How to build a professional online store step by step
Building an online store could look as a super complicated process, well I know this as I was in this situation a few years ago.
Here, in this article I will share with you how you can build a professional successful online store and I will try to answer all questions you may have on this regard.
At the beginning lets define, what is an online store
An online store or shop is an online portal that is dedicated to directly sell products or services, it has so many feature and the most important feature is the shopping cart.
Now let’s answer the most important questions about how you can build an online store and here in this article will focus on the Middle East needs.
How can I build a professional online store without the need of any technical experience?
Basically there are three methods for this
- Hire a company or a developer to build your online store, but this method will take too long time and it’s very expensive not to mention your continuous need for support and development to your online store.
- User an open source script, this method could be good however it will require a minimum level of technical experience and adding to this the need for your continuous follow up with your store technical issues and maintenance as well as your continuous need to manage your hosting
- Use a cloud based online store platform and this is the best way from my point of view, as in this case you will be able to start your professional online store in no time and the company that provided the service will take care of all technical aspects plus the continuous development and support, also this type of platforms are designed especially for users who have no or limited technical experience which will make your store management and launch a super easy process. There is more than 400K online store from around the world who work over these types of platforms. As I am writing this article specially for the Middle East I am going to recommend our Arabic platform which is ExpandCart.com, Using this awesome platform you will be able to launch your online store in no time and you can connect your store with your favorite online payment gateway and also your favorite local shipping courier and many other benefits. We also provide a 15 days free trial so you can test everything before you start.
If I don’t have any products from where can I bring them
Following are some of the most successful ways to source products.
In our case here drop shipping means that you add products from other online shops at your own online store and add a profit margin to the prices and then start your marketing campaign.
Once you receive an order you simply go to the vendor online store and place the same order but you will add your client address as the shipping address so the vendor will directly ship the products to your client and you keep the profit!
As for now one of the best sources for your products is aliexpress.com in which you can find millions of products that are sold directly from its manufacturer with a very good price.
Drop shipping advantages
- Super easy way to start, you don’t need any special tools or experience.
- Access to millions of products.
- No or very limited risk.
- No or very low capital is needed.
Drop shipping disadvantages
- Delivery time could be too long for some products for some Arab Countries.
- Shipping cost could be a bit high for some countries and/or products.
- Low profit margin compared to other methods.
Look for wholesalers in your area
This is one of the best ways and its very well known, simply look for wholesalers in your area who sell products that you want to sell online, and once you find some start contacting them and ask for their dealer price list and then you have two options, first you can start listing these products at your store without purchasing any of them and once you receive any order you start order those products from the wholesaler and ship it to your customers. The other option is to stock some of those products in advance and this will usually help you get a better price.
Advantages of sourcing products from local whole sellers
- Very good profit margin.
- Fast shipping to your products.
- Low or no shipping cost.
Disadvantages of sourcing product from local wholesalers
- Very high competition.
- You will need a good capital to start.
- Kind of a high risk.
Do I need to establish a company to start my online shop
If you are going to take your online business seriously so the answer is YES, using your company registration you will be able to easily open your account with your favorite local courier as well as your favorite payment gateway to accept credit cards and you will also gain more trust from your clients and get better prices from wholesalers.
How can I accept online payment with (Visa, Master Card, PayPal, etc.)
To accept online payments you just need to open your account with one of the payment gateways and then integrate it with your store, if you are using Expand Cart platform this step will be super easy as you will find your online store already integrated with many local and international online payment gateways and you will get help form Expand Cart support team to open and activate your account with the payment gateway.
And here are the links for the recommended payment gateways for Middle East
How can I ship products to my clients
If you are going to use drop shipping, your product vendor will do it on your behalf. If you are going to ship products to your clients by yourself you will just need to open an e-commerce account with your favorite local courier (a shipping company).
How can I attract clients to my online store
Here are 10 tips
- Provide good products or services.
- Make as many offers as possible (discounts, buy one get one free, free shipping, money back guarantee, etc.).
- Start with online paid campaigns and I recommend to start with Facebook Ads that target conversions.
- E-mail marketing, build a customer database and keep following up with them with your recent offers, products, and special offers for special segments of your customers.
- Ask experts, follow experts on this field and ask them. If you are using Expand Cart you can also consult our e-commerce experts for free.
- Optimize your online store for search engines, so you get highly ranked on Google search results and other search engines. If you are using Expand Cart you will find an efficient help on that regard.
- Use Google Adwords, set a budget for Google Adwords campaign.
- Offer free gifts at your online store; offer free content, products, services, or tools for your store visitors, that will help you engage and gain their trust.
- Social media marketing, create pages and/or accounts on social media websites and post good and relevant content there on a daily basis.
- Track your online store visitors, the best tool for this is Google Analytics and its free!
E-commerce is one of the most profitable fields those days, specially in an emerging market like the Middle East. It is the best thing that you can start by yourself with a very low budget compared to any other types of business not to mention the high potential where you can reach millions of dollars in a very short period of time.