Posted on Aug 23, 2017

Five Things to Know Before You Open an Online Store

Ah, the Internet. Can you imagine the world without it? The Internet is seriously amazing. It’s a vast open plain for anyone to be anything they like, a place where you can make a living creating cat videos on YouTube, and a place where new businesses pop up every hour.

Because of the frequency of new businesses, and new places to buy stuff, there are some things you need to think about if you are considering opening up that online custom tee shirt store. Sure, you’ve got some fresh ideas, but can you make money from your concepts? That’s the big question you need to ask yourself.

After working with so many kinds of entrepreneurs over the years, we’ve compiled a list of things you should consider if you want to jump into the small business game with your own web store.


Know who you’re competing against

Just about all online stores serve a niche community. Whether it’s romance novels or Monster models, the margin of consumers you’re targeting is shaped to a particular interest. Let’s face it, no one but Jeff Bezos has the power to be Amazon.

To get an idea of who the competition is, do a few keyword searches and see what pops up. Check out who’s selling what, look at what the community flocks to, make sure you take a gander at who is the big fish on social media, too.

If you’re hitting sites that offer the same kinds of items for sale as your store, check out how they’re presenting the goods. Maybe their graphics are bad, or the links are mismanaged. The mistakes made by the ‘other guy’ can be a great asset for your shop because if you can invest the time and do the job better, you’ll see an immediate impact.

If you take the time to offer an easy to use, clean site with beautiful photos and vivid descriptions, customers will naturally gravitate to you out of ease of use. Thanks to places like Amazon and even eBay, or Etsy, shoppers expect an easy process from start to finish.


Original content, original everything

If you’re creating original street wear or a custom line of eyeglasses, that’s awesome. Whatever you create to showcase your brand will be unique. And if there’s one thing we know about Google, is it loves unique content.

But, if you’re offering a collection of other brand’s goods in your store, it is tempting to use product feeds that include photos and descriptions from the manufacturer. This is a major No Go.

How is anyone who’s looking for a custom pair of Adidas going to sift through the countless other stores offering the same photos and descriptions going to find you?

Just think, by choosing to use the stock information, you’re selling your own products short because what if you’ve got the perfect shorts or hoodie to match those Adidas? The customer will never know because they’ve already clicked on the first option they saw.

For all the products your store carries, the very least you can do is take original photos and create unique product descriptions.


Get the right platform

If you’re going to open an online store, make sure the platform is stable and payments can be made securely. There are a lot of competitors out there, but the decision usually comes down to Shopify or Ecwid. It’s important to do the research as there are pros and cons to each, and it often comes down to what kind of store you are creating to get the best fit.

If you want to accept online payments, you will need to ability to process credit cards. There are several factors to consider here as well. Is it secure, and will customers trust it? What is the processing fee charged to the merchant? You are probably familiar with Paypal, which is widely used and trusted. But it’s important to do your research here, and you may want to first start with talking to your own bank about the possibilities.

If you want to accept payment transactions securely, you must have an SSL Certificate on your web server. Having an SSL initiates a secure browsing session to keep any data collected by your website safe.


Build a fanbase, not a clientele

fanbaseThanks to the power of social media, customers can post reviews and photos on almost every platform. These folks should be a treasured asset, not just a mindless acknowledgment and maybe a “like.”  People love to share their experiences and opinions on your brand and your store. The general idea is to create a lifestyle brand that your customers will rally around.

One powerful way is to do a monthly giveaway where hashtags and re-posts can potentially earn someone prizes. The cost is little on your end, but because people are into the brand, they’re apt to share the content because your store is reflective to what they’re into. See, it all circles back to knowing your niche. How do you think all of those Instagram models are getting paid? Smart brands are milking the social network for viability.

Image: Pixabay


You need analytics in your life

If there’s anything we know as the gospel of the Internet, it’s that data is king. Thanks to platforms like Google Analytics or Good Data, you can track even the smallest details. By keeping an eye on your visitors, you can check to see over time performance, but also where and when visitors bounce. You can see if a lot of customers look at a product, but maybe not commit to actual buying. That data you get about how users interact with your site will help you determine how to position and price your products to get the best conversion

And there you have it. If you’re going to open your first online store, these are some simple ways you can maximize your impact. If you’ve got a pro tip to share, leave us a comment, we’d love to hear your thoughts and maybe, we’ll do a second part.


Feature Image: Pixabay