How to Sell Online and Make Money: Complete Step-by-Step Guide

How to Sell Online and Make Money: Complete Step-by-Step Guide

Research has indicated that the online market share will account for 22% of retail sales worldwide by 2023, a 6.5% increase from 2020. That’s right – selling stuff online can be profitable. But to enter this growing industry, you first have to understand the process of selling online.

Creating an eCommerce store consists of multiple steps, from selecting the right products or services to creating effective marketing strategies. In this guide, you will learn all the steps and tools to create a successful online store, along with the benefits and challenges.

By the end of this article, you’ll know how to sell online and make money with ease.

1. Find a Good and Profitable Product or Service to Sell Online

Creating an online store starts with figuring out what products to sell. With around 12-24 million online businesses, the competition in the eCommerce world continues to grow. So, it’s essential to find a product that stands out.

When searching for products to sell online, take time to do market research. There are endless possibilities of products and services to sell online, but not all of them can create a profitable business.

Here are four ways to narrow down the ones that can bring a higher profit margin.

Products That Solve a Problem

Selling services or products that are proven to be useful has a high chance of success. Research shows that 85% of consumers want brands to solve their problems, and 80% want brands to solve the problems in society.

To find products or services that can solve problems, start by thinking about your concerns – others likely have similar issues. Then, analyze how you can solve the problem and start selling the solution as your business.

Use MOFT as an example, a thin laptop stand that helps with posture problems. The founder has the same problem as 41% of Americans – back, neck, and shoulder pain from remote working. Her products aim to solve this problem.

MOFT laptop stand

Hobbies and Passions

Tapping into people’s hobbies and passions is another way to make money online. The toys, hobby, and DIY departments are expected to reach $93,304 million in revenue in the US alone. Consumers see this industry as an investment that will bring joy to their daily lives.

A great example is HobbyTown, which has brought in an estimated annual revenue of $110 million in 2020 from selling toys and collectibles. To find the right product or service to sell online, think about your hobbies and passions. Then, look for communities that can be your target market.

HobbyTown collectibles shop

Products on Trend

Selling trending products is one of the fastest ways to make money online. However, it’s essential to catch the trend quickly as they can often change.

To keep up with the latest trends, use online tools like Google Trends or Trend Hunter. They can show how long the trend might go on. Alternatively, check the best-selling products on major marketplaces, such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy.

For example, one-third of Americans were willing to pay 25% more for sustainable products in 2019, and Zero Waste, as a company selling only sustainable and environmentally-friendly products, benefited from this trend.

Zero Waste homepage

Niche Products

Niche products tend to have higher profit margins as they target a specific audience. In addition, they guarantee higher conversions and engagement when using precise marketing strategies.

Many choose a niche product to sell online but fail to resonate with their target market. To avoid this, put extra effort into getting to know your ideal customer when creating marketing campaigns.

Take Spanx as an example, a well-known shapewear brand that brings an estimated annual revenue of over $40 million. By knowing their target audience well, they were able to choose the right products to start selling online and pick the right marketing strategy.

Spanx website

2. Strategize Your Business Model and Plans

After deciding what to sell online, think about your future plans. First, pick a business model suitable for your target market. Then create a business plan in order to strategize on how to sell your products and services.

eCommerce Business Models

A business model is a plan to make a business profitable. There are multiple models for eCommerce platforms, each of them with its pros and cons. Pick the model that is the most suitable for your product and target audience.

When considering which model works best for your online business, answer the following questions:

  • Do you sell a single product or a range of them?
  • Who is your target market?
  • What value do you bring into the industry?

Business to Business (B2B)

The B2B model is when a business sells products or services to other companies. In 2019, B2B models made up 18.2% of all online sales, adding up to $1.3 trillion.

Pros:

  • High-order values.
  • Long-term relationship with other businesses.
  • Low cost for marketing.

Cons:

  • Complex sales cycle from setup to delivery.
  • Limited market and buyers.
  • Long time to secure new clients.

A great example is Poly, a video conference equipment company, which provides content sharing systems for offices.

Poly – video conference equipment company

Business to Consumer (B2C)

B2C is the most common business model and includes businesses selling products or services straight to consumers. Its market size is expected to be worth $6.2 trillion by 2027, potentially making it the most profitable option.

Pros:

  • Large quantity of sales.
  • High chance of creating profitable marketing campaigns.
  • More options for products or services to sell online.

