Bootstrapping an online store is now perhaps easier than ever by using platforms like Shopify that allow you to build incredibly intuitive and well-designed e-commerce websites in a matter of hours.
With the rise of entrepreneurship, the wide variety of niche products that can be sourced from relatively cheap suppliers, and the tailwind provided by the pandemic to accelerate the adoption of digital channels this is perhaps one of the best times in history to start an online store.
With that in mind, the following article shares 7 tips for bootstrapping a successful Shopify online store.
Tip #1 – Relying on a community of experienced owners
As with any other activity, building an online store has its own learning curve. This means that new store owners will often struggle to get their businesses up and running during the first few months. However, there is a great way to avoid some of the most common setbacks by relying on the experiences of successful store owners who have already overcome those hurdles.
The community of KeepShoppers.com is a great place to find answers to the most frequently asked questions about building an online store on Shopify including tips on sourcing, web design, customer relationship management, and other similar topics.
Tip #2 – The power of delegating
Most store owners have only a handful of skills that can come in handy when building their e-commerce websites. Therefore, knowing when to delegate tasks to trained personnel can be crucial for building a successful Shopify-based online store.
One way to do this is to rely on freelancers that can be hired on websites like Fiverr or Upwork to perform some of the most technical tasks you may not be trained to complete.
Tip #3 – Secure multiple reliable suppliers
Suppliers are key partners for any online store as they will help you in guaranteeing the availability of all your top-selling products, even during times when demand is spiking well beyond your expectations.
Instead of relying on a single one, you should develop a network of suppliers that can quickly respond to your growing needs. Keep in mind that quality should not be negotiable and the same goes for delivery dates.
If you manage to find one to three suppliers for all your available products, you’ll have the possibility to quickly scale up your inventory if needed while you’ll also be able to navigate successfully any short-term disruptions in one of your supplier’s delivery capacity.
Tip #4 – Differentiate yourself from your competition
Many virtual stores have been years in the making and they have grown to a point that they have become more generalists than niche businesses.
This is an opportunity for new store owners as they can better serve the needs of a small niche by focusing on their specific preferences. This can be achieved by offering a tailored shopping experience, useful content, and promotions.
Tip #5 – Leverage on CRM tools
The Shopify ecosystem has attracted the world’s best developers. These professionals are focused on developing the most useful apps for store owners to improve their relationship with their customers going from how they manage abandoned carts to lead nurturing and after-sale services.
You can take advantage of these tools to progressively improve your customer’s experience when visiting your store while you can also increase your conversions by fine-tuning your automated marketing system.
Tip #6 – Use paid ads wisely
Even though it may seem attractive to invest a buck load of money in social media ads due to their large reach and potentially elevated capacity to turn cold leads into customers, customer acquisition costs for online stores are quite high.
According to a report from Shopify published this year, the average cost of acquiring a customer for a small online business was $58.6 but it can be much higher depending on the industry.
For example, for health and beauty products it might be more than two times higher at $127 and for the home and garden category, it goes up to $129.
Therefore, if you are thinking about investing on paid ads keep in mind that your average revenue per order should be high enough to justify the elevated cost of acquiring a new customer. Moreover, once you do get a client, make sure you have adequate systems in place to make them come back as client retention is crucial for ensuring the success of your store in the long term.
Tip #7 – Draft some financial projections before getting started
As with any other business, deploying a new online store demands a thoroughly conceived business plan that should include some financial projections. Among the most important factors to incorporate in those projections is your break-even point. This is the sales level at which your store will start to be profitable.
Once you have outlined that threshold, it would be easier for you to work hard toward achieving that goal first to then focus on ramping up your top-line results to start turning a profit.
We hope these tips have been useful for you and wish you great success in building your first online store.
Samantha Acuna is a writer based in San Francisco, CA. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, and Yahoo Small Business.