How to start an online store

Jump into ecommerce

This post was originally published on May 23, 2019, and was updated on Jan 13. 2022

Over the past few years, people have grown more comfortable shopping from their couches, which means there’s never been a better time to start an online store or add ecommerce functionality to your website. It’s never been easier for small businesses to get into the ecommerce game, either.

There are over 2.14 billion active people shopping online globally — 49% of whom do so more now than they did pre-COVID-19.

And Forbes reports that online spending grew “$183 billion over the past year, with Americans on track to spend $1 trillion online (a record amount) in 2022.”

If you’re an ecommerce noob, however, you may need help selecting the right products and platforms to sell online, learning how to build and launch your ecommerce site, finding your target customers, and closing the deal. We’ve gathered all the information and tools you’ll need to easily launch your online store and list your products on all marketplaces, both quickly and effectively.

How to start an online store

In this post, we’ll walk you through the entire process — from product ideation to planning, launching, and promoting your online store.

  1. Research and concept-test your products
  2. Know where to find products to sell
  3. Understand how much it costs to sell via an online store
  4. Create categories for your ecommerce products
  5. Set up ecommerce payments and checkout
  6. Develop your shipping and fulfillment strategy
  7. Integrate social shopping channels
  8. Prepare your ecommerce store for online marketing
  9. Launch your first ecommerce store
  10. Find new ecommerce customers
  11. Create a customer service strategy

Related: Ecommerce trends 2021: Which predictions came true and what can we learn for 2022

1. Research and concept-test your products

Before launching an online store, conduct market and product research to ensure you’re utilizing a viable business strategy.

Test your product concept with friends and family

Selling a unique product that stands out from all the rest is important. But how do you know if people actually need or want to buy it? Here’s what to ask when gathering insights from people you know:

  • Do they love your idea? If so, find out what features would be most appealing to them?
  • Is there anything about your product idea they would change?
  • Ask about their ideal customer experience. What services would make it shine?
  • Would they be willing to pay full price for your product? What do they think it’s actually worth?
  • Have they bought similar products elsewhere? What did they like or dislike about both the product and buying experience?

Gathering this level of feedback is an excellent way to refine your product before selling it online.

You can conduct casual research by speaking with friends and family in person to gather qualitative insights, or by setting up a quick online survey.

SurveyMonkey has a monthly subscription service that you can use to survey friends and family, along with visitors to your website, to better understand who would or is buying your products right now. Google Docs enables you to set up survey forms, as well.

Research your competition

Once you have positive product feedback, research your competition and gain market insight online.

Start by searching for and visiting popular product review sites, where you can find lists of top products for specific categories, compiled by experts.

Read what the experts like about those top products and visit the product websites to see how they’re featured and sold.

Additionally, look at customer reviews to learn what people like and dislike about them.

 

Likewise, go on social media to see what people are saying about those brands. Do people complain about their products online, or do most of their customers sing their praises? This exercise will give you an idea of how much brand loyalty the product has. Also, see if those brands respond to customer questions and complaints, and list what the common issues might be.

Subscribing to your competitors’ email lists is another effective way to analyze how your competitors are talking to your target audience. Make note of their pricing and promotional strategies, which we’ll detail later in this post.

Find your niche

The best product ideas are often born from hobbies and passions, where you discover an opportunity in a niche that no one is serving.

Search for keywords or phrases that your target market will likely use to find your niche product or service, and note if the market is saturated.

If that is the case, it could cost you extra money and time to stand out in an already crowded marketplace. Sometimes, it’s better to start small in an underserved market. Here are some great tips on “niching down” your product ideas.

Define your target customers

Without a properly defined target market, your sales and promotional efforts will suffer. There are a couple of things to consider as you classify your target audience.

Identify key demographics

Start by gathering statistical data related to your audience: age, gender, marital status, education level, household income, and geographic location.

If you’re selling a business-related product, you might also want to profile your customers’ professional details, like the types of jobs they do and which markets they serve.

