HOW TO START AN ONLINE STOREhow to do it, what to sell, costs
Do you know how to start an online store? Yours is definitely a good business choice because it allows you to literally cut down on the running costs of a physical shop. On the other hand, to be competitive and differentiate yourself from competitors, you have to offer an exclusive product and support it with appropriate marketing strategies.
As you continue reading the page, you will discover:
- how to open an online shop
- how much does it cost to open an online sales site
- strategies to implement successful e-commerce.
In addition, we will analyze customized software and CMSs such as Magento, Prestashop, WordPress with WooCommerce, Joomla with Virtuemart, and Opencart. Finally, I will talk about the most relevant differences to understand whether it is better to open an Amazon or eBay online shop or to opt for Shopify ecommerce.
In the meantime, I recommend that you look at the E-Commerce Courses, thanks to which you will acquire the right competencies and practical operational skills that will enable you to open an online shop and market yourself effectively through the planning of strategies aimed at developing your business.
How to start an online store?
Opening an online shop is a laborious project and nothing should be left to chance. This is precisely why it is important for you to develop a strategy based on knowledge of digital marketing and E-commerce, in particular, through the use of disciplines such as e-mail marketing, SEM, SEO, Facebook ADV, etc. You can always choose an open-source system, such as Magento, or a proprietary solution to further develop your site.
Next, your focus should be on choosing your target audience, studying potential customers, and developing your brand. After that, you should:
- Choose the digital platform most congenial to you in which to open an ecommerce site: there are services available that allow you to open an online shop for free; however, opening a virtual shop for free can be risky. Alternatively, you can buy a domain on a web space, install a CMS ecommerce software such as WordPress, Magento, etc., or open an eBay or Amazon shop, i.e. all those established marketplaces where you keep your own space;
- engage your users: once you have acquired a customer, engage them on a regular basis to prevent them from forgetting about you; in this sense, interaction through social media, and the use of email marketing is a great way to keep your customers alive.
Talk to one of our experts about opening an online shop from scratch. Start your digital business by making the right moves!
Opening an Online Shop: business ideas and Examples
Do you want to open an online sales site but don’t yet know which sector to invest in? Let’s start by saying that it all depends on you, on how much physical, mental, and financial energy you are willing to invest in setting up an online shop that can make its mark on the market.
Contrary to what you think, nowadays, there are several ways to open an online shop without incurring too high initial expenses, sometimes related to logistics, start-up capital, and the purchase of equipment. Therefore, to help you turn a good business idea into a successful business, I want to give you some tips to follow.
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Opening a business in Dropshipping
This is a sales model in which you, as a drop shipper, take care of the sale and online management of orders without physically owning the products, which will remain in the warehouse to be dispatched by your suppliers.
Ideally, you want to focus on a specific niche market when opening an online shop, offering items that do not already belong to the large retail market, but which maintain a kind of exclusivity. Imagine you are Dropshipping enduro mountain bikes because you compete in competitions, you are a sports bike enthusiast, or you simply want to serve a particular target group of racers or amateurs who need professional items.
In addition to that, if the user proceeds with the purchase of your Mountain Bike, the order will be forwarded to the supplier directly who is assigned to process it on your behalf, after which, you will still be responsible for marketing and customer service activities to support customers in all steps related to customer service and satisfaction.
This type of online business is based on the principle of trust between the Dropshipping seller and its main supplier, which is why you absolutely must regulate this collaboration by means of a contract drawn up by lawyers who are very familiar with Ecommerce regulations, in order to avoid incurring defaults that could cause irreparable damage to your brand.
A good practice for those who, like you, have decided what to sell in Dropshipping, is to enter into a contract with :
- one or more suppliers, clearly specifying the rights and obligations of one towards the other;
- at least a couple of courier companies, making sure they also support deliveries to the upper floors, that they are efficient and punctual, etc;
- electronic payment systems, such as PayPal, Stripe, etc;
- website hosting, etc;
- telephone for the helpline number;
- the bank for your online shop’s current account;
- an accountant to keep your accounts.
