How To Become An Online Retailer

Since the 1990s we’ve been told about how the internet was going to be a great way of earning money. And although the tech industry has seen some significant hiccups, it can be an excellent way of making money if done right.

Now, there are several ways to make money online, but this article is going to focus on how to become an online retailer.

But please note that this article is very brief, and not the sort of comprehensive guide you will need when you really get going and want to expand the business to its fullest potential.

Instead, we’re going to give you a good overview of the basics for setting up an online shop and getting your online shop off the ground, in 10 easy to follow steps. And don’t worry, we won’t get technical.

Here goes!

How To Become An Online Retailer

Step 1: Choose your niche and what you want to sell

The first step in becoming an online retailer is to decide what your niche is going to be and what you are going to sell. Ideally this should be something that you are at least somewhat passionate about, in order to maintain your interest and motivation.

This decision may involve looking at how popular the items might be and how fierce the competition is. To do that simply search for the item on Google. You will want at least 100,000 results to prove that people are searching for it. But you will want less than 500,000 results if you don’t want too much competition.

Deciding what product to sell will determine whether you can attract repeat customers. 

And, deciding what it is you want to sell will go some way to determining the logistics of getting the product to the consumer.

Step 2: Determine Your Target Market

In order to properly market your products and your online store to your customers you will need to work out who you are targeting, so that you can decide how best to reach them.

Do they like to browse the likes of Etsy, Pinterest, and Instagram for example?

Step 3: Learn about your Competitors

Learn about other retailers in the same field…

What seems to be working for them? Where have they left a gap that you can fill?

Step 4: Choose between dropshipping or holding your own inventory

With dropshipping, you’re basically a middleman between the supplier and the consumer. 

And as such it has several advantages. There are no warehousing costs, there’s no packaging to do, you can list items on your store with zero risk, and you don’t even need any capital to purchase your items!

Or if you are making downloadable products to sell then you also won’t have to worry about these things.

If however you're making your items by hand, then you will of course have to hold your own inventory and ship it to the consumer.

Step 5: Brainstorm a business name and register your domain name

Try to pick a business name and domain name that states exactly what it is that you want to sell. This is important for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

If it’s something memorable that would be ideal. And for less competition you could look for a “.com” domain name if at all possible.

That said you could also attract customers with what is known as a “long tail” domain.

Step 6: Select an E-Commerce Platform

There are some really great E-commerce platforms around at the moment…

We particularly like Shopify and WooCommerce:

  • To find out more about Shopify, please check out this link
  • To find out more about WooCommerce, please check out this link

Not only are these platforms very easy to use and get to grips with, but they’re also very reliable which is key.

Step 7: Create your website with an online store builder

These days you really don’t need a web designer to make your online store for you. Besides, e-commerce platforms are designed to be very user friendly and it's often just as simple as choosing a theme and uploading pictures of your products.

Moreover, you can usually begin with a free trial from your chosen e-commerce platform. 

You should also set up an “About Us” page which should be friendly and professional, giving a brief description of the business.

Step 8: Set up a company and get a sales tax ID

If you don’t want to be personally liable for what happens to your business, then you need to make the business a legal entity in its own right, such as a corporation. 

Most people recommend waiting until you’re earning a certain amount before you get to this stage however.

You will then also need to get a sales tax ID, and a sales tax permit. It’s simple enough, all you have to do is go to your state’s Department of Revenue website and register there.

You will then be given instructions of when and how frequently your payments are due.

Step 9: Spread the word and launch

Marketing before your launch is very important.

You would be well advised to learn at least the very basics of SEO, such as the importance of targeting particular keywords and including them in heading tags, and image tags.

But you should also be concerned about marketing via social media, as this tends to be where people like to learn about products and services, and you could very easily start to gain a small following.

Having done your customer profiling in Step 2, you should know exactly how to best reach your intended customers.

Step 10: Optimize your site and spread the word some more

And once your online shop has launched the work does not end there…

  • You can learn what tactics best convert to actual sales 
  • You need to keep spreading the word to attract more customers

And remember, don’t get disheartened if you don’t start earning lots of money straight away - these things take time.

All power to you!