Create An Online Store

  
  

How To Create An Online Store | A Step-By-Step Guide

You can learn how to create an online store on Blipteam in a few minutes - it is super easy to set one up for your business. But what would make your online store really successful is a healthy stream of customers and online sales. Here's a few steps that will show you how to build an online store, optimise your online operations and generate more sales in the long run:

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1. Carry Out Market Research

Find out who your customers are, where they are and how much they are spending for similar products. Do they even want your product? How will you reach out to them? Can you make enough sales within your social circle? Or will you need to do some advertising to reach out to a wider market? Think of a marketing plan. You will tweak this plan over time.

2. Evaluate The Competition

How do you start an online store? Figure out how to price your products. Will you be fighting a price war with the competition? Or will you offer more value at a similar rate? Are you targeting a niche segment of the market? Do a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats).

3. Work Out Your Start-up Budget

Put aside money for advertising, logo design, product photography, e-commerce platform costs. Will you need to do some fundraising? Can you sustain your business for 6 months? How soon will you generate profits before you run out of $$ runway?

4. Work Out Product Pricing

Work out more detailed product pricing based on the market opportunity, the competition, your value offering, product manufacturing costs, operating costs, profit margins, taxes and shipping costs. Read more >

5. Work On Brand Identity

Think of a name for your online store. Is it easy to remember? Is it easy to understand over the phone? Is a good domain name available? Is it something you would like to be associated with for the next 20 years? Read more >

6. Gather Marketing Resources

In the online space, your customers cannot touch, feel or otherwise experience your ecommerce product. Well-known consumer brands such as Apple iPhones or Levi's Jeans already have a trust value built into them. If you are selling original products online - for example your own brand of coffee, or your own brand of furniture, or your own designer clothing - you will need to work hard to earn this trust.

Provide your customers with the best product images possible and provide detailed product specifications. Nowadays you can get amazing results from fairly average smart phone cameras but it is hard to replace a good photographer - someone who knows how to light up a scene, what time of day to do a product shoot, using the correct lenses for the job and hiring models for clothing items (in which case you might need a fully-fledged photography studio with lights, backdrops and camera stands). Read more >

Hire a copywriter who can sum up your value proposition into words and format your online product presentation. Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and poor formatting can distract your customers and create a poor shopping experience (and earn you negative points in the trust department). You're selling words and images online so get the best resources you can afford. You may also need a graphic designer to help you come up with a logo and other online graphics but that comes later.

7. Build A Product Catalog

You may have 200 different products and now is the time to catalog them into an organisational system that your customers can understand. Create a structure in Excel:

Jewellery

- Earrings

- Necklaces

- Bracelets

Clothing

- Dresses

- Scarves

- Shoes

Lamps

- Paper Lamps

- Metal Lamps

- Clay Pot Lamps

Organize your products into this kind of a classification system. Spend some time doing this. It will be easier to carry out this process on a piece of paper than on a live site. Think of building a house - you plan 10 times before building a house. Why? Because it is better to draw plans on paper than to pile bricks quickly and end up with an expensive mistake.

8. Start Building Your Store

Once your store name, product structure and basic pricing is done you can sign up to Blipteam and create an online store. Nothing needs to be set in stone - you can change your store name, product pricing and naming anytime you want. Right now we want to get a hang of how to create an online store and a basic understanding of how e-commerce works.

Blipteam has a built-in checklist that you will use to create your e-commerce webstore. Just follow the steps and you will be closer to your final site. Set up your product categories and create one or two test products. Add your pricing and some basic product descriptions.

You don't even need pro-quality images at this stage. Just shoot your products with your smart phone - place them on a white bedsheet out in the sunlight (preferably late in the afternoon when the sun is not directly overhead). Upload your images to Blipteam. You will end up with a basic store like this: www.blipteam.com/my-store-name

9. Get Feedback From Friends

There are share buttons inside Blipteam and on your store product pages. Share your free site and your product pages with your friends and associates. Get some feedback on how to improve your product presentation and pricing. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Think of it this way - if you are not making mistakes and improving them continously, you are not progressing.

