how to start an online store

You have a business or a business idea, but you’re stuck on where to start. With all of the disruptions the world has experienced recently along with technological advancements we’ve seen this past decade, ecommerce has flourished and is primarily how people choose to shop now. Whether you’re starting out or seeking to move your business or products online, here’s a definitive guide on how to start an online business.

Find a business structure

Before you start your business, you need to choose a business structure and legally file it. Filing legally protects your business and makes it recognizable by the government. How you choose to file also determines tax status, business funding, personal liability, and what paperwork you file. If you choose to file, it’s recommended you consult a business lawyer. A business lawyer can draw up contracts, answer any questions you may have, and can protect your business by ensuring you go through that process legally.     

Regardless of what entity you choose to file your business as, you will need to apply for any licenses or permits related to your business structure and location. For more information regarding this, you can consult the US Small Business Administration to learn more about what you’ll need. 

Pick a platform

Choosing your website platform is important. It’s the first thing potential customers will interact with, so you want your website to be easy to navigate as well as eye-catching. Your website is a reflection of your brand, so you want to choose a website building platform with the best tools to help you get there.

GoDaddy offers some of the best tools on the web to build your site. They offer mobile friendly designs unique to your business with their website builder, access to training videos and resources to optimize your website, WordPress security plugins, and more depending on the plan you choose.

Get a domain name

Your domain name represents your brand, so choose wisely when brainstorming. Pick something unique that speaks to what you do or what you sell, and try not to choose a name that already exists. It’s important for your domain name to be closely associated with your product, services, values, or your industry. If you can, try to include your products category or product type directly in your name so shoppers can easily identify what you’re selling.

Take SEO into account when you begin thinking about your domain name. Find keywords or terms popularly used for shoppers to find products or services like yours. GoDaddy offers special services with a team that specializes in SEO and marketing with the goal of helping you grow your business and put it at the top of any web search.    

Design your site

This is where your brand can showcase its personality. Arguably one of the most creative aspects of your business, your site should be a reflection of your brand and a place with eye-catching visuals and products that will easily convert shoppers into buying. Not only are looks important here, but your site should be designed for an easy user experience. Your products and services should be easily accessible so shoppers can feel confident purchasing. 

Consider how other major brands or like brands structure their sites. Take a look and see how easily navigable it is. Pay attention to things like navigation bars, pages, color palettes, and even terminology that would relate to your audience.

Create a branding strategy

Branding falls under a large umbrella that includes things like your business name, logo, color palette, and tone. If you’re in the branding stage, you should consider creating a brand identity that closely matches what you are and how you want to be perceived.

Selecting the perfect brand palette or creating a unique and memorable logo plays a huge role in branding. It’s not only crucial to think about your brand’s personality, but to consider what your audience might like. Tone of voice ties closely into branding as well. Do you want to sound friendly, playful, or professional? These factors should be taken into consideration when writing product descriptions, social media posts, and any other kind of communication relating to your business. Things like emails, products, marketing campaigns, shipping, and your website, should reflect the tone of voice you want your brand to have. 

Find a target audience

Who will you be selling to? The more you know about your product and your audience puts you at an advantage in terms of success. A great way of determining who your ideal customers are is by creating buyer personas. Buyer personas will help you create marketing campaigns and should act as a construct of your ideal customer. You as the business owner identify and define what that persona would look like and how they fit into your brand or product.

Stuck on where to start? Some questions to ask yourself are: Who will use my products? What is my target demographic? What other brands does my ideal base interact with? Answering these questions allows you to quickly figure out who your customer will be.

Pick a payment provider

If you’re selling online, it’s likely that you’ll accept credit card payments. The next big step to take to sell online is to pick a payment provider. Offering multiple payment methods caters to all types of shoppers and might prompt more people to buy from your site as you offer more options.

Online payments are more than credit cards or digital wallets like PayPal or Apple Pay. Another form of online payments also includes payment gateways which is an ecommerce platform that authorizes credit cards or direct payments. It’s completely safe and ensures a successful transfer of funds. Whatever type of payment gateway you choose, your provider will most likely verify your bank account before you can cash in the money you earn.    

Create marketing campaigns

Once all of these steps are taken to start your online store, you’re ready to start creating strategic marketing campaigns. Paying attention to areas like social media, email marketing, SEO, and creating special loyalty programs, all help to set your business up for successful marketing that will reach your target audience and beyond.

You can also utilize paid marketing tools like Facebook and Instagram ads as well as Google shopping ads. Paying for marketing like this will help you target specific audiences and will keep you at the top of any search engine. Anything you have to pay for is an investment for your business, but investing in marketing is priceless.   

Ready to create your online store?

Starting an online business has never been easier. Website platforms like GoDaddy take care of the difficult stuff. Your website can be live within days, meaning you can put more focus into selling your products or services. GoDaddy takes care of everything from website development, to payment tools, and even helps with marketing. The only thing you need to worry about is your business plan. Once you have your model picked, you’re ready to create your online store. What are you waiting for? Start selling today.

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