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11 Tips for Online Retail Store Start-Ups

If you have the desire to become an entrepreneur and start an online retail store, take a look at these tips on how to set up an online store.




In the modern and cyber era of today, being digitally present is of key importance. Statistics show that people who have a website for their brick-and-mortar retail store grow by 51% more than those without a website. This is the incentive of the ever-growing presence and success of online retail stores, without having the actual physical store. If you think about the way you and many people in your environment buy something, it usually goes like this: it starts with the idea of a certain product in your head, which is then deepened through online research, compared and contrasted to other alike products and finally, finished by ordering it or a consequent visit to the actual store. It all comes to one thing: searching online, where the advantage goes to stores that have a website, which is easy to navigate, to browse products, and lastly, to order an item. If you have the desire to become an entrepreneur and start an online retail store, take a look at these tips on how to set up an online store.

For a start, you need to have an idea. If you thought about starting an online retail store, some ideas must have popped in your head. A great idea can be born out of many things. Perhaps you have always searched for a specific type of clothing style and items which you haven’t found anywhere or just in a few places. Perhaps you have realized that you have an apparent talent for designing clothes or it might be the fact that you have always pictured yourself being in the retail business. The idea can also come from other online stores that you encountered and liked. It can also come from a friend or a family member. Either way, the idea of wanting to do this is a start good enough. However, it is not enough to run a successful retail business as you need to consider other aspects as well. The next step is to get informed on tips for starting a successful online retail business

  • Think about the products you want to sell

Even though it might seem simple, focusing on one or a few styles at best and choosing the products, is far from simple. It is a time-consuming process that needs to be done right. This is the essence of your business. What you need to do is think about the type of clothing items you want to sell in your online store. Will it be sports and casual clothes? Will it be elegant and sophisticated black-tie dresses? Will it be for kids, teenagers, or adults? Will it be for males, females only, or both? Will you include plus-size models? What will the prices be like, average or expensive? These and many others are all questions you need to think about and come up with answers to. The key is to define the product range and not deviate from it in the future. You should limit your focus on just a few types of products for a start. You can easily expand your product line depending on the customer’s needs later on. 

  • Find reliable suppliers

Now that you have figured out what to sell, you need to know where to find those products. Nowadays is fairly easy to find and create a list of suppliers online. However, it’s not that simple and there’s more to that. Not all suppliers are reliable, keep that in mind always. The product they show in the photo can vary from the product in real life. The quality may be worse as well. Before deciding who to work with, check out ratings and experiences from other people working with them. Next, communicate with them. Ask them all the questions that come to your mind. Negotiate, find out about fees. Avoid doing business with suppliers who have abnormal fees. Ask for discounts – many wholesale suppliers offer certain discounts based on the number of products you purchase. So it’s always better to buy the products at a wholesale supplier. For example, you can search for wholesale dresses, wholesale shirts, wholesale skirts, and so on, for whatever the item you need. In that way, you’ll be able to save up some money based on the quantity you order. 

  • Come up with a catchy name

Having a clear, catchy, easily pronounced name is also an essential aspect of starting an online retail store. Thinking about the right business name and registering a domain is something that goes hand in hand. It might seem simple at first glance. However, you do need to put some thought into it. When it comes to picking out a name, it’s important that nobody else uses it, that it’s unique and memorable. You can opt for something traditional or more modern. After all, this is the first impression people form about your business and it can affect future interaction. When you choose a name, the next step would be to register it. 

  • Create a business plan

The same as for a regular brick-and-mortar store, a business plan is a necessity. Its purpose is to define the range of your business as well as the products, to predict figures, to provide an overview of a marketing plan, forms of funding, and to regulate actions, among other things. It will also define the goals you want to achieve as well as strategies for achieving them. It is basically your guide to success. By having a clear and well-written business plan you’ll be able to constantly have insight into the specific steps you need to take in order to achieve success. 

  • Develop a website

Your website is your virtual store, and you need to put some serious effort into organizing it and displaying products, in a more or less similar way you would do for a brick-and-mortar store. The website should be user-friendly and easy to navigate. If people have trouble finding their way around on your website, the chances are that they will give up on purchasing. A poorly designed website acts as a repellent. So, make it worth the while and invest in creating a professional website where people can easily and clearly see the products you’re offering. 

  • Make a catalog of your products

When it comes to uploading photos of your products, it’s important that they are true to their real versions – buyers appreciate this the most. Add photos of models wearing clothing items, from different angles featuring amusing backgrounds. Don’t let the background distract from the items you’re selling. For an even better comprehension of a certain product, you can also upload a catwalk video or offer some suggestions on how to mix and match certain clothing items. Include as much information as you can about the product: the colors available, the sizes, the materials, instructions on how to wash them, and so on. Describe clothes as they are, and you’re business is sure to blossom when people confirm that it’s really like it says on the website. 

  • Think of delivery systems and refund policies

When selling something, it’s important to also consider the refund policies and the delivery systems. Think about the instances when a refund is possible, and clearly state them on your website, giving the time frame. As far as the delivery systems are concerned, do the research on the possible options and decide for yourself which delivery systems you will use, how much they cost and whether you’ll deliver only locally or regionally, internationally. 

  • Have a good customer support

Good customer support is the voice of your company that people hear. The way you deal with people affects future interactions. If you have poor customer support, you’ll risk people not coming back to you. On the other hand, if you provide good, well-organized customer service and help people whenever they need it, they’ll feel comfortable and they’re likely to come back for more. People need to associate your business with positive things in all aspects. 

  • Don’t forget about the marketing and advertising

Hiring pros to do the advertising and make a plausible marketing plan to be executed is yet another key feature of starting a successful online retail store, Marketing is everything today. There are some things you do for free that will work on promoting your business, and you shouldn’t overlook them definitely. But the greatest success in this field comes with the help of pros – remember that. 

  • Engage with people

People like when they feel involved and engaged in something when they are a part of something bigger. That’s why your business needs to be constantly engaged with people on social media, through different quizzes and games, giveaways. Give people the opportunity to tell you what they like about your business and certainly what they don’t like and some tips on improving it. And lastly, listen to them – you might learn something useful.

Making a dream come true is certainly not easy, but it is achievable if you invest your time, effort, patience, and money. Apply the same mantra to starting an online retail store, and the success is guaranteed.

Lena Hemsworth is a lifestyle blogger, foodie, and lover of a good book. She's an everlasting enthusiast who believes that there is nothing better than starting your day with a hot cup of coffee.