Precisely for this reason, it is essential for you to know every detail of the E-commerce regulations for online activities, also depending on the country or countries where you want to sell your products or services; also because the laws may differ from country to country.
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Designing and selling a line of customized articles
An original and creative way to open an online shop is to sell items and gadgets in print-on-demand, focusing on customizing your product to create a brand with a design that is true to your business idea and preserves your identity to distinguish you from your competitors.
In this case, the print-on-demand activity consists of customizing unlabelled products with your design, through one or more suppliers, and then reselling them with your customized brand, offering for example
Designing and selling a line of customized articles is undoubtedly a creative and original way of opening a low-cost online shop with a good chance of a financial return, where the marketing care, the original idea, and the communicative message acquire more value than the article itself.
In light of what was said before, this is also the case, for example, of opening an online shop without a warehouse. To start such a business, you simply need to collaborate with a designer and rely on one of the various freelance websites online to set up a partnership such as:
In this case, many print-on-demand services charge per product, so consider that the price per unit will be much higher than if you buy in bulk. On the other hand, you will have the advantage of not having to buy too many items in advance with the fear of not being able to immediately resell them to your customers, with the only burden being to pay the designer in case you have hired a third party to do this job.
Make money from your creativity by selling your products on the web. Find out how to create a successful online shop!
Creating digital products or courses
Unlike tangible goods, opening an online shop for digital products dealing with items such as music, templates, video courses, digital guides, etc. provides you with a distinctive element, i.e., as they are not tangible goods, do not entail shipping costs or production costs, and at the same time offer you large profit margins.
On the other hand, the difficulty is to understand how you can make a digital product valuable by differentiating yourself, for example, from those who offer the same service for free or at a lower cost. Here, the skill of a marketer comes to the fore, who must be particularly skillful and persuasive in his communication strategy in convincing users that it is an extremely original and useful product for them and that it is worth downloading and buying.
We can take music tracks as an example and then sell our own music or stock images, licensed by other authors, or information products such as ebooks or templates for websites or online shops. For example, if you have a talent in dance and want to offer your video lessons by structuring a coherent and professional training course, consider developing it to offer yourself online, opening up a new revenue stream, as well as many training programs used by Personal Trainers or Martial Artists or even Yoga courses.
If, on the other hand, you are more inclined to Dropshipping, you could also apply this mode of online sales:
- publishing a book
- offer an online service
- create digital products or courses
- open an online shop.
Online Shop: Tax Compliance for E-Commerce
In light of the above, the procedures required to open an online shop require you to:
- set up a company in front of a notary (1 euro limited liability companies for those under 35s do not have to pay notary fees);
- open a bank account;
- open a VAT number, by filling in form AA9/11 for natural persons or AA7/10 for companies and entities;
- register with the VIES if your online business carries out buying and selling transactions within the EU;
- comply with a series of obligations with the Chamber of Commerce, the municipality, and INPS.
In this case, be sure to submit the request to the Companies Register using the telematic model called “Comunica”, a communication valid for tax, social security, and insurance purposes. This request must be registered with the Company Registry Office at the relevant Chamber of Commerce, which in turn will forward it to the Inland Revenue, INPS, and INAIL.
At this point, once you have sent the certified report of commencement of activity containing the indication of the chosen merchandise sector and certification of the requirements possessed in order to be able to sell online, you will have to submit the same communication to the SUAP, where within a 30-day timeframe, the principle of silence-assent will apply without a negative communication from the municipality of residence.
Finally, once you have communicated to the Revenue Agency the web address of your e-commerce site for selling online, your internet service provider, your PEC e-mail address, and your telephone and fax number, you can leave your business open and accessible to all visitors.
Learn the current ecommerce regulations and you will no longer have any doubts about selling online!
How much does it cost to open an online shop?
The first question many people ask is: does it pay to open an online shop from scratch?
