How to Start an Online Retail Business in 8 Steps

How to Start an Online Retail Business in 8 Steps

Many people feel it’s overwhelming to try and learn how to become an online seller. Here’s the truth: while it isn’t the easiest thing you’ll ever do, it can definitely be one of the most rewarding.

The biggest obstacle is taking the time to do your research and understand what’s required before you dive in. And then, you’ll need to use the old-fashioned “trial and error” method before you find success.

The name of the game is being prepared and ready for what’s in store. That way, you can be confident that you’re making great decisions that bring you closer and closer to your dream life .

That’s why I’ve outlined eight steps that will help you on your way to being an ecommerce entrepreneur. I’ve also included plenty of links to resources, guides, and articles you can bookmark for further reading on the topics we discuss here.

1. Find a Market Need to Fill

When it comes to starting an online retail business, you have a lot of options. A whole lot.

Before you dive in, make sure there’s a need in the market for the products you want to sell. Doing this research might seem time-consuming at first, but it’s a non-negotiable part of finding good online retail business ideas.

There’s no point in having a beautiful store if nobody makes a purchase, right?

There are loads of places where you can do market research to validate market need for your ideas and find inspiration for new ones.

2. Get to Know Your Target Audience

No customers , no revenue. It’s a simple formula that everyone can understand. But what’s not so simple is figuring out how to find potential customers, get them to visit your online store, and convert them into paying customers.

There’s virtually an infinite amount of ways to make this happen. But it all starts with having a deep understanding of who your ideal customer is.

The main thing to understand is your customers’ pain points and needs. Once you know these, you can make sure that your online retail business is truly reliving those pains and solving those needs.

Facebook’s Audience Insights tool is an incredible resource, with a lot of user data and targeting capabilities to help you find your ideal customers quickly – even down the pages they like on Facebook. If you decide to run Facebook Ads , this tool will be a big help.

3. Research Business Logistics and Requirements

While it’s great for you to dream big about your online retail business opportunities, you also need to ground those dreams in reality.

There are several things for you to consider before you can be sure that your idea will work. Do some research to make sure you understand all the laws, regulations, resources, and logistics of your store idea.

4. Write a Business Plan

An online retail store business plan is a must-have. Creating a business plan will help make sure you’re looking at all the important parts and planning for them appropriately.

It’s also a great way to give yourself accountability and benchmarks. When you lay everything out, you’ll be able to know if you’re on the right path toward meeting your goals or if you need to make some changes along the way.

5. Find a Manufacturer or Supplier

If you’re interested in manufacturing your own products, you’ll need to find a trustworthy and reliable manufacturer. 

6. Develop a Brand

Design and branding are the glue that holds your customer relationships together. It’s easy to think of branding as the last step – but don’t. It should be something you start thinking about even as you’re writing your business plan, before you start building your company.

7. Build Your Online Retail Store 

Now for the fun part! Bring all your ideas to life.

Sign up for an ecommerce platform like Sofee. If you’re dropshipping, you can also sign up for Sofee , which was built to supercharge the whole dropshipping process on Sofee stores.

8. Create a Marketing Plan

One you have a store, the next step is to get people to it.

Your marketing plan can range from almost $0 to thousands of dollars. If you’re bootstrapping your business and aiming to start an online store with no money, there are plenty of low-cost and free ways to get exposure for your brand.

Email marketing is a great way to build long-term relationships with your subscribers. Just make sure you’re not spamming them with sale announcements. Try to add value to their day in a way that’s related to your brand.