10 things you must do before opening your online store

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It is expected that by 2021, e-commerce sales will be worth ₹3,551,417m in 2021. Online stores are quite easy to set up and help sellers to run an online store along with their physical units (also known as Omni-channel e-commerce). With the COVID-19 pandemic making the business world revisit their operations, it will further act as an accelerator for and enable improved customer experience. Selling online is no longer a distant dream but a piece of reality that every future facing enterprise and entrepreneur should embrace. Here are 10 things that every online seller must factor before embarking on their e-commerce journey.
10 things you must do before opening your online store

1. Research on What to Sell

Product research is an integral part of the business plan for enterprises big and small. In a fast-digitizing world, where anyone with true ambition can become an entrepreneur, the sky's the limit. Thorough research and planning always makes a business hit the ground running. Determining which items you should offer is one of the most critical choices you make as a seller. The best possible way to proceed is to start small and focus on selective products around a particular niche. Start this process by identifying businesses that have achieved success in the market. Next, make sure the market is competitive – usually, the lack of competition means that there is no demand for that product either.
Research on What to Sell

2. Research on Where to Sell

Identifying the right marketplace plays a crucial role when it comes to starting an online store. Sellers can choose either to sell their products on their independent websites or register on any e-commerce marketplace to sell their products online. The former involves a lot of expenditure, expertise and time, and can thus be a risky and complicated affair. Choosing an e-commerce marketplace over selling on independent websites has a few obvious benefits. First, e-commerce marketplaces are active marketplaces with millions of prospective buyers who are ready to make purchases from you without you needing to proactively reach out to them. All you really need to do is display your products on these marketplaces, which is made easy by templates offered by these marketplaces. So, once you have decided to sell via e-commerce marketplaces, choosing the right one can be quite challenging. Besides serving as a marketplace for the products, the marketplace also connects the sellers with the customers and can provide the necessary support to both. Thus, it becomes important to choose the correct marketplace to ensure that business thrives and garners a wider reach. Most of the e-commerce marketplaces provide an array of support to start-ups to ensure a seamless launch and regular operation. There are certain parameters on which these marketplaces can be evaluated:
  • Their reach and popularity
  • Subscription costs
  • Website and sales features
  • Marketing tools and strategies
  • Ease of use for sellers and customers
  • Help and support provided to customers and sellers
Research on Where to Sell

3. Analyze Your Competition

It is important to know with whom you are competing. Analyze other sellers’ services, strategies, strengths, and weaknesses. If you can provide better service to the customers, based on these inputs, your business can perform better than your competition. Besides, it is also advantageous to know how leading companies operate and emulate the best practices. After you have completed this analysis, prepare a new business plan, if needed.
Analyze Your Competition

4. Register Your Business

The first thing to remember is that for any online business to buy or sell products, it must be a registered entity. Before registering your company, you will need to choose a business structure. Registering your business under the right business structure is necessary to make it a distinct legal entity before starting the operations of your store. If you intend to register your company in India, you must apply to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA). To register your company you will need to acquire:
  • A Digital Signature Certificate (DSC)
  • A Director Identification Number (DIN)
  • Registration on the MCA Portal or New user Registration
  • Certificate of Incorporation
The legal paperwork involves submitting a GST Number, a PAN number, your business e-mail ID, and so on. Online marketplaces often help new sellers with relevant information to ease the registration process. In fact, some marketplaces have a dedicated page for registration purposes. For example, Amazon encourages starting with its “Start Selling Guide” for potential online sellers.

5. Plan Your Inventory

One of the biggest challenges that both offline and online retailers face is in assigning and monitoring the stock levels of their stores daily. There can also be cases in which demand cannot be met or where the quantity required is overestimated. There are inventory management software solutions available in the market to make things easier. Besides, e-commerce marketplaces are also providing benefits to online sellers in this regard. For example, Amazon has a restock inventory feature, which gives insights to the sellers regarding their inventory in Amazon FC's.
Plan Your Inventory

6. Pay Attention to SEO

Common search engines follow a well-defined and structured way to rank web pages once a user inserts a set of words related to their needs. As a seller, you need to create a list of keywords based on your products or services that you feel might be inserted by customers while searching for products or services you sell. Apart from helping your product page rank higher in search rankings, SEO can be used to organize your e-store layout, thereby making navigation easier for the visitors.

