Person creating online store on laptop

Australians have certainly embraced online shopping in the last few years, spending $27.5 billion buying from online stores in 2018, which was almost a 25 percent increase year over year, according to a 2019 AusPost eCommerce industry report. This increase in online purchasing accounted for 10 per cent of total sales. On top of that, a recent study by Statista predicts that the Australian eCommerce market will be around $35.2 billion by the end of 2021. It’s safe to say, you should be thinking of how to start an online store for your business if you haven’t already.

An eCommerce platform is going to be increasingly important for your business’s success, especially if you’re looking to capitalise on this online store trend. Keep reading to learn details on important aspects of how to create an online store for a retail, service-based business or restaurant.

What is an eCommerce business?

The term eCommerce refers to the process of buying and selling goods and services online, though in recent years the shopping experience has extended beyond that. For example, retailers that have a physical location can incorporate an eCommerce platform by allowing customers to browse through their online store and pick up their purchases at the brick-and-mortar store.

In addition to allowing retailers to better serve existing customers by making shopping easier for them, an online store can allow businesses to find totally new audiences — ones that may never enter their physical location. Independent retailers, small businesses, and large corporations can all benefit from incorporating an eCommerce platform into their business strategy.

Like any digital technology, eCommerce has continued to advance rapidly. Starting in the 1990s, eCommerce began to target a consumer market and online retailers started popping up. Now, almost any business owner or entrepreneur with an eCommerce platform can create an online store in minutes.

Benefits of an Online Store?

The online store industry is expanding every year, and expanding at an even faster pace lately. A recent 2020 report showed that some businesses have seen a 300 to 400 percent growth for some online categories. Merchants have nothing to lose and everything to gain by selling online.

Here are a few benefits of running an online store:

  • 24/7 shopping: Many online stores allow shoppers to peruse products and make buying decisions at any time, day or night. This makes shopping easier for customers, and that kind of accessibility is a huge competitive advantage. Plus, integration with social media allows businesses to take advantage of even more channels to engage with customers.
  • Widened scope: A physical store is limited to selling to customers who are in the area. Many online stores extend businesses to people all over the country or around the world, vastly expanding their customer base and potential revenue. Selling online also offers the ability to broaden or increase inventory — the number of items a business can carry in their online store doesn’t need to be limited in the same way as a physical store, which might be a consideration to increase cash flow.
  • Purchase-funnel clarity: Currently, it’s nearly impossible to track how often a single customer comes to a physical store to browse before making a purchasing decision. However, an online store can track a customer’s every click, providing valuable insights into the purchasing process and paving the way for marketing opportunities (such as abandoned cart emails) to nudge customers who may be on the fence about purchasing.
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Online store vs. brick-and-mortar

You may read an ongoing narrative in mainstream media which pits brick-and-mortar stores against e-commerce, making businesses feel like they needed to choose one channel over the other. Omnichannel has the potential to bring these channels together, creating a seamless experience for customers by giving them choices in how they choose to interact with a retailer.

Having both a brick-and-mortar and an online store satisfies the needs of a broader customer base. Most retailers have customers who would prefer to order everything online. Others prefer to see something in person before they buy. Then there are some customers who don’t have a preference. Even so, they want both options so they can shop according to their own schedule.

Providing multiple options is more likely to create repeat customers, which means more revenue in the long run.

How to setup an online store

If you want to create an online store, you’ll need to create an eCommerce platform or shop for your business, list products, set up payments, and set up your online store operations (such as order fulfilment, shipping, sales tax, and more). Square Online has everything you need for eCommerce, so you can get up and running quickly and easily.

  • Taking secure payments: Accept payments online and in person right away with payment systems. Our ecommerce platform accepts all major cards, and you can get transfers as fast as the next day with eCommerce processing fees of 2.2 per cent per virtual transactions or lower. Plus, by using Square’s eCommerce platform, you won’t have to have the added expense of managing PCI compliance.
  • Keeping inventory in sync: Square Online works together with Square Point of Sale and Square Dashboard to automatically sync online and in-person orders, items, and inventory. Keep from overselling inventory between multiple locations, and easily track fulfillment and shipping.
  • Running an online store: Choose from plans that come with increasingly high-level features, like a real-time shipping rate calculator, integrated shipping labels with discounted rates, abandoned cart and shipping confirmation emails for customers, a custom domain, analytics and insights, and more. As your business grows and has more needs, there are more robust plans to meet those new demands.
  • Customising a website: The free online store builder offers flexible designs to create the ideal layout for your business. You can choose colours, fonts, and layout elements that make the most sense for retail, restaurants, and services. The designs have also been optimised for mobile viewing since a lot of online shopping is conducted on consumers’ phones.
  • Shifting strategy to include all sales channels: Creating an omnichannel strategy for your business provides a seamless shopping experience for customers, whether it’s on their mobile device, computer, or in person. Creating an online store can also open up omnichannel marketing opportunities, giving you more ways to promote your business across multiple channels, and giving shoppers more ways to find you and buy from you.

Ready to take the next step toward growing your eCommerce business? Explore how to start an online store with Square Online and how Square can help you launch quickly and start selling today.