The extensive reach of the internet has enabled people from various places on the globe to be interconnected at a single click. With this widespread connection, it stands to reason that commerce would proliferate exponentially.
Online retail sales increased from $1.3 trillion in 2014 to $6.5 trillion in 2019, a significant jump in 5 years.
Several people have fully taken on online business or even just dabbled in the realm of eCommerce. Nevertheless, a significant number of them aren’t equipped with the knowledge to run a successful online business.
One of the best ways to achieve success online is to use the dropshipping model. The main advantage of this is that it requires minimal capital to start and operate the business.
Dropshipping is an online business model where the customer buys an item from your online store. However, the delivery of the item is handled by a third party – usually the manufacturer of said item.
In this article, we show you how to start an online business – with a focus on dropshipping – and the important things you should consider to make it a success.
How to start an online business
With 25 percent of the world’s population shopping online, it makes sense to become the proprietor of an eCommerce store.
Despite the seeming ease of starting a dropshipping online business, there are some points that you should take into consideration.
Below, we take a deeper look at these online business tips.
Find a sector or niche to partake in
There are several groups of items you can sell online, ranging from electronics to toys and on to clothing. It is easier to focus on one class of goods, mastering it so that you can become an online destination for that kind of product.
To select which niche to center your business around, you need to study the market and see what the market is clamoring for. An excellent way of doing this is by leveraging the power of Google Trends.
By inputting the product name or general sector, you can see the growth – or lack thereof – of the buzz surrounding it. You can then make an informed decision regarding the wares you want to sell.
One caveat to this is that you must distance yourself from selling copyrighted products. Strong brand names usually make up a chunk of the online buzz and you might be tempted to sell those. You should instead opt for generic items in that same niche.
Engage dropshipping suppliers
One of the characteristics of the dropshipping model of online business is that you don’t have to hold any stock. That means no storage fees or stacking your garage with boxes of goods. This burden falls on your dropshipping suppliers who are usually the manufacturer of the product.
Thoroughly research the suppliers of your product of interest. In many instances, they accept payment for a batch of products and then renege on the deal to ship to the client. Not only does this leave you out of pocket but it also damages the trust the market has in your store’s brand.
Additionally, sort through your dropshipping suppliers and find out whether their delivery costs are low enough for you to absorb into your expenses. This gives you a chance to add free shipping to your products, providing an incentive for your customers to clear their carts.
With all things in place, you can settle on a supplier or number of suppliers as your go-to entities for your products.
Set up an aesthetically pleasing online store
When you finally have a niche to engage in and supply partners, you can go ahead and set up your store. eCommerce platforms like Shopify support the dropshipping model of online business.
When potential customers open the link to your eCommerce store, the first impression they get plays a big role in their purchasing decision. If the setup of your store appears haphazard, they’ll exit just as quickly and try another online retailer.
One way of reducing the bounce rate of your online store is to use themes. Shopify themes make your store look professional. However, they might not have all the features that you require for that distinguishing appearance.
To fill in this gap, Debutify provides a plug-and-play theme that you can use for any kind of store to increase conversions.
Apart from aesthetics, this particular choice among Shopify themes also has plenty of advantageous add-ons, including but not limited to:
- A chatbox
- Delivery time
- Preformulated FAQ for your store
- Product tabs
- Instagram feed
Beat the competition
You aren’t the only one trying to make it big in the eCommerce realm. Other retailers also want a slice of the pie and have most likely taken the previous trio of online business tips into consideration.
In the extra competitive world of online retail, customers have all the power because they have several choices. To catch and retain their attention, you need to look for a sliver of a gap where your competitors are being lax and exploit that opportunity.
Take a look at their product listings and see how they’ve set up. Analyze the quality of their photos and the copy they have attached to the items. This shows you where you can improve to get one up on them.
Additionally, you need to go through the reviews of their stores. Customers leave feedback about their experience with the vendor. Take note of the negative reviews to see what your competitor did wrong. Ensure that you don’t follow suit so that you can attract and retain more customers.
You can also know what customers think of a certain online retailer by combing through social media to see what your shared target market is saying about them.
Positive customer comments also show what you should incorporate in your operations to make the online a success.
Marketing your online store
One of the most important online business tips is having a handle on digital marketing.
With the online store up and running, you need to get the word out so that customers can flock to it. You need to market the brand so that it stands out from all the noise your competitors are making online.
Leverage the various aspects of digital marketing to boost the online traffic flowing to your store. These forms of digital marketing include:
- Social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Youtube
- Use of influencers to the power of the above
- Paid SERP ads
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Email marketing
Social media is the best way to create a buzz about your brand and products in this digital age. Facebook alone hosts over a billion users; a large section of your target market is more than likely to be on there.
If you have some capital to spare, you can redirect it to paid ads on search engine pages. Google ads place your store front and center when potential customers search for your product.
If you can’t pay a large sum upfront, you can opt for pay-per-click ads where you pay a small amount every time a person clicks on your ad.
Utilize SEO to appear organically in search results. You can set up a blog to write content about your product and brand. Link this content back to your online store to increase traffic and, ultimately, conversions.
You can also use your blog to create lead magnets. This enables you to build a list of potential to whom you can send emails. These emails can contain special offers or news about new products. Done well, email marketing is a great way of increasing conversions.
Now you know how to start an online business. However, the fact that your online store is operating and even bringing in some money doesn’t mean that you should rest on your laurels. The internet is an ever-evolving entity and so are the users and your competition.
Therefore, you should always make tweaks to your online store as well as your marketing strategy. This ensures that you keep ahead of the pack, providing a quality online shopping experience to your customers.
This positive experience leads customers to become brand ambassadors, spreading the word about your store to other interested parties – more potential conversions.