How do you start an online store? More specifically, how do you choose a profitable niche, sell products consistently, and build a massive cohort of customers? Here are 5 easy steps!
In 2021, experts predict there to be a whopping 2.14 billion online shoppers.
And considering that the entire world population is about 8 billion people, that number represents almost 25% of everyone on the planet.
Every year, more people are going online to do their shopping, whether that’s for entertainment, medications, hobbies, or even groceries.
And even though there are currently about 20 million ecommerce stores, entrepreneurs who take their business online can still make big money.
In fact, ecommerce profits are growing at about 7% every year.
The best part is, starting your very own ecommerce store is easier than it’s ever been before.
So without further ado, here are five easy steps to building an online store.
Step 1. Discover Your Niche
First thing’s first: how do you figure out what niche your online store is going to operate in?
You might have a passion for something specific — like sports, or health, or humor — that fuels your decision.
Still, in order to be successful, you should narrow that niche down even further.
Here’s a better question to ask: Who do you want to serve?
Because if you know who you want to serve, then you’ll know where to find them, how to speak to them, and what to sell them.
It’s all about identifying your dream customer.
Here are a few more questions to help you dig…
Answering those questions is how you find your niche and carve out space for your business in any market.
Ultimately, as Russell Brunson talks about in Expert Secrets, you want to go three levels deep.
Let me explain.
The first level really only includes three markets: health, wealth, and relationships. The second level includes literally thousands of different sub-markets (investing, dating advice, diet, etc).
But the third level (the niche) is where online stores can carve out space for themself and make a lot of money in the process.
For example, if you’ve determined that you want to help people improve their every-day health with nutrition, then you’d be in the health market, the nutrition sub-market, and your niche might be “helping people get more energy with vitamin supplements.”
Voila! Now you have a foundation to build upon.
As a real-life example, check out how beautifully niched-down Natalie Hodson’s business is…
The goal is, when your dream customers come to your website, they should be able to say to themselves, “Wow! This was made just for me.”
The next step is to choose what products you’re going to sell.
Step 2. Choose Your Products
The great part about building an online store in today’s world is that you don’t have to manufacture your own products, you don’t have to create or source your own products, you don’t even have to have your own products necessarily.
You can do all of those things if you want, of course, but you don’t have to.
There are really two things that have happened to ecommerce in the last decade that make it easy for anyone to build a profitable online store…
- Dropshipping — This allows you to sell products in your online store without keeping your own physical inventory. When you receive an order, the manufacturer will ship the product directly to the customer. In many cases, you can even go to these manufacturer’s websites and resell their products on your own site at a profit. Some of the biggest dropshipping companies (all of which you can integrate with your ClickFunnels site) include…
- Affiliate Marketing — This allows you to sell other businesses’ products and get a percentage of each sale that you make. In fact, by becoming a ClickFunnel’s affiliate, you can make up to 40% recurring commission. Pretty cool, huh? Here are some other places to find affiliate marketing opportunities…
- Amazon Associates — Amazon’s massive affiliate marketing program offers 10%, which isn’t huge, but you can market any type of product that you want because… well, it’s Amazon.
- ShareASale — This is a huge platform for merchants and affiliates to connect. Sign up, sell other people’s products, get paid. Simple.
- eBay Partner Network — Even eBay wants help selling their products. How much you make depends on what you’re selling, but commission hovers between 2% and 3%.
- Clickbank — This is another platform like ShareASale where you can sell lots of different merchant’s products for a commission.
The other option is to create your own products or work with a manufacturer and source your own products.
Whatever you decide, at the end of the day, the product you choose should be wildly appealing to the audience that you want to serve.
It should entertain them, help them, delight them, and surprise them.
The more that it does, the faster your business is going to grow.
Once you know what you’re going to sell your dream customers, it’s time to put your first offer together.
Step 3. Build Your Sales Funnel & Make Your First Sale
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how to build your sales funnel and make your first sale, check out this video…
It shows how Jaime built a 7-figure online skincare store using sales funnels.
But the difference between websites and sales funnels is critical.
While websites are a sort of digital brochure that do almost nothing to drive your visitors where you want them to go, sales funnels are a carefully crafted experience that guide prospects toward taking the exact action that you want them to take.
It’s the difference between giving someone a business card and passionately telling someone about how you can help them specifically.
And that’s why your online store needs a sales funnel.
Without it, you’re going to have a hard time… well, selling.
But building an effective sales funnel can be a little tricky.
Fortunately, we have a few amazing resources that will help you build your sales funnel and make your first sale. You can check out this article for a thorough overview of sales funnels and you can join the One Funnel Away Challenge, where we’ll literally help you build a high-converting sales funnel step-by-step over 30 days.
Step 4. Build Your Email List
According to Constant Contact, New prospective customers only have a 13% chance of purchasing, but existing customers (people who’ve bought from you before) have between a 60% and 70% chance.