It depends, it can have an initial cost of between EUR 600 and EUR 800, but it is certainly cheaper than a physical shop that has fixed costs. Also consider other economic factors such as the purchase of the domain and hosting space, which ranges from 40 to 80 euros per year. In addition, include further fixed costs such as paying taxes and tax returns, paying INPS contributions, and accountant fees.
So, in simple terms, how much does it cost to set up an e-commerce site? The costs are around EUR 5,000 to 6,000 per year on a total income of around EUR 10,000. In any case, if you intend to open an online sales site, you are obliged to open a VAT number.
The fixed costs to be incurred in order to sell online are:
- for the registration of sole proprietorships with the Chamber of Commerce, 35.50 euro for secretarial fees and stamp duty, plus the compulsory chamber of commerce fee to be paid annually;
- for partnerships and corporations increased, because it is necessary to add the cost of setting up the company at the notary, in addition to the registration tax on the deed of incorporation.
Strategies for implementing a successful e-commerce
There is no product or service that cannot be sold online: “E-commerce doesn’t sell, e-commerce makes people buy”.
The main objective of those who want to open an online shop is the same as those who open a traditional shop: to sell their product. The year 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has done nothing but amplify a trend that has grown tremendously over the years and is set to do so again: the evolution of e-commerce and the subsequent proliferation of courses on online sales techniques.
Based on this premise, your strategy for creating an online shop should be on the 7 fundamentals of e-commerce:
- product: what product I offer;
- service: what service I offer, surprise the customer by excelling in aspects that might be critical, such as return;
- logistics: optimize the delivery time of the requested product. Evaluate how to open an online shop, what you could sell, or whether to manage only the sale by taking a percentage of it;
- technology: choose which one to rely on, the open-source software or proprietary solutions;
- user experience: design the site in such a way as to make shopping pleasant and easy, create the right integration with graphics, videos, and images;
- trust: to increase trust, adopt security messages on the site, make the supplier’s exact data public, and clearly state the return procedure. Publish customer reviews and opinions both on your own site and on social media;
- traffic: in addition to knowing the most common acronyms used in the e-commerce field such as CPM, CPA, etc… plan a traffic acquisition strategy and use the channels that best suit the chosen business model, such as SEO, SEM, and E-mail marketing;
- payment systems: the success of your online business depends on them. The effectiveness of e-commerce payment systems depends on the security of the consumer and the success of a hassle-free purchase.
Turn your profession around, and discover all the secrets to becoming a successful E-commerce Manager!
Customized software and CMS to open an online shop
In light of what has been said so far, we can delve into the characteristics of platforms for opening an online shop. You should know, that if you decide to go it alone in the online sale of your products or services, you should have a good knowledge of WordPress, in case your e-commerce deals with a few articles, or of e-commerce software such as Magento if it is a structured online shop.
How do you build a successful business? Download the free guide and find out!
Let us now take a closer look at some of the best-known e-commerce software and CMSs:
It is the most widely used open-source platform for building structured, article-rich sites, and is extremely reliable and customizable thanks to the numerous components and themes available (free, and for a fee).
You can also use it to manage several online shops from the same administration panel. It is necessary to understand that it requires servers with high minimum requirements for it to function properly. Finally, you have the option of choosing the Community Edition, which is free, or the Enterprise Edition, which is paid and also includes technical support. Magento ecommerce is the best solution for an online sales site with large numbers.
Thanks to its multiple functionalities and ease of use, Prestashop is considered by entrepreneurs one of the most reliable e-commerce platforms among those who have decided to open an online shop.
Applications and additional modules can be integrated ad hoc according to our business needs. The customer has the convenience of delving into the characteristics of products, viewing related articles, carrying out the checkout without necessarily having previously registered, etc.
The technicians who manage the site with Prestashop have the possibility of keeping countless aspects under control, including sales analysis, returns, shipping costs, payment by bank transfer, credit card, cash on delivery, and much more.