Your local census bureau might share some of this information for free online. You can also search a competitor site on Alexa to find target audience information similar to the customers you’re targeting.

Gather customer psychographics

It’s also important to learn your prospective customers’ lifestyle, goals, interests, and hobbies. Understanding these qualities helps you effectively target your products to their needs.

Again, an online survey tool can be helpful in gathering this data, along with free market research from organizations like eMarketer, Comscore, Pew Research, Nielsen IQ, and Think With Google Research Tools.

Finally, map out consumer buying behaviors and key influences.Do your customers research on mobile or desktop? Do their friends’ recommendations on social media sway their purchase decisions?

Look at how your target consumers interact across all possible sales channels and touchpoints, including mobile apps, messaging platforms, and email.

The more you learn about what makes your audience unique and ideal, the more targeted and effective your content will be. That’s why we’ve developed a practical guide to defining customer profiles and personas for your reading pleasure.

2. Know where to find products for your online store

Before you launch your online store, you need to know which products you’re going to sell, and how you’re going to source and physically store them. There are many options for first-time ecommerce entrepreneurs.

Sell existing inventory online

If you own a retail brick-and-mortar store, you can use it as a place to store inventory until your ecommerce business grows.

Use dropshipping to start without inventory

Many first-time ecommerce entrepreneurs start their careers with no physical inventory. Through a process called dropshipping, you can act as a wholesaler of products that you curate on your site, then purchase directly from the manufacturer to ship to your customers.

Here’s everything you need to know about dropshipping to get started.

Create and ship your unique products on-demand

If you currently sell crafts, custom t-shirts, or artwork on sites like Etsy, consider driving those customers to your own site after your first sale. Include a business card or coupon in their parcel that promotes your site’s URL, and offers a discount on their next purchase.

That way, you keep one hundred percent of the future profits from repeat buyers. It also enables you to build a stronger relationship with those customers.

The beauty of these businesses is that you only need to create and ship what you sell in advance. Be sure to indicate how long a customer can expect to wait for the product, though, before they make their purchase decision.

Here’s a helpful small business guide to selling your crafts online.

Offer a monthly subscription service

Another way to manage your product inventory as a new ecommerce business is to sell a subscription-based service. You only need to store and ship the units you’ve already sold in advance each month or quarter — depending on your business development model.

This post will answer your questions on how to set up subscription services.

A note on unit economics

Ensure that whatever products you choose to sell will be profitable for your business, and evaluate your unit economics, meaning your direct costs versus the revenue you’ll generate on a per-unit basis. If the costs per unit are too high or the profit margins are too thin, then start with products that have a higher profit margin.

3. Understand how much it costs to start an online store

It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to launch your first ecommerce website. However, there are some key elements that you’ll need to work into your budget before launching.

Starting an online store on a limited budget

At a minimum, you need to launch your online store using a hosting platform, custom domain name, unique site design, and compelling brand copy and imagery.

There are also consumer privacy and protection measures, legal, and sales tax requirements that you’ll have to pay for as well (more on this later).

How much you spend on these items depends on your budget and your comfort level with doing some of the work yourself.

Select and purchase a domain and business name

When choosing your ecommerce business name, consider something that is short, memorable, and marketable. Our company name generator can also help you find the right name for your ecommerce store.

The cost for a domain name can range anywhere from $2 to $20, but there can be hidden costs. Review this guide for more details on what to include in your budget.

You might also consider using .shop or .store for general ecommerce, or get more specific with .jewelry, .clothing, .coffee and more.

You can try out various options using the search box below:

Invest in a hosting and design template platform

Most platforms that host your website will also offer a variety of design templates that you can access for free or for a monthly fee.

A templated ecommerce website package comes in one quick install. It typically includes a website template/theme, product pages, shopping cart, payment processing feature, and hosting for your site.

Pick a theme for your online store

Do your research to find the right platform with the design options to suit your online store’s own set of styles (at the right price point) to get started. Most offer free templates as well as paid options. The cost for paid theme prices can range from $0 to a few hundred dollars a month.

