An online store is a must-have for all retail businesses or product manufacturers. Be it mass-market goods or even more niche items like artisan jewelry, an e-commerce website boosts your business and you can reach more people. COVID-19 has pushed a lot of manufacturers and sellers online and for good measure too. People are buying more online.
E-commerce currently accounts for 18% of retail sales worldwide. A large number of people have also made their first online purchase during the pandemic. There is also an increase in the array of items that are bought and sold online. There is a market for everything and it is all about tapping into it and selling your products to thousands of people.
Logistics networks have also grown considerably in the last few years. There are many opportunities available for everyone to make and sell products online. There are marketplaces where you can list yourself as a seller but it involves a lot of overheads and you may not get the best results for the efforts you put in. Setting up a store for yourself is a smart idea.
In this blog, we will take you through some of the steps involved in setting up your free online store and growing it into a profitable business. Let’s go.
How to Make a Free Online Store?
Have a clear plan in place
The first thing to do is to have a good plan created. It should involve all the aspects that are critical to selling online. Who are you selling to? What are you selling? What is the value that you are offering to your customers? How are you going to handle shipping and delivery?- These are all key things to consider before you jump in.
Having these basic pieces in place will help you make better decisions when it comes to setting up an online store. Having a brand created and also thinking about how it should be presented will also help you choose the right platforms and themes for your store.
Choose a platform to host your free online store
Many platforms allow you to create an account and set up a store quickly. A lot of these platforms have functionalities that are critical for an online store already built-in. So you can just begin directly.
It would always be a good idea to start with an established platform and not choose to develop one from scratch. It would cost you a lot to have a fully functioning, mobile-optimized store. Unless you need unique functionalities that are not available on these platforms, it is best, to begin with, a standard store.
There are many platforms available to you. Here are a few popular ones
There are free plans, to begin with, on most of these platforms. But as your business grows, you may have to move to paid plans. The paid plans are also very economical and give you powerful features that you will find critical in growing your business. Some of the free plans may have restrictions in terms of the number of products to sell.
The platforms also come with a theme store with free and premium themes to choose from. You can easily choose and implement the theme that you like in your store. If you are handy with coding, you can also customize these themes to give you the look and feel that you want.
There are also a lot of apps that you can plug into your online store which will help you manage the store better. Popups, forms, email marketing, widgets – all these are important tools that you can use to provide your customers with a better experience.
Digital Marketing is Key
Setting up the store is the easy part in comparison. The more difficult task is to market your store efficiently and to reach more customers. There are a couple of aspects you have to consider.
Email marketing is a very important part of the marketing strategy. Creating and sending emailers to your existing and potential customers keeps you at the top of their minds. It allows you to communicate and engage with them. Emails are also a critical part of your process. Sending order confirmation emails and other process emails enhances the experience of your customers. Cart abandonment emails are also critical.
A lot of online stores leave money on the table with customers abandoning their carts. Send out emails with special offers or free delivery to nudge them towards completing the purchase.
A lot of the traffic that comes to e-commerce sites originates from social media. People are always looking for interesting products, and social media is one of the hot channels. People also share information about stores and products. Being present on major social media channels, and posting consistently allows you to bring more potential buyers onto your online store.
You can also choose to write up on social media. The ads can be easily created and managed and can give you great returns when managed well.
SEO and SEM
SEO allows you to gain more visibility and bring in customers from google and other search engine searches. SEO is a great lever to push your online store closer to the top of the page. You can rank better in searches.
A lot of product searches originate from google and having a high-ranking page that shows up at the top of the search results increases the potential revenue you can generate. You can also run search ads on Google and other search platforms. These campaigns allow you to reach the customers searching for your product who have a high purchase intent.
Selling online is easier than ever before. Even if you do not know how to create and run a website, the platforms make it easy for you. You can begin free and with a great product and good customer experience, you can soon scale your business.
Like any business, it is not without its challenges but following these steps can make it as hassle-free as possible. Platforms like Shopify also offer you many tutorials on how to run and optimize your business well. By constantly listening to your customers, optimizing the website and your product, and providing your customers with a good experience, you will soon be selling your products to thousands of people.