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When I created my own online retail store, I had next to no clue about selling online. I had absolutely NO experience whatsoever with selling ANYTHING. But I managed to create a successful store, and you definitely can do it too.
A lot to learn
The first thing I realized was my lack of knowledge on how to start an e-commerce business. And if you're just starting too, you will probably be intimidated by how little you know. But fear not, you will find tons of resources with a simple Google search.
Don't overdo it
The amount of information available out there can seem pretty scary. However, most blog posts and articles tend to give out more or less the same information. Don't do as I did and go down an endless rabbit hole of Google searches.
Choosing the host
After days of research, I finally decided on a game plan for my online retail store. I chose Shopify as a host for their useful plugins and partnerships with quality product suppliers. If you are into more economical options, I suggest you use WordPress alongside WooCommerce.
Finding quality suppliers
After finding a host, I looked for quality product suppliers for my online store. Since a lot of them are located in China, the quality of the products can be a concern. A good way you can verify their quality is to order a few of them beforehand.
Building the website
After I found a host and a suppliers, I started building the website. It is a lengthy process, even if you have previous experience. What is time-consuming is adding products to your online store, and I'm afraid there is no way around it.
There were tons of resources available to help complete my website, most notably YouTube tutorials like this one: Shopify Tutorial For Beginners | Create A Website In Under 15 Minutes. With the help of YouTube and Shopify documentation, you will be able to build a functioning website within a month or so.
After finishing the website, it was time to order products for my store. For this, you can choose to go with the dropshipping model or have the products be sent to you. If you want to have control over the shipping and packaging of your products, the second option is for you.
Packaging and labeling products
Next was finding a way to package and label my products. You will come across several companies that offer good services. However, for a lower price point and great quality, I found enKo (a company that sells discounted Zebra, Dymo, & Avery compatible labels) they offer flexible options at an affordable rate.
enKo offered me a wide range of packaging supplies and labels, which met my price points. You will also find that you're able to design and print stickers directly on their website, which will allow you to streamline your process.
After months of Facebook and Instagram advertising, my first customers started rolling in. It is not uncommon to have your first sale after a few months, so do not despair. To improve your relationship with your first customers, you can include special labels and packaging for those with the most orders.
What I've learned
To sum up, here are a few lessons I've learned from this e-commerce adventure:
- Extensive research is absolutely necessary before starting an e-commerce store
- Finding good product suppliers is crucial. Bad products can lead to disaster
- Patience is key. The process will take time, but the reward will be great if you keep going
- Packaging that suits your brand is essential. Find a good packaging and labels supplier
- E-commerce stores have an 80% failure rate. It is important to know that your store may fail. If it does, it will serve as a great learning experience
- Just go for it!