GoDaddy's ecommerce theme templates were designed to help you sell.

Using a paid theme is often more affordable than hiring a developer. However, using a developer gives you the freedom to design and customize your site to your tastes and preferences.

If you’re on a tight budget, you may be better off starting with a paid theme. Then re-evaluate your store’s needs as your business grows. Likewise, some platforms enable you to easily customize their plug-ins and apps, which are basically separate pieces of software that add new functionality to your design theme and make your site more robust.

Some of these plugins and apps include add-on blogs, ecommerce functionality, email marketing databases, payment gateways, SEO and social media promotional tools, and website analytics.

Do your research as many sites charge extra for each new app or plugin that you add to your site.

Budget for additional creative costs or the time to do it yourself

Consumers want to see what your product looks like, and understand its benefits, before clicking “add to cart.” So be sure to include detailed website copy, product descriptions, and photos to your site.

Whether you choose to hire professional copywriters and photographers or do it yourself, you must budget for the time and/or money. Get a quote from a few service providers and request customer testimonials to ensure their services will meet your needs and budget.

Develop your pricing profile

When budgeting for the launch of your site, be sure to include all costs to get to your bottom line, then set your product pricing accordingly.

Your costs will include:

  • Securing your site for payments (a secure sockets layer protocol or SSL)
  • Hosting and platform fees
  • Domain registration
  • Business email account
  • Themes, plugins, extensions, and modules add-ons
  • Payment gateways and credit card processing fees,
  • Advertising
  • Inventory management
  • Shipping fees
  • Packaging supplies

To get started, read: “Small business expense planning for your new online startup.”

4. Create categories for your products

Once you’ve selected your domain, hosting platform, and design theme, it’s time to set up your product listing pages. Start by grouping your products into easily navigable categories.

Make your products easy to find

It’s important to organize your online store’s inventory for an optimal user experience — especially if you have a large catalog of items for sale.

Begin by building an intuitive map of your product categories for easy and quick navigation. It’s similar to how you’d set up items for customers to find easily in a store.

The website below’s product listings (or categorization) and site navigation are quite extensive. The image below is a wonderful illustration of all of the possible categories you could include in an online clothing store.

Easy navigation makes your ecommerce products easy to find.

Visit some larger brand sites, along with your competitors’ sites, to learn what they do well. Then, replicate or iterate on what you like best about those product categories.

Once that process is complete, you’ll need to convince customers using product descriptions to click on an item, add the product to their cart, and checkout.

Craft compelling product descriptions

Details can make or break a sales transaction. Since you don’t have a sales clerk to answer your customer questions on a website, start by thinking of all the questions they might ask that person in-store.

For example, what fabrics is a sweater made of? Is it organic and earth-friendly? Was it made locally? What other items might pair well with it?

Your descriptions should be as detailed as possible. This Forever 21 product page, for example, starts off by explaining that it doesn’t cost a lot to ship this item. It goes on to explain that the garment is made from recycled polyester — making it enticing for eco-conscious consumers.

Craft compelling ecommerce product descriptions to make your items more enticing.

It even describes the stitching on the sleeves and the keyhole closure on the back of the dress. Likewise, it highlights that the garment must be hand-washed, which is sometimes a dealbreaker for people. However, being honest and upfront about it helps to build trust with customers.

Related: How to write product descriptions to increase sales

Upload enticing product photos

To convert a browsing customer into a buyer, your products must have quality photos. If it’s in your budget, consider investing in a professional photographer.

Not only do you want to provide customers with beautiful shots of your products, but you also want to help them envision what the product might look like on them or in their home.

Urban Outfitters creates beautiful settings for its lifestyle products to spark its customers’ imagination.

Urban Outfitters puts its ecommerce products within a contextual environment.

Likewise, consider taking photos from different angles to create a 3D customer experience on a 2D screen.

