With ecommerce sales topping nearly 3.4 trillion dollars by the end of last year and expected to grow even more by 2021, it’s high time to start asking: how to start an online store from home?

Creating an online shop isn’t new or difficult – with sites like Shopify, Magento and Weebly, setting up an online store has become easy even for complete beginners. But actually, knowing how to start an online store from home can be a lot trickier.  In fact, starting an online shop is the easy part – running an online shop to success is the hard part.

Still, with nearly 1.92 billion people already shopping online, knowing how to start an online store from home is a good first step to potentially making it big. Wondering how to start an online store from home? Before we touch on some quick tips, let’s examine some online store ideas you can consider.

How to start an online store from home: ideas to get you started

Idea 1: Open you own clothing boutique

Have an eye for great wear? Consider opening an online fashion boutique.

Have a knack for fashion and got some of your own designs in mind? Consider setting up an online shop that sells your very own clothing line. E-boutiques have exploded in popularity thanks to the power of influencer marketing and increasing demand for highly personalised, well-curated apparel. And online fashion still has lots of room to grow – so much in fact, that the market is predicted to reach nearly 872 billion dollars in 2023.

Idea 2: Start a dropshipping shop

Don’t want to manage physical products or a warehouse full of inventory to run your online shop? Dropshipping can be an excellent way to create an online store with just a small investment. All you need to do is look for an existing product from a supplier, get some orders for it, and let the supplier settle the next steps of packaging and order fulfilment.

Idea 3: Sell your creative works

Creative work is always in demand, and setting up an online store can be a great way to put your works out there. 

If you grew up a huge lover of comics, fan fiction, great photos or art works, your solution for how to start an online store from home could lie in a creative studio. Whether you’re great with paint, an excellent shot with the camera or brilliant at music, there’s plenty of opportunity for creatives like you to start creating an online shop that sells your creative work.

Idea 4: Market a service that businesses value

Have a skill that businesses need? Sell it as a service on your online store.

Thinking of quitting your full-time desk-bound job for the flexibility and comfort of running an online shop from home? Sell your professional services to businesses looking for business solutions. There’s currently a boom in demand for digital marketing skills, with almost 69% of companies planning to hire more marketers in 2018; that number is a lot higher today. Or if you’re proficient with data analysis, accounting or IT services, there’s no shortage of opportunity too.

Idea 5: Teach online or sell a course

One of the fastest – growing sectors of ecommerce is in online education. From one-to-one online tutoring to professional courses for adult learners, demand for online education is driven by changes in digital transformation, and the increasing need for lifelong learning. With so many people around the globe looking to learn something new everyday from home, the global E-learning market is expected to reach nearly 325 billion dollars by 2025!

How to start an online store from home: 5 simple ways

Solution 1:  Pick a niche

The first step in understanding how to start an online store from home is to know how to pick a good niche. Unlike supermarkets or general stores that get by catering to a diverse crowd, online stores need a clear niche in order to really stand out and outshine potential competitors. Having a clear niche makes it easier for your online shop to reach out to the right audience, and build brand loyalty easier.

When creating an online store, do not simply pick a highly lucrative niche. Some niches require a lot more time and capital to reach customers, and you’ll find it difficult to keep repeat customers in others. As a rule of thumb, use these criteria when picking a niche: price, audience and market size. You will also want to think about brand loyalty – avoid starting an online store in a niche already dominated by big household names.

Solution 2: Decide on a business model

The next part of how to start an online store from home is choosing a business model to create your online shop on. In e-commerce, there are really only two models most online shop owners work with: dropshipping, or actually holding physical products (this doesn’t apply if you’re selling services, of course).

There are obviously pros and cons with both models – you’ll need to weigh and choose accordingly. To many, dropshipping sounds like the ultimate online store hack. Yet there’s no shortage of bad experiences shared by burned online shop owners. The converse is also true for online shop owners who choose to hold physical products.

Solution 3: Come up with a catchy business name and register a professional domain

Settling on a name for your online shop isn’t as important as deciding on a niche and business model, yet so many people often get stuck for weeks just trying to choose one that works.

When picking a name, be sure to:

  • Choose one that is easy to pronounce. People relate to something a lot faster if it’s easier on the tongue.
  • Choose one with significance. A business name with a personal backstory can be excellent for marketing down the road.
  • Choose one that has an available .com domain. The .com domain is the most frequently used and instinctively typed, so you’d want to use this over any others for your online shop.
  • Not choose one that has a clear reference to a specific product or service. Unless you’re really serious about selling just one product or service, you will want to steer clear of boxing yourself so narrowly.

Solution 4: Select products or services you want to sell

Step number 4 in our quick list of how to start an online store from home is putting together a catalogue of items you want to sell on your online shop. There are likely thousands, maybe even millions of items already being sold online, and creating an online shop just to sell a random bunch of items just won’t fly.

So what products or services should you sell? Popular ones of course. To know which products or services are popular, simply check bestseller lists or popular buys on ecommerce giants like Amazon or Taobao. How to start an online store from home and sell well? Stick to selling stuff that is already popular.

Solution 5: Create your website and market it

The last step in our quick guide is to kickstart your online shop by creating a website and putting it out there to potential customers. There are currently lots of sites that make creating an online store a breeze – most popular among them is Shopify.

We won’t be covering how to get started with Shopify in this article since Shopify has a whole academy dedicated to that. Before you jump on the Shopify bandwagon however, be sure to check out other ecommerce website builders first. Not all packages are the same, and you might find another one that better suits your needs elsewhere.

After creating an online store, your next step is to get people to not only visit, but buy your products. Use social media like Facebook and Instagram to funnel the crowd down to your intended audience, or try media like podcasts, videos and livestreams to get your site where it needs to be.

BONUS Tip: Get your online shop a dedicated phone number

If you plan to start an online shop, you absolutely need to have a phone number specially reserved for customer enquiries. Having a dedicated phone number is great when you’re listing your site on search engines like Google – customers who see it in their search results can easily reach you when you have a dedicated phone number present.

More importantly, a dedicated phone number makes sure your personal phone number won’t get swamped by customer enquiries. Keeping your customer calls and personal calls separate also helps you to be better prepared when receiving a call – the last thing you’d want is to get all casual and informal when you really shouldn’t.

Get started with your online store with Phoner

Here’s where Phoner comes in.

Phoner can get you started with your online store.

With Phoner, you have access to unlimited numbers from around the world you can use immediately without having to get a new phone or SIM card. Need a second phone number for customer calls, or third one for reservations, a fourth one for technical support, or even more? With Phoner’s second phone numbers, you get to use as many phone numbers as you need to keep your online shop running in peak form – for an affordably low fee.

So that’s our quick look at how to start an online store from home. Get Phoner now and start your online store from home today!