10. Work On Your Delivery Terms and Returns Policy

You can use our 'Documents' section to set up policy documents such as 'Delivery and Returns' and 'Terms & Conditions'. You may need to consult a lawyer who can help you draft a document that is applicable to your business. You should have these documents in place before you start selling your products. These documents are there to protect you and help you avoid potential conflicts with your customers. They also help your customers decide if your delivery schedules and returns policies work for them and how you handle returns if they are not satisfied with their purchases.

11. Sign Up For An Online Payments Account

How do I start building my online store? Our 'Ecommerce' section makes it simple for your to select your store currency and activate a payment provider. You will need to sign up with one of our payment providers at this stage. Signing up for a Stripe account is pretty straightforward - you can set up an account with your email address and your personal bank account. You can then add your Stripe details in our payments section and activate your products for online sale.

Other payment providers may ask you for a fully-functioning webstore with your own domain name, product pages, terms & conditions documents, business bank account and identification documents. This process may take a few hours or a few days, depending on where you are in the process of setting up your business.

12. Set Up Shipping Rates

Adding products to your webstore is only half the game. You also need to figure out how to get your products to your customers. You need to define some shipping rates - you may not want to ship internationally or you may want to have separate shipping rates for different categories of products. Find a delivery partner or a shipping company who can offer you good rates. Once your shipping prices are done you can enter them in Blipteam. Our shipping section helps you create a number of shipping 'Classes' and geographic 'Zones'. You can use these to set up detailed shipping profiles for all your products. Read more >

13. Upgrade Your Webstore Account

You can now upgrade your Blipteam account and get your own domain name. Some payment providers may also insist that you operate your online store under your own domain name. An upgraded account also gives you access to premium support, and a wider range of currencies and payment providers. You can then customise your site colors with full access to our design engine - this helps you strengthen your brand and help your customers remember you better.

14. Finalize Product Packaging

Product packaging is all part of the presentation. It also ensures that fragile goods arrive safely at your customer's address. Ever been in a shiny new, brightly-lit mall? That's the job your packaging needs to do. You can't just throw everything in a box and send it on its way. In most cases, you will probably need to pre-order boxes from a local printer or fabricator.

Your shipping company can also suggest the best sizes to use for your products in terms of volume and shipping costs. You will also need to work with a local printer to fix your logos and shipping labels to your boxes. They can also help you out with packing materials for fragile or sensitive goods.

15. Test Your Online Operations

You can set up a test product with a low price and ask a friend to order it online. It is a good idea to have a friend do this so they can uncover mistakes that you have overlooked. It is also best if you observe the entire transaction physically so you can document the whole process.

You'll get answers to several questions - Are your products easy to find on your site? Is pricing and other information displayed correctly? Are your images out of focus or do they look interesting enough for someone to pay good money for them?

Did you enter your payment account details correctly (mistakes here will cause errors in the checkout process)? Does your friend's card work with your payment account? Did they get a confirmation email after a successful transaction? Did YOU get a confirmation email after a successful transaction? Can you see the order in your Blipteam Sales log?

Is your product ready to ship out? Do you have the packaging ready? Do you have the time to pack the product and ship it off within 24 hours of receiving your order? Delayed shipping and dissatisfied shoppers will soon find you on social media and make your life miserable. Take charge and start making your customers happy the minute an order comes through!

Finally, did the package arrive at the correct destination, in time, and intact? If you have any energy left, get your friend to return the package and test out your returns mechanism too. Better to do it now than to get surprises later with an actual product return scenario.

16. Start Digital Marketing

Share your store on social media, ask your friends to share your products further ahead. You may also want to put your Google Adwords, social media marketing and any local marketing campaigns into action now. Read more >

17. Polish Design and Content

Select a design that works for you. This is simple to do on Blipteam - you can change design with a single click. Use our 'Info Pages' to upload peripheral information about your products and your company. Read up on content marketing and generate some content around your products that potential customers may find useful. Make sure your contact details are correct.

18. Carry Out Search Engine Optimization

Read up on SEO. Optimise all product pages and home pages for search engines. You can do this within Blipteam - we have marked out the fields you need to fill in order to optimize your website for search engines. Read more >

19. Engage With Your Customers

Set up social. Collate feedback on your products. Add customer success stories. Set up a mailing list and a newsletter on Mailchimp. Reach out to your customers and build a long-term relationship.

20. Earn Your Bonus!

Drink some wine. Eat a fattening bar of chocolate. Run a mile :)

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