You need to and conduct thorough research before you even start talking about building your online store wireframe. Millions of shoppers use search engines to find products that fulfil their needs. At the same time, there are a million websites too that are targeting these consumers. So, how can you ensure that your website shows up when a user searches for something you sell? That is where search engine optimization comes (SEO) to the forefront.

It is important to learn about SEO before an online store is launched so that it can rise to the top of a search engine result page (SERP).

7. Identify Shipping Options

Online shipping can make or break your business. When your shipping costs are too high, a customer who adds your products to the shopping cart will still leave your store without completing the order. This is especially true if you sell something available at considerably cheaper prices. With that in mind, providing a flat rate shipping rate for all goods or absorbing shipping costs to convert prospects into buyers can be a smart idea. Also, research and find the partners within your budget, who can safely deliver your products to the customers on time.
Identify Shipping Options

8. Setup Your Social Media

For any online store, getting new customers is an important success factor and a major challenge. To ensure that this challenge is overcome efficiently and effectively, sellers can set up their company page on social media. Today, social media is one of the most powerful tools of communication that has a wide reach and is extremely popular. This attribute can be used smartly by sellers to popularize their online stores to their target audience in the form of videos, visuals, audio podcasts, blogs, or any other form of content. Thus, the company’s social media page can help the sellers in:
  • Improving their web presence
  • Grabbing attention from customers i.e. boosting brand awareness via social media marketing tools
  • Getting prompt feedback from customers
  • Communicating transparently about new offers, services, products, changes in existing policies, and services provided
  • Getting more customers through social referrals
  • Rewarding loyal customers via shout-outs
  • Providing prompt responses to any grievances and addressing the issues of customers
  • Understanding your services and customers in a better way
Sellers can create social media accounts for integrated marketing communication.
Setup Your Social Media

9. Define Your Return and Refunds Policy

Since customers do not get to see the products in hand, many apprehensions about the right size, quality, and look surround their minds while purchasing online. These apprehensions can also prevent them from buying products even though they like them. Such issues can be overcome if sellers provide their customers with the option to return or replace the purchased product. Thus, for any online store, a clear return policy should receive the utmost importance while drafting the customer service strategy. Transparent return policy can help sellers in gaining customers' trust. Some products cannot be returned because of safety and hygiene concerns, and the very same thing should be specified to the customer. Remember, while writing your return policy, you might need to detail various policies for the particular products you are selling. By virtue of selling via Amazon though, online sellers can enjoy robust, industry-bests without needing to get into the nitty-gritties of the matter.

10. Catalogue Your Products

A product catalogue for an online store serves a greater purpose than just informing the customers about the products. It can be used as an effective tool to get sales by attracting a good customer base. Since it plays such a major role, creating a good product catalogue should be done even before the e-store is launched. The catalogue should not just be informative, but also visually appealing. An ideal catalogue is the one that has the right balance between accurately detailed catchy product descriptions and attractive high-quality product pictures. Besides being attractive, cataloguing should ensure that customers could easily find what they are looking for. Sellers might also need to find professional photographers and content creators to create a perfect catalogue before they start their online stores. Amazon understands this pain point and in order to alleviate it, offers a service provider network for budding e-commerce businesses.
10 Things to Do Before Opening an Online Store

Conclusion

Opening an online store can be challenging, if you are not well versed with the concepts of e-commerce marketing. But registering with Amazon can greatly simplify the process. Register now and enjoy one of the best experiences at selling.
Disclaimer: This blog is provided on a best-effort basis and suggests ways to enhance your business, and whilst Amazon Seller Services Private Limited ("Amazon") has used reasonable endeavours in compiling the information provided, Amazon provides no assurance as to its accuracy, completeness or usefulness or that such information is error-free. In certain cases, the blog is provided by a third-party seller and is made available on an "as-is" basis. Amazon hereby disclaims any and all liability and assumes no responsibility whatsoever for consequences resulting from use of such information. Information provided may be changed or updated at any time, without any prior notice. You agree to use the information, at your own risk and expressly waive any and all claims, rights of action and/or remedies (under law or otherwise) that you may have against Amazon arising out of or in connection with the use of such information. Any copying, redistribution or republication of the information, or any portion thereof, without prior written consent of Amazon is strictly prohibited.

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