Starting an online bookstore is deeply rewarding for those who love the literary arts and want to manage their own business. Printed book sales have actually risen in recent years, with over 650 million books sold in 2022 alone, making it a lucrative market even with the proliferation of e-readers. While it can be overwhelming for any new business owner, don't worry — entrepreneurship is easier than ever, especially with ChrisLands' eCommerce bookstore solutions at your disposal.
In just six simple steps, we'll walk you through what it takes to establish the basic foundations and make all the marketing, inventory, payment processing, and website considerations necessary to keep your online bookstore running smoothly.
It's enormously advantageous to establish a formal business presence with the proper legal filings and financial processes in place. You can start by setting up an LLC or other business entity with a Secretary of State's office using an EIN number. Using the EIN number and business filing, you can then open a business bank account. This is extremely useful for obtaining business credit down the line, by the way — just be sure not to co-mingle private and business funds.
You'll also need to obtain and store your book inventory, whether or not you have a physical storefront. Lastly, you'll need to establish your virtual storefront by creating a professional website, setting up profiles on established marketplaces, or both. As we'll explain below, ensuring your storefront is usable on desktop and mobile platforms is essential.
You'll need to get your name out there and generate traffic to your website. Glean some ideas from your competitors' websites, and note which advertising methods are a good match for your brand. Advertising methods are incredibly numerous, but the following list would be a good starting point to begin brainstorming:
Once you increase brand visibility and site traffic, set your sights on raising the conversion rates of your visitors. The term 'converting' most often relates to sales, but it can also refer to any activity you hope your customers will perform while visiting your site (e.g., signing up for something, participating in a survey, downloading gifts with incentivized purchases, etc.).
That's part of why identifying your business's primary goals is essential!
The level of care and thought you put into your advertisements will translate to the quality of the connections your brand will generate with potential customers. Because marketing is a large job on its own, outsourcing your marketing to a full-service professional may pay off (and then some). This can yield maximum returns for not only your finances but your time as well.
Your inventory must be managed just as well as your payments and expenses because well-managed inventory is as good as money sitting on the shelf. Automated software allows you to quickly correlate your sales with your inventory and orders in the background. It will also help you avoid overstocking, shipping the wrong item, and having to adjust prices manually.
The best inventory-management system will also integrate with your other essential business tools, such as the accounting software, payment processors, and eCommerce platform(s) you use. It's also important to ensure your inventory-management system can interface with the file formats and systems used by your suppliers for quick and easy reconciliation of records.
Overall, you should look for an entire inventory-management software suite that automates as many tasks as possible while also allowing you to manually check what the software is doing to better learn the processes reflected by the numbers.
For example, the ChrisLands inventory and order-management system helps you keep track of your inventory processes by automatically reconciling your purchases, listings, and sales through almost two dozen online marketplaces.
At the same time, you'll be able to analyze and zero in on the data most relevant to your current business strategies. However you choose to use it, automated inventory software can help you focus on the more creative aspects of running your book store.
Today, there are more ways to pay than ever — and most customers expect options. That's why it's essential to have multiple payment processors capable of processing basic debit and credit cards or other digital fiat-currency payments.
More customers also rely entirely on alternate payment methods, such as cryptocurrencies and silver- and gold-backed debit cards. Further, if you want to reach global markets, you'll also want to look into foreign-currency payment processing.
The choice is yours, but in any case, you'll need to have your payment methods funneled into accounts you control through payment gateway integration. This is a cohesive method that ChrisLands relies on to ensure that funds are directly deposited into your account(s) in the most direct way possible.
Above all, it's important not to let payment methods become confusing for you or your customers, as it's one of the most vital components of your business.
Since 2016, mobile devices have begun surpassing desktop computers for the total share of internet usage. Then, in 2021, mobile eCommerce (aka "mCommerce") accounted for nearly three-quarters of total eCommerce activity. Further, mobile visitors to online stores tend to have higher conversion rates than desktop visitors.
Suffice it to say; your online bookstore will need to be accessible on mobile or desktop devices.
You don't need to be a web-creation wizard to run an online business, though! For example, many online retailers successfully outsource the nuts and bolts of website creation and management to a trusted and experienced pro.
Since 2001, ChrisLands has been helping both physical and purely eCommerce bookstore owners establish their online presence.
Since you'll be competing with some of the largest online retailers, you must do everything you can to ensure high visibility for your brand. At the top of that list should be achieving quality search ranking with a professional search engine optimization (SEO) service.
SEO is the process of incorporating the language, linking structures, and other factors that search engines favor most when displaying search results. This helps an online retailer stand out in the crowd in the digital environment and achieve prime "digital real estate."
Remember that despite growing eCommerce competition, online retail opens your business to hundreds of millions more customers than you could never reach through brick and mortar retail. Some people decidedly shop from SMBs (small-to-medium-sized businesses) as a rule.
Essentially, you will always have a niche if you uniquely develop your brand and set yourself apart from the competition.
If it sounds like a lot at first glance, don't be intimidated, and take it step by step. All you need is a passion for the printed word and the desire to gain business chops as you go. But, of course, it also doesn't hurt to have a dedicated eCommerce assistant at your side.
ChrisLands provides full-service eCommerce support for online bookstores, including search engine optimization, inventory software management, integration of payment gateways, mobile-friendly site designs, and more. As a result, you can focus on your business, confident that your web page is functioning at the highest level possible in the background.
To learn more about our full-spectrum eCommerce solutions explicitly catered to online bookstore owners, contact ChrisLands today.