Cons:

  • Hard to get high-order values.
  • High competition in eCommerce.
  • High investment in marketing.

One example of a successful B2C company is Spotify, a digital music, podcast, and video service. In 2020, the online business had annual revenue of $5.90 billion.

Spotify's homepage

Consumer to Business (C2B)

C2B applies to online selling platforms where consumers trade their products or services with businesses.

Pros:

  • Personalized work with clients.
  • More potential for long-term work.
  • Flexibility with products or services.

Cons:

  • Customer’s marketing efficacy is hard to control.
  • High competition, both with individuals and companies.

This model includes freelance websites, such as UpWork. As one of the most popular C2B companies, Upwork had $373.63 million in revenue in 2020.

UpWork freelance website

Consumer to Consumer (C2C)

C2C involves consumers buying and selling products or services to other consumers by listing them on marketplaces online.

Pros:

  • Low cost and high profitability.
  • Personal communication with consumers.

Cons:

  • Hard to get credibility to sell products or services.
  • Hard to manage quality control.

Some of the most popular C2C eCommerce websites include eBay and Airbnb. These online platforms connect consumers with other individuals.

Airbnb homepage

eCommerce Business Plans

Once you’ve established the model, the next step is to figure out how to sell your products online. By writing a business plan, lay out a written roadmap for the marketing, financial, and operational aspects.

When figuring the plan out, think about where and how you will source and sell products online.

Direct to Consumers (D2C)

A company can use the D2C business plan to enter the market without any partners. It’s a popular strategy among manufacturers and vendors of consumer packaged goods to eliminate the barrier between themselves and their customers.

Pros:

  • High flexibility with the profit margin.
  • Feedback directly from the consumers.
  • Control over manufacturing, branding, marketing, and selling.

Cons:

  • High responsibility for every step of the process.
  • Coordinating various business areas.

Wholesaling

With Wholesaling, you sell products in bulk for a lower price. Therefore, the bigger the quantities purchased, the lower the cost per unit.

This business plan usually works well with B2B. Occasionally, it can also work with B2C models. For example, an eCommerce store that sells t-shirts in bulk can sell both to other businesses and individuals.

Pros:

  • Long-term relationship with customers.
  • Power to set minimum orders to get better control of forecasting sales and revenue.

Cons:

  • High investment and capital.
  • Low brand identity.

White Label and Private Label

Other popular business plans include white label and private label. Even though their names sound similar, the two differ in the production and branding process.

A white label is when your business buys products from a manufacturer and adds the branding to sell them as your own products. You have no involvement in the production and will primarily be responsible for the communication with the consumers.

Pros:

  • Control on branding, marketing, and distribution.
  • Low cost on production.

Cons:

  • Less ownership of the product.
  • Low unique selling point as other businesses can sell the same product with their branding.

With private labels, you have one retailer produce the product for you. Therefore, you have your brand and your own products, but there is still a supplier involved.

Pros:

  • Ownership with the rights to the products.
  • High brand awareness and legitimacy.

Cons:

  • High cost to develop your products.
  • Responsibility to design the products.

It’s possible to start with a white label and eventually move up to a private label once you understand your customers better.

Dropshipping

Dropshipping means that a third party takes care of both the production and distribution. This way, the business doesn’t keep a stock of the products and avoids the hassle of keeping a consistent inventory count. It’s one of the fastest-growing business plans in eCommerce and is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 28.8% from 2019 to 2025.

With dropshipping, you are primarily in charge of the marketing and direct communication with the customers and don’t have any direct contact with the product.

Pros:

  • Less risk when it comes to investment and startup capital.
  • No inventory cost and management.

Cons:

  • Other businesses might sell the same product.
  • Lack of control over the product, from quality to the distribution process.

Subscription

The subscription business plan includes selling a product or service with a recurring daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly purchase. It’s popular among meal delivery boxes, such as HelloFresh, or streaming services, such as Netflix.

With a subscription, there is a contract with a set of terms and conditions. This contract will outline the length, renewal procedure, cancellation policy, and payment terms of the subscription.

Pros:

  • Relatively reliable income streams.
  • High opportunity for brand loyalty.

Cons:

  • Hard to maintain value as customers might lose interest.
  • High front-end customer procurement budget.

3. Choose a Platform to Sell Products Online

Once you know what products or services to sell online, the next step is to select an eCommerce platform. There are multiple ways to set up an online store, but the main ones are:

  • Buying a hosting service.
  • Using a website builder.
  • Selling on online marketplaces.
  • Utilizing social platforms.

