How to Start an Online Store
Have you been contemplating the idea of starting your own online store? If so this article is for you. Starting your own ecommerce business can seem intimidating, but I promise you that is not the case. Yes it will take time and work, but the rewards can be life changing.
First things first, what do you want to sell?
For the purpose of this article I am going to assume you want to start an online store that will sell your brand. You are in the market for creating apparel that rocks your logo or some form of branding.
Getting your store up and running is easier then you think. First, sign up for a free Printful account:
Creating this free account will give you access to create products for your store without ever having to worry about inventory or shipping. Yes, you read that correctly, you can create an ecommerce store selling your brand without ever having to worry about inventory or shipping.
Secondly, you are going to want to think about who is your target market. I am assuming that if you already have an existing brand you know your customer base pretty well. If you don't, thats okay, spend time designing what your ideal customer base looks like. There are a lot of marketing resources out there on the internet to help with this discovery phase.
Now that you know your target market you can begin to dive deeper into creating products. But before you design apparel you need a design. Do you already have a design or do you need to create one? If you already have a design skip this section and move down, but if you need a design, keep reading. There are a lot of free services out there like https://hatchful.shopify.com/ to help with designing a logo or design for your merchandise. Feel free to Google other design platforms. If you are wanting to drop a few bucks for a more professional design check out https://99designs.com/ ( prices vary).
Okay, now that you have a design / logo you need to select an ecommerce platform. I have used several different platforms for various projects, one of my favorites is Shopify.
Once you have selected an ecommerce platform you need to connect your Printful account to that platform. If you selected Shopify, install the Prinfull app through your Shopify store here: https://apps.shopify.com/printful?surface_detail=printful&surface_inter_position=1&surface_intra_position=1&surface_type=search The Process is a little different, but similar with other platforms, use Youtube to navigate that process or maybe there is someone in your network that can help.
Now you are ready to create products for your store, the fun part, besides making money :)
Printful has made it almost seamless to generate products and push them directly to your store automatically. While creating and uploading product to your store you can select colors, fonts, designs, upload your own logo / brand, and so much more. Please note, not all platforms are equally easy to push product to your store. Part of the reason I love Printful and Shopify is that they work so easily together. The worse case scenario for most other ecommerce platforms is that you will need to push product manually, which is easy just takes a little more time.
Choose your prices. Each product you create will give you ideal resell values, but at then end of the day you have full control over how much margin you would like to make for each product. Industry standard and a good starting point is around 30% margins.
Finally, you will also need to charge your customer shipping. Printful offers two different types of shipping: flat rates and live rates.
The first option is their live rates. This is when their algorithm calculates shipping rates in real-time during check-out, meaning your customer is automatically given the best rate available for shipping, without you having to configure anything. It’s only available for customers using Shopify, Woocommerce or Ecwid. If your integration supports live shipping rates, I highly recommend you use them.
If your integration doesn’t support live shipping rates, your other option is to use the flat rates. These are fixed prices we charge for shipping that you should charge on your store. Then, when the order goes to Printful, their algorithm will choose the most efficient shipping method. If it turns out that shipping costs less than the flat rate, then they will charge you the reduced cost, but they will never charge you more than the stated flat rate.
When it comes to accepting payments from your customers, Shopify has made this very easy. During the setup of your Shopify store you should have gone through this process, which again is very easy. I do recommend you creating a Paypal account or a business account through your bank that is just for your business. Helps keeps things organized for many reasons, taxes is one example.
Now that you have a store, products, and a means to sell those products, you need to find customers. There are many ways to generate traffic for your store. A few examples: Paid Traffic, SEO, Blogging, Youtube Videos, Social Media. There are many ways to get people to your site, be patient and consistent when generating content for your site.
I hope this article has provided some value to you and eased some possible anxiety you have about starting your own online store. If you have any questions please feel free to shot me a note or comment below.