How to build and manage a successful online store - the ultimate guide
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How to build, launch & manage a successful online store

how to build launch and manage online stores

Your ultimate guide on how to build , launch and manage your successful online store

Well you want to start your own business, or may be you already have your own business as a retailer and you want to build your successful profitable online store. At this guide will cover everything your need to know about how you can build , launch & manage a successful online store starting from the products to sell , to the eCommerce platform to use moving to marketing and traffic generation tactics and much more .. So lets start with the first step.

 

Find best products to sell online

You should start by selecting your niche market and this can be done by simple market re-search .. ooh! don’t be panic it’s not that type of complicated useless research here I am talking about a real simple and efficient market research that you can do in minutes but there is a step before the research .. Follow Your Passion! yeah researches are basically made to compare between more than one thing so don’t let the research tell you in what you should work you should start by your passion.

So if you have a passion about Cars and Speed this should be your start point to find the best product niche in Cars industry. Lets’ start with examples.

Will go to the world largest online stores and start searching on relevant products as follow

Amazon.com 

Will start by searching on “car accessories” with different relevant keywords & look for best selling products & those who have more than 200 review and rated with 4 or more stars .. see examples in screen shots below.

and here is a sample for an interesting product

Now repeat the same steps with Aliexpress , banggood and more..

Aliexpress car accessories search link

and here is an interesting product

 Now the above step could be enogh to define a niche but yet there are more steps you can do for better decision.

Google Trend

Google trend is a free tool from google that shows how frequently a given search term is entered in google search engine and it’s defined by time to show the interest change by time for a given search term.  In our research will use Google Trend to check the interest in our selected niche market as follow.

Well the chart shows that interest is kind of stable with one peak on November to December 2017 , That’s good indicators but you better keep fine tune your search till you reach a trending term in which you will use to define your exact niche market .. so lets see how.

AAAnd here you go . just found the exact niche a trending niche market that is just moving up now… You got the idea ?

You just gonna keep searching trying different keywords till you found the best trending products that has the highest popularity .. but here I want to tell you something!! more popular niche market mean also more competition .. well you just want to keep that in mind as you don’t want to look for the most popular or most trending niche market ever what you want to find is ENOGHT INTEREST , ENOGHT PEOPLE IN YOUR TARGETED COUNTRY TO BUY YOUR PRODUCT.

Bonus step is to use Facebook ADS manager for more data , lets see how:

and here will use a feature in Facebook Ad Manager called Audience insights in the next step select Every one Facebook as shown in screenshot.

and HYG .. here you will be able to find an exact number of interested buyers in a given location on a given niche market.

as you can see I have just selected the niche market and the location ( targeted country ) and I got millions of interested audience with insights about those audience like Sex , age and education level and more… isn’t it great..

Just want to remind you that so far we didn’t spend a penny on this research all the mentioned tools are 100% free and you can perform the research your self.

 

Based on this research I have selected the Interior Car Accessories to be my niche market.. Go ahead and select yours!! 

Now as you have selected your niche market it’s time to select the exact products to sell, to find best products to sell I would recommend that you use Aliepxress , and banggood as for aliexpress you will find millions of products with lower prices as they get sold by its manufacturer in most of the cases , the same thing with banggood but with less number of products & more featured products and it has some products that you may won’t find it anywhere else.

Sourcing products

If you are not an expert retailer you of-course now are thinking about how can I source these products? here is how:

1- Drop-Shipping

Drop-shipping is a retail fulfillment method in which you don’t have to sell a product that you already have in stock instead you order products from 3rd party ( supplier ) and the supplier ships products directly to your customer as a result the merchant ( You) won’t see or handle products and or shipping or any kind of logistics.  Here is how it works in steps:

  1. Select the supplier ( Aliexpress , banggood , Doba , Sale Hoo , and more.>> )
  2. Select products and add “Copy product info and images ” it to your online store
  3. Bring visists to your online store and make sales
  4. Once you receive an order go to the supplier site and make the order but add your customer address in shipping address by this the supplier will ship the product directly to your customer door step.

drop-shipping info graph

2- Create a stock 

If you have a budget you may also consider creating your own stock of products from the same suppliers , for example instead of ordering products one by one upon you receive orders on your webiste , define a number of products and order 10 to 20 pieces from each of these products and get it delivered to your home or office and then start selling. and here is pros and cons for this method.

Pros

  • Faster shipping to your local customers
  • lower costs for products leading to a higher revenue
  • Ability to compete other drop shippers who sell the same products ( Faster shipping , lower price)

Cons: 

  • High risk
  • Require a budget that is no less than $5000 to start

“My recommendation is to use a mix of the two methods , Start with drop-shipping and stock your most successful products” 

 

3- Create stock from local wholesalers 

Look for local wholesalers who sell your niche products and make a stock of it , Usually this way will brought to you the lowest cost for products.

