Much is said about the universe of online sales, but do you know what a virtual store is ?
If you’re not sure, don’t worry. In the midst of so many terms and sales channels on the internet, it is perfectly normal not to know how to differentiate the concepts.
Especially in a context of e-commerce penetration among retail sales, knowing all the details about e-commerce is important for anyone who wants to undertake in this area.
That is why, throughout this content, we are going to delve deeper to understand what an online store is, how it works and what it takes to have one. So let’s start?[lwptoc]
What is an online store?
Virtual store is a website created exclusively for online sales . In it, the seller exposes his products and/or services with photos and detailed descriptions. In addition, the layout can be adjusted according to the brand ‘s color palette .
Another important point that differentiates an online store from other types of website is that it integrates with payment and shipping methods. In this way, the customer who buys through this e-commerce can easily pay over the internet and, when entering his zip code, he already knows what the freight cost will be to receive the order.
There are many other internet sales channels, such as marketplaces and social networks . However, the virtual store has this characteristic of being a site that totally belongs to the merchant, so that he can change whatever he wants, from the visual identity to the accepted payment methods, for example.
How does an online store work?
A virtual store works like a physical store, but in the virtual environment. In this way, the customer enters the site, chooses their products, places the items in the shopping cart, informs the delivery address, pays and waits to receive the order.
On the merchant’s side, from the moment the payment is confirmed, he must separate or produce the purchased items, pack them and send them to a post office or carrier to the address informed by the buyer.
When we talk about creating the sales website, the process is as follows:
- The virtual store is built with the help of a developer or with the technology of an e-commerce platform;
- The layout is chosen and the products, registered, with photos and descriptions;
- Payment methods for e-commerce are chosen and delivery methods are defined.
What does it take to create an online store?
Now that you know what an online store is and what are the pros and cons of this type of business, check out what it takes to have your online store:
- A proper name, brand and domain;
- An e-commerce platform to build your sales website that offers features such as payment methods, shipping solutions, professional layouts and sales control;
- Initial capital to invest in stock, platform and visual identity;
- Employees for picking and sending orders and customer service, if necessary;
- Product suppliers;
- A computer, notebook or smartphone to manage the virtual store;
- Storage space for product stock (if any);
- A good internet plan.
How to build an online store from scratch?
Now that you know the definition and the pros and cons of the online store, you must be wondering what it takes to open an online store. Therefore, here are some of the main steps to start a business in this field:
1. Choose which products to sell
First of all, if you want to sell through an online store, you need to define what. Many people get carried away by the choice of what promises to make more money, but this is not the only factor to be taken into account.
It is important to choose products that you are familiar with and that you enjoy. In this way, it is much easier to work with this segment in your day to day to create marketing campaigns and deal with suppliers, for example.
2. Study your audience
In addition to knowing what to sell, it is essential to know to whom. Defining the target audience will be important for practically everything you define in your strategy, from the layout of your online store to the social networks your brand will have profiles on.
An important tip is to go a step further and define the persona. This is a semi-fictional character that represents your ideal consumer, with tastes, habits, fears and aspirations. At first, this profile will be built on assumptions, but as you gain customers, you can validate these assumptions through polls and interviews and update the persona.
3. Create a business plan
The business plan is a document that will help you structure your new venture. In it, super-relevant information for every new company will be defined, such as:
- General description of the company;
- Products and services;
- Consumer market;
- Financial plan;
- Marketing plan;
- And other important market analysis for anyone starting a new business.
As hard as it is, making the business plan will help you think about aspects of the online store that you might not even know existed. In this way, you guarantee that the entire strategy will be adjusted and increase your brand’s chances of success.
4. Choose a name for your online store
Although it seems like a detail, the name of the virtual store is very important. After all, this is how people will get to know your brand.
In this context, it is interesting to choose an original name that refers to your niche of activity. Also, look for something that is simple and easy to write, so the name stays in the audience’s mind more easily.
5. Define a visual identity
As well as the name, the visual identity will also help the public to create an identification with your brand. Therefore, it is important to dedicate yourself to defining:
- The brand’s color palette;
- The logo;
- The fonts used;
- The identity of the photos taken for the website and social networks.
In addition to creating bonds with consumers, a well-thought-out visual identity is capable of conveying professionalism to your audience, thus reducing the distrust of those who buy online.
6. Find suppliers
Unless you are going to produce the items you are going to sell yourself, you will need reliable suppliers.
This step to find the best partners requires a lot of research online and, if possible, in factory stores, distributors and production centers of the items you will sell (as is the neighborhood of Brás, in São Paulo, for clothing stores, for example).
After choosing the first options, talk to understand the trading conditions, as well as delivery times. Finally, make a minimum batch test purchase to test the quality of the products before ordering large quantities for your stock.
7. Choose an e-commerce platform
If you don’t choose a website developer, you should choose an e-commerce platform to set up your online store. This type of solution allows the entrepreneur to create an online store even if he does not have technical knowledge.
