Have you decided to make your own online shop?
Maybe you have an idea or want your own business, for various reasons.
Where do you start? How do you do it? What can you do on your own or on your own so that you can bring your ideas to reality as you have imagined?
Well, today we show you exactly this process, which you can replicate in your own situation.
In the following lines, you’ll learn how to plan, set up and launch an online store, from start to finish, on your own.
Ready to get started?
Contents: How to build your own online store
- Decide who your target audience is
- Choose the products you want to sell
- Decide on a business model & business plan
- Choose your eCommerce platform and service providers
- Prepare and organize your online shop
- Plan your marketing strategy
- Prepare the launch and go live
- Take care of the first orders and choose the post-order direction
Before we start, we remind you that we offer premium services for creating a turnkey online shop.
Basically, we take care of banners, uploading company information to the site, integrations with third parties, and all you have to do is add your products to the store and start promoting it.
That is, in case you don’t have much time, and you want to skip the store creation process as quickly as possible.
Here you can read more about unosoft turnkey stores.
Okay, and now let’s get into today’s topic.
1. Decide who your target audience is
The first two steps of the strategy we recommend here can be interspersed. Basically, you can start by determining the audience you want to sell to or by choosing products.
It depends on how you like to approach the situation.
If you choose your audience first, some product ideas will result. Conversely, if you choose products first, you’ll come up with some specific audience categories that need those products.
Regardless of the approach, let’s look at what to watch out for:
- Demographic information – age, sex, occupation, education, income.
- Psychographic information – Lifestyle, personality, social aspirations, emotional needs.
- Geographical information – urban/rural, population density, climate.
- Behavioural information – purchase motivation, purchase frequency, brand loyalty, price sensitivity, product search criteria.
Many entrepreneurs start a business because they have identified a gap, an unmet need, very often by themselves. Extrapolating and analysing the market situation, many discover that other people face the same gaps, so they make the decision to do something about it.
It’s one of the most effective ways to start a business. Because you start from a demand that you know exists, so you have the certainty of an audience that is willing to buy your products.
That makes it even easier to quickly discover the unique values you can offer your customers, and communicate them clearly.
What you still need to organize now are your audience categories.
You’ll have a primary audience, sure, but there will be secondary audiences interested in buying from you.
For example, in the case of children’s products you have parents as your primary audience (+ their specific target audience, such as according to children’s age, income, interests, etc.).
But grandparents, godparents, uncles and aunts, people looking for gifts for children’s birthdays, teachers, educational institutions, etc. will also buy from you.
It depends on what you want to do and what products you bring into the shop. So we come to the next point – which you can even think about in parallel with setting up your audiences.
Read also: Discover the customer avatar for your business – who you sell to [Podcast]
2. Choose the products you want to sell
Another priority you need to determine now is what you sell. The products and possibly the extra services you will be willing to offer to your customers.
If you’ve started with the choice of audiences, you’ve got an idea of what products you want to bring. Now go a little deeper on the idea:
- Can these products have a good profit margin?
- What are the conditions for storage and delivery? – Calculate your costs and resources up front, as there are types of products with special conditions. Some need to be cold, some need to be unpacked quickly (not to expire), some have high transport costs (large sizes) etc.
- What problem or problems does it solve for the customer? – May respond to a need, a consumer habit or a passion.
- Can you bring in accessories for those products? – Accessories help you to increase the value of the basket or make the most of the customer’s shelf life (because you sell them to the same customer, maybe even on a recurring basis – e.g. for filter cups, you sell filters several times).
- Can they be sold repeatedly, to the same customer? – cosmetics you can sell repeatedly, but a stove, for example, has a long shelf life.
Read also: How do I find target products that I can be successful with from the start
Want an accurate system to show you how to find profitable product ideas? We’ve prepared a online course in the eCommerce Academy, which I invite you to access with confidence.
Bonus, if you’ve read the article up to here in detail, I’m giving you a “hidden” discount code, so you can get the course for about 97 lei!
Use the code GO80IDEE in cart or checkout, and the course will be yours with 80% discount.
Enjoy 🙂 !
Once you’ve established the products, see where you get them.
You need product suppliers or maybe you create them yourself.
But you’ll have to establish the process behind it, because it then dictates the delivery time, the ordering system (for example, there are some extra ordering steps when you sell custom products at the customer’s request), and so on.
If you have product suppliers that have an online shop on unosoft, you can simplify the integration with them through the unosoft Link.
It’s a faster and easier way to retrieve the desired product portfolio.
