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How to build online merchandise store

An A-Z Guide to Building a Successful Online Store

Thinking about setting up your own online store? You probably are since you stumbled upon this guide.

An online store is an excellent way to earn money. But getting started is a challenge — especially for beginners.

Fortunately, you’re on the right page. Here's the essential A-Z guide to building a successful online store:

A - Audience

The first step when creating an online merchandise store is simple. Yet, many people seem to bypass it.

Know your audience! The more you understand your audience - like who they are and what they're into - the easier it will be to sell to them.

B - Backups

When you're looking for a system to host your online store, make sure your site files are backed up regularly.

Many providers now offer real-time backups - so you'll be able to reduce revenue — and the risk data loss — if the worst were to happen.

C - Copywriting

The words you write matter. If you want your online store to be successful, it's worth investing in a copywriter - or learning the necessary skills yourself. This lets you tap into the mind of your customers, and entice them into your online store.

D - Domain Name

An effective domain name is short, easy to spell, and matches your company name. This makes it easier for customers to remember and return whenever they want to.

You’ll also want a custom domain name — and not just some generic subdomain.

To get started, read our guide to choosing the best domain name for your business here.

E - Email Marketing

Email is a direct route to customers' inboxes — and their wallets.

When you build an audience that opts in to your email campaigns, you’ve got your target market locked in. This helps you stay in touch, increasing the chances of them making a purchase or referring your brand to family and friends.

F - Fast Loading Website

Website speed directly affects your Google ranking and conversion rate. In fact, a 100-millisecond delay in page loading time can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

Ensuring your website loads as fast as possible should be a priority.

G - Growth

Who wouldn’t want business growth? Every entrepreneur does — may it be a growth in leads, conversions, and of course, sales.

Nurture your online business by applying this A to Z guide. Also, refrain from committing mistakes most startups do:

  • Not setting clear business goals. Business goals set your path to success. You can’t derive marketing goals without streamlining your business goals. You can’t create effective online marketing strategies without specific marketing goals.
  • Website is “too much” to handle. Keep it simple, professional and easy to navigate. Make sure the texts are readable and the menu easily visible.
  • You forget the competition. Don’t stress about the online competition. But don’t forget about it either. Your competitors help you identify how to stand out in the market.

H - Homepage

The homepage is the first thing users see when they visit your website. Make it count by creating a good first impression.

Think about what you want people to do when they arrive on your website. What action do you want them to take? Where do you want to draw their attention?

Include these elements on your store homepage:

  • A clear and simple headline and sub-headline
  • Calls-to-Action
  • Link the shopping cart
  • Brand logo
  • Navigation bar

I - Inventory

Conducting regular inventory checks is one of the most important aspects of setting up your store. This’ll help you keep track of your stock and ensure you always have sufficient quantities in your warehouse.

If you lack the time or resources to manage inventory, you can always try dropshipping. Dropshipping lets you partner with a third party manufacturer that handles inventory.

If you think that’s an idea you can get onboard with, check out our dropshipping guide here.

J - Journey

When planning your merchandising store, put yourself in your customer's shoes.

Map your customer's journey. Start with the moment they become aware of your brand: Did they hear about you through social media? Or did they visit your physical store before checking out your website?

Next, decide on what motivates customers to make a purchase and what questions or obstacles they may experience along the way.

Mapping out the steps they take helps you nurture your relationship, turning them from a qualified lead to a loyal, returning customer.

K - Keywords

Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. What keywords are they typing in search engines when researching products like yours?

Fortunately, keyword research doesn’t mean you need to painstakingly come up with words your target audience are searching for online.

Google AdWords Keyword Tool comes in handy researching for relevant search terms and keyword suggestions. But you can’t just pick randomly. Choose the “right” keywords to rank well in Google and increase business leads.

What are the qualities of a good keyword?

  • Not too vague, not too specific. Is there a high possibility for searchers to use a particular keyword?
  • Keyword phrase. A keyword with multiple words. Single-word keywords are mostly vague ones.
  • High-ranking keywords. Keywords used by authoritative sites.

Using keywords for your SEO is a “trial and error” method. Track the performance of your keywords with Google Analytics. Keep using those generated a lot of traffic and replace those aren’t.

L - Link Building

Link building is still one of the most important ranking factors for SEO.

Remember to be selective with your links. It should come from authoritative websites with high-quality content. Don't be easily tempted to buy links or participate in link exchanges. Black hat tactics like these could actually harm your link profile and lower your search engine rankings.

M - Mobile-Friendly

What device do you find yourself using often — desktop, laptop or mobile phone?

If you answered mobile phone, you aren’t alone. Mobiles are handy devices that lets us stay connected. They’re small enough to fit in our pockets during our daily commutes and powerful enough to store apps and other data.

Southeast Asia’s mobile market is increasing dramatically. If your website is not mobile-friendly, you risk losing valuable customers.

