How to Start an Online Retail Business

1. Study the Market and Competitors

There are two possible options:

  • You already occupy your niche, and you know exactly what you will sell
  • You are only deciding on the domain of your business

2. Get to Know Your Target Audience

What are the needs of your potential customer? Their age, interests, income? Drawing up a detailed customer profiling will help you better understand your target audience, their needs — and find a way to meet them.

Google Analytics. Screenshot:

3. Register Business

Settle all legal issues. Different countries have different business registration procedures, so there is no universal guide here. The operations you definitely need to conduct after deciding on the store domain is:

  • Sound out the taxation procedure
  • Register a trademark
  • Obtain the licenses and permits required in your area

4. Consider Your Brand Concept

Proper brand positioning will help build strong relationships with your customer and sell retail online more efficiently. Make the name of your online store memorable, but clear and self-explanatory. Of course, it is better if the brand name is your invention. However, artificial intelligence has already stepped far enough to help you even with this issue. Namelix is a useful naming tool. All you need to do is enter a few keywords, set the length and the desired style of the name.

5. Develop a Business Plan

You need a business plan, regardless of the size of your business, the industry, the store’s theme, and the production volume. Having set specific goals at the very beginning (we already wrote about the importance of numbers here), later on, you will understand that you are going in the right direction or doing something wrong.

6. Decide on a Supplier

Are you selling your own-produced goods or are you going to arrange supplies? Pay attention to this issue as well. If you have a product supplier, you need to work out the legal side of your cooperation and organize logistics. Try to make it as fast and inexpensive as you can.

7. Start an Online Retail Store

Finally, it is time to put your platform online. Many online stores are created using builders that offer a ready-made software solution, such as Wix, Shopify, and WooCommerce. These platforms provide a ready-made template that you just need to fill with items. CMS allow you to create an online store with minimal investment and HTML and CSS skills. Many people use builders for reasons of economy and usability. However, the builders offer limited functionality, and their inexpensiveness is rather conditional. You will have to pay for many useful modules; the domain name and hosting will add costs too.

8. Fill Your Store With Goods

Attractive photos and catchy product descriptions get the lion’s share of an online store’s successful sales. Photographing goods is a real science. To be recognized by customers, you would like to develop your own style of creating photos (e.g., using a special angle or background).

9. Start Marketing Your Store

For higher sales and involvement, include promoting your store on social media (SMM) in your marketing plan. Most Internet users have accounts on social networks, making the latter an effective tool for promotion. It is important to accompany posts on Instagram and Facebook with readable texts: find a copywriter to create them, or master the writing skill yourself.


In this article, we have listed the basic steps to online retail business if you decide to start an online retail store. Having launched a retail business and gained enough experience, you will definitely find what to complement our list with.



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