It’s an exciting time for entrepreneurship – particularly when it comes to retail. As consumers increasingly turn to social media to help navigate their shopping decisions, it’s easier than ever for new brands and retailers alike to gain awareness while also gaining customers thanks to online marketing.
As a result, creating an online business is a great strategy to consider. Before you can launch an online business, however, you need to create the framework for your future success. It takes a comprehensive business plan, as well as consistent social media activity, to attract and maintain regular online customers.If you’re ready to start generating income with your own online store, check out these 5 tips to help you get started.
Research Your Competitors
Competitor research is an important step in identifying where there is an opening in whichever sector of the retail industry you’re about to branch into. You can determine the path you want to take with your retail business and branding by seeing what works and what doesn’t on your competitors’ websites, inventory assortments, and social media pages. Researching your competitors can also help you to identify what demographics comprise your target audience, as well as what type of content resonates best with your future customers. The questions to ask yourself during this evaluation process include: what are your competitor’s strengths? Weaknesses? How can you attract some of their customers to your online business based on their existing marketing and inventory strategies? Remember, knowing your competitors will help you prepare to better understand your own action steps in building your online store. Take the time to review your competition as you build your business…and don’t stop. Consistently keeping an eye on your competition will allow you to best manage your own brand.
Create a Winning Business Plan
Unless you intend on financing your own retail venture, you will need to apply for a small business loan to secure the funds you need to get started. To do this, you will need to create a business plan that imparts your knowledge and enthusiasm about your particular products, as well as conveying practical details such as estimated start-up costs and profit projections. If you’re more of a dreamer than a number person, have no fear! There are plenty of free online resources to guide you through the process of creating a business plan. What don’t you want to do, however? Overlook this key step when launching your online business.
Invest in Your Website’s Search Engine
Today all retailers should invest in making their inventory selection easy-to-navigate. For online stores in particular, however, investing in an intelligent search engine so that your online shoppers can easily find the inventory items they’re looking for is an absolute must. After all, Shopify reports that 81 percent of shoppers do online research before they make a purchase. Put your business in a prime position to attract and convert new customers by investing in a website search engine that easily identifies customer keywords and matches them to all available products. Your website’s search engine should also have the capacity to allow customers to filter items by size, color, category and brand when necessary.
Utilize Keywords to Get Discovered
Did you know that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has the highest ROI out of all types of online marketing campaigns? It’s true – learning and using the trending keywords in your retail niche can help to drive potential customers to your website from universal search engines such as Google, ultimately resulting in increased sales for your retail brand. Keywords should be unique to your particular industry and the product you’re marketing. Check out this guide by BigCommerce for more specific guidance on how to achieve the best keyword ranking possible for your online business.
Social Media Takes Time
Rome wasn’t built in a day and your company’s social media traffic won’t be, either. It takes regular, consistent action and high-quality output – including images, posts, videos, blogs, and engagement – to achieve a large social media following. Don’t get discouraged as you work to build your online store’s notoriety. Remember, every single view you get on social media is a potential customer for your brand. Keeping this in mind, rest assured that you’re laying the foundation for a dynamic, engaged customer base down the line if you stay consistent to your social media efforts.
Before you can start a successful online business, you need a strong game plan – which will be your roadmap to success when times get tough as well as when times are moving along as planned. This admittedly means doing some legwork to generate a strong online presence and a following for your retail brand, but the work you (and your team) put in today will be your ticket to future success once your brand is established. Finally, enjoy it! This journey takes time but it’s also incredibly rewarding along the way.
Take advantage of ASD Market Week’s 90+ free retail strategy sessions this July 29-August 1, 2018 in Las Vegas.
By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, RetailMinded.com