That’s a massive difference. And it’s the key to building a long-term, sustainable online business.
Your email list represents the people who want to listen to you and want to buy from you.
Which is why building an email list is so darn important.
You own your email list (versus Facebook or Google owning and controlling it for you). You can contact them whenever you want for free.
That is fundamentally different from paid advertisements and organic marketing like SEO. You can partly control someone else’s traffic with those strategies, but you don’t own it in the way that you own your email list.
For example, just one algorithmic change can destroy your traffic from those sources (and that happens to online businesses without warning).
The main lesson here is to start collecting email addresses with every advertisement that you run.
One great approach to generate email leads is to sell a low-cost product that will cover the cost of your advertisements and attract your target market.
Using the “Just pay shipping” angle is popular and effective.
The goal is just to break even on the cost of your advertisements and then collect free leads along the way.
This means that one of the first steps in your sales funnel should be getting the prospect’s email address.
Once you’ve got a person’s email address — regardless of if they finish their purchase — you can follow-up with them and make them future offers.
And that’s where the real money is made in online business: the repeat customer.
Step 5. Create an Experience For Your Customers
Multiple scientific studies have found that people are… well, emotional.
In fact, we make purchasing decisions almost entirely on emotions and then we justify those decisions with logic.
I want to go to Disneyland in December because it will be really fun!
Ohhh… and they even have a payment plan so we can afford it. And I can definitely get the time off work.
If you can create an emotional experience for your customers, then they won’t just buy now… they’ll buy again and again.
Here are a few things to consider when crafting your customer’s experience…
- Does your sales funnel clearly communicate your company’s values? In order to emotionally connect with your dream customers, you need to show them that your company has the same beliefs that they have. Your sales funnel is a great place to do this.
- What is the unboxing experience like? When people receive your product in the mail, does it have your logo on the package? What is the experience when they open the box? This is a great opportunity to surprise and delight your customers. Here’s an example of what we do with The One Funnel Away Challenge.
- When will customers hear from you again after purchasing? Imagine if you went on a first date with someone and then didn’t get a phone call or text for a week… you’d probably start thinking they didn’t like you. That’s kind of what it’s like when a customer buys from an online store and then doesn’t hear from them within a few days. It can feel like the business didn’t really care about them… they only cared about the sale. So we recommend crafting an onboarding email sequence where you introduce your new customers to your business and to your products. Then put them on your daily newsletter to keep in contact.
BONUS: 3 Tips For Scaling Your Online Store!
As a little something extra, here are 3 tips for scaling your online store well into the future.
1. Find Your Dream 100
The concept of the Dream 100 is perhaps the most powerful tool in our marketing arsenal at ClickFunnels.
While it can be really challenging to drive consistent traffic to your online store, the Dream 100 solves that problem.
Here’s how it works…
- Think of your submarket (dieting, finances, sports, etc).
- Write down 100 influencers within that submarket who have audiences of people that would be interested in your business and products.
- Then either work your way in or buy your way in with those influencers to get in front of their audiences.
- Work Your Way In — This usually means cold calling, text messaging, emailing, and even direct mailing your influencers to try and build a relationship with them and “bribe” them into some sort of collaboration. For example, you might send a free version of your product to influencers with a $100 bill asking them for an honest review.
- Buy Your Way In — If you want to cut to the chase, then you might consider just paying influencers to get in front of their audience. This might include getting a banner ad on their website, putting your YouTube ads at the beginning of their videos, or contacting them and asking what other paid promotional opportunities they offer.
2. Build an Affiliate Army
What if you could get influencers to promote, advertise, and sell your products for you?
Would be pretty cool, right?
Well, one way to grow your online store is to offer compelling commissions to influencers in your niche and build an army of affiliates who promote your products.
Make it as easy as possible for people to get their own affiliate links, promote your products, and receive payouts. The easier you make this process, the more affiliates you’re going to get.
We’ve done this at ClickFunnels and it works like a charm…
3. Use The Right Tools
The tools you use to build your online store will have a big impact on how successful you are.
Or at least… what those tools allow you to do…
Can you build high-converting sales funnels? Can you follow-up with your customers automatically? Can you build an email list? Does your site load quickly? Can you customize your site to be on-brand with your other marketing materials?
With ClickFunnels, you can do all of those things (and lots more). Plus, you can even integrate your ClickFunnels account with virtually any other service through our Zapier integration.
But the best part is… you can get a 14-day free trial.
Want to start your online store today?
Most people think that setting up an online store is a long, difficult process.
But that doesn’t have to be the case.
In fact, with just a full-day of dedicated effort, you could have an online store up-and-running, ready to collect leads and make sales.
You can use this guide as your starting place. And you can use ClickFunnels free for 14 days to see if it’s a fit for your business.
Ready, set, go!