How to start an online shop

Companies often ask me to help them with starting an online shop.

It's easy, isn't it? Put your website online, and orders will pour in!

The Internet is full of success stories which create the illusion that online selling is easy. I have worked on a number of successful online shops in my career. But I also saw how many shops failed.

Here are a few things that you should have settled before you start an online shop:

1. Who is your target audience?
Are you going to sell to businesses or to individuals? If you are going to sell to individuals, what is their place of residence, age, gender? If you are going to sell to companies, who in the company is your primary contact? How are you going to ensure that your customers know you exist? Do you have a budget for marketing?

2. How large is the demand for your product?
Of course you are convinced that everyone wants to buy your product! But how big is this market really? Through Google Trends and Google Adwords, you can quickly find out how often certain keywords are being searched, and how this has changed over the years.

3. Who are your competitors? And in what way are you better than the competition?
Through Google Adwords, you can quickly find out how much competition there is for the keywords that apply to your product.

4. How will you get the product delivered to the customer?
Think of things like inventory, defective items, shipping & handling, drop shipping, and the like.

5. How are you going to handle complaints?
In a perfect world, all customers will be extremely happy with your product. Unfortunately, in reality it often happens that a product is defective or does not arrive at all. Also, the client may regret his purchase after a week. Make sure you decide how to deal with these issues. There are also several laws that protect the customer. If you don't take this into account, you will soon be in trouble.


6. Last but not least: How will you get your money from the customer?
In case of local shipments, "cash on delivery" might work for you. It means that the customer pays only upon receiving the product. When selling to companies, billing afterwards is possible too. For international payments, credit cards are often the most suitable option. Unfortunately, accepting online credit cards is still very difficult and expensive in Curaçao. We hope this will soon be easier.

If your answers to all of these questions were positive, then you are ready for the next step, namely the design of your online shop!

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