Let’s look at each one in more detail.

Hosting Your Own WooCommerce Online Store

WooCommerce website

WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin, suitable for all kinds of eCommerce businesses. As an open-source platform, WooCommerce gives you full ownership of the store.

Some of the WooCommerce key features include customer engagement tools, adjustable tax settings, inventory management, and shipping options.

To use WooCommerce, you’ll need web hosting and a domain name.

There are web hosting services that provide plans specifically suited for WooCommerce. For example, Hostinger’s WooCommerce Hosting offers better speed and performance to create a more responsive eCommerce store.

The Starter plan, suitable for a smaller eCommerce site costs $3.99/month. In comparison, the Business plan costs $23.99/month and is able to accommodate a bigger store that might anticipate a higher number of visitors. Furthermore, both plans come with a free domain name.

If your web hosting provider doesn’t offer a domain name with the plan, purchase it yourself. Also, try using a domain name generator to get some ideas if you’re struggling to find a suitable option. Keep in mind that your domain name should relate to your business name.

Pros:

  • Thousands of themes available, with the possibility of editing the header, footer, product sheets, and checkout options.
  • Wide range of free and paid plugins available just for WooCommerce in order to extend its functionality and tools.
  • Large community with plenty of documentation and guides.

Cons:

  • The hosting and domain name must be purchased on your own, along with managing the updates and maintenance.
  • WordPress knowledge is essential.
  • Takes longer than other options.

Successful Stores Built with WooCommerce

WooCommerce is one of the most popular eCommerce plugins, with a wide range of brands utilizing it. Any business owner can use WooCommerce and adjust the design to their own store.

One of the successful stores using WooCommerce is Certified Comic Shop, a well-known US-based company that sells comic books. Relying only on online sales, they have $313,309 in annual revenue.

Certified Comic Shop website

Acoustical Solutions is another brand that uses WooCommerce to sell online. This eCommerce site, dealing in acoustic panels and soundproofing, reached $21.70 million in 2018 annual revenue.

Acoustical Solutions WooCommerce shop

Hosting Your WooCommerce Store

To start selling online using WooCommerce, follow these steps:

  1. Get a hosting provider and a domain name.
Hostinger's WooCommerce hosting plans
  1. Install WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin. Some web hosting providers might install them by default.
WordPress dashboard, highlighting Install Now next to WooCommerce
  1. Choose a theme and customize it to suit your needs. There are Free themes and Paid themes, ranging from $39-129/year. For additional tools and functions, add WooCommerce plugins.
WooCommerce theme options
  1. To upload the products or services, head to Dashboard -> WooCommerce -> Home -> Add products. There, WooCommerce will give multiple options to add the products or services. Once you have uploaded them, write the content for your online store.
WooCommerce dashboard, Add Products section
  1. Then, set up the payment gateways by heading to Dashboard -> WooCommerce -> Home -> Set up payments. WooCommerce provides three payment options, which are PayPal, Cash on delivery, and Direct bank transfer.
WooCommerce payments setup
  1. After the website is ready, test your buying process first before you launch the store.
Test purchase on WooCommerce

Building an Online Store Using a Website Builder

Zyro homepage

Using a website builder to create your eCommerce store is excellent for those without technical knowledge. The built-in tools and ready-to-use templates provide everything required to set up your store and run it with minimal effort.

Zyro is a great example of a beginner-friendly AI-powered eCommerce platform. Its drag-and-drop tool is intuitive and easy to use, with the website builder also displaying the changes in real-time.

Zyro’s eCommerce plans include various pre-made templates, payment gateways, and order and inventory management systems. The eCommerce plan costs $9.90/month for small online businesses, whereas eCommerce Plus costs $14.90/month and is more suited for larger-scale companies.

Just like any other website builder, Zyro has its benefits and limitations.

Pros:

  • Uses cloud hosting, making Zyro sites less prone to downtime and have more reliable performance.
  • Modify and customize page elements freely without block-based restrictions.
  • Complies with the PCI standards to ensure the security of consumers’ private information.

Cons:

  • Limited design features.
  • Users need to make a new website when switching templates.
  • Offers limited advanced features to extend tools and functions.

Successful Stores Built Using a Website Builder

Limited customization of your website doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful online business. Here are two excellent examples of highly profitable online stores that use a website builder for eCommerce.

