How to Build an Online Gadget Store
If you want to build an online store that has good odds of generating sales from the get-go, then a gadget store should be at the top of your list of possible products. Gadgets are the ideal mass market product. For instance, global smartwatch unit sales grew by more than 61 percent in 2018. Hundreds of millions of smartphones are sold worldwide each year.
While a lot of gadget sales still take place in brick and mortar stores, it’s only a matter of time before online stores become the principal sales channel. With this brief business case for online gadget stores out of the way, now comes the hard part—actually building the store. If you don’t have a background in web development or just IT in general, the idea of building an ecommerce store can feel a little intimidating.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with outsourcing this task to an expert. However, understanding the building blocks of an online gadget store is important just so you can have a basic idea of what qualifies as good work from the web developer. The following are the foundational principles of an online gadget store.
1. What Type of Gadget to Sell
There are thousands of gadget types and gadget brands you could sell. Nevertheless, as a store that’s just starting off, you probably do not have the capital or sophisticated distribution networks to become an Amazon from the start. Ergo, you must make a decision on what gadgets to sell.
The top gadget categories are entertainment (such as Xbox and PlayStation), computers (both laptops and desktops), mobile devices (feature phones, smartphones and tablets), wearables (mainly smartwatches) and cameras. Smaller categories include Bluetooth audio devices, portable projectors and VR accessories.
While the higher volume categories would seem to be the natural choice, sometimes the smaller categories represent a hidden opportunity since they may have lower competition. Conduct a comprehensive market research and identify the categories that are in the best interest of your business.
2. Where to Source the Gadgets
It’s important that you build an attractive, functional online store. Nevertheless, an online gadget store is pointless if there’s no actual product. Knowing where you’ll get your products from is crucial as that ultimately determines your prices and profit margins. It’s not difficult to find gadget suppliers. You need just under a minute on Google Search to find a list of bulk suppliers. The key is finding a supplier with favorable terms.
Buying from distributors can earn you a sizeable discount per unit in addition to free training material on using the device. You could also utilize drop shipping which is arguably the type of online store that requires the least capital. Here, you don’t need to procure the product. Rather, simply download product catalogues from the manufacturer’s site then relay purchase information to the manufacturer whenever a visitor on your site buys the product. Organizing the logistics and actual delivery is entirely in the manufacturer’s hands.
Overseas trading platforms (especially Chinese such as Alibaba) are a third alternative, You are likely to get attractive discounts on bulk purchases. Nevertheless, you have to factor the cost of shipping the items to your warehouse especially if you’ll be running a high volume store.
3. Template Versus Custom Development
An online gadget store is a complex, multi-faceted and multi-layered website. So if you don’t have a web development background, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to build a high quality one on your own. Nevertheless, whether you develop one for yourself or contract a third party, one decision you’ll have to make is whether to go for custom development or template-based development.
Custom development allows you to create an ecommerce store from scratch and therefore tailor every element to your business’ unique needs. Features will be guided by your detailed project requirements. Custom stores however take quite a while to build—certainly longer than a template-based project. But while template-based sites can be built speedily, they won’t be unique and are much harder to align with your brand identity.
4. User Interface
Web development has various elements but for your online store to succeed, the user interface is arguably the most important. If you’d like to create an online store that gets customers coming back, then there are certain things you have to pay attention to. The website must be usable, original, relatable, desirable, navigable, accessible and credible.
The user experience has a direct impact on your visitor traffic, conversions and therefore your store’s profitability. Getting the user interface right is therefore critical.
5. Web Development Budget
The cost of web development will depend on several factors. For instance, theme-based websites are cheaper than bespoke sites. Second, the more complex the site, the higher the developer fee. Third, the technology used matters. Websites that are based on more verbose programming languages are usually more expensive than those that don’t require as much coding.
Fourth, the platform is key. Building an online gadget store on WordPress won’t necessarily cost the same as building the store using WooCommerce (see finding the best WooCommerce support partner).
Fifth, the location of the developer matters. Web programmers in North America, Western Europe, Australia and much of North East Asia have a higher fee per hour whereas those in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa charge the least. Of course the differences in pricing across regions are not just because of diversity in costs of living but you are also more likely to find the most highly skilled programmers in developed countries.
Creating an online gadget store takes plenty of work and patience. As long as you understand these core principles of building a successful online store, you’ll eventually get there.