How To Open A Successful eCommerce Business?

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How to open a successful online shop

Having your own online shop is a great way to sell products or services anywhere in the world, quickly and easily. The number of people shopping online is increasing rapidly every day. So why not take advantage of this trend?

Not only Amazon or eBay are increasing their sales and user numbers from month to month, but smaller companies or private individuals are also benefiting from the trend toward online shopping. In this article, we would like to show you the advantages of having your own online shop and how you can benefit from having your own online shop.

What you should consider when creating your online shop

For years, no market has grown as rapidly as the e-commerce business. So it is only understandable that as a founder you want to benefit from the success of this high-turnover industry and open your own online shop. However, there are a few things to keep in mind so that the expected success really comes about and the whole thing doesn’t end in disappointment. We will therefore give you a hand on what you should consider when creating your online shop and how you can be successful with it.

Open an online shop – at the beginning, there must be a business plan

We will go into more detail on the topic of “Creating costs for the online shop”, but as a rule, it will be the case that the first way leads you in the direction of the bank. In order for this to give you financial support as a founder, you need a sophisticated business plan. It shows the bank employee that you have dealt intensively with the company, analyzed the market, and calculated your chances. You can find help with this in our free business plan template.

The following applies to the market analysis: The more unique selling points you can show compared to your competition, the more sensitive and willing your bank is to lend. Another online shop for smartphones and laptops will probably have a hard time asserting itself against the already established top dogs. Are you expanding your offer with additional services, e.g. B. a hotline for older customers, so you stand out from the competition and increase your chances of success?

In addition to a concise description of your business idea, i.e. a presentation of your unique shop concept, and the market analysis, your business plan also contains an investment and financial plan. For this, you should give an overview of all investments. Make sure that you not only take into account the investments up to the launch of the shop (e.g. the purchase of hardware, software, and shop items for your initial inventory), but also build reserves for investments in the coming months and years. There are constant innovations in online business, which are often associated with costs.

Your running costs belong in the financial plan. Under no circumstances should you forget about marketing measures, because they are the be-all and end-all for the success of your online shop. We will come to the important topic of marketing strategy in a moment.

Basically, the business plan for starting a company is not just a requirement of your bank. Rather, it is a “timetable” for you and serves to sharpen your business model. Especially with a webshop, the concept has a significant influence on the type and scope of your company. Many factors depend on it, such as the right shop system or the design of your supplier relationships.

Peculiarities of online business

Many online shop founders underestimate the importance of search engine optimization (SEO). The description of your products in words and pictures is very important for your findability on search engines such as Google, DuckDuckGo, and Bing. The easier it is to find you via search engines, the more likely it is that potential customers will notice your shop. You can also increase your visibility with good search engine marketing (Search Engine Advertising – SEA).

Successful online shops have one thing in common: a supply chain that fits the respective business model. Depending on which business model you choose, you can choose between five possible concepts.

  • If you opt for just-in-time production, you only order or deliver the quantity that is required in a certain period of time.
  • If you have your own warehouse in mind, you can produce or order in a much larger number. However, be aware that this results in fixed costs for renting the storage space and you run the risk of not finding enough buyers for the goods you have purchased.
  • You can also outsource the storage and shipping tasks by involving a so-called fulfillment service provider.
  • Another way to trade online without your own warehouse is a form of picking, in which you become a kind of middleman (order picker): The producer or wholesaler provides you with all the data for the sale of the product in your online shop and takes over all tasks related to storage and shipping. This saves you a lot of work, but it is not suitable for every type of business model (e.g. selling fresh goods). This type of online trading is also called drop shipping, drop shipping, direct selling, and dropshipping.
  • So-called affiliate shops go a little further away from classic (online) trade. This is where you link to third-party products for sale on your website. You direct visitors to your product overview to your partner’s shop and receive a commission for every purchase.
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At this point, we would like to mention “multi-channel trade”, which is the most important form of distribution in retail today. Multi-channel retailers are retailers who sell both via an online shop and via one or more brick-and-mortar stores – under the same name and brand identity.

