I think it is safe to say that the internet has fundamentally changed the buying and selling game in ways that were previously inconceivable. For the first time in history, nearly anything can be sold on the internet, even brick and mortar stores are now having more customers and more sales thanks to promoting their products and services on social media platforms, blogging services and using all-inclusive e-commerce websites such as Amazon.

There is a gradual year on year increase in the frequency of online shopping in the Middle East, the percentage of online shoppers has risen 6% from 23% in 2013 to 29% in 2016 according to PWC’s Total Retail Survey 2017. In addition to Amazon’s high-profile acquisition of Souq.com which was labelled as “the biggest M&A deal in the Arab world” by Goldman Sachs. Thus, there is no doubt that starting an online store seems like a smart decision but, how easy is it to start? How can you succeed in such a competitive environment?

Before we get into the technical details, you must first decide what you want to sell, find your target market, find a domain name, register your business, then hire a professional digital marketing agency to build and design the website for you while optimizing it for better rankings and search results. We at Vanilla Social Media have put together a wide selection of pricing packages that starts from $500 and covers every aspect of your website from hosting to e-payment solutions to optimizing it for social media platforms so that you focus only on the things that matter.

Now that you’ve created your online store, you need to bear in mind that this is a business and just like any business, you have to attract and retain your customers. My favorite stories of successful online stores always involve being able to leverage the power of marketing and a unique selling concept; for instance, Diamond Candles, an online manufacturer of soy-based candles creatively buried a ring inside each candle and then used the user-generated content on social media to market for the candles.

Another example of a successful online store FUGOO which developed a line of “go anywhere” Bluetooth speakers and despite the heavy competition and highly congested market; it was able to successfully launch its line of products and achieve a 300% increase in revenue year on year. FUGOO was able to reach those impressive targets through getting ready to launch during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, creating a friendly shopping experience (3 clicks to checkout), a focused SEO strategy and App integration to use customer reviews and establish itself as a credible brand.

The above mentioned case studies are a clear example that e-commerce offer tremendous opportunities for making a profit while still being able to do what you love if you are an artist that loves to make things or a passionate entrepreneur who loves to find a niche product and fill a market need. However, the main takeaway here is that you need to learn how to leverage the power of marketing to create a story, actively engage your consumers and establish your store as a credible brand.

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