Whether you’re selling homemade jewelry or your own services as a freelancer, you might be thinking about opening an online store. There are many advantages, after all. An online store can extend your reach, smooth your interaction with customers, and allow you to process orders that much faster. No matter what it is that you’re planning to sell, there are a few things that you should take time to consider before you open. Research, planning, and platform choices will all play important roles as you work on putting together your online store.
Research Your Market
Before you do anything, you should take time to research your market. That means researching both your client base and your competition. Client base research will help you find out what kind of person is going to buy your products. Demographic information like age, gender, and even nationality can tell you a lot about where your client base will look for your product. As an example, demographic information can give you an idea about whether your clients are more likely to find your shop via social media or a newspaper.
Meanwhile, researching the competition can tell you not only what you’re up against but also can teach you a thing or two about what has already been tried and where it failed. If another company ran an ad campaign on social media and it flopped, you can perhaps work out why and how you could do it better. Also, if there is a particular brand that’s very well known, you’ll want to be aware of that and model yourself accordingly. All of this research is going to feed into how you build your brand.
Build Your Brand
Building your brand means paying attention to everything from label designs to boutique names for your business to what kind of advertising you use. Your brand is how you look, what you sound like, who you’re talking to. It’s a result of design work but it’s driven by choices you make about tone and direction, which will likely be affected by your research into the market. If you decide to take a lighthearted tone, optimistic and designed to appeal to, for example, stay at home moms, you will likely make design choices to reflect that.
Any design work and design choices should make your product stand out, but make sure you stand out in a good way! You don’t want to be conspicuous for sloppy design and an illegible or tacky font. Consider hiring someone to do your design work for you if the design isn’t something that you have experience in or a natural talent for. Whatever you decide, make sure to run it by at least one other pair of eyes, in order to catch any last-minute mistakes you might have made.
Choose Your Platforms
Last but not least, choose your platforms. In this day and age, it’s not good enough to simply open your store and hope for the best. If you want to have any chance of success, you will need to have a presence across multiple platforms. Your store might have its own domain, but what about your social media accounts? Many social media websites offer specialized accounts for businesses, and many of those accounts are free. You might create a social media presence for your brand long before you open your store, to get a head start on building your presence online and creating a following.
All of this work will help ensure a successful start for your online store. Remember that all the work you would put into opening a physical store still applies when you’re launching an online business.