The Entrepreneur’s Ultra-Simple Guide to Opening an Online StoreOpening an e-commerce business is a lot like running a marathon. Just about anyone can do it, but only a select few will succeed. Hundreds of online stores are opened on a daily basis, making it an extremely competitive market. That isn’t meant to scare you off, but rather to alert you of the challenging, albeit satisfying, road that lies ahead.

In order to set you off on the right journey, here’s a list of steps to help you create an online business. And just as with running a marathon, the starting steps are often the most critical.

1) Decide what you want to sell with a minute level of specificity and a niche market in mind.

Deciding what you want to sell must entail more than saying, “I want to sell shoes.” Before creating an online store, you need to have a more specific understanding about the items that you truly want to sell. Decide if you want to focus on men, women, children or infant shoes. Domestic or international sales? Fashion, comfort or sport? Vegan-friendly apparel or fine leather? Answering these types of questions helps you gain a valuable understanding of your product, as well as the level of online demand for a specific item.

2) Build the online store.

A book could be written (and many have been) about just this step. Are you going to build your own online store or are you going to farm out the work to an e-commerce vendor? Know both your design limitations and your budget. These two factors will become the deciding factor on whether you have the skills to build an e-commerce site or if you need professional assistance.

3) Explore cloud databases and cloud computing options.

The cloud is the biggest buzzword in the IT world. As industry expert and author David Linthicum has written at the blog Get Elastic, “cloud computing allows you to expand and contract your costs in direct proportion to your needs.” The cloud is proving to be an essential tool for database protection and storage. Cloud-hosted databases are also an easy tool for tracking user purchases, customer enrollment and store products.

4) Drive people to your online store through SEO.

SEO is another buzzword, standing for search engine optimization, surrounding the online retailer market. At its core, SEO is the manner with which search engines decide to list the results of web searches. The hierarchy of displayed results is dependent on a website’s use of keywords and key phrases.

The latest Google algorithm, Hummingbird, has been a bit of a game changer for online retailers. It’s increased the importance of the heightened specificity of keyword phrases. For example, retailers might have previously used the phrase “woman fall shoes for sale.” Now they must use something like, “brown sturdy leather woman fall shoes all sizes for sale.” These changes highlight the importance of the first step.

Following these steps will put your online business on the road to success. Going forward, remember that you’re in a competitive sphere that caters to customer satisfaction. Take the time to get to know both your competitors and your customers. By catering to a niche market, maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction and staying a step ahead of your competitors, you too can create a renowned online e-commerce store.

Felicia Baratz is a freelance writer, graphic designer and social media addict living in Indianapolis, IN. As a contributor to, Felicia discusses new, innovative technology and it’s relation to the business world and social media marketing.