Allbirds manufactures and sells eco-friendly shoes. Their value in 2020 is estimated at $1.6 billion, making them one of the most successful stores for eCommerce platforms.

Allbirds shoe shop

Bombas sells high-quality funky socks. Their business includes donating a pair of socks to charity for every pair of socks bought at their store. Its annual revenue is estimated to bring in over $100 million.

Bombas socks shop

Creating an Online Store With a Website Builder

Here’s how to build a successful online business when using a website builder:

  1. Choose a website builder and get a domain name. For this example, we’ll use Zyro.
Zyro eCommerce plans
  1. Pick and customize an eCommerce website template.
Zyro eCommerce website templates
  1. Upload the products online, add the description, price, and other content.
Building an online store with Zyro
  1. Test your store by checking the user experience when purchasing, including the mobile device compatibility and responsiveness. Once the website is ready, click on the Publish website button.
Zyro's preview mode

Creating a Store on an Online Marketplace

Etsy homepage

With an online marketplace, you sell products through an established marketplace instead of making your own eCommerce website. Major online marketplaces, such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, provide everything you need to get started.

The price of using an online marketplace varies from platform to platform. For example, Amazon has two selling plans: a Professional Selling plan costs $39.99/month, and an Individual Selling plan costs $0.99/item. In addition, there is a referral fee per item for all your Amazon sales.

The selling costs on eBay include final value fees up to 12.55% and an additional $0.30 transaction fees per product. There is also an additional $0.35/item listing fee for every product outside the 250 product limit you can list for free.

With Etsy, the price is $0.20/listing that lasts for four months or until you sell the product. When online sellers make sales, there is an additional 5% transaction fee per product.

Pros:

  • Quick and easy setup.
  • Large customer base from the marketplace.
  • No need for technical maintenance.

Cons:

  • Restricted design and customization options.
  • The customer base is the same as other online sellers on the marketplace.
  • Difficult to scale your business effectively and enhance your brand visibility.

Successful Stores Built With Online Marketplaces

In 2020, the top online marketplaces globally brought in $2.67 trillion in sales. This statistic shows that even online businesses with lower profit margins on eCommerce marketplaces can become successful.

For example, Anker is one of the most successful Amazon stores, with $954 million in revenues in 2019. This charger brand is considered an Amazon-Native as it started in the marketplace but has expanded to other stores.

Amazon shop Anker

MusicMagpie is another excellent example of a successful business that uses eCommerce marketplaces to sell products online. MusicMagpie is known for selling pre-owned old games, CDs, books, and other similar goods. In 2018, their annual revenue reached $123.82 million.

musicMagpie shop on eBay

Launching a Store on a Marketplace

Launching a store on an online marketplace is quick and straightforward:

  1. Find the best online marketplace for your products or services.
  2. Register as a seller and create an account.
  3. Upload the products you want to sell and add the descriptions.
  4. Launch your store and start selling online.

Selling on Social Media

Facebook for Business – Instagram section

Social media plays an important role when selling products online. In 2020, 54% of social media users used it to research products, and 71% made a purchase. Although most businesses use social platforms as a marketing tool, they can also become efficient eCommerce platforms.

Using social media channels as an eCommerce platform is a unique way to sell products online as it can result in exceptionally high reach and engagement rates. It also creates a safe environment for buyers and sellers to communicate.

Facebook business creates a platform for both Facebook and Instagram users to integrate store features on business accounts. As a result, customers can go online shopping on social media platforms directly, from looking through catalogs to making a purchase.

Both Facebook and Instagram charge a selling fee of 5% or a minimum of $0.40/item sold on their shop.

Pros:

  • Easy to integrate Instagram or Facebook ads to reach a wide range of users.
  • Fast and easy to set up with business accounts.
  • The platform deals with technical issues.

Cons:

  • Harder to customize and personalize the store as it follows the display of the platform.
  • Hard to optimize and help to rank.

Successful Case Study of Selling on Instagram and Facebook

Sephora is a well-known makeup and skincare retailer that’s popular on Instagram and Facebook. They’ve successfully used these platforms for marketing campaigns and selling online.

The large following of 20.7 million people on Instagram and nearly 20 million people on Facebook makes it easier to connect with the customer base. This access to a broad audience plays a big part in their estimated $500 million in annual revenue.

