The beauty of an online store is that it does not need your physical presence to make sales. Set up properly, your computer will do all the work for you, and once you are up and running there is very little cost involved in maintaining your website. The advances in technology over recent years have made the whole process of setting up an online store easier. Once you have a product you want to sell, you need to have a storefront. For centuries this has meant having a physical shop window, but now your storefront can be digital. Why not look at our 5 steps to opening your online store? Creating Your Online Store Once you have decided on the products you want to sell, you need to decide how you will start an online store. When you have chosen a name for your online store, you have to register the domain name to make sure you are not using someone else’s, and to stop your name being used by someone else in the future. Once you have your own www address, you need to consider web hosting. Initially, it is better to use one of the platforms such as Shopify or WooCommerce, as either of these will be a much cheaper option than setting up your own website with all the associated problems such as accepting payments. Accepting Payments It is no use having items for sale if you cannot accept payments for them. Using one of the platforms above will let you do this, or you could set up a merchant account with someone like PayPal, as most people are familiar this name. Eventually, you may want to be able to accept debit and credit cards on your own website, but to start with this is costly, and the banks and financial institutions make you jump through hoops to be accepted for a merchant account with them. Decide on Shipping Shipping costs can put people off buying your product because it can increase the price. You need to consider whether you increase the product cost to cover it, will your profit margin be enough to offer free shipping, or is your product so unique and good that people will happily pay the shipping cost to obtain it? Will you only be selling in your own country, or will you be exporting as well? If your product is being sent to another country you may have to deal with customs, exchange rates and even higher shipping costs. Make sure all this is sorted before your online store is launched, or you may find that you cannot fulfil some orders and that is never good for any business. Stocking Your Store Now you are getting close to being ready to launch your online store, but you need to put your products in there first. Again, this is easier if you are using one of the online platforms initially as they let you upload photos, text and prices. Keep the text short but relevant, as potential customers will not bother to read a lot of text, and make the photos as inviting as you can so that they want to look close at the products you are selling. Marketing Your Product When your online store is launched it could just stay there with no customers forever. You need to let people know about it, preferably by announcing a launch date beforehand. These days, marketing need not be the expense it used to be thanks to social media. You can spend time making friends and followers on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and any other social media platform. Just remember that people use these sites to interact with friends and family and bombarding them with promotions about your new online store is likely to make them unfriend you. It is much better to like their posts, comment if they do something good and let them know what you do in a more natural way. Generally, people will buy from a friend rather than a stranger, even a social media friend. Always be ready to answer any questions and do not leave it too long to respond. Leave it a couple of days to respond and your potential customer will have got fed up of waiting and gone elsewhere. Ready to Go So now you have done everything needed and are ready to launch your online store. All that remains is for you not to think this will be easy money. Even an online store needs nurturing if it is to be a success.