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From January to March 2022, sales from online retail stores hit nearly $250 billion, which was the highest quarterly revenue recorded in history. This should come as no shock since how (and where) consumers have been spending money has changed dramatically. With more and more users navigating the online retail landscape, it’s become increasingly important for businesses to set up a store with a strong presence.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the five essential steps for a successful online store set-up.
1. Finalize your business plan
Before you start an online store, you should already have a well-defined business plan. Identify your target audience; carefully assess if that niche is profitable before settling on which products to sell— you don’t want to manufacture or purchase products wholesale if they have low profitability. Similarly, make sure to use keyword targets for your products so they’re searchable. Once you’ve determined your niche and product lines, create a brand name and your brand assets (like your logo or brand book). If you’re a smaller business with limited resources, we recommend using customizable templates on graphic design platforms.
2. Register your business
Registering your business doesn’t simply consist of buying an online domain. After all, you’ll need an employer identification number (EIN) to process payments for your virtual store. To get an EIN, you should first register your online store as a business in your state. You can operate through a sole proprietorship, meaning there’s no legal separation between you as an individual and your business. If you’re a small business, however, operating as a limited liability company can protect your personal assets in case your brand gets sued.
3. Choose a platform and build your store
E-commerce platforms, like Shopify, Squarespace, Wix, and Jemi are where you’ll build and manage your online store. Each platform comes with varying plans and a set of easy-to-modify features, so you can easily make adjustments based on your budget and needs.
Generally, we recommend that you plan out your site structure thoroughly. For landing pages, avoid littering the space with different links, buttons, and chunks of texts. Instead, organize your navigation menus, or even filters, so users can easily view your products. Products, in particular, should also use clear product images (like dimensions, size, and usage) and original descriptions. Lastly, don’t forget to make a separate web page for your contact info, shipping information, and returns policy.
4. Optimize your store
Businesses can optimize their store in two ways. One is for search engines, which can strengthen your store's online presence. You can gear your website to rank higher on search engines in a myriad of ways. Utilize title tags, for one, and make sure they're relevant to your product or service. Meta descriptions are also beneficial in giving users an idea of the content of your website— for example, what products you’re offering.
You can also adapt integrations like customer relationship management (CRM) programs, inventory management software, and multiple sales channels to optimize your online store's processes. Linking your store with data integration can easily automate processes and enhance customer experiences. The latter is because CRM provides you with customer-driven insights which can help nurture leads.
5. Get the word out and market!
In an online store, marketing strategies for branding aren’t simply created on a whim. Campaign tracking, comprehensive market research, and great reception to customer feedback underpin how marketing steers businesses to success. Businesses that consider the current behaviors of their target market and competitors can create a more informed marketing campaign.
Marketing campaigns can range from loyalty programs and paid online ads. It can even include posting on social media and working with influencers. Interestingly, an article on retail trends explains how brands are continuing to employ influencers this 2022. Make a short list, then, of people who can promote your business' vision. Remember to evaluate which influencers embody the same values your brand does. Once a list is finalized, send an email requesting a collaboration. Consider how different online platforms enable specific ideas, for example, you can propose a joint live for Instagram.
If you want to expand your brand, Jemi is a modern website and online store builder where businesses can create beautiful and effective websites, landing pages, and stores. Jemi also offers a diverse range of plugins and integrations, so you can offer your customers what they need for an efficient and engaging shopping experience.