WordPress with Woocommerce
WordPress is the most popular open-source CMS created for blogging. Thanks to the availability of numerous components and themes, it is quite versatile and can be turned into an e-commerce platform.
The most comprehensive components for creating online shops are WooCommerce, WordPress e-Commerce, and JigoShop. Basically, they are free but offer additional functions for a fee.
The installation is quite simple, the same with the management of objects. It is not suitable for building very large or elaborate online shops, as it does not offer advanced configuration parameters like other e-Commerce CMSs created specifically for use in this area, although it is still a valid solution if you are thinking of opening a medium-sized online shop.
Joomla with Virtueamart (Hikashop or Prestashop)
Joomla is perfect for sites used for buying and selling activities.
If you are looking for an alternative with lower running costs than Magento, but at the same time capable of managing a large number of users and with simplified file-sharing functions, it is a good solution for opening an online shop.
Among the most popular e-commerce components for this platform is Virtueamart.
This platform is suitable for small to medium-sized online businesses, so if you have decided to open an online shop from scratch, it is the ideal choice.
Among its advantages is its ease of use, no special computer skills required to exploit its potential, the possibility of including an unlimited number of products, and last but not least, the optimization of all articles is completely for SEO purposes.
Even though it is one of the newest products on the market, the usability on the development side is among the best along with the excellent user experience on the customer side.
Opening an online shop on Shopify
How to set up a Shopify shop? Let’s start by saying that it is a platform designed for e-commerce where users can open an online shop with their own URL, capable of carrying out all the payment transactions necessary to run an ecommerce, a physical shop that also has an online presence, or even a temporary shop.
Unlike Amazon and eBay where these two marketplaces predominantly advertise themselves by limiting direct contact between customer and shopkeeper without offering any particular advantage to the supplier, Shopify acts differently, being neither a marketplace nor an online shop, but an e-commerce platform.
In this case, each shop retains its own identity as if it were in a shopping center, to which you pay to rent and common utilities, but each manages the contact with the customer independently of the platform, you being the manager and owner of your business, while still being able to benefit from its marketing, accounting, shipping, etc. services.
Shopify costs about USD 29 per month. In case you want to know in detail all the dynamics of sales from country to country, you will have to rely on consultants who can help you by giving you the right indications; moreover, it is not responsible for what happens between shop and user during purchase, management of returns, etc., as it does not have access to the purchase data and accounting systems of each company.
In light of the considerations made on this E-commerce platform, I invite you to read the next section where you can draw your own conclusions on which marketplace is the best for opening an online shop.
Opening an online business: better Amazon or eBay?
Better Amazon or eBay to sell online? Hard to say, but it is useful to know in case you want to open an online shop and offer your services or products within these two marketplace giants, you need to be aware of some important differences that can affect user behavior.
While Amazon, invites users to interact in a “buy it now” or “online auction” mode, eBay behaves more like a shop window displaying goods without entering into users’ transactions, except to charge a 10% commission on sales.
Furthermore, Amazon and eBay, differ in their return policy and terms of sale, where eBay refers to the seller’s terms and conditions, which it “declares to accept the return policy in any case”, absolving itself of possible third-party liability.
Amazon, on the other hand, operates either as a reseller of third-party products, while concluding the contract between itself and the buyer, or as a marketplace hosting offers from third parties that sell and ship their products directly.
For greater protection, Amazon always indicates the source of the product or service, making it a very controlled shop window. As far as payments are concerned, eBay only responds when transitions take place via PayPal or via a credit card generated by PayPal, offering fewer guarantees on the user side and proving to be less attentive on the consumer side than Amazon.
In light of the above, take their differences into account if you are considering how to open an online shop.
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The E-commerce market is constantly growing and requires competent and qualified people. If you have decided to open an online shop and do not want to rely on consultants or web agencies, you need to choose one of the best courses for selling online in order to sell your products and present yourself in the market efficiently.
Contact us and together we will understand which Ecommerce Course is right for you