Sephora's Instagram profile

Selling on Social Media

Follow the steps below to start selling online via Facebook or Instagram:

  1. Select the platform of your choosing, either Facebook or Instagram.
Social media shop setup
  1. Then, choose the payment method for your shop from three available options:
  • Checkout on Another Website. Redirect to a website to order and make payments.
  • Checkout with Facebook or Instagram. Customers can shop directly on the platform.
  • Checkout with Messaging. Redirect customers to send a personal message to your business.
Set checkout methods on Facebook or Instagram
  1. Add your Instagram or Facebook business page and connect to the business account.
Connect a business page to sell from
  1. Upload the products to sell online and other content. Then, add the countries or regions for shipping. Keep note that Facebook and Instagram Shops are not available in every country or region.
Add products to sell on Facebook or Instagram
  1. Start selling your products online. The display of the shop is set by Facebook, so you cannot customize it as you wish. However, it’s possible to divide the products into different categories. For example, the Ink Meets Paper facebook shop has six different categories.
Ink Meets Paper Facebook shop

4. Set Up and Manage Your Virtual Store

Here is a checklist of the various elements to consider when setting up and managing your online store.

Decide on a Business Name

A business name plays an integral role for all companies. When deciding on a name for your business, research your industry and target market. A business name should stand out from its competition and connect to your business.

Here are the most common types of a business name to consider:

  • Founder – showing a personal attachment between a business and its founder. For example, Ford and Calvin Klein are well-known brands using their founders’ names.
  • Acronyms – making longer names easy to remember and recognize. Take BMW as an example, which stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke.
  • Description – describing your business, for example, Banks of America and Hotels.com.
  • Wordplay – creating fun and memorable names using phrases, alliteration, onomatopoeia, or intentional misspellings. A popular business name using wordplay is Krispy Kreme.

For eCommerce, another element to consider is the domain availability for your own website. Your domain name should follow the business name. Avoid creating a domain name that internet users might easily misspell.

Some of the ways to create a memorable domain name are:

  • Top-Level Domain (TLD). The extensions for your domain name can help to describe your business. Note that even though .com is the most popular TLD, other extensions, such as .tech or .biz are just as legitimate.
  • Shorter is better. A long domain name is harder to remember and has a higher chance for spelling mistakes.
  • Check the competition. You want your domain name to be original and reflect the market accurately at the same time.

Create Powerful and Memorable Branding

Think of a powerful marketing strategy to make sure that your branded store is memorable and stands out from the competition. A great branding strategy will drive more traffic to your website.

Gere are some factors to consider to ensure that your online store stands out:

  • Brand identity. Consistent branding throughout the website helps to convey what your business is about.
  • Mobile-friendly. Responsiveness to smartphones and tablets will also help for search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Easy to navigate. From looking through the products or services to completing transactions, customers should have smooth navigation.

When designing a website for your online store, pay extra attention to the:

  • Color scheme. Different colors represent different meanings.
  • Logo. Create a logo that stands out and is not too cluttered.
  • Theme. Make sure that the eCommerce theme follows the branding of your business.

Market research often helps to understand what your customers are looking for. Another way to create a powerful brand is by checking out the competition and analyzing what does or doesn’t work.

Register Business Licenses

Having a business license is necessary to comply with any regulations that your government might have in place. There are different types of permits for different companies, depending on the location, type of products or services, and the business needs.

Different countries and regions have different laws and regulations regarding licensing, so proper research is a must. Especially if you’re in the food industry, as some regions require you to get your kitchen approved before operating.

Business licenses provide a way for the government to track the businesses operating in the region. Not to mention, it also gives your online store a greater legitimacy that helps with funding and partnership.

If you are operating without a license, there is a high risk of heavy fines. In addition, there is the possibility of having to cease operations until you submit the correct paperwork. Ceasing operations risks harming your reputation, not being able to sell online, and therefore, losing customers.

Note that some regions allow operating without a business license until you reach a specific amount of revenue. However, other locations might require you to obtain a permit before selling anything. So, it is better to research the requirements first before you start selling products online.

Set Up Shipping and Taxes

Another important aspect of selling products online is figuring out the calculation for shipping and taxes.

Shipping estimation is based on various factors, including:

  • Distance. Generally, the price will be lower for a closer distance between the shop or manufacturer to the consumer.
  • Size. Product size determines the vehicle needed to deliver it, thus affecting the shipping cost.
  • Length of time. Expedited shipping will cost more than standard shipping.
  • Courier. Different courier companies are available in different locations, but the top couriers worldwide are UPS, DHL, and FedEx. These couriers might cost more than local ones.