Position yourself with your online shop – “Don’t get stuck in the middle”

Online shops are a dime a dozen. It is all the more important that you position yourself clearly with your shop. Especially in times of internet giants like Amazon, it is advisable to serve a clearly defined market. Because as an “all-rounder” and “supplier for everyone”, your risk of losing out to large retailers and marketplaces is high. You should also know your target group very well. Where and how do you reach them? How do your customers benefit from your offer? With a good and targeted approach, you stand out from the mass market.

An approach to finding and developing promising niches: Take a look in the offline world to see which store concepts are not holding up due to a lack of walk-in customers. If you come across such a concept and find out through a market analysis that there is a sufficiently large market nationwide, these trading concepts have great potential to become successful online.

Clear positioning also includes communication with customers. In this context, social shopping has played an important role. The term means the generation of potential new customers via social media and the exchange between customers. But also offering a special product per week or a discount for customers with a certain number of orders fall under the term social shopping. What you offer or how you communicate with your customers is ultimately up to you. It is only important that you gain an understanding of how important a clear positioning is and what your positioning consists of.

Core competencies for founding an online shop

As an online shop founder, you do not have to meet any specific requirements. But there are qualities that will benefit you in the course of founding and operating your shop. If you notice that you need new knowledge and/or support for certain topics and tasks, do not despair. It is not yet a master who has fallen from the sky and is in no way dishonorable to get help – for example from co-founders or employees in key positions who lack of expertise.

However, what you should bring with you in order to run your online shop successfully is a love for the products you sell. If you want to establish yourself in a market in the long term, then you should offer products that you are completely convinced of. You should also have an understanding of the needs of your market. In this way, you can put yourself in the shoes of your customers and design an assortment that gives them a real benefit. This utility could be a cool look, but also the solution to a practical problem.

It is important for the continued success of your shop that you constantly deal with legal issues related to trading on the Internet. Laws and case law are constantly bringing about innovations, for example in relation to data protection, shipping packaging, online marketing, the presentation of prices, and shipping costs – the list can be continued indefinitely.

Rest assured, you can keep up to date with chambers of commerce, industry associations, and e-commerce blogs. And maybe you can also network with other online retailers and exchange ideas with them.

The right shop system – a modular principle or professional shop software?

Programming a shop from scratch is no longer necessary today. A simple online search for “online shop construction kit” lists a whole range of providers of modern shop systems. With these website builder tools, it is possible to create a functional online shop without programming knowledge. The modular system providers provide ready-made sections and function modules from which you can choose the right one. Basically, starting with an online shop construction kit works the same for all providers: The online shop is set up and maintained in the back end, and the front end stands for the “shop window” which effectively presents the goods to potential customers. For the front end, there are often designs adapted to the industry to choose from and the ordering and purchasing process is legally compliant. Payment methods can also be “clicked on” with most construction kits without much effort.

If, on the other hand, you are interested in professional shop software without a modular principle, you will find both commercial solutions, which often entail running costs in addition to one-off costs, as well as freely available open-source online shop software. Note that programming knowledge is usually required for both types of software – always for setup and usually also for ongoing maintenance. If you don’t have any programming skills yourself, get the right support – but you already know that you’ve already read something about help above.

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Advantages and disadvantages of shop systems

With the modular online shop, the low investment costs should first be emphasized (Wix, Shopify, or Squarespace). After signing up, most providers will charge you a monthly fee of between $15 and $70, depending on a.o. from the range of functions. After you have specified the settings for design, means of payment, shipping methods, and legal requirements in the back end and have filled the shop with items, you can already sell with your online shop. However, depending on the type of company, shop construction kits also have disadvantages.

Shop construction kits offer a smaller range of functions compared to professional shop software. Remember: Especially with online shops, a high degree of user-friendliness of the shop interface often referred to as usability, is crucial for success. A customer who first has to navigate through your offer in a cumbersome manner or who has to search for a long time quickly clicks to the competition.

