Do you want to start your own online store? This is a good solution! The e-commerce market is developing at a rapid pace, which is also accelerating. So, you are wondering what the running of an online store looks like in practice and what aspects should be taken care of in this area to achieve success? We suggest how the online store works!
Many people decide to operate in the area of e-commerce, and the number of online stores is growing. However, you must be aware that strong competition also means that only the best will survive on the market. Although a good idea for a business in the virtual world is the foundation, you also need to know how to set up an e-store and how to run it. This is a serious challenge and it means a lot of work. However, if you put in enough effort (and invest your energy the right way), you’ll find a way to generate long-term and stable income.
What do you need to run an online store?
The online store is unequal to the online store. You have to be aware of this. What does this mean in practice? It’s just that the functioning mechanisms of this business are largely dependent on this:
– what do you sell,
– on what scale do you operate,
– how do you advertise?
– what is the UX of your website like,
– whether you sell only in your country or on the international market,
– do you store the offered goods yourself or do you use the dropshipping model.
However, no matter how your online store works, you need a few basic components. It will not work without them. What exactly are we talking about?
It is the name of your store, and at the same time the address that customers must reach to be able to use your services. Choose it wisely – so that it is unique, easy to remember, and at the same time related to the industry in which you operate. Contrary to appearances … it’s not as easy as it seems. This is because in almost every market niche there are a large number of online stores. Therefore, you cannot afford to follow the “obvious” path, because there are already others on it.
How to solve this problem? For example, you might think about starting your store on a non-standard domain. Alternative and unusual endings can become a characteristic part of your brand name, but they can also slightly reduce the credibility of the domain in the eyes of the recipient. You can also reach for an expressive and “flashy” word that may not seem related to the area in which you operate, but at the same time will allow you to create a strong brand.
Every online store works on the basis of it. It is a kind of “machine”, which is responsible both for presenting goods on the website and for handling the ordering process. Thanks to the use of an appropriate e-commerce platform, your customers can:
– adding a product to the basket,
– placing and confirming an order,
– making the payment and selecting the form of sending the goods.
All this information reaches you in real time, and you can react efficiently and set the logistics process in motion.
Here, too, you have a choice of several solutions. The two most popular are open-source platforms and SaaS software. The first one is suitable for intermediate users who want to have full control over the functioning of the store, and at the same time are not afraid of investments related to the configuration and implementation of the system.
The second model, based on SaaS platforms, is a good solution for beginners. Following this path, you don’t have to worry about complicated configuration or the need to invest in hosting. You will get everything in the subscription package. However, such a system is less flexible – you will not adjust it perfectly to your business model, and when you stop paying for services, you will lose access to the e-store.
Which solution to choose? Both have their advantages and disadvantages. If you have no experience at all, SaaS platforms seem to be a better course of action, as they reduce the number of implementation tasks to a minimum. However, if you want to run a larger store and need a more advanced system – take a closer look at the possibilities offered by advanced software.
The obvious obviousness? Apparently so, but you have to choose the model of running a warehouse for goods. Modern e-shops usually operate in two ways.
The first is to run your own product warehouse. This is a solution that you will reach for, for example, when the e-shop is an extension of your stationary activity. It also works well if you are the manufacturer of the items you offer and sell them in small quantities. In such cases, a small home warehouse that you can handle yourself is usually enough.
But what when the number of processed orders begins to increase? Then you can either hire a larger team to handle parcel shipping, or think about the fulfillment model, i.e. renting a warehouse with service that will take care of the logistics of shipping goods. You deliver products to it and supervise their flow, but the rest of the tasks rests with your contractor from the logistics industry.
The second, typically outsourcing solution is becoming more and more popular. However, you need to carefully select the subcontractor – so as not to lose control over the efficiency of sending parcels. Remember: today, the time when the shipment will be made is one of the main competitive advantages. The sooner the better!
The second solution is to run a shop in the dropshipping model. This solution is chosen by beginners in the world of e-commerce, as well as those who want to treat the e-shop as an additional source of income. How it’s working? You take care of the technical facilities of the e-shop (the page where you can order products), as well as activities related to marketing and customer service. On the other hand, you transfer orders to a wholesaler, which fulfills them with its own resources. So you de facto act like a “sales department”, but you are not physically involved in sourcing, storing or shipping products. It is a faster, cheaper and easier to implement solution. However, it should be remembered that in this business model you can count on a lower percentage of the revenues generated than when using your own warehouse.
Staff to handle
For starters, if you run a small online store in the dropshipping model, and this activity is the most important element of your professional work, you can handle the service yourself. Especially in the first few months, when you take your first steps in the world of e-commerce, this may be enough. And over time, when your website begins to gain popularity, you will be able to think about expanding your team.