As for the taxes, there are also different types to consider:

  • Sales tax. An additional percentage of the final price of a product, paid by the consumer. Sales tax is only collected when the product is purchased.
  • Value-added tax (VAT). It’s collected in every stage of the supply chain and included in the final price.
  • Goods and services tax (GST). A flat-rate percentage of the total transaction.

Note that the name and rate of each tax might vary in different countries and products or services.

Setting up shipping and taxes on your online store also varies with different eCommerce platforms. Some platforms might require you to set it up manually, while others – automatically.

For example, with WooCommerce, head to Dashboard -> WooCommerce -> Settings. Then, select the Tax section to set up the tax percentage. Select the Shipping section to add the shipping zones, options, and classes.

WooCommerce dashboard, settings section

Source or Manufacture for Your Inventory

No matter what they sell online, all businesses need to create and manage their products or services somewhere. Choosing the right place depends on how your company operates and what your business produces.

If you are selling a product, it’s essential to find the right supplier. There are different ways to source your products:

  • Do it yourself (DIY). Make your products or services without having to source from a third-party establishment. With DIY, the startup cost is most likely lower, and you have complete control. However, it comes with more significant responsibilities.
  • Manufacturer. Hiring a third party to manufacture your product or provide the service you offer is an option that bigger businesses use. As a result, there is a greater chance to scale. However, this requires a more considerable investment.
  • Dropshipper. List the products you wish to sell online and let the manufacturer ship the order on your behalf. This option is great if you don’t have space for inventory or excess products. However, this includes higher competition and a lower profit margin.

Once you know how to source your products or services, you need to list them on your online store. When creating product pages, think about the user’s experience and what information the customers need to shop online.

Here are some of the elements to include in a product page:

  • Photo. Images play an integral part in displaying what your business offers. If you are selling a product, make sure to have multiple images from different sides. For a clothing store, the product photo should include different body types and skin tones.
  • Description. Online shoppers also benefit from specific product descriptions, such as the product’s weight or length, color, and ingredients.
  • Price. If the price varies for different sizes or colors, make sure to include them on the product page.
  • Review and ratings. Add legitimacy to your brand by displaying the reviews and ratings from previous customers.

It goes without saying that you should also provide excellent customer service.

Implement Payment Gateways and Security Measures

In 2020, the shopping cart abandonment rate with eCommerce was 69.57%. However, there is a 35.26% increase in conversion rate with a better checkout design. That’s why it is essential to implement a payment gateway that is user-friendly and secure.

A payment gateway is a process of checking out purchases online. It connects your consumers’ account to your business’ payment processor using web payment services.

There are multiple ways to start accepting online payments:

  • Redirect. Lead the consumer to another website to make the payment. For example, when using PayPal payment, the online store often redirects customers to the PayPal website.
  • Off-site payment. Customers are paying outside the website and sending proof of payment back instead of directly making the purchase. Some of the examples are paying by ATM transfers or Cash on Delivery (COD).
  • On-site payment. Customers don’t leave the website to make a payment. This option gives more control and responsibility.

It’s possible to have more than one payment gateway. To find the most suitable option, consider what is the most convenient payment method for your customers. We recommend having digital wallet solutions as they account for 45% of eCommerce payment transactions.

To optimize your payment gateway, answer the following questions:

  • How to maximize convenience?
  • How to minimize risk?
  • How to ensure the security of your customers’ information?

Whichever payment method you choose, make sure it’s secure and trusted. In 2019, the number of reported exposed records of personal data increased by 284% compared to the year before. If customers feel that your website is not secure, they won’t be willing to purchase.

Here are some of the ways to secure your eCommerce business:

  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). This authentication method adds another layer of security to your website. 2FA can be implemented for both admin and customer logins.
  • Check Malware. Scan your site regularly for viruses, spyware, and ransomware, as they all can be incredibly harmful to your site.
  • Limit login attempts. For customers’ accounts, limit the number of times they can attempt to log in if they didn’t get the login correctly.

Test Before Going Live

Test the user experience of your store before you start selling online. To do so, simply try to purchase from your store to see whether everything works properly. Here are some of the things to check before going live:

  • Consistent branding. Keep a consistent branding throughout the online store.
  • Smooth navigation. The buyer’s journey from looking through the catalogs to making a purchase should be able to be completed with ease.
  • Contact and links. Check all the contact information and links to make sure they are accurate, and customers can reach you.
  • Text and descriptions. For all content and product descriptions, check the accuracy and grammar.
  • Media files. Images, videos, and audio files are high-resolution, placed correctly, and work on all devices.

