So you want to build your very own online store? Whether you already have something to sell or not doesn’t matter with this approach. In this course you will learn how to set up an online store, get a unique domain name and get your first customers with an ad campaign.
And all of that can be done in a few hours and from £21 per month. Sounds good? Well, when this is completely feasible, it will not give you the best chances for long term success (or even short term).
I learned most of the techniques listed below from Chris Record and his 90 days Ecom Challenge. However I don’t agree with the way he and a few others look at business because it conflicts with my ethical values.
If you want to make some quick cash and don’t mind about building a brand and/or helping others, then this article is not for you.
How to increase your chances of success
I made a few mistakes when I created my first online store and I don’t want you to make the same. Here is a checklist to complete before you start pouring your money into ads, branding, etc.
1. Are you scratching an itch?
The first question you should ask yourself is whether or not you are actually offering a solution to a specific problem. I know it can be hard especially when you are super excited about an idea you have but try to be honest with yourself.
An ideal situation would be to solve a problem you’ve experienced yourself and market the solution to help others in the same situation. Are you working remotely and travel often? You might want a portable easy to carry workstation, and others might want it too!
Take some time to think about a recurring annoying or frustrating situation you experienced and how you could have avoided it.
2. Do people want what you have to offer?
Now that you have your idea ready you still need to know if there is a market for it.
Are you selling a physical product? Try to sell your first units on ebay, gumtree or simply your contacts.
Or is it a digital product? Then create a free website on Wix or Strikingly, buy a cheap domain name to make it look more professional and set up a fake selling page to collect emails from people who want to buy your product without charging them.
Sell an existing product, make your own or be somewhere in between
When I say product, I really mean product or service. The platform we are going to use, Shopify, allows us to sell pretty much anything.
First option: Sell an existing product or service
If you already have a product, you can just upload some pictures, add a description and a price and you are set and done.
You can also source your products from any supplier and just resell them as an intermediary. One of the most popular ways of doing this is through Ali Express, where you can buy products from a large range of suppliers. However I believe this is not the best way of doing business as you are building someone else’s brand and you could even be supporting a non-ethical and non-environment friendly supplier.
Second option: Make your own product
Do you have a genius idea and think you could market it? You can either try to make it yourself if possible or hire a prototyping company to build it for you.
Then you can experiment selling it and begin production once you know there is demand for it.
Third option: Partially make your own product
By partially I mean that the core product is already made and you just add a design to it.
One of the easiest way to get started is to use Print On Demand (POD). You simply have to come up with a nice design and put it on clothes, caps, cushions, smartphone cases, etc.
A popular POD company in the UK is Inkthreadable. They provide a free Shopify app to allow you to seamlessly integrate your products in your store.
Now let’s build your online store
Let’s recap for a second. If you followed everything so far, you now have:
- A potential market
- A solution for their problem(s)
Now you only need a way to put your product out there and build your brand. And yes, you guessed it, this way is Shopify.
Disclaimer: I am a Shopify affiliate partner, meaning that I will get a commission if you choose to subscribe for any of their plan through the links in this article. This will not impact you and the price you pay for your plan.
There are many ways of building an online store however this is the one I and many others found to be the best value for money. By signing up through the links on this article, you will get a 14 days free trial period after which their basic plan starts at US $29 per month (around £20) and includes:
- Easy to use product management (create, modify, delete, track, etc.)
- Analytics tools
- Both paid and free store themes
- Easy Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel integration
- Tools to help you sell directly on Facebook, Messenger, Pinterest, etc.
- Inventory management
- An app store with both paid and free plugins to improve your store
- Easy domain name integration
You can find many YouTube videos and articles explaining how to use Shopify in great details. However you should only focus on those aspects at the beginning:
- Import your product(s) to your store
- Find the theme that suits your identity best
- Build trust through your store (secured card payment logos, Terms and Conditions page, About Us page, etc.)
- Create your unique logo if you don’t have one
When you have this solid foundation ready, then you can dig deeper in the world of online business by learning about Email marketing, SEO, outsourcing and all that good stuff! But before that, it’s time to get your first sales!
Get your first customers!
Where you look for customers will mainly depend on who they are and where they hang out. The examples below are some of the most common for an easy start, however you should ask yourself this question: “If I was looking for the product I am selling, where would I go?”.
One of the most common ways to start looking for customers is through Facebook ads. When I started, I would set a £5 per day campaign for 3 days for each product experiment. Depending on your budget you could do it for a longer time, for more products or just investing more per day. But £5 a day seems like a reasonable amount to spend for an experiment.
The pros of this approach are that it is:
- Highly customizable for targeting
- Can drive traffic to your Facebook page and build your audience at the same time
And the cons:
- The costs ad up the more experiments you make
- It works best with passion products and easy impulse purchases
- It can take some time to “train” your Facebook Pixel
If your product is anything visually appealing, Instagram might be a better option for you to showcase it.
I am not an expert on this platform but I know you can use it to sell as well with “buyable pins” linked to Shopify.
Now let’s go and build your dream business!
Now that you have all the tools you need to build an online store, get a product to sell and put it in front of potential customers, there is no more excuse not to be able to build your online store!
If you still don’t feel entirely comfortable running your own store by yourself and need a bit more help, get in touch with me directly and I’ll do my best to help you succeed!