There’s a lot to consider when you’re starting an online business. Not only do you need a viable idea, but you also need knowledge of your market and a plan for making your business work. The journey starts with research. First, you’ll need to think about your industry and identify your potential competitors. Consider which other businesses might be:
- Offering similar services to the same audience
- Offering different services to a related audience
- Ranking highly using keywords related to your business
And if you’re not sure where to get started, there are a number of tools available online that can help you analyze the marketplace, see how much traffic other businesses are getting, and determine how quickly new entrants are able to break through into the marketplace.
You’ll also need to examine your potential customer base. Look at their demographics (how old they are, where they’re from, etc.) as well as their psychographics—their interests, attitudes, opinions, and lifestyles. Once you know who your audience is, you can start strategizing about ways to reach them. Keep these factors in mind as you’re selecting your target audience:
- How will you interest them in your product or service?
- How will you craft your offering to be as appealing as possible?
- What sort of pricing strategy will be competitive in your market?
Next, you’ll be ready to start developing your online store. Here’s what you’ll need to know.
How to start an online store
Often, people get excited about selling stuff online and jump straight into working with a service like Shopify. Shopify is an e-commerce platform that helps new stores get up and running quickly. All you need is a business name and something to sell, and people can buy from you.
This approach can help a new business start earning quickly, but there’s a downside. Services like Shopify currently offer fewer digital marketing features than some of the other platforms on the market, so you could end up limiting your long-term growth potential. Here's some more advice on how to start an online store.
Fortunately, you can get more marketing tools to level-up your marketing and drive traffic to your online store. You don’t even have to switch platforms—but you may need to add one.
How to drive traffic to your online store
Operating an e-commerce business isn’t quite the same as having a brick-and-mortar storefront. You don’t have a window display to catch the eyes of passersby, so you’re totally reliant on search engine crawlers—especially Google—to “see” your business.
And that’s not an easy task; recent research shows that almost 91% of pages may get no search traffic from Google, and another 5% get 10 or fewer visits per month. In addition to optimizing your site for search engines, you need a multichannel marketing strategy—and a platform that incorporates email, social media, and digital retargeting, complete with personalized content—to help bring more exposure to your site.