Why is mobile friendly website important?

  • Search engine-friendly: Mobile optimisation is one of Google’s major ranking qualifications. This is because the search engine recognises the growing population of mobile internet users.
  • Get ahead of your competitors: It’s a wildly competitive marketing — but not a lot of businesses invest on a responsive website. Seize the opportunity and make sure your website is tailored to handheld devices.
  • Enhanced user engagement: It is impossible for a website with a broken mobile layout to hold users for long. The result? Bad online reputation and poor sales.

Learn more about this and other mobile marketing tips here.

N - Niche

Who is your target market? There's a saying in business: "If you're selling to everyone, you're selling to no one."

You can't be all things to all people. Choose a niche to specialise in to stand out from your competitors and offer higher quality service.

O - Opt-In

We've already discussed the importance of email marketing, now it’s time to get people into your email list.

An opt-in is an incentive to get people to sign up to receive your emails. It could be anything - from free eBooks to discount vouchers. The key to provide value (high-quality content, promos, etc.) to the end-user, enticing them to sign up.

P - Payment Gateways

If you can't take payments, you won't make any sales. Many people overlook this aspect of setting up an online merchandising store. They just go for whatever they come across first.

In reality, there are a variety of payment gateways to choose from. Make an informed choice by analysing the fees, convenience and your target audience.

Q - Qualified Lead

Qualified leads are people who showed interest in your product or service.

Remember opt-ins? They’re great examples of qualified leads.

Qualified leads provide their information in exchange for something beneficial to them. You could offer valuable ebooks, white papers, newsletters and discount vouchers.

R - Remarketing

It usually takes several touch points before a customer converts.

Social media advertising gets you seen by a larger audience, increasing leads and conversions. But if they don't keep returning to your website, it's unlikely you convert them into buyers.

Use data capture methods and web cookies to learn more about visitors. It also tells you how to deliver the content and the products they’re most likely to engage with.

S - SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is every business’ friend for online marketing.

It’s a strategy that drives inbound traffic to your website from search engines— generating leads and boosting brand awareness

For more SEO tips, read our no-stress, no-fuss guide here.

T - Tracking

Most online businesses fail because owners set up their store with a "build it and they’ll come" mentality.

When growing your online presence, it's important to keep track of your progress. This allows you to adjust your strategies and ultimately, meet your business goals.

To measure and analyse business growth, remember these tips:

  • Define your short and long-term marketing goals. Create a list of achievable goals: Do you want to launch a campaign that generates a set number of qualified leads? Or maybe you want to increase customer retention? The more specific, measurable and timely your goals are, the better.
  • Google Analytics is your partner. Google Analytics is a free-to-use service that works best for small to medium companies. You get firsthand insights to your marketing campaigns, landing pages, content, and more.
  • Create a list of audience behaviour to monitor regularly. This includes the number of website visits, leads, and conversions.

U - User Experience

You can build the fanciest website in the world. But if your end-user doesn't find it intuitive or useful,you might as well have not bothered.

Prioritise the end-user every time you tweak the website, and build something you know they’ll love.

V - Viral Content

When something goes viral, its seen by millions of people around the world.

Unfortunately, there’s no 100% guarantee your content will go viral. But continue to focus on creating unique content that your audience will love. Once you have their attention, they’ll likely start sharing it to their friends and family.

W - Website Builder

Want to create a great website but lack the technical knowledge to do so?

Look for an easy-to-use website builder, like Sitebeat. You could cut down the time and money needed to build a website.

X - XML Sitemap

XML sitemap creates a roadmap of your entire website that Google uses to index your online store.

Create one to improve your website's SEO. Make sure to include all the pages you wish to rank for.

Y - You

People like to buy from “human” brands. Put yourself front and centre by telling your story. Create a compelling About page or share your story on your Home page.

A well-crafted About Us page is simple, engaging, and visually-appealing. So share a picture of you as well behind-the-scenes images of you at work.

Z - Zonked

Building a business is exhausting even at the best of times.

There will be a time where you feel like you're working 24/7 and missing out on life in the process. Don't despair because it does get easier. Take advantage of the latest technology or ask help from a friend or fellow business owner.

Finally, find that balance between work and play — and don't forget to take care of your mental, physical, and emotional health along the way!

To find out more about building the perfect online merchandising store, and how Sitebeat can help, get in touch today.

Skip to section

A - Audience
B - Backups
C - Copywriting
D - Domain Name
E - Email Marketing
F - Fast Loading Website
G - Growth
H - Homepage
I - Inventory
J - Journey
K - Keywords
L - Link Building
M - Mobile-Friendly
N - Niche
O - Opt-In
P - Payment Gateways
Q - Qualified Lead
R - Remarketing
S - SEO
T - Tracking
U - User Experience
V - Viral Content
W - Website Builder
X - XML Sitemap
Y - You
Z - Zonked