E-commerce is one of the hottest industries for both home based and travelling entreprenuers.
What is E-commerce?
E-commerce refers to any type of business conducted online. The most popular example of eCommerce is online shopping, which is defined as buying and selling of goods via the internet on any device.
E-commerce is the fastest growing retail market and it is estimated to reach over $4 trillion in sales in 2020.
E-commerce is a fairly simple yet profitable method of making money online and this guide will focus on creating an online store using Shopify to sell products.
Before you build your online store you need to know what to sell and how to source it. Firstly you need to find a niche, for example, fitness, technology, bodycon/summer dresses, pet products and baby products are very popular right now.
You can also go on Instagram and see what all of the popular instagrammers are promoting to get an idea of what you should sell. Detox and weight loss teas as well as backless, strapless bras and clothing seem to be popular.
Another site where you can do some research is Amazon, you just look at the top selling products in a particular category and write them down. This trick is well known but since you will be selling these products on your own site and not Amazon you do not need to worry about any direct competition.
Finally you can go on YouTube and type in “fitness tracker reviews”, “summer dress review” or a review of any product you have found for additional inspiration.
Setting up your store: Starting Out
After doing your research, create a list of atleast 20 products you want to source, next:
Create an online store with Shopify, it is free for 14 days and no credit card is needed, however during the trial you should have made enough sales to get you started and keep your store going.
You can choose from a range of free and premium themes to help you bring your store to life.
Once you have signed up you can use the powerful Oberlo plugin which is available through the store builder, this will take care of the storing and shipping by allowing you to automate the fufillment processs.
Oberlo is a dropshipping plugin which means that you will not have to physically store, pack and ship any products. You simply import products from Oberlo into your store and start selling, the suppliers do everything else, this is the beauty of drop shipping.
If you plan on just using Oberlo then you can skip “The Finishing Steps (Alibaba)” section after reading the “The Finishing Steps (Oberlo)” section.
Setting up your store: The Finishing Steps (Oberlo)
Next you need to setup a payment processor on your Shopify store, you can use Shopify Payments or a third party solution like PayPal and Stripe.
Create an account on AliExpress and use Oberlo’s chrome extension to import your chosen products in a few minutes.
Setting up your store: The Finishing Steps (Alibaba)
First, setup a payment processor, either Shopify Payments or a third party processor like PayPal or Stripe, you can see a list of supported payment gateways listed by country here.
If you don’t mind fufilling orders yourself you have some startup money you can go to Alibaba, search for the products you listed, find 2–3 suppliers, order a sample, then once you are happy, you can order your first batch. It is best to start with smaller quantities for your first batch:
100–300pcs for really cheap products (less than a dollar)
100pcs for cheap products ($1 — $9)
20–50pcs for expensive items ($10 and above)
Shipping doesn’t take too long so you can always top up your starter batch when sales pick up.
It is best to start your first batch simple, for example if you are selling fitness trackers, start with one color and 50pcs, if you are selling dresses, start with 2–3 colors in 3 sizes (S, M, L) and 20–50pcs each.
Your store should be looking good by now, if you need product pictures you can always ask the suppliers to provide you with them, this is easier than taking the pictures yourself.
Marketing: Leverage the Power of Social Media
Now your store is up and running, next you need to let people know about your new business! Social media can be a powerful marketing tool once you know how to use it.
To run a Facebook Ad campaign you will first need to setup a FB page for your business and run two adverts, one to advertise your Facebook page and one to link back to your store.
Set a budget of $6 — $10 a day depending on how much you are willing to spend but make sure you set a maximum budget of £50 — $100 in total.
Regarding content on your FB page, post relevent content to the niche you are selling in, for example if you are selling fitness products, post articles related to fitness to keep your audience engaged.
The aim of your Facebook page is to attract interest so stick with engaging, interesting and even funny content as long as it is related to the niche your product is selling in.
Remember the Instagram example I mentioned earlier? Well now you can contact the popular Instagram influencers yourself and ask them if they are willing to promote your products for you.
Bare in mind that the larger following the influencer has, the more they will expect you to pay, the smaller and less well known influencers might even do some promotions for free to get them started but I rely on free promotions as a strategy.
Check how many followers the influencer has and offer to pay $25 — $50 to influencers who have 100,000–250,000 followers.
You can even contact Instagrammers with less than 100,0000 followers (i.e 60,000–90,000) but do not offer more than $25 for promotions from them.
Once you have found your chosen Instagrammer, send them a DM and get negotiating!
Marketing: Customer Targeting
When targeting your customers it is best to be specific, this goes for FB ads and social media pages.
If you are selling fitness watches, target people who are active and going to the gym regularly, if you are selling diet forumulas then target people who are trying to lose weight.
When running your adverts it is good to choose big cities (for example Los Angeles and New York if you are targeting US customers and London or Birmingham if you are targeting UK based customers).
So to sum everything up:
- Research potential products using Amazon and list 20 of your favourite products
- Build your online store with Shopify
- Use the Oberlo plugin or source products using Alibaba.
- Setup your payment processor
- Market your store using Facebook and Instagram.
Finally do not forget to reinvest your profits, as your business grows, demand will grow so you need to put your money back into your business to cater to the influx of new customers.
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