowers, socialbro, dosocial … let me know if you have any other suggestions, leave your comment in the comments area.
So this is our 5 step guide to becoming a boss on Shopify! There is a bit more to it but read more on our blog and search the web. There are tons of tools out there to help you get up and selling on the web. Remember it’s not as hard as you think and if you are serious about selling online then jump in! Don’t sit on the sidelines, E-commerce is the future of sales so get in now and get started! As always feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Comment below if you have an important step to add, let us know what has worked for you if you have online experience. Also give Shopify a go, we think it’s the best way to Sell products online.