Do you want to start selling online but don’t have a large budget? Making a free internet store can be a great solution.
This article will provide you with the knowledge you need to sell online. You’ll find out how to set up an online store, design your store, and maximize your web store’s experience.
Let’s dive in.
What you need to know before creating an online store
Understanding the nuances of ecommerce is crucial before starting an online business. This means researching the various aspects that come with running a product-based business, such as payment processing fees, shipping costs and taxation.
Fees for payment processing vary based on the platform or payment processor you choose. Some platforms may charge a flat fee per transaction while others may take a percentage of each sale.
Shipping costs will vary greatly depending on the size, weight and destination of your online orders. Understanding the shipping rates and delivery times for your chosen carrier is crucial in providing a positive customer experience.
Lastly, taxes can be a complex matter when it comes to ecommerce. You might need to gather and send sales tax, depending on where you are and who your customers are. Researching and complying with tax regulations can save you from legal trouble in the future.
Familiarizing yourself with crucial processes like these is key to operating a successful online business.
Options for setting up your store
There are several platforms available for setting up a free internet store to sell online. Wix, BigCartel, Squarespace, and Shopify are a few popular options to create an online store.
These platforms make it easy for new users to get started because of their simple interfaces and customization options that usually come with an ecommerce website builder.
Shopify offers many features for your online sales including inventory management, order monitoring, and payment processing services.
The drag-and-drop editor provided by Wix, a popular website builder, makes it simple for users to construct and customize their web store.
BigCartel is a platform that’s geared towards artists and makers who want to sell unique products online. It offers a free plan which allows users to list up to 5 products and has a simple user interface.
Squarespace is another popular ecommerce store option that provides users with a range of templates and design options. Moreover, it offers built-in analytics and marketing capabilities to assist users in expanding their businesses.
These platforms are excellent starting points, but they do have their limits. For example, some free plans may have transaction fees or limit the number of products you can list.
You might need to upgrade to a premium plan or consider migrating to a more powerful platform as your business expands.
Still, these free online shop solutions offer a terrific place to start for those who wish to start selling online.
What to remember when setting up your online store
It’s easy to get bogged down in the details of running an ecommerce business. Here are some of the fundamental best practices to always remember as you start (and grow) your business.
Keep the user experience central
It’s essential that you keep the user experience in mind while setting up your ecommerce website.
A user-friendly website that provides accurate product descriptions, photos, and prices can help attract more customers to your target market and boost sales.
To help clients find what they’re searching for, consider adding a search bar or categorizing your products.
Making high-quality product photos available from various angles can also assist buyers in making informed purchase decisions.
To keep visitors interested, it’s essential to frequently update your website with new goods, special offers, and sales. You can also look into optimizing your website for mobile users to make your shop more accessible on mobile devices.
Periodically, we recommend going through the entire shopping/checkout process on your website from the perspective of a user.
- What’s frustrating or unintuitive?
- How can I make the process smoother?
- Are there any unnecessary friction points I can remove to encourage more sales?
- Is the checkout process intuitive on all devices?
Provide incredible customer service
One of the best things about starting a new business is that you have the bandwidth to treat every customer like they’re your only customer.
This is a luxury even large ecommerce brands don’t enjoy.
Good customer service means having clear policies on shipping, returns, and exchanges, as well as providing timely responses to customer inquiries.
Make sure to go above and beyond in serving your customers. This is the best way to increase their lifetime value and potentially turn them into an ambassador for your brand.
One surefire way to frustrate your customers is to obscure your contact info or make yourself hard to get a hold of. Clearly post your phone number or email address on your website and make sure you’re easy to contact in the case of customer support inquiries.
Develop an inventory management strategy
One of the most important aspects of building a successful ecommerce brand is starting off with a comprehensive inventory management system.
We’d venture a guess that many business owners shrug this off as a “nice-to-have,” likely because it’s behind the scenes and not a felt need in the early stages of an ecommerce store.
But once you start growing, you’ll likely add more SKUs. More SKUs mean more storage needs, barcoding, label printing, and warehouse space.
