Most of you or some of you have heard about online stores. The kinds of Amazon and not the forest, e-bay, Jumia and many more that are out there. I know you are wondering what is an online store? Allow me to indulge you.
An online store is just like your local store where you go to buy stuff that you need or don’t need but want. The only difference with your local store is that, the online store, is on the internet, it’s a website or an application. You have to access the internet, in order for you to shop. The Good thing is an online is also another form of making money online
There are a few advantages and disadvantages of having an online store. I will touch on a few and by the end of this reading you will have already made up your mind on whether you want one or not.
You can set up an online store using various methods. It will all depend with your needs and requirements. Let’s talk about a few ways that you can setup an online store.
- You can hire a developer, software developer or website developer. That way you can tell them your needs and requirements. In case you have any designs in mind, you will discuss with them and this way your online store will have a more personal feel and touch to it, this way you will be involved in its development. Be prepared to spend some money, because you will have to pay the developer and for site hosting.
- You can use one of the existing website building platforms to open your store, e.g. Shopify or Wix. In this one, you will choose your design depending on the available list of designs that they have. Not to worry about how it looks, you can customise it to change the things you don’t like. It won’t take too much of your time. And the only money you will need to use is to pay for hosting and buying the domain as well. This method is convenient if you want to set up your site as soon as possible.
- Just like how you use Facebook or Instagram. You can open an account on one of the existing online stores platforms like amazon. All you have to do is open an account, i.e. sign up and post your products. This method is convenient since more people are likely to come across your products but you wouldn’t be in control in terms of managing your store. You will have to pay a fee to amazon of course.
- You will have to come up with a way, of how your customers are going to get their deliveries. Since the whole point of setting up an online store is so that customers won’t have to stop doing their day to day activities, in order for them to go shopping. That way they can get whatever they require at their desired location.
- Describe your products, make sure that they are engaging and attractive to the eye. It’s all about sight. Think of your products from the perspective view of the customer. If you see your product why would you want to buy it? You have to be engaging, have a few people review your product and state its benefits as well.
- Come up with a return policy or warranty. In case your product is defective, can it be returned? And if yes, is it liable to be exchanged or is the money refundable? Make sure that your customers have trust in your products and they feel safe buying them.
- Setup a payment method. How do you want your customers to pay for your products? Is it pay on delivery or do they pay online and wait for the product to be delivered? What are the various ways available for them to pay online? Whatever method you choose make sure that you and your customers are both in agreement. You don’t want your business to go down in a drain due to losses.
- Market your store/products. Social media has made it easy to market or promote products. You can open a few social media accounts for your store and make sure that they are all linked. So that one piece of information in one account will be displayed in all your accounts and that way your customers will get relevant information on time. You can also open a google AdSense/AdWords account and create campaigns for your store at a fee you can manage, and choose your targeted audience and location. With no time your store will be doing better than you expected.
- You can use the word of mouth to promote your store. Tell your customers that they can now get your products online. Hand out some flyers to a few people. That way you will feel involved and in case of any questions they might have about the store, you can answer them personally.
- Last but not least, setup a feedback mechanism, people might have queries about your products/services, you want to know what your customers are thinking, that way you will be able to improve your store and even have some insights on things you had not thought about.
- Your customers can access your products wherever they are, anytime of day or night and at their own convenience.
- Free delivery. You will have the opportunity to bring your customers goods to their doorstep or desired location. This will mean you will have to hire a few people to ensure that goods are delivered on time and at the right address. That way you will be creating job opportunities for people out there.
- Your customers won’t have to worry that the store is closed. The internet is never asleep. Your goods and services will be available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This will mean that your business is never asleep, which is good for it, since you will also be creating traffic to your store, the more traffic, the higher your chances of earning extra income from sites like google.
- There are lots of options available for your customers to choose from. If by any chance you think of a new product you want to launch or service, all you have to do is press a button and it will be available to your customers as fast as lightning. It will make it easier for you to launch new products.
- 24 hours client service. This will mean you will have to hire some assistants. But not to worry, there are virtual assistants nowadays, it will be impossible for you to manage your business alone especially if it starts to grow. You will have to make sure that your customers have a response anytime they need it. Good client service will increase your sales.
- You will be saved on paying bills. You won’t have to worry about not having rent to pay for your rented store or electricity bills or water bills. Since your store is online. Maybe, the only thing you need to hire is a warehouse to store your goods. Where they can be picked for delivery or you can as well store them in your house. The only bill you will have to worry about is web hosting services which don’t cost a lot.
- It might be difficult to set up delivery services to some locations.
- Might be a bit expensive.
- You will have to be on the lookout for frauds or people who try to imitate your services/products.