How To Start an Online Retail Business: 9 Things You Need To Know

Looking to start an online retail business? The idea is both exciting and daunting. The good news is that if you’ve got a bit of a helping hand to guide you along the way, starting an online business is a lot less scary.

Moreover, launching an online business comes with so many perks. You have more freedom to work at your own pace, your life/work balance improves, and you’re now in charge.

So grab yourself a coffee and let’s take a look at 9 things you need to know about starting an online business.

Build a Brand

You might have been tempted to only sell your products on Amazon. While this is fine, the problem is that if you stick to just Amazon you won’t have a brand. You’re just another faceless Amazon seller.

Why is this a problem? Customers won’t grow to know you or become familiar with you. They won’t connect with you, build relationships with you – and thus they probably won’t stay loyal.

A brand ensures that you make that all-important connection with customers who share your values. A brand makes you more recognizable and helps to establish trust, and it also promotes long-term customer loyalty.

It all starts with a logo. If you don’t yet have one, you can use a tool like Hatchful to create one in a matter of minutes.

Then, write down your company values before deciding on a consistent color scheme and tone of voice. What do you represent and how do you want to speak to your customers? Moreover, how is your brand unique and different to the rest? What do you stand for that sets you apart from the competition?

Design a Clean and Simple Website

Your website needs to be as clean, simple and user-friendly as possible. It needs to be easy to navigate and you need to make the buying process as simple as two clicks from picking a product to checking out.

Go here for more help on how to create an eCommerce website.

Pick the Right Products

Your online business won’t grow if you’re selling products no one wants. To find out what people do want, you need to carry out a bit of research.

Pick the Right Products

Do keyword research to discover what products and niches people are searching for. You don’t want to enter a niche that’s too competitive but neither do you want to enter one that has less than 1,000 searches per month. You can use a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to help you with this.

Visit online forums, too, to see what problems people need solving. Social media is also useful for this.

You should also take a look at your competitors to see what problems they’re solving and how they’re solving them. Then, think of a way you can do it better.

Put Together an SEO Strategy

All businesses need customers, and the best way to drive more to your site is via search engines.

Organic traffic is key because it lets you targeted high quality traffic via optimized content. In other words, you can use keywords to drive customers to your store who are ready to buy.

SEO can be a complex and ongoing process, and you’ll need to optimize everything on your site, from site speed to the content itself. Take some time to put together an eCommerce SEO strategy that will help you grow your business.

Write a Blog

You might be thinking that you don’t have the time to maintain a blog. If that’s really the case, hire a content writer. Either way, a blog is super important for any online business. Not only does it help you to rank higher on Google, it also helps to establish you as the expert in your niche.

You should use your blog to educate and inform your customers on your products, your brand and your niche. That way, you can build proper relationships and make connections with the people that matter. Your content must be valuable and it must satisfy a user query with as much depth and research as possible.

WordPress is still the leading blog platform available. It offers a number of advantages, being free, easy to set up and use, and highly flexible thanks to a vast array of plug-ins readily available for everything from SEO to multilingual content. In reality WordPress is much more than just a blogging platform; it can be used to build a professional online retail website, though at this level the setup requires the services of a professional web developer and specialist WordPress hosting is highly recommendable as well.

Add a Video To Your Website

A video helps to build trust with potential customers. No one yet knows who you are, so why not put together a short video that shows them what you and your new business is all about? It’s a fab way to make that all-important first connection while showing people that you’re not just another retailer.

Launch a Social Media Strategy

Your customers are on social media. Facebook, Instagram and even Twitter are fab ways to reach out to them, build relationships with them and drive them to your online store.

Social media also allows you to run contests, get involved with the conversations your customers are having, and it also lets you position yourself as the expert.

Just make sure that you always maintain your brand’s voice and that you have as much fun as possible (where permissible, of course).

Policies on Warranties, Returns and Refunds

If customers can’t find information on returns and refunds, they might abandon their carts.

It’s all about trust and transparency. Make sure that your policies on warranties, returns and refunds aren’t hidden or include in the email confirmation. Make them visible during the buying process so that everyone knows where they stand.

Optimize The Checkout Process

As touched on earlier, abandoned carts are problematic. Just because a customer has put items in their cart, it doesn’t mean they’re going to go ahead and finish off the purchase.

To that end, you need to make sure your checkout process is as seamless as possible. Make their life easy by giving them the option to checkout as a guest. Make sure your page load time is fast and that any forms that have to be filled out have as few fields as possible. Also add their preferred payment options, too.


Starting an online retail business can be time consuming and it can even be exhausting. But once you’re up and running and the customers are flocking in, life will suddenly get that bit more exciting.

Just make sure to keep testing and tweaking so that you keep growing. Pretty soon, you’ll be well on your way to online success and work/life freedom.

Michelle Deery is a content writer and editor for Heroic Search. Her content has been published in Entrepreneur. Her content helps brands relate to their customers through copy. You can find her on Twitter.