3. Decide on a business model & business plan
Good. You’ve chosen your audience and products.
Now it’s time to plan how you make the connection between the two elements. So you make a business plan and choose a business model for yourself.
What does the business plan contain?
- Market analysis
- Competition analysis
- Establishing an own identity:
- Legal form – you research how, what, fees, agreements etc.
- Name + web domain
- Color scheme
- Ideas Products & Categories
- SWOT analysis of your business
- Business objectives
- Relationship management – lawyer, accountant, broker, etc. Who will you work with?
- List of product suppliers
- List of service providers (transport, payments, invoicing, etc.)
- Marketing plan (acquisition + customer loyalty)
- Calendar – here you set various dates, starting from the official launch date.
Read also: Business plan, from A to Z. How to start a business without making mistakes
Depending on what you have in your business plan and what you set out in the previous points, answer these questions:
#1. What is my unique value proposition that makes me different from others?
- What value do I bring to my clients’ lives?
- Do I solve problems in my customers’ lives? What problems?
- What customer needs do I address?
- What product/products do I offer to each customer segment?
- Is the value offered about something they would like to have (something they stand to gain)? What?
- Is the value offered about something they hate (solving a pain/problem)?
My unique value proposition is:_____________________________________
#2. Who are my clients?
- Who are my most important customers?
- Who am I actually creating value for?
- What does my ideal customer look like? (uses the template for creating the customer avatar in the Academy module of the platform)
My target clients are:___________________________________________
#3. What are the channels through which I communicate with clients?
- What channels do my customers want me to contact them through?
- What channels do I reach them through now?
- Which channel of all works best now?
- How are my channels integrated?
- What is the most cost effective channel?
- How do I integrate the channels I use with my customers’ habits and routines?
My communication and marketing channels are:________________________________
#4. How do I build relationships with clients and how do I maintain them?
- What kind of relationship does each customer segment expect me to maintain with them?
- What types of relationship have we implemented so far?
- How do these integrate with the rest of my business model (especially at the cost/revenue/key activity level?
- How much does it cost me to maintain this type of relationship with my customers?
The relationship with my customers will be as follows:_________________________________________
#5. What are my sources of income?
- What are my customers really willing to pay for?
- But now, what are they paying for?
- How do customers pay now?
- How would they like to pay?
- How much does each source of income contribute to total receipts?
My sources of income are:_________________________________________________
#6. What are my key resources?
- For my unique value proposition to hold up, what resources do I need?
- For distribution channels, what resources do I need?
- For customer relationship management, what resources do I need?
- For revenue streams to be viable, what resources do I need?
My key resources are:________________________________________________
#7. What are my key activities?
- What key activities do I need for the value proposition to work?
- What key activities do my distribution channels require?
- What key activities does my customer relationship management require?
- What key activities do revenue streams require?
My key activities are:____________________________________________
#8. What is my cost structure?
- What are the most important costs related to my business model?
- What are the most expensive key resources?
- What are the most expensive key assets?
My costs include the following:_______________________________________
#9. Who are my main partners?
- Who are my key partners?
- Who are my key suppliers?
- What key resources do I buy from my partners?
- What key activities do my partners do?
My key partners are:____________________________________________
The answers to these questions will help you determine the elements of your business and how you do things.
You can be a classic business with an online store and your own stock. Or you can include various marketplaces in your strategy. Or you can sell omnichannel, including a physical store.
Or you can work with your own stock or with stock from your supplier.
Basically, you form a running engine for your business idea.
From here on, the execution begins!
4. Choose your eCommerce platform and service providers
Besides maintaining the entire technical infrastructure of the store, from what customers see on the site to the settings and administration you do on the back end, the eCommerce platform is – or should be – a business partner.
The platform is the foundation on which your online store runs, so you can’t choose it without doing your research first.
It depends on your needs, goals and future plans.
However, in principle, a good eCommerce platform can offer you at least the following:
- The features you need – according to your niche, store complexity, etc. Ideally, you should have them already integrated into the platform, so you don’t waste time and money looking for plugins.
- Decent costs in relation to your orders – you can make a approximate calculation = platform cost in a given period, divided by order value in that period.
- Integrations with the most popular service providers – and options to build new integrations if you have custom needs. In this step you should also choose who you will collaborate with for parcel shipping, online payment processing, invoicing, stock management, e-fulfillment if applicable, email marketing, SMS etc.
Tip! In the unosoft platform we have developed two dedicated services for this purpose.
