Online Retail Business

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to start your own business? Do you think this is the time for you to start your venture? Are you looking for the process you need to go through to start an online retail business?

Many people who wish to have a business of their own find it quite overwhelming to begin. They see many youngsters starting an online business and wonder how they can do it so easily. Well, here’s the truth: it’s not the easiest thing to do, but it is definitely possible to start an online retail business if you know what steps to take and how to begin.

Having a retail business can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the world. You get to see your happy customers longing for your products. The only major obstacle is taking the time to do proper research and understand what’s actually required before you go for it. Sometimes you might need to use the trial and error method, but at other times, you can come across a post like this that will guide you step by step on how to start an online retail business.

Once you are ready and prepared for what’s in store, you will feel more confident while making the critical decisions for your retail business. In this post, we will outline 6 steps that will help you along your journey of becoming an online business owner.

6 Steps to Start an Online Retail Business

Our steps begin when you finalize your decision and select your niche until you make sales and continuously grow your business.

1. Find a Market Gap to Fill

Once you have decided to start an online retail business, you have many options to choose your path. Before diving in, make sure there is demand in the market for the kind of products you want to offer. It might feel like a waste of time to do this research at first, but it really comes in handy as you start investing your time and money to build your online retail business. This step is non-negotiable. You need to select your niche and observe the market trends in that particular niche.

There is no point in having a wonderful store if nobody comes to buy its products. There are many ways to research that help you validate your target market. Sometimes, while doing your research, you might get inspired to divert your focus to a completely different niche. You need to go with whichever niche is deemed the most profitable for you.

Be sure to do proper keyword research. Your marketing channels must have good search engine rankings for any online business to prosper. Keyword research will also help you discover the latest search trends in your target market.

2. Get to Know the Target Audience

If you cannot get customers for your retail business, you won’t get any revenue. It’s as simple as that. You need to know how your target audience thinks and behaves to get customers. Find out about the factors that influence their buying decisions. What problems are they facing? How can your products solve those problems?

A practical approach to getting to know your ideal customers is to find out their pain points. Once you know what bothers them the most, you can focus on reliving their pains and solving their needs. An online retail business that starts with a deep understanding of its buyer persona can stand out in the competition.

If you cannot get customers for your retail business, you won’t get any revenue. It’s as simple as that. You need to know how your target audience thinks and behaves to get customers. Find out about the factors that influence their buying decisions. What problems are they facing? How can your products solve those problems?

3. Write a Business Plan

Compiling raw data through research is one thing, and writing it down in an organized way is another thing. Once you are done with your research about the market and your target audience, it is time to build a written business plan. This will help you ensure all the critical aspects of your online retail business are being catered for in your plan.

Writing a business plan is an excellent way to give your retail business benchmarks and accountability. Laying out everything in writing lets you know if you are on the right path or not. The right direction for your online business leads you to achieve your business goals. A typical business plan has scope for making minor changes and revisions along the way. It covers the following topics.

  • Executive summary
  • Company description
  • Products to sell
  • Competitor analysis
  • Sales and marketing plan
  • Business operations and management
  • Financial projections to request funding

4. Find a Supplier or Manufacturer

To run an online retail business, you have to adopt one of the following paths.

  • Open your own manufacturing unit to produce the products you want to sell
  • Get into an agreement with another manufacturer
  • Find a supplier or wholesaler of manufactured goods.

When looking for a manufacturer or supplier, you need to decide whether a domestic supplier is more suitable for your online business than an overseas supplier. Many retail business owners opt for overseas manufacturers to save costs. But keep in mind that when you buy from international suppliers, you will also incur shipping costs and have to wait for the shipping time for every consignment. Shipping procedures might also cause a drop in the quality of goods.

You can also find suppliers for your online business, such as Alibaba or Shopee. Some retail business owners look for suppliers in directories like Kompass, Sourcify, and ThomanNet. To find wholesale retailers, you can search on Handshake.

Besides these, a simple Google search is a perfect way of finding manufacturers of the goods you want to sell. Google can be your friend in your process to start an online retail business.

Once you find a suitable supplier for your online retail business, think of the questions you want to ask them. Negotiate a good deal with them that benefits both parties in the long run. Check out the reviews that their customers write for them.

Another way of running a retail business is through dropshipping. If you choose to become a dropshipper, you wouldn’t have to worry about manufacturing, designing, or storing the products. All you need to do is find a supplier who agrees to dropship their goods directly to your customers every time you receive an order. You can find these kinds of suppliers on Oberlo and other such platforms.

5. Develop a Brand

As part of your marketing plan, you need to develop a brand for your online retail business. This means you need to work on the visual elements for promoting your business. Branding is the glue that holds customers to a particular industry. If you brand your retail business well, you will be able to prevent your customers from looking for alternatives other than your online store to buy the products they want.

consistency and versatility in its visual branding

Image taken from Strikingly user’s website

Here is a simple checklist of what you need to build your brand.

  • Create a killer logo for your brand that sets it apart from others.
  • Prepare stunning visuals, including your product photos, illustrations, pictures to show your corporate culture, etc.
  • Choose a suitable color palette to compliment your brand personality.
  • Streamline your company’s vision, mission, and core values with your brand personality.

brand logo

Image taken from Strikingly user’s website

There is nothing wrong with taking inspiration from other brands while developing your own brand for your online retail business. Look at other successful online stores and observe the color palettes they use in their web design. Compare a few brand logos with each other to develop the best version for your own brand.

6. Build Your Online Retail Store

Since you will be running your retail business online, you need to build an online store. Now that you have your supplier and brand strategy ready, it is time to develop a website to sell your products from.

If you are looking for an easy, quick, and cost-effective way of doing this, simply create an account on Strikingly and use one of our ready-to-use templates as your web design. You can choose from our store templates or use any other template to build a basic website and then set up a simple store section.

product manager

Image taken from Strikingly

Our tools allow you to build beautiful and comprehensive product pages, where you can upload your product photos, write a product description, and set the price for each item you are selling.

Select a suitable payment gateway to accept payments from your online retail business customers. Strikingly offers PayPal and Stripe and direct payments via debit or credit cards.

payment gateways in Strikingly editor

Image taken from Strikingly

After accomplishing all these steps, you are ready to run your retail business through the website. The only thing left is to market and promote your online retail store to make sales. Integrating your website with any social media pages you have works well for driving more traffic to your product pages. You will also need to work a little bit on your site’s search engine optimization to make it easily discoverable by your target audience.

At Strikingly, we continuously upgrade our web development features to provide you a smooth experience of building and running a website on our platform. If your website is error-free and allows you to make sales smoothly, you can focus more on your online retail business’s marketing and expansion strategies.