How to Start An Online Store (For Free)
Do you want to start your own online store, but haven’t got a lot of budget or time to play with? It’s true that building an ecommerce store can be a daunting prospect, particularly if you are not techy. Well, you’re by no means alone. First thing’s first – take a look at this checklist of all wannabe entrepreneurs. Whether you’re a fresh-faced budding online entrepreneur, or an established traditional retailer, this article will break the process of setting up your online store into digestible chunks. You’ll be up and running in no time at all, and you won’t have to spend a ton of money to get started either. Here’s how.
Keyword research is the first place to start
The importance of keyword research cannot be overstated — it’s the best place to start when setting up an online business. Thorough keyword research will ensure that your store gets off to a good start and that it becomes profitable ASAP.
Keyword research will give you a real insight into the products you should stock, and the product categories that you should include to help guide users on their purchase journey. It will also offer information about the competitive landscape of your niche (and it’s all free!).
Think big – are there any particular industries or niches that you are interested in? Perhaps you already have experience or expertise in a particular vertical? Search for them in Google, and see what kind of products and sites come up. Don’t forget about the ‘related searches’ at the bottom of the page
Save all of your data in a spreadsheet. This will help you analyze it further down the line, and decide which products to stock
List all of the keywords that seem interesting to you. This may open your eyes to products and ideas you hadn’t even thought of before.
Google Keyword Planner, KeywordTool.io and Ubersuggest are fantastic free tools at your disposal. Give them a go yourself, and see if the results reveal any high-demand product niches that you could sell online.
Choose an irresistible product offering
Now, you’ve done your keyword research and you’ve got some data about what people are actually searching for. Next, it’s time to get down to product selection and stock management.
Is there a healthy demand for the product online at the moment? You may be looking at products that fly off the shelves in a physical store, but the online market can be very different
Are you interested in the product? Passion does go a long way. If you are passionate about your product offering, you will find work less of a chore, and be more prepared to give your online business your all. It will have a greater chance of being successful and will help you manage more of the content production and marketing yourself
What are the profit margins for the product? They need to be healthy, and offer you a chance to grow the business in the future. Aim for high-ticket items rather than bargain products
Are your products available from a dropshipping supplier? Dropshipping is the savvy way to get into ecommerce with very little investment required. You only pay out for products once a customer submits an order, so you need very little money or budget up-front. In fact, all you really need is your laptop and a little time to set it up. Check out this guide to see how you can get started — including tips on how to manage multiple suppliers and customization.
Loving your product, and knowing that there’s a great demand for it, is a recipe for success. Here are some more ecommerce tips on how to embrace online selling for the first time.
Setting up your online shop
There are so many ways to get your online store up and running once you’ve settled on your products and made a start with your brand story.
There are a couple of things that you should look out for to make sure you pick the right ecommerce option for you:
Confused about which ecommerce service is the best for you? There are many review websites comparing ecommerce platforms out there; third-party reviews are one of the best ways to get impartial and reliable insight into how these platforms work. You can start using most ecommerce builders for free during a trial period, so use this time wisely to see which one suits you the best. Ecommerce builders also come with a selection of free themes for you to choose from to give your store a professional edge on a budget
A minimal and consistent site UX (user experience), with the potential for a mobile responsive theme is really important as over 59% of online purchases were on mobile devices last year — make sure that mobile is factored into your online store design
If you’re looking for a free and fast way to design a logo for your ecommerce site, you should have a go on Graphic Springs, a tool that is perfect for the first-time business owner operating on a tight budget. As well as a logo, think about how your site content is going to help contribute to your overall brand story
You should also consider whether selling on marketplaces like Etsy and Ebay is an option for you — it can be a cheap way of bringing in extra revenue.
Are you planning on setting up an online shop anytime soon? Will you give any of these free options and trial periods a go? Tell us about your experiences and roadblocks you’ve encountered along the way!
Patrick Foster – Ecommerce entrepreneur & coach
Patrick is an ecommerce entrepreneur turned coach. He writes for a plethora of digital publications, and loves sharing his raw, honest experiences with others looking to make it in the industry.