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If you are thinking about starting your own online store, you’re not alone, there are lots of opportunities out there. There are thousands of people starting a successful online business every single year, but it’s not as easy as you may think and can be a bit tricky if you’ve never done it before. There are certain things you need to do before starting your online store and this post will show you what those things are and how to do them right.

Let’s get started!

1. Startup cash

Yes, you will definitely need to get some startup cash if you want to build an online store. While you don’t need to shell out cash for a physical store location, you still need cash to buy inventory, to advertise, to buy a domain, to buy web hosting, and other things as well.

If you’re just starting out and only have limited cash on-hand then the best thing to do is spend it wisely on things you only really need, like a domain, web hosting, and inventory. 

Additionally, if you’re looking for ways to grow faster and you have a detailed business plan about how you’re going to do that, you can also apply for a personal and/or business loan. There are companies that offer such loans, like LightStream. You can visit Crediful to learn more about how Lightstream loans work. It might be a good option for you and your business.

2. A brand name

No matter what kind of a business you are trying to do online, either a service or selling a product, it’s always important to come up with a good name for it. Find something that’s catchy and sounds good at the same time.

Also, be sure to spend some time designing a brand logo. If you are not good at designing logos, then it’s definitely recommended to hire a professional designer. There are also sites out there that can connect you with a designer, including Fiverr and 99designs.

3. Get a domain name

Just like your brand name, find a catchy and short domain name. It is best to just use the company name as your domain name too. You can go to domain registration services such as GoDaddy, Namecheap, or Hover to get yourself a good domain.

In case your domain name is taken, you can try and buy it back from the owner as well, though if they are currently using it that approach can be expensive very quickly. After getting a domain name, you will need hosting services. There are so many web hosting companies around, it can definitely be a bit overwhelming picking one that is reputable, provides great service, and is reliable.

In order to help you make the best hosting decision, check out some of our articles:

4. A merchant account

This is an important step. You need to set up a merchant account to receive payment from your customer. You can use services such as PayPal and Stripe to do just that. 

It’s also worth mentioning if you plan to use a platform like Shopify to host your online store, they offer built-in ways to easily accept payments from credit cards and PayPal. This makes Shopify a great platform to use if its your first time building an online store.

If you’re planning to power your store with WordPress and wooCommerce, definitely check out our article on improving your WordPress-based store with 7 awesome ecommerce plugins. 

5. Social media accounts

Social media is a crucial part of building a successful online store–from a selling perspective and from a customer service perspective. Instead of me telling you that you need to be on literally every social media platform, let me just say: identify which social platforms are most popular with your target audience and start there. You can then expand as you grow the business into other social platforms.

When it comes to successful social media marketing campaigns for selling products like clothing, accessories, etc both Pinterest and Instagram will likely be your best bets in terms of where to start any marketing and branding initiatives.

Once you have your social media account ready, it will act as a bridge between you and your customers. You can communicate with them using it, you can use it to let your customers know about your services or products. Also, you can use social media platforms to run super targeted paid advertisements.

Final thoughts

There you go, these are the top five things you need to know before starting your own online store. Make sure you have all these things and remember that amazing customer service is key. You will likely never be able to compete directly with the likes of Amazon, so offering really good customer service, loyalty programs, and free shipping will be critical to finding success.

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