 

4. Create a multi vendor store

Do you know that Amazon , ebay , Aliepxress are all considered basically as a Multi Merchant stores where sellers from all over the world can submit an account and start adding their products on these market places and the market places only take care of Marketing , Payment processing and shipping in some cases.

You can do the same create Multi Merchant , Multi Vendor a Market place whatever you call it it’s that store that have large number of products from different  sellers you can create your own market place via the Multi Merchant App at ExpandCart that has everything you want to create your own market place.

Pros and cons of this method.

pros

  • Varity of products ( as it’s from many sellers )
  • No waste of time in adding products your self ( as sellers will add their products directly to your market place )
  • You may or may not handle shipping depends on your strategy ( if you decided to handle order shipping that will be a great benefits to attract more sellers )

Cons 

  • Low margin usually you can charge for up to 10% only per sale compared to 50% to 300% in the other methods
  • Hard to be managed you will need a team to manage and verify sellers and orders

 

 

So that was how you can make the research to select the best niche market and how you can source products and fulfill orders, Here is a gift The top trending niche markets in e-commerce.

The top 10 trending niche markets in 2018

  1. ShapeWear 

By 2022 it’s expected that market for ShapeWear will exceed 5.6 billion dollars in total sales worldwide.

2. Phone accessories

by 2022 the total sales for phone accessories of all types world wide expected to reach $107 billion in total sales.

3. Matcha

A popular variation of green tea that is now considered as a premium product

4. Athleisure 

Atheleisure is an active worn wear for everyday.

5. Marternity dresses 

Dresses for mothers has become very popular and it’s now multi million dollar industry

6.  Flam Lamps 

Flam Lamps is a LED lamps with the look and feel of classic flam lamps , has shown a higher than average sales on ExpandCart stores who use DropShipping , so if you are looking for a new trending product niche that has very low number of competitors and high demand.

7. Minimalist watches 

Minimalist watches is  simple designed mechanisms watch with affordable prices with  millions of sold units every year.

8. Coconut Oil 

A trending interest has been shown for coconut oiled base products 

 

9. backPaks 

Well you may consider this as a fashion trend , with $150+ billon worth of sales.

 

10. Portable Projector 

A very interesting trending products for mini projectors , or portable projectors 

Now! you have all information you need to select your niche market, wether you are already a retailer or you are starting a new eCommerce business you can use the above techniques and informations to select the perfect niche market and now it’s time to show the world your products using a professional online store and here will illustrate a step by step guide for you to build a professional stunning online store with lowest cost and in no time. 

How to build a professional online store

Select the best eCommerce platform

This process starts by selecting the eCommerce platform that fit your exact business needs , and there are a lot of platforms over there that can be categories to two main categories

  1. Open source eCommerce platform
  2. Self hosted eCommerce platform ( SAAS)

Magento & WooCommerce.  Me myself I would never recommend an open source eCommerce platform unless you yourself are an expert software developer and you have a plenty of time to develop and hire more developers as long as your business Expand.

“Open source solutions like Magento are often much more expensive , less stable than a self-hosted eCommerce platform like ExpandCart”

 

The trend, the modern & the best way to build an online store is using a self hosted eCommerce Platform and herein this article will make a comparison between the most popular platform Shopify and ExpandCart ( who brought to you this article)  a Leading eCommerce platform that has penetrating the market with 100’s of innovative features and services and powered thousands of profitable onlinestores from all over the world.

Roughly it costs from $4000 / Year to $20,000 / Year  for Shopify users to get all they needed features to run a successful online store and those features and much more are available for FREE on ExpandCart. Lets have a look about some of these features.

Shopify VS ExpandCart

Feature price on Shopify Price on ExpandCart
Templates $100 – $150 $0 , Free on all plans
Transactional fees 0.5% to 2% 0% , Free on all plans
Product Shipping dimension $228 – $1200 $0, on all plans
Professional product filter $60 – $1200 / Year $0 , Free on business plan & higher
related products $120 – $1068 / year $0 , Free on all plans
Automatic related products $120 – $1068 / year $0 , Free on ultimate plan
Automatic meta data $60 – $84 / Year $0 , Free on ultimate plan
Hide out of stock products $108 $0 , Free on all plans
Mobile app Android & IOS $1236 – $2868 / Year / Platform $499/ platform, One time payment
e-mail marketing capabilities $60 $0 , Free on all plans
Calculate shipping rate on cart page $60 – $70 $0 , Free on all plans
Product quick view $0 – $600 $0 , Free on all plans
Product cost , calculate your profit $60 – $360 / Year $0 , Free on all plans
Category & Sub category structure $120 $0 , Free on all plans
Customer group discounting $360 $0 , Free on all plans
Multi Merchant ( Vendors ) Stores $120 – $540 / Year $0 , Free on ultimate plan
Advanced Reward points & customer loyalty $700 – $7200 $0 , Free on ultimate plan
Customer Credit $100 – $780 / year $0 , Free on all plans
Social Login $12 / year $0 , Free on ultimate paln
Total additional cost  $4000 – $15500 / year $0

 

Great , Now it’s clear that I’d recommend that you use ExpandCart to build & manage your online store . So let’s see what are the steps needed to build your online store.