GPayments allows you to display multiple payment methods on the site with a single activation. Including Buy Now, Pay Later, if you want to offer payment in instalments.
And GShipments shows you which couriers have the lowest shipping cost per order, per order, without having to make separate contracts and integrations with multiple carriers.
- Native functions for marketing – reports and site monitoring, page creation, hellobar, popups, discount rules, vouchers, SEO, feeds for marketing campaigns etc.
- Continuously updated documentation in various formats – text, video, images, FAQ.
- Accessible support team – At unosoft, our colleagues answer you during office hours, by email, by ticket and by phone (depending on your subscription).
- Quick launch time – Move towards a platform that helps you go live fast, so you can start selling fast. Don’t waste your time doing developments that in less than a month could become useless.
- A free trial period – During the demo period you can see for yourself how and what the platform does, if it is as it promises to be. At unosoft we offer a free 15-day trial period, and monthly subscriptions start from 1 euro per month.
- Igives you support to grow – choose a platform that has an active community around it and is constantly coming up with useful content for you.
This is one of the things that our clients say sets us apart in the marketplace. At unosoft you get constant access to articles, guides, videos, webinars, online and offline events, answers, carousels and live feeds with useful information about eCommerce and business.
5. Prepare and organize your online store
Ok. Before you start the actual organization part of your site, you need a few things. These you will upload or use as soon as you get started.
So here’s what you should prepare ahead of time:
- The final name of your business – which, ideally, you already know from your business plan.
- Logo & color scheme
- Product photos – taken by you, taken from suppliers etc. My recommendation is to take original shots, at least for star products at first.
- Banners – At least for the homepage and social media accounts of your business (cover photo, for example)
- Product documentation – information taken from suppliers or created from scratch. For the first case, make sure to improve these descriptions, as well as the photos, initially at least for star products.
- Company details – Theoretically, you can create your company even after you’ve started working on the site, while it’s not yet public for sale. But you will need a legal form to sell legally, and your company registration and contact details will need to be posted on the site.
On the subject of shop preparation, we have touched on this subject many times before.
So, when you want to create your own online store from A to Z on the unosoft platform, specifically, follow the steps in the article How to open an online shop with unosoft – Step-by-step guide to creating a shop.
And we have prepared a bonus 🙂
50 questions to answer for optimizing your website
- Do you confirm to new visitors that they’ve come to the right place?
- Does your site have proof of credibility?
- Do you have a clear and tidy design?
- Is your website responsive?
- Do you declare your USP (unique value proposition) in multiple areas of your site?
- Do your landing pages match your ads?
- Have you optimized your site to load quickly?
- Do you make complementary product recommendations as the customer browses?
- Do you provide easy access to return policies and warranties?
- Do you encourage your customers to leave reviews?
- Is it easy for customers to retrieve their account password?
- Have you made sure the confirmation or error messages are visible?
- Have you prepared a friendly 404 page?
- Does your About Us page build trust?
- Do you highlight various offers and promotions on your site?
- Do you offer free shipping (even over a certain basket value)?
- Is the site navigation easy to understand?
- Do you have prominent call-to-action buttons?
- Is the main menu visible, but without cluttering the navigation flow on the site?
- Have you placed the most important buttons and links in visible areas for easy clickability?
- Do you have forms on your website designed to be as easy to fill out as possible, both on desktop and (more importantly) mobile?
- Do you use mobile-optimized or, at least, mobile-optimized pop-ups?
- Your store’s front page passes the 5 second test (users understand in max. 5 seconds what you have to offer them and what is most important for them to know)?
- Do you use call-to-action phrases on banners to invite people to click?
- Do you have a decent number of banners on your homepage, without overdoing it?
- Do you have a homepage description that follows good SEO practices?
- Do you clearly display the price for discounted products, with the initial price cut and the discount % displayed?
- Do you use bright colours to signal special products such as new, discounted or included in a particular campaign?
- Do you have multiple product images displayed at the top of the screen?
- Are the product images large enough to see all the necessary details?
- Are the product images relatively small in kb size, so as not to affect loading speed?
- Do you use filters, taking into account the expectations of customers in contact with your niche?
- Do you have various options for sorting listings by price, popularity, relevance, etc.?
- Do you have a full description for each product, with specifications, benefits and advantages?
- Do you use product videos?
- If you sell clothes, for example, do you include information about the model in the pictures in the description so that people can make realistic expectations of the product?
- Do you use easy-to-access reviews and testimonials, both on product pages and throughout the site?
- Do you use urgency techniques, if appropriate, in the store?