If you can’t afford professional photos, you can search for educational blog posts and YouTube videos to help you capture the best product photos possible.

Note: If you’re drop-shipping, check with your suppliers to see if they have photos you can use on your site.

Select products to feature

Next, you’ll need to promote your great products on your homepage and elsewhere on your site.

Two of the most common product categories for featured items are “Bestsellers” and “New Arrivals.”

Showcasing those items on your homepage or on product category pages will help you increase sales, and draw attention to new items for returning customers. Be sure to:

  • Start with items with a large profit margin or to sell off excess inventory.
  • Gather ratings and reviews of your products for a few weeks or months, then highlight those with the highest rating or feedback.
  • Look at your site analytics to find the most popular search terms on your store. Featuring those items on the homepage will help to close those sales opportunities faster.
  • Look at your Google AdWords account and identify the most common and best-converting product search terms.

To keep your site fresh for repeat shoppers, you must change your featured products on a regular basis. If you’ve already built a GoDaddy Online Store, it’s easy to manage your featured products.

Decide where to feature those products on your site

Your online store’s home page is a good place to start when featuring hot new products. It’s often the first place that new and returning shoppers will land on your site, and it drives traffic directly to those items, without the need to search for them.

You can feature your great products vertically, horizontally, or place them in a slide show. Regardless, make sure the placement is highly visible.

For example, the holiday seasonal products featured on the Riverisland.com homepage appear on the top half of the page, which is a best practice for seasoned ecommerce store owners. In this case, the site uses a video sequence to show off holiday party attire.

Note that they’ve categorized their products by gender, age group, seasonal, and editorial (editor’s picks) items.

River island shows their products front and center on their homepage

If you scroll further down, you’ll see other featured items, worn by social media influencers, displayed prominently via a carousel display.

You can also place featured products on category and product pages to up-sell and cross-sell.

For example, you might place a few featured pairs of jeans on a sweater product page. Or place thumbnails of more expensive handbags on the product page of a mid-priced bag to try and up-sell a customer.

You can even take advantage of your “thank you” page, which appears after a customer has completed a purchase. Experiment with different tactics to uncover the most enticing ways to get customers to click “add to cart” and check out quickly, which leads nicely into our next topic.

5. Set up ecommerce payments and checkout

The key to closing an online sale is to provide an intuitive and seamless checkout and payment experience.

Some platforms offer built-in checkout and payment processing tools. For example, GoDaddy’s Online Store enables you to securely accept all major credit cards, PayPal and Apple Pay — but not all service providers do.

When evaluating options, you’ll need to consider:

  • Does the platform’s merchant account accept all currencies and offer SSL certificates?
  • What forms of payment can you accept through your account? Credit cards, personal checks, wire transfers, or money orders?
  • How about PayPal or Stripe?
  • Does your platform offer a payment gateway to verify, approve, and process charges in real-time?
  • Does it integrate with your website’s existing platform?
  • Do other merchants like or complain about the platform’s checkout and payment experience?

Review all your options and ask the platform provider about the associated transaction rates and processing fees.

Payment process

Next, you’re going to set up your payment options. GoDaddy’s Online Store Builder gives you the option to use GoDaddy Payments, PayPal, Square, Stripe and offline payments.

Click on the payment type you want to add and you’ll be redirected to a form that will take all of the information.

Read “How to set up your preferred payment methods” before you get started.

Setting up payment gateways

Understanding and implementing a smooth checkout process, and using the right payment gateways, will set you apart from your competitors.

According to Sleeknote, “30% of shoppers will drop the purchase if they have to fill out their credit card information again, while 25% will do so on having to re-enter shipping info.” And many of them now prefer sites that offer 1-click payouts solutions that save their purchase information so they can check out faster.

Do your research to ensure the platform you’re using offers a robust set of tools. Reading ecommerce product reviews will help you to find the right platform for your business.

Here’s a handy guide to help you through your payment processing setup.

Collecting sales tax

Online sales tax laws are constantly evolving. If you aren’t following the latest requirements for your online store, you could be on the hook for paying a large sum of unexpected fees.

