How to Start an Online Store

Contributor, Benzinga

Getting started as an entrepreneur is significantly easier than it used to be. This is because it is possible to set up an online store in a matter of hours where anyone can sell goods or services. Ecommerce has been rapidly growing for the last decade and total global ecommerce sales in 2020 were $4.28 trillion. This represents a 27.6% increase from 2019. 

The large demand for ecommerce products, which is even stronger during the pandemic than usual, is driving many people to try to create their own online stores. In this article, we will explain exactly how to create an online store so that you too can be a digital entrepreneur.

Use These 5 Steps to Start an Online Store

In this section, we will discuss all of the aspects you need to consider before starting an online store, and how they can impact your choices moving forward. 

Step 1: Identify your product and niche.

Choosing the right product and niche is extremely important when it comes to finding success in an online marketplace. No matter how much you might like the product, if there’s not enough demand for it, it won’t sell. If a product or niche is too popular, you might have to deal with a large number of competitors trying to sell the same or a similar product. So, you should look for a niche and a product that is not oversaturated but that still has strong demand. 

Branding and Choosing a Domain: 

Domain names are also key for ecommerce success. This is because the words that you have in your domain name will let people know what kind of store it is and they will also impact search engine optimization (SEO). Your store domain name should be relevant for your niche. 

Product Inventory and Fulfillment: 

When you are running your online store, you will need to be able to manage your inventory effectively if you have a physical product. If your online store offers a digital product, you will still have to deal with inventory, but there are different parameters compared to physical products. 

If you choose to go with a physical product, you will also have to handle fulfillment, which involves shipping products to customers after orders are completed. This involves collecting customer address info, boxing the items, obtaining the proper stamps, placing the stamps on the boxes, and placing the boxes in the mail so that they can be delivered to customers. 

With digital products, the customers just have to pay online and click “download.” 

Step 2: Choose a platform to host your store.

When it comes to starting an online store, there are many platforms that you can use such as Shopify, WooCommerce and Etsy. 

Technical Abilities: 

Regardless of the platform you choose, you’ll need to have some technical skills to set up and run your store. For example, you might need to know how to set up an SSL certificate that is required for online payments. You can also hire a contractor to fill in the gaps for you if you need to. 

Platform Options: 

Consider among these popular options to use as your host.

  • Shopify: This is a great option for selling a wide variety of digital or physical products. It is arguably the best option for people who want to get an ecommerce store up and running as fast as possible. It has an extremely simple user-interface which is ideal for building high-quality ecommerce sites. 
  • WooCommerce: Like Shopify, this is another popular option for selling. WooCommerce is an ecommerce plugin that can convert any WordPress site into an online store. It is best for people who simply want to convert their WordPress sites to ecommerce sites rather than building an ecommerce store from the ground up. 
  • Etsy: Etsy is primarily for selling crafts and art-related products such as paintings or handmade jewelry.
  • Wix: Wix is a platform that is known for its user-friendliness in creating websites. 

Step 3: Focus on marketing and customer acquisition.

Simply setting up a store doesn’t guarantee sales, and if you want your store to be a success, you will have to make a significant amount of marketing efforts in order to attract website traffic and to convert that traffic into sales. 

Marketing Strategy: 

  • SEO

Search engine optimization involves creating high-quality content on your website using specific keywords to help get your website onto the top Google search pages for your niche. 

  • Paid marketing

Paid marketing can involve setting up ads on social media, like purchasing Facebook ads, YouTube ads and Instagram ads. It is advertising that you must pay for.

  • Social influencer marketing

This involves convincing social media influencers to promote your products on their social media pages such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and the like. 

This is when you pay affiliates to drive traffic to your website and give them a commission for sales that they generate. To promote your ecommerce store, you can find affiliate marketing partners on affiliate platforms such as ShareASale. 

  • Outreach and awareness campaigns

This can involve putting out press releases, contacting local news organizations or popular bloggers and convincing them to write stories about your business.

 Step 4: Implement these helpful online sales tools.

There are a wide variety of online sales tools that can be very helpful to business owners. Here are some online sales and marketing tools that are very effective when used correctly. 

  • CRMs

Customer relationship management tools help you collect vast amounts of data regarding your past and present customer and helps you to communicate with them in efficient ways. Marketo is a high-quality CRM. 

  • SEO software

SEO software is software that helps you to identify the best keywords for your niche in addition to a wide variety of other information that you can use to help your company rank higher in search engine rankings. SEMRush is an excellent choice for SEO software

  • Social software

This software centralizes communication for all of your social media channels so that you can communicate more efficiently with your followers to grow your business. 

Google Analytics provides a wide range of data about your website visitors and their demographics. You can use this information to your advantage for marketing and sales. For example, you can learn what your customers’ interests are, which site they are coming to you from, what pages on your website are converting the most and which products are converting the most. 

You can boost sales by analyzing this data and making adjustments as needed. For example, if you notice that one of your products is getting the most sales and it is all the way at the bottom of the page, then move it to the top of the page and it will most likely garner more attention and sales. 

Payment Processing: 

You will need to use a digital payment processor to process payments on your ecommerce site. Customers expect to be able to make payments either with a credit card, a debit card or PayPal. If you want to make sales, you will need to enable payments with these methods. 

The more payment methods you have available, the more sales you stand to make. Some of the most popular payment processors for ecommerce stores are PayPal, Stripe, Square, Apple Pay and Payment Depot. 


Analytics tools play a large role in helping you to understand how your sales and marketing efforts are tracking. These tools can help you to learn how many visitors are coming to your site, how many views your blog posts are getting, which products are the most popular, which country your traffic is coming from and the like. Some of the most commonly used analytics tools are: 

  • Google Analytics
  • Search Console
  • Platform-specific tools (Shopify or WordPress plugins)

H3: Step 5: Persevere and prepare to shift.

Many online stores fail because they are just as easy to get out of as they are to get into. Below you can see some general stats about how perseverance and the willingness to shift can help you find success. 

Ideal Setup and Quick Start Guide

If there are too many decisions to make, just choose the following options we recommend below. 

  1. Identify your product and niche. Use and pick something that is as targeted as possible that you are the most knowledgeable about. 
  2. Choose a platform to host your store. Choose Shopify but also try selling and cross-promoting on Etsy.
  3. Focus on marketing and customer acquisition. Reserve a small budget for paid media to start generating sales right away. At the same time, focus efforts on targeted outreach to spread the word, which will indirectly help with SEO efforts and influencer marketing. 
  4. Implement these helpful online sales tools. Google Analytics and Facebook Ads help with both a wide and targeted audience reach. 
  5. Persevere and prepare to shift. Build a strong social media following — the larger your social media following is, the easier it is for your business to grow and scale.