In today’s economy, brick-and-mortar stores are slowly becoming a thing of the past. Customers want everything available to them in one easy click.
In many ways, that’s a good thing—setting up an online marketplace for customers expands your clientele from your neighborhood and social circle to the entire world.
These simple tips can help your business thrive in the digital sphere:
The good news is that your store will reach people all over the world. The bad news is that you will also be competing with businesses all over the world.
The best way to stand out is to think hard about what you’re selling.
For example, if you make your own jewelry it might be tempting to put generic information on your website to attract customers.
Instead, think about more interesting questions: What kind of jewelry are you creating? What materials do you use? Is there something about your personal story that makes the jewelry you are creating meaningful and special?
Advertising isn’t solely about your product. You have a unique point of view, which has led you to become an entrepreneur.
Foster brand loyalty by including your personal perspective on your website and in your brand. If customers like who you are as a person, they’re more likely to support you in the future.
Consider the customers
Who is your main customer base? How much disposable income do they have? How often do they shop online?
There’s a big difference between a social-media-savvy millennial and a baby boomer who just bought a computer. By imagining your ideal customer, you can craft the most effective marketing plan and design the best web page.
In many instances, online store owners might see themselves as the ideal customer. And that makes sense — you like your product, so people like you should like your product too.
But another (possibly more fruitful) approach is to think about customers who are less like you. With some creative thinking, you could open up new revenue streams.
Pick a platform
You’ve come up with a great specific product and brand. You’ve thought about your audience. The question remains—how do you actually set up the shop?
You don’t have to learn computer coding to create a beautiful, streamlined digital storefront.
There are many web services available to help you build and host your page. Website builders such as Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, Site123, and GoDaddy are popular options.
When picking a website builder, think about design and pricing. Many are free but offer premium options for a price.
And don’t forget to consider customer service. There’s nothing worse than having your page go down in the middle of the busy season without a way of contacting the builder to fix it.
Practice, practice, practice
Before you start advertising, try a couple of practice runs.
Invite friends and family to view your webpage and order things for themselves – then tell you about any problems they had with the process.
This is a great way to identify any big bugs. And don’t stop at just the website. Make sure every part of the process runs smoothly.
And there you have it: a basic overview of how to set up an online shop.
You’ll run into a million little details specific to your business – and possibly run into customers who live in different time zones, speak different languages or use different currencies – but being part of the global marketplace is worth it.
People all over the world love your products—they just don’t know it yet!