  1. Start your free trial
  2. Add your products, Watch a step by step video tutorial >>
  3. Select & customize your template , Watch a step by step video tutorial >>
  4. Register your domain and launch your store.

“And here is a video tutorial that show you all the steps to build your online store via ExpandCart “

Once you launched your online store it’s time now to show the world your products and start selling online and this can be simply done with e-marketing techniques and herein will show you some of the most interesting e-marketing techniques to put you on the right track 

 

How to sell products online

Before we start on illustrating a practical marketing and online advertising techniques there are some essential simple steps your should take , and here are they: 

Identify your goals and objectives 

Well can you wake up early in the morning dress very well and take your car and move .. BUT hey you don’t know where are you going!! .. Well this the exact case you will be facing if you started your online business without a clear well defined goals and objectives.

Away from complicated process and marketing terms I will show how you can set your goals in minuets , First there is 2 rules for your goal Measurable , Defined by a time frame and here are some examples of  perfet business goals

  1. Generate $100K revenue in first year of operation
  2. Add 100 new customer per month
  3. Generate $50K of net profit by end of 2019

Got the idea ?

Now it’s time to define your marketing budget

Set your advertising budget based on your targeted market

Well to set your advertising budget you just need to see how much it will cost you to reach that goal and you can simply do this by using average industry standards as follow.

In 90% of the cases I’d recommend that you start by paid  advertising on Facebook & instagram so let’s see by example how you can set your budget.

  1. Target country is USA
  2. Goal is generate $50K revenue
  3. Avg sale ( Based on your product avg profit ) $10
  4. Main advertising channel is Facebook
  5. Avg CPC is $0.28 ( based on Avg CPC in USA ) see full report on Facebook Ads cost >> 
  6. Avg conversion rate is 5% when you have a very targeted well optimized ads your conversion rate should be from 5 to 15%  , ( Conversion rate is number of visits / number of sales ) , Read more about conversion rate >>

Based on the above to generate a $50K of revenue you will need to sell 5,000 units in one year . conversion rate is 5% so from each 100 visit to your online store you sell 5 units , means you need 100K visits to sell 5,000 units in one year.

The total cost of 100,000 visits is $28,000 .. divide this on 12 to get the monthly cost , Monthly advertising budget is approx = $2,333 / month to get 4166 of total revenue / month That’s 56% ROI 

Looks good , but this is just the start based on the above plan we ignored the revenue you will get from returning clients , and from other sources of traffic such as Google , YouTube and free social media traffic that you will build by time, when you do it right by end of your first year your ROI should be increased to 100% and more..

The other thing that I’d like to tell you here is that you don’t need to have the full marketing budget for your first year you only need your first 3 to 6 months cost and after this you should cover your cost from the revenue and keep the Net Profit 🙂 

Now lets start on the practical marketing and advertising steps and tactics.

  1. Create facebook page with your online store name
  2. Create an Instagram account
  3. Add links to your Social media accounts at your store
  4. Create advertising campaign to bring your first 1K to 10k followers
  5. Create adverting campaign for selected products
  6. Get known your GOLDEN Products and raise advertising budget
  7. Post daily from 2 to 10 posts per day on Facebook & instagram

Create your online store Facebook page

You will use the facebook page to engage with your targeted audience & it will be a main hub for your Ads and here his how you can create a FaceBook Page for your online store.

  1. Login to your Facebook Account
  2. click at Create Page in the top right hand corner , or just click here Create A FaceBook Page >>
  3. Click Get Started at “Business Or Brand”
  4. Enter your page info as show

In page name use your exact store domain name ,” MyStoreName.com ” 

5. Add your Logo and create an excellent cover page

6. Then add all information and finally set your facebook page URL>> with your store name eg Facebook.com/MyOnlineStore ,, Or the nearest thing possible to it if you didn’t find your store name available to be used as URL for your Facebook Page.

7. Add your first Post

“That’s it! now you have your page published and you can start brining followers to it “

Create your online store Instagram account

  1. Download the instagram app from Google Play>> or App store >>
  2. Open the instagram App and sign up with your Facebook account ( So you can have your instagram account connected with your Facebook )
  3. Add your online store info, Use your online store logo as a profile picture.
  4. Post your first post

“That’s it now you have your Instagram account created “

 

 Add links to your social media account at your online store

ExpandCart has added a great & simple features to help you easily connect your online store with your social media accounts and here are they:

  1. Add links to your social media at your ExpandCart store footer , to do this:

Go to Design >> Customize Template >> Select footer from your template editor >> Social Media >> type or paste your social media links .. Check screen shots below. .