- Is the add to cart button visible in the first part of the screen?
- Do you have cross-sell or upsell product recommendations on the product page?
- Do you clearly display delivery information?
- Did you include a visible reminder on the page if the user needs to choose colour or size before adding the product to the basket?
- Do you display customer-generated content on the site, perhaps taken from Instagram (with InstaApp)?
- Do you have a clear checkout page?
- Do you display trust-building graphics such as payment processor logos, reviews, etc.?
- Do you display at least one cross-sell option, at a lower price, on the checkout page (with One-Time Offer)?
- Have you set up a cart recovery email for customers who have abandoned the checkout flow?
- Do you offer customers the option to buy without an account?
- Have you simplified the information displayed at the top of the screen in checkout?
- Do you offer multiple payment methods in the store?
Read also: How to create an online store and tips on marketing & SEO
6. Plan your marketing strategy
Everything you worked on in the previous step must reach or attract the target audience. So you need marketing like air.
Channels, tactics, tools and content will shape your marketing strategy. Here’s what you can consider including in your strategy:
- Shopping Campaigns
- Content marketing
- Video marketing
- Marketing in site
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Influencer Marketing
- Lead generation & lead nurturing
- SMS marketing
- Local promotion
All of this includes, of course, plenty of things you can do.
Initially, however, I recommend that you choose based on the data you know about customer avatars, competitors and costs.
After all, it is not absolutely necessary to choose one form of promotion or another. The important thing is to allow your chosen form to attract customers and make a profit.
Read also: How to sell online: Online Marketing and Selling Guide + Checklists
7. Prepare the launch and go live
While you’re creating your store and planning your marketing strategy, it’s a good time to start implementing your store launch campaign.
If you do things smartly, early on, you stand a chance of getting your first orders as soon as the site becomes available. So you can validate your products and your business idea super fast.
Here’s what to include in your launch plan:
- Landing page with launch promotionscheduled for the campaign period.
- Discount rules valid on site.
- Social media business pages, that you start populating long before you launch.
- An attention-getting mechanism – In general, a giveaway or the promise of a voucher with the first order works well.
- Banners, texts and teasing messages (announcing that something is about to happen).
- Banners, texts and pre-launch messages (highlight the nature of the news and keep interest high for launch day).
- Campaign Calendar – in which you write down the phases of your campaign, the start-stop time intervals, including when you start sending reminders that offers are about to expire.
- Hellobar with link to offer landing page. Or CTA popup.
- Active settings for optimizing the basket value in the site (cross-sell, upsell, product bundles, etc.
Read here the complete list, by steps: To DO List when you want to launch an online store (or a product)
8. Take care of the first orders and choose the post-order direction
You can differentiate yourself from the start by your procedure when and after an order takes place.
Most entrepreneurs at the beginning focus on customer acquisition. That’s normal, because promotion isn’t cheap, and there are plenty of competitors.
The problem comes when the immediate post-order experience is too… fairy.
When I’m more than a few hours late with post order notifications and shipping, or the unpacking experience leaves a poor impression. Especially when it’s a first order.
So, my recommendation is to think ahead to prepare these stages of customer relationship and implement according to your procedure:
- Post-order self-response – order completion confirmation, order confirmation, shipping confirmation (mail & SMS if applicable). Give these messages personality!
- Think of a procedure for order preparation – who is in charge, how long maximum time to send the order, what the parcel contains, how to pack it, etc.
- Do you differentiate between unpacking experience? – You can add things to the package, such as a thank you letter, a voucher with a small value for the next order, a note asking for reviews on the website, merch for the shop (magnets, stickers, other representative products), small gift items depending on the season (hard perishable candy, spices etc.).
- Think about a customer loyalty or/and referral program – what do you offer customers to convince them to return to your site and/or refer you to their community? One automated method is to offer loyalty points.
- Continue communication after the package has arrived – you can implement automated email sequences to request product reviews, cross-sell product recommendations, send exclusive vouchers, etc.
Read also: 12 types of email you should send to customers
There’s a lot to do for an online store. But your role, as an entrepreneur, isn’t necessarily to take care of them all.
Your vision and your planning are, rather, your main responsibilities. Of course, today’s technology allows you to take care of many elements yourself, including setting up and managing your online store – this is also the purpose for which we created unosoft.
But while the beginning can be done on your own, as you evolve, new and different responsibilities arise, which you gain more from outsourcing or delegating.
The fact is you can practically make your own online store. Follow the tips in today’s article and test them in your action plan.