This video reviews what you need to know about online sales taxes.

For more online sales tax best practices read: “New sales tax rules for online sellers.”

6. Develop your shipping and fulfillment strategy

Your shipping and fulfillment strategy can heavily impact your site’s overall customer experience and repeat purchases. The cost to ship products, and the length of time required to deliver them, can also be major deal-breakers.

What are the top reasons for checkout abandonment?

Outline your shipping program

As you develop your online store’s hassle-free shipping solution, consider all of your shipping needs:

  • What carriers will you offer and what are the handling fees?
  • Will you be shipping based on weight and location or will flat rate work for you?
  • Is your shipping formula based on the type of product you sell?
  • Will you be shipping globally?
  • If so, what customs paperwork and policies do you need to consider?

As you set shipping costs for your ecommerce site, remember that the price must be reasonable (or free, if you can afford it).

Here’s a helpful video on tips to effectively ship products through your online store.

GoDaddy’s Online Store features built-in shipping methods or you can quickly add your preferences — including free shipping and real-time carrier calculations.

Click on the Store icon under the Website settings tab to access these settings, which will take you to a new screen.

GoDaddy Online Store options screen

The new page displays all of your product-related options, such as adding a product, adding payment options, and shipping.

GoDaddy Online Store setup options

Adding products

Adding a product to be shipped is a simple step. Upload an image, then include the name, description, price, tax category, and other basic information. Once you save it, your product will be in the Shop section (under Pages) of the Online Store.

Shipping solutions

GoDaddy Online Store shipping options

Finally, calculate the cost of shipping your products, and select a shipping method (free, flat rate, or weight-based) that will best serve your customers and business.

7. Integrate social shopping channels

If your brand targets Gen Zers or Millennials, it’s critical to have a social media presence to drive traffic to your website. You may even want to set up separate Instagram or Facebook shops that can easily be integrated with your online store.

According to SurveyMonkey, roughly “one-third of Gen Zers (29%) and Millennials (30%) say they are more likely to purchase from a brand that has a social media presence.” And over 60% of Gen Zers follow brands they like on social media — 43% of which say they are more likely to purchase products from those sites.

What is the percentage of companies that follow brands on social media?

Image via SurveyMonkey

Make sure that your site and social sales channels are mobile-optimized, since “more than 60% of Gen Zers and Millennials say they prefer to shop via their mobile device,” according to a recent ViSenze study. And 80% of them say they discover products via mobile.

Setting up and integrating with a Facebook or Instagram store

Both Facebook and Instagram make it easy to set up a social sales channel that can also direct prospective customer traffic to your online store.

Watch this video to learn how to sell through Facebook and Instagram, and integrate those channels with your online store using GoDaddy.

8. Prepare your store for online marketing

As you prepare your online store for launch, it’s vital to set up some essential online marketing tools, as well.

Website analytics

Over time, you need to understand the ways visitors are finding your store, such as through search engines, ad campaigns, or links from your content or other sites.

It’s also helpful to learn which search terms customers use to find your site, the top pages they are most likely to visit, and where they are more likely to leave your site (or “bounce” as it’s called in online marketing).

There are a variety of free and paid website analytics tools you can use to gather this data. Google Analytics is one of the most common tools used by small business owners, and you can read how to use it to increase website traffic.

There are also a host of enhanced analytics tools you can use in Google Analytics for optimizing your ecommerce sales. Have a look at this video, which breaks down the basics.

Ad pixels

To track your ad campaigns in your website analytics tool, and via an advertising platform like Google, Facebook, or Instagram, you’ll need to install an ad pixel on your ecommerce website.

It’s basically a tiny snippet of code that you add to your site to track customer sales conversions, help you optimize your advertising efforts, and enable you to re-target a customer after they’ve seen one of your ads on a specific site in an ad network or social media platform. Here’s an overview from Facebook to give you an idea of how to do it yourself.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Search engines are still one of the leading sources of traffic for any ecommerce website. That’s why optimizing your site for search is critical.

