So you wanna switch to being an online seller from being an online shopper. Welcome! Whatever urged you to finally start an online business, from a need for a passive income to just wanting to fulfill a long-term goal, this guide is for you.
Here, we share some key steps that will help you start an online business. For the purposes of this article, we will define an online business as a shop based on either a website or an e-commerce platform that accomplishes all transactions online.
Fortunately, setting up an online business has never been as convenient as it is now that all steps may be accomplished in one weekend. Let’s dive right in!
Step 1: Figure out what you want to sell
This first step may be the most difficult one, but it will ultimately shape how the rest of your business goes. Start asking yourself: Do I want to sell items? What kind? Do I want to target working girls, moms or will I be gender-neutral? Where would I source my items?
Chances are if you have decided to start an online business, you already have some idea of what product you want to sell. Just don’t be too pressured that you have to have everything figured out. Once the business is running, you can learn to iterate and adapt to the needs and demands of your customers. (READ MORE: 10 Online Business Ideas You Can Start with Low Capital)
Step 2: Name that biz
Now that you have identified the products you want to sell, it is time to name the business. You can be as creative as you want to be in this step. Just make sure that the name you pick is unique and identifiable to the product you want to sell.
The business name that shows up on your website also does not necessarily need to be the name you register for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). So don’t be pressured if the business name you picked online is also registered in DTI’s database.
Registering for your business name may be done on the DTI website for a fee. After registration, you can immediately get a certificate that certifies your business name as recorded in the database.
Step 3: Set up your business’ website or the e-commerce account
Picking a platform for your online business is like looking for the best location for a brick-and-mortar store. Either way, both have advantages and disadvantages.
Setting up your own business’ website means you can customize how the site would look. This can be a good way to showcase your creativity. You can customize widgets, labels, almost every aspect of how the site looks and feels. However, having your business website means you would have to take care of shipping your items. For a first-time business owner, this may be overwhelming. But once you have a system up and running, you can learn to handle this aspect in no time.
If you choose to open an account on e-commerce platforms like Lazada and Shopee though, the onboarding process may be quicker and faster. The platforms also take care of shipping as they can pick up the items from your location. The only caveat is the platforms do take a percentage of sales. Sellers may also be forced to drop prices to compete against sellers in the platform.
Step 4: Spread the word!
Like any shop offline, an online store would need marketing efforts to build customer following. After setting up either an e-commerce account or a website, build your business’ social media presence next. Some may do this first even before taking the third step as they informally post their items with corresponding prices. While this may be a more convenient route, taking such a step may not only limit your customer base, it can also be more time-consuming.
Putting up a Facebook or Instagram page after putting up your e-commerce presence sets you up for success, as it allows interested customers to have a better view of your available products and their corresponding prices. Creating a business account on either social media site is easy. On Instagram, open an account like how it is directed for any user, and in one of the steps, you would be asked if you would prefer to have a business account instead.
Meanwhile, a Facebook business page may be created once you have a personal account on the site. Just go to the “Pages” tab and there is an option to create one that will pop up.
Once you follow the steps, you will also be asked if you would want it to be a business page.
A business account in either platform allows one to push advertisements, either paid or not, without getting flagged by the platform.
Step 5: Enjoy the rush!
After taking all of these steps, customer inquiries will start coming in, in no time. Again, don’t be pressured to think that you would have everything figured out in the get-go. Like every other business, running an online store can be time-consuming. It takes time to develop the following online. At first, the time you spend online for personal and business use may start to blur. But it’s all part of the trade as an owner of a shop that is accessible 24/7.
A physical storefront may have specific opening hours, but investing in one can be even more overwhelming as the cost of running one is significantly more expensive.
Start small and adapt your next steps from there.
While many may be doing it efficiently already, be reminded that they started as a beginner, too. Starting the business now may even help you get a slice of the growing e-commerce market in the Philippines, which is poised to grow to $28 billion in value by 2025.