In this way, the merchant can easily build a professional website and not have to worry about code updates or website hosting.
In addition, e-commerce platforms allow easy integration with means of payment, so you can receive for your sales, and shipping, to calculate shipping and facilitate the process of posting orders.
This means that, in just a few clicks, you will be able to charge for your online store sales and inform customers of the shipping cost instantly. Simple, isn’t it?
8. Focus on SEO
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques are those that optimize a website so that it appears among the top results of search engines (such as Google) when someone searches for a product that your store offers.
Despite showing the first effects in the medium term, this type of work is important so that visits to your online store do not depend only on paid ads. They are also very effective, but through SEO, you can build a solid audience with much less investment.
9. Promote your website
The promotion of the virtual store is also very important to win customers. It can be done through social media marketing strategies and ads through these channels and Google Ads.
Initially, ads can help make your new e-commerce site more popular and generate your first sales. So, think about setting aside a portion of your investment to start this strategy.
10. Provide excellent customer service
Last but not least, customer service should be a priority for anyone selling online. As the customer cannot see and touch the products, it is normal for doubts and insecurities to arise during the purchase process.
In this context, responding quickly to calls and always seeking to solve problems with education can make all the difference when it comes to winning over the consumer.
It is also a good practice to inform what your service channels are, the times and deadlines for response on your website. That way, the audience knows what to expect when contacting your support.
Advantages of the online store
That selling over the internet is advantageous, this has already been clear. After all, e-commerce has been increasing its revenue for years.
Sales 24 hours a day
When sales happen over the internet, it is not necessary to have an open store and a salesperson working all the time. In this way, people can access the virtual store and buy at any time of the day (or night), every day of the week.
Monitoring of indicators
Another advantage of having an online store is the ability to track customer demographics and browsing data. Through tools such as Google Analytics, it is possible to observe these metrics, create reports and think of accurate strategies to win more customers.
Control over the business
Many of the advantages mentioned so far can be applied to both online stores and other virtual channels. However, by having your own online store, you have full control over the business.
This means that you will not depend on the guidelines of other companies, such as marketplaces or social networks, for your business to survive. Want a practical example?
Imagine a person who only sells through Instagram and no other channel. One day, she wakes up and realizes that her account has been blocked because of breaking some guidelines without any kind of warning. What would this entrepreneur’s business look like?
Disadvantages of the online store
As, to start a business, it is necessary to be prepared for everything that is to come, we also separate some of the disadvantages of the virtual store. Check out:
Time to build the audience
Unlike large marketplaces like Mercado Livre, which receive millions of visits monthly, when you create a website from scratch, you need time to build your audience.
This can be done through ads on Google and social media, for example. This type of disclosure usually brings faster results, but requires investment.
Another option, which can and should be combined with ads, is to invest in SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The idea behind these techniques is to make a website’s pages rank well among Google results in order to increase organic traffic.
Investment in SEO takes more time — about a few months to show the first results — but it costs nothing but work and dedication.
Insecurity of some customers
Despite the popularization of e-commerce, some customers still feel insecure when buying online, especially from lesser-known sites.
However, some steps can be taken to gain consumer trust:
- Perfect in the descriptions and photos of the presentation of the products;
- Create an “About Us” page to introduce the company and an FAQ to answer frequently asked questions;
- Make it clear what the customer service channels are.
Finally, shipping is often one of the main causes of cart abandonment in online stores. Whether for cost or deadlines, many people are uncomfortable with this factor.
To work around this problem, you can use solutions such as freight gateways, which make simultaneous quotes on multiple delivery services to find the best option. In addition, another possibility is to provide a pick-up point for customers who prefer to pick up their purchases.
Ask your questions about the online store
Although we already know a lot about the virtual store universe, some doubts are quite common when we start researching on the subject. So, here are the main answers:
Do I need to know how to program to create an online store?
It is not necessary to know how to program to create an online store. Nowadays, there are several e-commerce platform solutions that allow the creation of the sales website even if the shopkeeper has no experience.
And that doesn’t mean the store has to be plastered or with a standard face. On the Cloudshop platform, for example, it is possible to have access to more than 30 customizable themes, which can be changed with a few clicks.
What is the best e-commerce platform?
Currently, there are several options on the market, with different proposals. It all depends on your business goals. However, to choose, you need to take into account factors such as:
- Ease of use for creating and maintaining the store;
- Platform stability (so that the site does not go offline);
- Support channels offered to the merchant;
Do you understand what a virtual store is and how to open yours?
We hope that this content has helped you understand, once and for all, what a virtual store is and how it works. If you are thinking of selling online, this is a great way, either through the sale of in-stock items or via dropshipping — when the supplier sends the products directly to the end customer.
And, if you want to increase your sales, what do you think about creating a free virtual store? Start earning money online in a practical and safe way! 💙