Over 80% of consumers say they have searched online before buying a product or service, and “SEO drives ten times more traffic to a site than organic social media.”

To make sure your online store is easily found in search engines, review this comprehensive SEO beginner’s guide.

Email subscriber list

It may be older than the internet itself, but email is still one of the most targeted and effective ways to drive ecommerce sales and traffic to your online store.

In fact, four out of five marketers surveyed said they’d “rather give up social media than email,” and over 306 billion emails are sent and received on a daily basis. So be sure it’s a part of your launch marketing strategy.

Set up an email report in analytics, as well, so you can track how it impacts sales and traffic to your site. This beginner’s guide to starting an email list provides everything you need to know before launching your online store.

Additionally, GoDaddy’s Online Store includes email marketing functionality built-in for free. To get started, take a look at this walkthrough.

Customer ratings and reviews

Consumers trust the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of their peers over corporate ads or promotional messaging. In other words, customer product ratings and genuinely positive reviews are like promotional pixie dust for your online store’s marketing strategy.

To unlock the full potential of positive reviews and ratings for your ecommerce business, check out our dedicated guide, complete with case studies.

9. Launch your ecommerce store

Once you’ve planned and prepared to build your online store, it’s time to start thinking about the launch.

Earlier, we explained that the simplest and fastest way to get your online shop up and running is by using a templated ecommerce store. Instead of building your store piece by piece, you can install the whole store at once.

GoDaddy’s Online Store Builder through Websites + Marketing Ecommerce includes all of the essentials plus award-winning customer support, tools that integrate with online marketplaces, Facebook, and Google Analytics.

Here’s a step-by-step blueprint to help you create an online store using GoDaddy’s intuitive ecommerce website builder.

Start your free trial

Your first small but essential step in making your online store a reality is to sign up for your free trial.

GoDaddy Online Store landing page with free trial button

Set up your account

Next, enter your business category to help you find relevant templates for your products or services.

Pop up window to choose a category during GoDaddy Online Store setup

To help you get started, refer to:

Choose your template

Design your website’s overall appearance by selecting a template from a range of eye-catching options. Once you’ve chosen your theme, it’s easy to change the font and color of your page and customize it to your satisfaction.

Theme selection page in GoDaddy Online Store

Build online store pages: product pages and more

Now you’re ready to build your site. Start with the home page and reorder or remove any of the elements in the template. Next, go through and do the same to the other default pages: About Us, Shop, and Contact Us.

With GoDaddy’s Online Store Builder, the Home, Shop, and About Us pages are automatically listed with suggested fields, but you can easily customize each page to your preference and add new pages.

Options for adding new pages in GoDaddy Online Store

The most compelling ecommerce product pages offer an intuitive, navigable, and satisfying user experience (UX), so be sure to keep it simple.

Update ecommerce website settings

Once your easy ecommerce site is filled with dazzling product pages, images, colors, fonts, and user-friendly functionality, update your site settings to make some final touches before going live.

GoDaddy Online Store settings page

Go to the settings section of your account and update the following preferences:

  1. Update all of your business contact information.
  2. Finalize your domain name.
  3. Optimize all of your pages for SEO purposes with your platform’s built-in SEO tools.
  4. Link all of your active social media accounts.
  5. If necessary, set up site cookies and traffic notifications, in addition to Favicon, Facebook Pixel, and Pinterest meta tags as desired.

If you need extra help with any of these elements, be sure to check out GoDaddy’s dedicated help page.

Test before you launch

To ensure that everything is running smoothly prior to launch, test your pages with people you trust. You don’t want to launch your site, only to find that no one can find your products.

Once everything looks good, you can launch confidently and focus on getting people to your store. But before you do that, learn how to create a marketing strategy to attract your first customers, and keep them coming back for more.