Then, you’re looking into hiring employees. By that point, you’ll be very glad you built your business on a strong inventory management philosophy.
Creating an online store doesn’t have to be difficult, and there are countless free tools available today to make the process as simple as possible.
While these tools have their limitations, they’re designed to grow with you. So as more sales roll in, you can justify the investment into higher tiers and more premium features.
This makes it possible to build a successful ecommerce business completely bootstrapped with zero debt or funding.
In addition to the things mentioned in this post, high-quality product photos and branding visuals go a long way. If you’re not a designer or photographer, we’d recommend making the investment in hiring a professional (or two).
Go look at a few ecommerce sites – they’re 90% images. Having professional images can be the difference between looking trustworthy and amateur. Don’t skimp on this step.
FAQs about starting a free online store
What are the steps needed to start selling online?
To make an online store, choose an ecommerce platform, a domain name and a web hosting provider. Create product pages, register with payment providers, customize your checkout process, and market your store.
Be natural and inject personality into your store while staying professional.
What is the best ecommerce platform for creating an online store?
The best ecommerce platform depends on your needs and budget. Some of the most popular platforms include Shopify, Wix, BigCommerce, Squarespace, and Weebly.
What kind of domain name should I choose for my store?
The best domain name depends on your business and brand, but you should aim to make your custom domain short and memorable. You can also use keywords in the domain that relate to what you’re selling so customers can quickly find your ecommerce website.
What web hosting provider should I use for my store?
Choosing the right web hosting provider for your store will ensure optimal performance and customer satisfaction. Your selection should be based on factors such as your anticipated traffic levels and desired loading speeds. Some popular providers include Bluehost, HostGator, GoDaddy, SiteGround and DreamHost.
To make an informed decision, consider reading reviews and conducting research on each potential provider. Additionally, look for features such as strong security protocols, reliable uptime, and responsive customer support.
How do I set up product pages for my online store?
Most ecommerce platforms have tools that make it easy to add and manage products on your website. To make informed purchase decisions, customers need descriptions, images, and other details about each product. Be sure to provide all necessary information when adding products to your eCommerce website.
What payment providers should I use for my online store?
Payment providers such as PayPal, Stripe, and Square are popular options that make it easy to accept payments on your website. You’ll need to register with each payment provider you plan to use and add their integration into your online store builder.
How can I customize how my checkout process works?
Most ecommerce platforms allow you to customize how your checkout process works. This includes adding extra steps or custom fields, allowing customers to save their payment information for future purchases, and setting up automated emails after a purchase is complete.
What strategies should I use to market my online business?
Promoting your store involves a combination of marketing strategies. Creating unique content and sharing it on your site and social media is a popular option. Additionally, using email campaigns to reach existing customers can be effective. Paid advertising platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads are also worth considering.
Keep your target customers in mind when deciding on which strategy to use. By understanding their preferences and behaviors, you can tailor your marketing efforts to maximize engagement and conversion rates.
What other tips should I know?
Creating an online store takes more than just selecting an ecommerce platform and setting up product pages. In addition to these basics, you should also consider important factors such as customer service, shipping options, website security, and local laws.
To provide excellent customer service, establish procedures for handling inquiries and resolving issues quickly. Accurate shipping estimates help keep customers informed and satisfied. And to ensure trust and safety, use SSL encryption and other security measures on your website.
Finally, it’s important to comply with local laws when selling products in different areas. This may involve additional steps depending on the region, but it’s crucial for protecting your business and reputation.
By taking these steps, you can build a professional and reputable online store that attracts and retains customers.
While it may be challenging, starting an ecommerce business doesn’t have to be complex. You can accomplish your goals if you have the tools and resources required.
Make sure you select a platform that meets your demands by conducting research and staying informed about ecommerce best practices.
Lastly, focus on creating a user-friendly, professional website, and providing excellent customer service to gain consumer trust.
By following these simple guidelines, you can begin your journey toward developing your dream ecommerce business.
Once you’ve got your storefront set up, it’s time to develop your inventory management strategy.
Learn how Linnworks helps ecommerce business owners streamline all aspects of their inventory management.