How to Start an Online Store: Your 2022 Guide – The Motley Fool - eComEmpireStore + Brought to You By: Robert Villapane Ramos

How to Start an Online Store: Your 2022 Guide – The Motley Fool

If you’re on a Galaxy Fold, consider unfolding your phone or viewing it in full screen to best optimize your experience. Credit Cards Banks Brokers Crypto Mortgages Insurances Loans Small Business Knowledge by Rose Wheeler | Updated Aug. 5, 2022 – First published on May 18, 2022 Image source: Getty ImagesThe wide world of e-commerce […]

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by Rose Wheeler | Updated Aug. 5, 2022 – First published on May 18, 2022
Image source: Getty Images
The wide world of e-commerce awaits today’s entrepreneur, but the first step in internet sales is actually setting up a digital storefront. It may seem daunting, but taking it step by step ensures you’ll have a more than manageable time building an online store.
Like any project, you need to lay a good foundation before you start building.
Brand cohesion will be a big part of your online store. Just as you want all of your digital marketing channels to be aligned, you need to keep that same brand, tone, and visual consistency in your store, too.
Your brand should be especially synced up in your store so customers have a smooth and professional shopping experience.
Before jumping into selling in what may be a crowded market, do your research, and make sure you’re able to enter the market as more than a forgettable retailer that fades into white noise. All the e-commerce marketing in the world will be in vain if you don’t have a unique offering.
Opening an online store takes a lot of time (and financial) investment, so before you run headlong into it, test the waters on a smaller scale. Gauge interest, dabble in online marketplaces, and then when you’re ready to take a step up from Etsy alternatives, begin your store-building in earnest.
Already having people in your sales pipeline will make launching your store less of a risk and offer more of a return.
From square one to going live, build your store one step at a time.
Before you even begin building a store, you need to get your marketing and business plans in place. This will dictate the whole process and choices for building your store.
Will you be seeking outside funding? What marketing will you prioritize? Will you be employing people to help run your store? What are your production costs?
Keep in mind some specifics about your soon-to-be store when planning.
With all of the available options, it’s only natural to want one of the best online store builders. And, while there are plenty of excellent online shop platforms, make sure to pick the one that most closely meets your needs.
Don’t just blindly pick from a list. Follow these best practices:
Often available as a service within your e-commerce builder or content management software, a unique, registered domain name is a must. Not only will you need a professional website name for your customers to feel you are a trusted (and not a scam) seller, but to set up payment systems, you’ll need to be registered.
Keep these tips in mind when setting up your domain.
Once you’ve registered your domain and officially have your store builder, you need to get it designed and built. Fortunately, with most builders, it’s a relatively simple process of selecting a theme and then dragging and dropping sections or clicking into the different parts to edit them.
You can select colors and fonts, upload media and logos, and begin to build out not only your product offerings, but your content as well. Your brand and offerings should be showcased, but don’t ignore the other parts of your site (FAQs, info pages, “about” pages, blogs, etc.).
A lot goes into the design of your website. Keep it on track with these tips.
Measure twice, cut once. Before you launch, test the site. You want all of the kinks and usability issues worked out before you push the store live to customers, so it’s better to find them on your own first with A/B testing, as well as previewing pages before publishing.
Have friends and family test it, too. They can help you work out any issues that arise.
Take a few things into account when you begin testing.
Once your store is live, you need to get the word out so you can make sales. There’s a whole wide world of marketing waiting, both inbound and outbound, and you should be putting the marketing part of your business plan (from step 1) into play at this point.
Marketing is an art as well as a science, and it’s chock-full of options.
A good conversion funnel is an essential part of any successful store.

Funnel your audience through the sales process. Image source: Author
A thriving e-commerce business is good at getting customers, and the first step is acquiring them as potential leads at the beginning of the customer life cycle. The top of the funnel is made up of general traffic, but to pass those people on to the next phase of the funnel, you need to give them a compelling reason to stay.
Starting at the top means grabbing potential customers from all avenues of traffic, and you can accomplish that by designing smart, attention-grabbing pages.
Once your pages are ready, the next step is driving traffic to those pages. The more traffic you have visiting your pages, the more leads you’ll eventually be able to capture. More is more, in this case.
Be purposeful in attracting traffic to your pages.
A good marketing plan includes email touchpoints, but before that can happen, you need to build your email list. You’ll most likely need to be creative in getting those email addresses, since customers can sometimes be reluctant to give their information to yet another business.
Beat skepticism and reluctance with some best practices.
Once you have those precious email addresses, you have an invaluable lifeline to your customers. You can stay fresh in their minds with non-sales-related content as well as send them information on promotions and new products.
Emails can be a touchy matter. Get the most mileage from your email marketing by keeping these ideas in mind.
Success comes from closing sales, and to make sure you’re doing that, you need to track and adjust your sales funnel according to customer behavior. If something’s not working, you need to fix it to make sure you’re always bringing in leads. Your sales funnel should be “living” and always adjustable.
Track and correct your sales funnel efficiently with these best practices.
There are some excellent platforms available that can make the actual store-building process a lot easier.
A favorite of many, Shopify, lets you not only build a shop, but also feel confident in how to run an online store. Shopify was made for creating stores quickly, and it offers several themes you can use for site-building. If you want to get fancier, you can work with a third-party developer to create a shop tailored to your brand.
You can also use the Exchange to purchase a fully functional store and take over as the new owner if you want to skip building altogether.
WooCommerce is essentially a WordPress online store since WooCommerce itself is a WordPress extension. It’s free to install and use, and adding products is just like editing pages in WordPress.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to pay external fees for a domain, hosting, maintenance, and any extras to expand its capabilities.
Squarespace does more than create sleek-looking websites. Squarespace Commerce, its online store builder, shines in templates and themes, so your site is going to look professional and cohesive no matter how you build it.

Create a sleek online store in a few clicks with Squarespace Commerce. Image source: Author
Opening an online store doesn’t have to be a headache. Taking it step by step, you can be up and running swiftly. Have a plan, select a user-friendly platform, and you’ll be on your way to e-commerce success in no time.
Rose Wheeler is a content management expert writing for The Ascent and The Motley Fool.
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