10. Find new ecommerce customers

If your promotional time and budget are limited, test out a few marketing strategies at a time and iterate on what works before adding new ones. Here are some popular tactics you can use to find your first ecommerce customers.

Explore discounts and coupons

Offering deals and discounts is a good marketing strategy to help you attract and convert new customers.

Coupons, deals, and discounts can also help you boost your levels of engagement with repeat shoppers. One common strategy, as seen below, is to offer a percent off discount “on your first purchase” to anyone who signs-up to your email list — allowing you to target those shoppers later with additional promotions.

Explore discounts and coupons to attract new ecommerce customers.

Investigate how your competitors use this tactic and expand on what you like about their strategies.

The example from Sephora’s holiday promotion below shows a promo code for a percent off discount on various product categories and one for free shipping.

Sephora uses free shipping as a way to increase sales

You can also drive immediate, high volumes of traffic to your site through social media giveaways.

Many ecommerce sites ask customers to share or post a photo of something they bought off of their website in exchange for a chance to win a popular product or a discount on their next purchase. Some even offer new customers a 10% discount for simply liking their Facebook page.

Within GoDaddy’s Online Store Builder, you have options for creating coupons for discounted rates or on individual products. Explore how you can use coupons to reward new or loyal customers.

Related: Email marketing coupons — Best practices for driving sales with discounts

Grow your email marketing list

According to Fundera, email marketing’s average return on investment (ROI) is 122%. To ensure your promotional emails get read, and boost your store’s bottom line, you must build a targeted email list of willing recipients that are open to receiving your communications.

The discount example in the section above is a common tactic used to grow email lists, as are contests where customers give you their email address in exchange for winning a shopping spree on your site, or another high-priced prize.

See the VISA gift card example below.

Loreal uses a visa gift card to attract new customers

It can be challenging at first, but once you’ve learned the fundamentals and found a little momentum, email marketing will be one of your best tactics for growing sales on your site.

To drive customers back to your site, you can also offer exclusive discounts, flash sales, and/or coupon codes that are only available to email subscribers.

Remember to nurture your subscriber list through regular email marketing campaigns to keep them engaged with your online shop.

Foxy original uses ecommerce flash sales to drive more customers.

Related: Websites + Marketing — Enhanced email marketing features for your business email

Advertise your featured or seasonal products online

Once you’ve created your seasonal or feature product promos, contests, and discounts, it’s helpful to drive traffic to them through online advertising.

Fundera reports that “75% of small business owners think internet marketing is very effective or effective for attracting new customers.” Here are some of the biggest paid marketing channels that small business owners use.

Facebook and Instagram ads

Facebook and Instagram offer a host of image-based and video-based ad placements that you can target to your customers’ demographics, geo-location, and psychographic interests. The ads can be bought on a pay-per-click or cost per thousand (CPM) basis, as well.

Visit the advertising solutions pages for Facebook and Instagram to learn how to get started.

Google AdWords, Network, and YouTube

Google AdWords is a pay-per-click advertising platform that businesses use to target people who search on Google. You need to specify the search terms you want your ad to show up for and write ads that will appear on those search engine results pages (SERPs).

And you only pay when someone clicks on the ad (which links to your own online store). Google AdWords is a great way to increase your exposure on search engines while you work to increase your organic search rankings through SEO.

Ads on Google’s ad network and on YouTube can be targeted in a similar fashion. You can also place display (image) or video ads on these sites as well.

Related: Google AdWords vs. Facebook Ads: Which is right for your business?

TikTok

Tik Tok has been downloaded over 2 billion times, and is rapidly growing in popularity. It’s now used in over 200 countries and is the third most searched query on YouTube.

Learn how small businesses can market on this popular new platform.

You can also advertise and sell products via online marketplaces, such as Amazon and Ebay, if you have a presence on those sites.

Connect with and advertise via online marketplaces

Connecting your own online store to reputable ecommerce marketplaces is a helpful way to increase your profit-making potential while expanding your promotional reach.

You can also drive customers, who first discover and buy your products through a site like Amazon, directly to your online shop for future purchases.