Let’s assume you run an online shop with natural beauty products such as homemade soaps, scrubs, lotions, and scented oils. Your range will therefore be kept within manageable limits. A shop kit with a design that reflects the themes of nature and beauty, in line with atmospheric images and text, can definitely be a good choice here. If, on the other hand, you want to open an online shop that offers a large and detailed range, a sophisticated navigation and search system must be installed. This is where you will reach your limits with a shop construction kit. When deciding between a shop kit and shop software, also consider possible expansion stages of your webshop.

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In summary, it can be said that professional shop software tends to grow with your company in the long term and can be easily expanded over the long term, for example for a larger range and multilingualism. It is also possible that the number of possible payment methods is limited with the shop construction kit – and customers do not appreciate that at all.

A professional online shop created with WordPress and WooCommerce also offers you more freedom and many more functions. Furthermore, a professional online shop is also much cheaper in the long run, since you don’t have to pay any monthly fees there (except for hosting and domain name). There are NO monthly fees. For example, if you run an online shop with Wix, Shopify, or Squarespace, the monthly fees can quickly become very high and you usually pay more after a year than if you have a professional shop developed.

When choosing the right shop system, also check your design requirements. In terms of layout, a shop that is set up with shop software can be fully adapted to your wishes, so that your shop is created in an unmistakable corporate design. With a kit, on the other hand, you can only make manageable customizations.

When creating an online shop, you should be aware of the requirements that the shop must meet:

  • Which payment systems would you like to offer and which filter functions should the online shop have?
  • Does an interface to your merchandise management system have to be integrated?
  • And what about the connection to marketing portals such as price search engines and marketplaces?

You will inevitably create a “requirements catalog” that will show you the way to the right online shop software.

Having an online shop set up – a worthwhile investment?

Anyone who is self-employed full-time thinks long-term and wants to make as few mistakes as possible right from the start will probably rely on professional help when creating an online shop. This will increase the investment costs but can pay off in the long run.

On your behalf, the specialist will ensure that the search engines also register your online shop (i.e. that web crawlers index your site) and that it appears in the search results of your potential customers. She should also take care of on-page and off-page search engine optimization. And last but not least, she should ensure that all legal framework conditions are met (terms and conditions, imprint, data protection regulations, etc.). Because it would not be the first time that a newly installed online shop has been targeted by the so-called warning mafia. It can therefore be a very worthwhile investment to rely on professional assistance right from the start.

How much does it cost to open an online shop?

This frequently asked question cannot be answered with a fixed amount, because the creation of a shop depends on too many variables. First, you will register a business, which costs between 10 and 50 dollars depending on the location. The cost of programming your online store ranges from around $1,000 to several $5,000. Let’s assume a “standard shop” that has its own professional layout, meets SEO criteria, and takes all legal aspects into account, you should expect costs between 2,000 and 4,000 dollars.

In addition to the one-off costs, there are periodic and ongoing costs. In order to satisfy customers in terms of usability, you need a nimble web host, for example. Reasonable web hosts that can handle up to 1,000 visits per day quickly and easily charge between $10 and $25 per month. When choosing your hoster, make sure that they offer scalable tariffs. So you can easily adjust the hosting as the number of visitors grows.

Also keep in mind that in order to showcase your goods well, you need meaningful images. But don’t worry, you don’t have to become a photographer as well: In practice, manufacturers and wholesalers provide image material free of charge. In addition, the item description must offer users real added value and be SEO-compliant for good organic search engine results.

Marketing strategies for your online shop

A clear and attractive online shop that is easy to find your way around and fills your virtual shopping cart with enthusiasm is one thing. To be found at all in the endless expanses of the Internet is a completely different and very important thing.

One of your main tasks as an online shop owner will be to assert yourself against the competition in the fight for customer attention. There are various strategies you can use to increase your visibility on the Internet. We will briefly introduce some of them to you.

Search engine marketing (SEA) with Google Ads

Search engine marketing is an essential measure if you want to publicize your online shop. With Google Ads, you buy into the paid search results. These search results usually appear at the top and bottom of the results page, so they catch the searcher’s eye. Google Ads is a powerful tool to attract customers online. With a little prior knowledge and a guide that you will quickly find online, the first campaign can be set up quickly. The target group can be well defined so that wastage can be minimized. If, for example, you enter the search term “organic fashion plus sizes” and a customer clicks on your Google ad, it can be assumed that there is a high intention to buy – after all, they would not have seen the ad if they had not previously searched the Internet for sustainable clothing in large sizes would have.