5. Develop Effective Marketing Strategies and Grow Your Business

No online store can become successful without good eCommerce marketing in place. It’s how you inform and engage your potential customers, build a reputation, and sustain a growing business.

Here are some effective marketing strategies to know and use.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Optimizing your website for search engines increases organic traffic to your online store, which will have a significant impact on how much money you will make. In other words, SEO encourages search engines to display your website above other sites when people input a relevant query into the search bar.

There is another way to appear on the first pages of search engine results: paid online ads. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, are gaining popularity when it comes to paid ads. However, 53% of website traffic still comes from organic search.

There are a few ways to make your website rank better organically. It’s a strategy that requires time, but it’s worth the effort and the wait for the long-term results.

Keyword Research and On-Page SEO

With keyword research, think about what your target market is searching for with a search query. By knowing the keywords, you can use them on your website or online store and product descriptions to rank on search engines.

Use an online tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to analyze your potential customers’ search queries. Then, make a list of these keywords and phrases and include them in the content on your website.

Google's Keyword Planner

When performing on-page SEO for your site, don’t overfill your content with keywords. Doing so only lowers the quality of the content, leading to people leaving your website prematurely. In addition, Google ranks pages that overstuff keywords lower.

Instead, look at how the best-ranking websites use these keywords. Then, take note of what they are doing right and what can be improved to make your eCommerce store twice as good.

Header Tags

Make sure to use header tags for every page of your website. Header tags help your website rank better on search engines. Not only that, but visitors can also navigate the web pages better and find relevant information faster.

The main header should reflect the page’s title, and the sub-headers should split the page into organized sections. Make sure to include the main keywords on the header tags to optimize your online store.

Internal Links

Internal linking helps users and search engines navigate an online store. Adding them to your website helps to build a better website architecture and establish a clear page hierarchy. Then, search engine crawlers will also be able to follow these links to help rank your site.

There are two types of internal links that are good for SEO:

  • Navigational links – such as a menu bar or footer menu to connect different pages of the website.
  • Contextual links – these guide visitors to find additional information on the website using hyperlinks.

Optimize Your Site With Analytics

Installing an analytics tool on your website is a great way to track how your store is performing. For example, a tool like Google Analytics can show you where your audience is coming from, who they are, and what products seem to spike the most interest.

Start by analyzing your website monthly. Then, once your store gets busier, recording your metrics every week will be a better option. This analysis will let you know which parts of your website lose the visitors’ interest.

These metrics are called the KPIs (key performance indicators), and we’ve listed the most important ones you should pay attention to below.

Target Market

Understand who visits your website by looking at the visitors’ demographic groups. This metric helps to understand who to target in marketing campaigns and how to adapt your website for better conversions. For example, include a different language and currency to suit your target market.

Traffic

Another function of an analytics tool is to display the amount of traffic to your online store and its source. Knowing this helps to keep track of which sales channels are the most effective.

The critical traffic sources for eCommerce include:

  • Organic. A traffic source that comes from search engines due to good SEO practices.
  • Paid. Traffic that comes from paid advertisement.
  • Referral. People from other websites that link to your store.
  • Direct. People who input the URL of your store into their search bars.
  • Email. Traffic that comes directly from email inboxes due to effective email marketing campaigns.

Tracking the traffic can also help to see if the number of visitors is steadily increasing, decreasing, or unchanging over time. Of course, you should aim to have the traffic constantly rising to grow your business.

Average Session Duration and Pages Per Visit

The average session duration shows how much time visitors spend on your website. Whereas pages per visit inform how many pages they visited and which ones they spent the most time on.

Together, these metrics help better understand which parts of your website need improving and which ones convert best.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing strategies for an eCommerce website. A study shows that 59% of customers agree that marketing emails influence their purchase decisions.

To organize an effective email marketing campaign, you’ll need a great email list. It’s a source of potential customers that already know your brand to continue making a purchase. By joining a mailing list, visitors can also get something in return, such as a discount.

For example, you can save their emails with your customers’ approval after sending them order confirmations. Customers can also enjoy routine updates through newsletters. Alternatively, you can include pop-ups on your website which offer a discount in exchange for an email address.