 

2. Use ExpandCart social media slider app for more engagement , This app will show a slider at the left side of your store that show an active portion of your Social media pages and accounts , To do this at your ExpandCart store , GoTo >> Apps & Services >> Select Marketing from the filter at the left side >> click Install at Social Slider app >> Then edit >> and enter your social media pages and accounts info as shown in the below screen shots.

expandCart Social slider app

“ExpandCart social slider app at your online store home page “

Install ExpandCart social media slider

“Install social media slider “

“Add your social media links “

 

Create the first advertising campaign to bring your first Facebook followers

Now you have everything up and customers are waiting for your products , You just need to reach out. and this where marketing activities starts.

Will start by bringing targeted active followers to your store facebook page and instagram account and the fastest way to bring your first followers is using Facebook Paid Campaigns that targets Followers. Here is how you can create these campaigns.

  1. Login to your Facebook account
  2. Create your AdManager by going to https://www.facebook.com/adsmanager 
  3. Click create new Ad
  4. Choose Engagement , Page likes  & give your campaign a name
  5. Select account country . Currency and time zone
  6. Select your targeted country and always choose “ People who live in this location “
  7. Select demographic ( Age , Sex , etc.. ) or keep it as it’s default settings
  8. Select the most relevant interest ( Never skip this step ) , and even narrow interests to most relevant buyers
  9. Then set your budget , I’d suggest that you always start any campaign with $5/ day
  10. Keep the auto bidding and automatic placement
  11. Click continue and create a beautiful ad with attractive very relevant images to your products and catchy text
  12. Finally Place order and wait till ad get approved and running

“Here are some screen shots for the above steps “

Facebook engagement Ad first step“Choose Engagement , Page likes  & give your campaign a name”

 

“Select Targeted Locations”

facebook ad interest selection example

“Facebook Ad interest Selection example 

“As for instagram you can’t just promote your account using Ads , However Instagram is using the same Ads Manager for Facebook so whatever you are doing on Facebook Ads manager it will be shown on instagram and if you’d like to specify instagram only just select Instagram only from the Ad displacement options.”

 

Create campaigns for selected products

I’d recommend to start with Facebook Ads of type conversion ( target Sales ) for selected products you can just follow the same steps we specified above in the engagement ads but choose the campaign type as Traffic , or Conversion. and here is the best practice for your campaigns structure.

  1. Create one campaign for each product
  2. Create  3 different Ads for each product ( this will not add any extra cost)
  3. Your ad Landing page should be the product page itself
  4. Add a very comprehensive and descriptive description for your products
  5. Always start with $5 per day per campaign
  6. Keep campaign running for 48 hrs – 72hrs  with the same budget and double budget if campaign brought enough sales or Stop campaign if not working
  7. Start with 10 campaigns for 10 products at least

 

Get known your golden products

Known your golden products is your way to scale up your business.

Well after 10 to 20 days you should have some products that makes most of your revenue the 80- 20 rule >> 20% of your products will make 80% of your revenue or even more I have seen stores that 5% of their products are making 90% of revenue.

Once you have a products that makes too many sales ( eg. your total sales units is 100 and 80 units sold from one product ) you of-course should keep raising your advertising budget for this product gradually ( Double it every 48hrs ) till you reach the point where you make the highest ROI. BUT not only this you should start on the following

  • If you are drop-shipping consider to create a stock from your golden products to provide faster shipping and get the product with a much lower cost which will maximize your revenue.
  • Consider creating an advertising video for these products and post it on YouTube , Instagram & Facebook
  • Consider white labelling for this products to make your brand shine
  • Keep adding new products to have more of GOLDEN products

Post Daily on social media from 2 to 10 posts per day

Have a scheduled posts every day I’d recommend from 2 to 10 posts per day to keep your social media pages growing organically.

 

Start AdWords Campaigns

If you are selling a products that people are searching for you may consider an AdWords campaigns to maximize revenue.

AdWords is absolutely the most powerful advertising platform on the planet! so you should of-course consider using it when you have the right budget.

Consider other sources of free traffic

The online paid ads is the fastest and easiest way to bring traffic however it’s costs too much, so always consider other souces of traffic and start building it.

Free & organic traffic is a great way to maximize your Net Profit however it takes time so from day one you should consider these sources and start building theses kind of traffic. It usually takes from 6 to 12 months till you have a continuous qualified organic traffic to your online store.

Here are the activities you should do to build organic traffic: 

  • SEO Tactics
  • Blogging
  • Videos
  •  Link building
  • Partnership with social media influencers
  • Create affiliate referral program

 

You are ready to launch your online store now!

Start now and build your stunning professional online store, 15 days free trial >>