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Another advantage: A huge advertising budget is not required for an ads campaign. You can specify exactly how much money you want to spend on it per month. You can achieve a lot with just $100 a month. Once your limit is reached, no more ads will appear.

Google Ads is well suited to increase visitor flows in the short term or to test interest in your online shop at all. However, you should not underestimate the costs that this will incur in the long run. In the long run, it is essential to be found in the so-called natural search results.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

It is much more complex compared to Google Ads to get among the first ten hits in the so-called organic search results. Because that’s what everyone wants! As a newcomer, it is particularly difficult for you to assert yourself against the competition. You need staying power and you have to constantly work on improving your ranking.

In order to get your new online shop on the coveted first page of search results, you need to optimize your website for Google. You can find out exactly how this works in our blog area.

If you have neither the know-how nor the time for search engine optimization, you can transfer this job to specialized SEO agencies. This costs a lot of money at first (depending on the scope, it can be around 2000 dollars per month), but it can be worth it in the long run. Because once you’ve fought for one of the top spots, it’s relatively easy to defend it later.

If you want to build up your online shop sustainably in the long term, you should keep an eye on the topic of SEO, especially at the beginning, and think about whether you should invest in support from a professional SEO service provider and/or find a service provider who will support you, at least during the first few months coaching so that you can do the daily search engine optimization yourself.

Social Media

Social media offer you the opportunity to get in touch with your target group in different ways and to put the products that you sell via your online shop in the right light.

If you master the keyboard of social media, you have a good tool at hand to make your shop known, attract new customers and keep existing customers. Unfortunately, many founders get bogged down and underestimate the effort it takes to be continuously present on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter & Co. Instead of rushing into work haphazardly, you should think carefully about which channels are best suited to your goals and how much time you can invest in using them regularly. Check your assumptions regularly and observe carefully whether your measures have the desired effect or fizzle out.

Influencer Marketing

In addition to the marketing tools mentioned so far, there are many other ways to draw attention to your online shop. One of them is the so-called influencer marketing, which has been playing an increasingly important role in marketing for several years. If you manage to win one of the stars of the internet scene as a partner for your shop, you can benefit from its reach.

First of all, ask the influencer of your choice without reservations and try to get him/her excited about your new offer so that he/she is happy to talk about it. Don’t be disappointed if the person responds to your inquiries with clear fee expectations. Being an influencer is now a profession and there is a lot of hard work behind the “beautiful picture”.

How high your consideration is is a matter of negotiation. The really big names are probably unaffordable – but especially in niche markets, it is worth addressing bloggers or YouTubers with smaller numbers of followers. You can always ask politely whether the influencer is open to long-term cooperation, i.e. that he/she will receive products from you as a gift, which will then be given a benevolent mention.

Another note on the selection of suitable influencers: Not only the number of followers should be of interest to you, but also their composition. Collaboration only makes sense if this group is a possible target group for your products.

The range of marketing tools that you can use for your online shop is huge. We have limited ourselves to the most important ones here. The secret of successful marketing lies in combining the measures so cleverly that your shop will soon be busy.

Conclusion

If you like varied activities, your own online shop is the right way to self-employment. Your tasks range from purchasing to sales, you regularly deal with marketing and legal issues. And a certain understanding of programming and technology is also required in everyday life. If you decide not to have your own warehouse, you can also work from anywhere.

Yes, it’s not as easy to establish a successful webshop as it was ten years ago, but with the right niche and the right range, you still have a good chance of success. If you already have experience with a retail store or are considering adding a webshop to your brick-and-mortar store, then be sure to check this out. Online and offline are no longer opposites, they complement each other and create synergies.

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Co-Founder at Datacrypt Ltd
Tim is the co-founder of Datacrypt.io and is an expert in web design, SEO, eCommerce, and content marketing. Tim loves to write informative content and give you useful information in our blog about various topics.
Tim
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