Add your website URL to your product packaging, or slip a coupon code or special discount inside to get them to visit your online store.

GoDaddy Online Store makes it easy to integrate your website with popular marketplaces including Amazon, Google, eBay, Walmart and Etsy.

Related: Sell your products on Amazon, Etsy, eBay and Google using Websites + Marketing Marketplaces

Engage with customers through social content and influencers

Advertising on social media is only one piece of the puzzle. It’s vital to use social media content as a free way to personally connect with customers, and build buzz about your latest products. Getting it right is essential.

Whether a customer’s experiences are good or bad, your business’s social profile is a place where they can go to engage and share their feedback about the products they use. The one-on-one interaction can also give incredible insight into what you’re doing right, and what needs improvement.

Online clothing retailer Aritzia regularly builds buzz around its new product drops on Instagram. They also respond to customer questions about the products in a timely and personal manner

Here are some of the best tips for responding to reviews and comments online.

Collaborating with influencers

Another way to grow your brand awareness on social media is to identify influencers in your community and work with them to create content that promotes your product.

According to the Digital Marketing Institute, “70% of teens trust influencers more than they trust traditional celebrities” when it comes to product endorsements. Likewise, “86% of women use social media for purchasing advice.”

The subscription box company FabFitFun does an incredible job of reaching out to fashion, beauty, and lifestyle influencers to get them to try out and endorse their seasonally curated boxes in exchange for an unboxing video online. Here’s one of many Fab Fit Fun unboxing videos that fill up my Facebook feed on a quarterly basis.

Fab fit fun uses unboxing and social media to make the customer experience compelling.

This beginner’s guide to social media for small businesses can help you use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok to connect with your target audience online.

11. Create a customer service strategy

The final step before you launch is to build a strategy for keeping your customers happy and their data safe and secure.

Develop your plan of action

Once you’ve spread the word about your online store, you’ll need to budget some time for answering customer emails and phone inquiries, updating order statuses, and entering shipping details.

Here’s what to consider before you open an online store:

  • How will you send your customers their shipping confirmations?
  • How will you handle phone and email inquiries?
  • Will you have a separate business phone line?
  • When and how will you answer social media questions and comments?
  • Would it save you time to include an FAQ section on your site, along with templated email responses?

Related: FAQ page: Benefits, best practices and examples

Define your refund and return policy

Clearly post a refund and returns policy on your website and prompt users to read it before they make a purchase.

This is essential as it will showcase your brand’s transparency while helping you avoid any costly consumer conflicts of interest in the future.

Your customers should be able to easily understand what you need them to do when returning an item and know your criteria for deciding whether a return will be accepted.

Create your privacy policy and terms of service (TOS)

Speak with a lawyer as you develop this policy, and ask them to help you to craft your terms of service, which is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions for customers who use your products or services. It will protect you if any legal issues arise down the line.

Your privacy policy and TOS must be visibly posted on your site and should explain what you do with your customer’s information.

Be honest and state exactly how you will manage, distribute, and use customer information to build trust.

Cement your security policy

Your security policy should detail what you do to protect your customer payment information. Find an ecommerce platform that uses secure servers with SSL and explain to customers why it’s necessary. Also, be sure the platform is verified by a third-party security service.

The more information you can provide, the greater assurance you’ll give your customers that you’re being careful with their sensitive data.

Launching with confidence

Once you’ve planned everything from customer targeting to finding the right hosting and online store-building platform, your marketing strategies, as well as customer privacy and security policies, you can launch your online store with confidence.

Be sure to stay on top of sales tax collection laws wherever your products are sold and shipped. Likewise, regularly update your homepage and product pages with seasonal or hot new products to keep your site fresh for returning shoppers.

When you engage with customers on social media and on product review pages, be helpful and respectful of their product complaints and needs. We wish you great success as you launch your new online store, and invite you to come back to this blog whenever you need helpful tips on how to grow your business.

This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by Dan Hughes.

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