Getting Started

The hardest part! Starting an e-commerce store will take a bit of time and effort, but for the solo entrepreneur, it can pay off quite a bit over time. Fortunately, this guide can quickly get you up to speed in starting a new store.

Finding Your Niche Market

The first thing you'll want to do is focus on a niche that appeals to you. Starting a business that you're not excited about will make the task of running an online business much more difficult. Choosing a niche you are familiar with, and have a natural affinity for will keep interest and engagement high, even during more challenging times. Plus, you don't want to spend the next week, month, year from now building a site, only to find out there isn't a viable market for it.

Start a List

What are your hobbies? Write them down, and list them out. Maybe it's sewing a garment, or fad diet that you're into. Chances are, if you are an early adopter, that is a potential viable niche market opportunity. Once you have a running list, next will be to research viable markets for that hobby, community or product. Examples:

Finding niche viability in a competitive marketplace is easier than it ever has been in the past. There are tons of free tools and data at your fingertips to do market research before you fully commit.

Do a Google Keyword Search

The amount of money spent on certain keyword terms and their bid price can give a lot of insight into viable and/or profitable markets. Using the Google Keyword Planner tool, keep a running list of keywords that could potentially be used in the future, or help give you insight.

Example: Succulent, Cactus or Air Plant Store

Create a list of potential keywords in a notepad doc, or excel spreadsheet. I came up with 12 and saved them in a notepad doc.

Copy & paste your initial keyword thoughts into the Google Keyword Planner Tool. My initial keywords generated 711 other keyword ideas.

Download the spreadsheet of all keywords and keyword ideas

From the keyword data, I've learned:

- It might be a good idea to make a video about air plant care. The irony! This could be really fun and very shareable
- Make a video or write blog articles about 'succulent care', 'planting succulents' and 'growing succulents'
- Hibiscus plants are a viable niche market as well
- 'Hanging Plants', 'Office Plants', 'Low Light Indoor Plants' might be a good keywords and viable areas to market to.

Use the Keyword Spreadsheet to Find an Available Domain Name

There are still a lot of great domain names available out there. You can use your running list of Google Keywords to import into bulk domain name search engines, or use a site like Bust A Name if you really get stuck, and need some divergent domain name ideas.

Narrow down your keywords from the spreadsheet above, and paste the keyword
list into Bust A Name, or a bulk domain name finder

On my list I have quite a few easily brandable, relevant and memorable domain names. *Don't get too caught up in finding a domain name! A lot of first-time merchants get caught up in names and logos before they do market research. Don't fall into that trap - it's really easy and irrational to get romantic with your product or idea before doing proper market research.

Research Potential Audiences on Social Media

There has never been an easier time to market to future consumers of your product or service. Networks like Facebook have more data on people than marketers have ever had before. Using Facebook Power Editor can give you insight into potential networks and audiences of people who may be interested to hop on your brand bandwagon.

Harnessing the Power of Facebook Power Editor

Facebook Power Editor can give some insight into your potential audience on Facebook. There has never been more data available to you for FREE. If you already have a Facebook Page for a hobby, you can re-market to your page audience, and find 'lookalike' audiences to expand your brand top-of-mind awareness.

Create a business or website 'Page' in Facebook, then you'll be able to take full advantage of Power Editor

Finding audiences with hashtags on Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest

Hashtags are the equivalent to a keyword search on the Google search engine. With so much screen time being consumed on mobile social networks like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, doing hashtag research on these networks is just as important as a Google Keyword search. Do not deny the potential that these networks have to drive new customers to your future store.

In Instagram, search hashtags and accounts with like interests. Services such as Iconosquare can give insight into dayparting your posts and trending tags, and audience analytics.

A simple hashtag search shows over 2 million images on Instagram are tagged with the word '#succulents', which shows high interest on the network and visibility.

Search For Your Potential Products on Amazon

This is so simple, yet often overlooked. When products end up on comparison shopping engines, it's an all-out price war. You don't want to spend months creating a store, only to find out that your margin is not enough to sustain a healthy profit. A quick Amazon search can tell you quite a bit about the market, and viability.

There appears to be a viable niche in the Amazon market for more types of hanging plants and air plants in hanging containers - especially in trendy, modern pots.

e-Commerce Platforms

Power your store with AspDotNetStorefront ...

PreFix is a monthly subscription, turnkey solution that removes many barriers to entry when setting up an e-commerce store. With pre-designed templates and unmatched depth in store functionality, PreFix will get you up and running in a matter of minutes for a competitive monthly subscription fee.

... or take one of our Industry-specific stores, pre-populated with product catalogs

Choose the 'niche', then sign up for a storefront that comes ready filled with things to sell. We have carefully selected premium distributors and drop-shippers who will keep your storefront up to date with prices and inventory. You can save time (by having your catalog automatically updated) and you can save money (by electing to drop-ship and avoiding heavy warehousing costs).

Broadcasting, Marketing and Referral Networks

By this time, you should have a pretty good insight into where your future customers are. In addition to a range of ecommerce platform offerings, AspDotNetStorefront also connects and feeds products out to most major shopping networks or comparison shopping engines. This makes handling store inventory and pricing automated and manageable.

Contact us directly, sign up for a free demo of our e-commerce platform or get started today!