Cart Abandonment Emails

Reach out to the visitors that abandoned their carts and remind them of the products they left behind. Statistically, a cart abandonment email campaign has a success rate of 69%.

Some of the ways to drive customers to make a purchase are:

  • Show reviews and testimonials.
  • Offer a discount code.
  • Highlight the scarcity of the product.

Paid Online Advertising

Paid online advertising includes paying for ad space on other popular websites or platforms to increase your brand’s visibility.

Let’s look at the different forms of paid online advertising.

PPC Advertising

The pay-per-click (PPC) advertising method includes paying every time a visitor clicks on your ad. The process of placing a PPC ad usually consists of a real-time automated bidding process. The highest bidder gets the best spot on the advertiser’s web page.

With most PPC advertising models, the ads will display when visitors search for relevant keywords. Therefore, if the advertisement answers the users’ queries, 33% are more likely to click.

PPI Advertising

Pay-per-impression (PPI) advertising includes paying a flat rate every time your ad gets displayed a thousand times.

Compared to PPC, the upside is knowing the PPI campaign’s exact cost before it’s launched. The downside is that your ad is not guaranteed to be shown to people actively looking for relevant information.

Display Ads

Display ads are visuals placed on third-party websites. They can be in the form of an image, text, or a banner located at the top, sides, or bottom of the advertiser’s web page. For example, Google ads or Facebook ads help to show your brand above the competitors.

Display ads aim to gain more brand awareness and traffic through advertising on popular websites with high traffic. It’s the most cost-effective method of paid online advertising but has an average conversion rate of 3.75%.

Retargeting

Retargeting is a method of advertising to visitors that have visited your website before. It uses previously collected knowledge about the potential customer and displays items they are most likely to find interesting.

Businesses can use paid online advertising, social platforms, and email marketing to retarget potential customers. It’s an effective method that increases the chances of conversion to 70%.

Social Media Marketing

50% of Generation Z and 42% of Millennials claim that social media is the preferred method for seeing advertisements. This statistic shows that using social media platforms is a great online marketing strategy. Not only that, social media platforms help to promote your website for free.

Reasons to Sell Online

Selling products online through an eCommerce business has many advantages in comparison to a brick-and-mortar store. Most brands have to sell online to keep up with customers’ demands since the internet has over 4.66 billion active users.

Here are the main reasons why you should sell products online.

Achieve Higher Profit Margins with Lower Investment

Setting up an eCommerce business costs less than an offline retail store, as you don’t need to worry about electricity and rent. You are making more money online by getting higher profit margins than you would with an offline store.

The money then can be developed into optimizing the website’s branding, which is easier to adjust according to your budget. eCommerce requires lower initial investment, and you can grow over time depending on how your business is going.

Multiply Your Sources of Income

With different sales channels available, a brand can sell online using various platforms. Selling online means multiple channels for income. For example, it’s possible to list products to sell on your own website, through social media, and on an online marketplace.

Attract a Wider Audience

The possibilities are endless when selling online as there are fewer geographical restrictions. Purchasing a product from another region or country is much more accessible through an eCommerce business than going to a store. As a result, online stores attract a much wider audience.

Gain More Flexibility with Your Time and Schedule

Offline stores are closed at certain hours, whereas eCommerce stores work 24/7. As a result, customers can purchase anytime, which helps to maximize sales and profits.

Scale your Business to the Next Level

The eCommerce model allows businesses to evaluate which item sells successfully and which doesn’t. As a result, selling online helps grow your business quicker in sales, customer base, and profits.

Online stores can also quickly scale the product range and monitor what is selling with the customers.

Conclusion

Millions of eCommerce stores are active online – there is no time like the present to join them by creating your own online business. We have shared with you the step-by-step guide on how to sell online and open your own eCommerce store, along with the benefits of doing so.

Here is a quick summary of the process:

  1. Decide on the niche and what products to sell online.
  2. Choose a model and plan suitable for your business.
  3. Explore different platforms for building your virtual store.
  4. Set up and manage the online store.
  5. Use marketing strategies to find the best way to sell online.

Now that you know how to launch your future successful eCommerce businesses, we wish you good luck in taking that first step to start selling online. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below if you have any questions.

Author
The author

Scott Hobson

Scott is a WordPress developer. He's passionate about all things IT and loves sharing his knowledge with the world. When he's not working, Scott enjoys playing video games and watching true crime documentaries.