However, it must be remembered that the appropriate number of employees is a guarantee of efficient customer service. You will need them, e.g. to handle customer inquiries about specific products, order fulfillment status, as well as accept any returns and complaints. Remember: some of these tasks will help a well-planned IT system that uses artificial intelligence. For example, chatbots can be a support, as well as the automation of e-mail messages sent to customers (the latter solution is provided by most e-commerce platforms).
With your own warehouse, you will also need a team for picking, packing, shipping and shipping. So measure your intentions and hire as many people as you really need. Efficient customer service at all stages is extremely important. Mistakes when sending orders or long delays in their implementation will be a clear signal to the customer that a high standard of service should be sought … from others.
Payment acceptance system
In theory, it would be enough to provide the customer with the account number to which he would make a transfer for the ordered goods. Exactly, in theory. While about 10 years ago such a solution would have “passed”, today – not necessarily. It is simply not very comfortable, and at the same time slows down the payment accounting process.
Think for yourself: how do you pay for goods ordered online? You probably prefer simple and quick methods, such as Pay Pala or Google Pay. Your customers too!
But be careful! Fast electronic payments are not all payment methods that should be implemented in your e-store. Remember that:
– there is a large group of customers who are skeptical about online
shopping. They may only want to pay for the goods upon receipt,
and therefore in the “cash on delivery” option. It
should also be made available, in agreement with the courier company or postal
– if your e-shop sells quite expensive products, it is worth giving buyers the option to purchase them in installments or by using the deferred payment option.
How to choose the best payment system for your e-shop? Take a closer look at all available options and check both the scope of service and the commissions charged by transaction websites. The lower they are, the more favorable prices you can offer your customers.
Ensuring efficient shipment of products
As with the payment method, your customers will expect flexibility when it comes to shipping method. The modern market gives it, and you, as a seller, can cooperate not only with courier companies, but also with those that deliver goods to collection points. The latter solution becomes more popular from year to year – it is often cheaper for the customer, and at the same time more convenient. By using it, you do not have to wait at home for the courier, and the package can be picked up at any time.
For you, as a seller, this will mean establishing business relationships with several suppliers. When executing large quantities of orders, you can negotiate its terms and get more favorable rates. This is another way to make your offer more attractive to buyers, for example by offering them free shipping.
How does the online store work in the dropshipping model?
The elements described above are key for a store that operates in a traditional model with its own warehouse. But what if you decide to operate in dropshipping mode? Then the functioning of the e-shop looks a bit different.
Your duties as an e-shop operator focus on:
– customer acquisition,
– providing them with a platform on which they can make a purchase,
– order handling in terms of communication with the customer and the warehouse of the warehouse.
On the part of the wholesaler, there are obligations related to the handling of the entire logistics process – i.e. with completing the order, packing it, addressing it and sending it to the buyer.
If the customer returns the products, you are again responsible for direct contact with the buyer and for sending information to the warehouse about the returned products and further steps in customer service.
In this model, the scope of your duties focuses mainly on sales.
What to do to make the e-shop work well and be popular?
The very opening of an e-shop is only the first step in a long process. You should be fully aware of this. Your store will be one of tens, hundreds or even thousands in the industry. Therefore, you need to provide it with adequate visibility and build customer trust. What elements to pay attention to in this context?
Service quality is essential
The features that influence positive opinions about your store are, first of all, the efficiency of communication with the customer and the speed of delivery. The more effectively you inform buyers about the status of their order, the greater the chance for full satisfaction with the established cooperation.
That is why it is so important to use solutions that automate the process of basic communication with the client. E-stores that opt for transparent messages tend to be perceived as more credible and customers are more likely to trust them again.
Attractive terms of
Offer your customers more than your competition. What? For example, free shipping when placing an order for a certain amount. If you develop good cooperation rules, e.g. with a courier broker, you will not incur high costs for it, and the client will perceive your offer as more attractive. You can also extend the statutory time limit for returning products – provided the product range you trade allows it.
Skillful advertising and SEO
Without a good advertising campaign, your offer will disappear among hundreds of others. Therefore, it is worth taking care of optimizing the e-store itself for the purposes of positioning (e.g. website responsiveness, speed of its response to online inquiries, as well as the quality of content present in the e-store), as well as the use of advertising tools are important. Which and how? There are many possibilities. However, well-targeted Google Ads are the most effective, as well as campaigns on social media.
To this should be added activities related to inbound marketing, e.g. obtaining leads, running a newsletter related to a company blog or a fanpage on FB or Instagram. There are plenty of possibilities. However, it is important that the campaign is conducted consistently and that it is aimed at achieving specific business goals.
Remember: promotional activities are an indispensable and PERMANENT element of running an online store. Marketing tools are your foundation in communicating with customers – current, past and potential. The more you invest in well-run ad campaigns, the higher ROI you can expect. However, you have to remember that you have to wait for really good results – this is understandable, because a potential customer has to go through the entire marketing funnel to make the final purchase decision.