Are you planning to start a general online store in 2021?

That’s great! However, to build a successful online store in these times, you will need to have a proper plan in place.

Online shopping has taken over the world, and you will have to face competition carrying big names like Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and more.

But that’s okay! There is no need to worry.

With the rise of social media and various ecommerce services, anyone is able to start a general online store today and sell products on platforms like Shopify, Instagram, Facebook, and more.

In this article, we will give you eight tips that will help you start a successful general online store.

If you’ve got your heart set on the idea of starting a general online store, you will definitely get a leg up with these tips!

Why you should start a general online store in 2021

Did you know that online shopping is one of, if not the fastest-growing segments of the retail industry?

Just take a look at the growth of retail ecommerce sales worldwide:

Growth of retail ecommerce sales worldwide
Retail ecommerce sales worldwide from 2014 to 2024 (Source)

You can see that the sales are growing rapidly. From 2020 to 2027, the global ecommerce market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.7%!

In this image, the effect of the worldwide pandemic on ecommerce sales can also be clearly seen. Global ecommerce sales increased by nearly a trillion US dollars from 2019 to 2020 due to the increase in online shopping!

Online shopping is one of the most popular online activities worldwide, and in order to grab a slice of the pie, you will have to set up your own online store!

When starting a general online store, you will have several advantages over choosing a niche or one-product store.

First of all, you can add any product you want to a general store. You are not limited by a specific niche! So, if you see a new trending product that you would like to sell as well, you can simply create a product page for the product and start selling it.

No worries about whether or not the product will fit in your niche; just import it, and you’re done!

Another advantage of starting a general online store is that you will be able to reach more people.

By offering different products, you attract different kinds of people. Therefore, you will theoretically be able to grab a bigger piece of the pie by starting a general store!

How do you start a general online store?

So, let’s get to some action!

In this section, I will guide you in the right direction on where you will be able to find the exact steps for starting your own general online store.

In this article, you will find a step-by-step tutorial that will show you how to start an online store on one of the best ecommerce platforms for beginners, Shopify.

Homepage of Shopify

While the article I linked to above isn’t specifically written for general stores, the process of creating an online will be pretty similar, regardless of the store type.

In short, you will have to:

  1. Find a product and supplier
  2. Create and set up your general online store
  3. Start doing online marketing to attract visitors
  4. Continuously optimize your store to become (more) profitable

While the overall process may be pretty similar, there are a couple of things that you should pay special attention to when starting a general online store.

Therefore, I will share eight tips in the next section that will help you build a better general online store. By following them, you will increase your chance of building a successful brand!

So, without further ado, let’s get started:

8 Tips for starting a general online store in 2021

If you are going to start a general online store, there are a couple of things that you should remember.

By following these next eight tips, starting a profitable general online store will become easier and less stressful!

Let’s start with the first tip:

1. Realize that starting a general online store generally requires more work

First of all, you should be aware that starting a new general online store generally requires more work compared to starting a new niche store.

This is true for a couple of reasons.

For starters, a general store often sells more products compared to a niche store. For each product, you need to find high-quality images and videos and take the time to craft an amazing product description.

Since the number of products on your online store will be larger for a general store, this process requires more work.

General online store product page example
Product page example (Source)

Also, don’t forget that it also takes time to manage all your products. You will have to continuously monitor each product’s inventory and pricing.

To slightly reduce the required work, you can also choose to really focus on a couple of “main” products that you will be advertising. That way, you can design the best possible product pages for those products and use the other products on your online store as “fillers”.

Besides having to create product pages for more products, there is another reason why general stores often require a bit more work. When running a general store, you are offering products in all kinds of different niches, right? Well, this increases the chances of you having to work with multiple suppliers.

I will tell you more about working with multiple suppliers later, but one thing is for sure. Working with multiple suppliers requires more work, both in terms of the setup and the management.

2. Get inspiration from other stores

Before really getting started with creating your brand-new general online store, a nice thing to do is getting inspiration from other general stores.

By simply looking at other general stores and seeing how they designed their store, what products they sell, how their product descriptions look, and more, you will get an idea of what is possible. Besides that, you may get some new ideas that you can implement for your own store!

For example, you might see a clever way of upselling that you haven’t seen or thought of before when looking at a different store. Now, you can write down that idea and implement it on your own general online store later on!

So, if you want to get started with this first step, simply check out our article of seven great general online store examples here.

Besides being able to see seven great examples of general stores, you will also read about the things you can learn from each store and about how you can find more general store examples yourself.

Sounds great, right?

For instance, one of the featured stores is called Trendy Goods, and it features great product pages, a lovely store design, and a cool product sorting bar on the homepage:

General online store example for inspiration

3. Choose the right theme

After having looked at other general online stores for inspiration, you can start with the first steps of creating your own store.

A general online store often offers a lot of different products in many different categories. Therefore, it is crucial to choose a theme that fits a general online store.

And for those who are wondering, this is not a joke. Some store themes are most suited for one-product stores, others work great for stores in a specific niche, and some work best when coupled with a general store. Those are the ones you should look for.

So, how do you know if a certain theme will fit a general store?

Well, in essence, you should try to look for themes that work great for a store with a large number of product categories and/or inventories. If you are using Shopify, you can filter the themes in their theme store on themes that are “great for large inventories”:

Best themes for general online stores Shopify

Themes that you will find in this collection will often support features like mega menus, advanced product filtering or search, and more.

If you are curious, here is an example of a theme that is well suited for stores with large inventories, Empire:

Theme example for a general online store

However, don’t forget that there are more places to get themes from besides the Shopify theme store.

If you are interested, you can check out the 10 best Shopify themes in 2021 here. These will definitely boost your sales!

4. Keep your store name neutral

Naming your general online store will be a bit different compared to creating a niche online store.

For example, you wouldn’t want to call your general online store something like “Musicgurushop.com”.

A name like this will imply that you are selling products in the music niche. However, since your goal is to start a general online store, you will likely be selling products in other niches as well!

Therefore, a name like that wouldn’t really fit a general online store.

Often, general online stores have more “neutral” names that allow them to sell products in different categories. For example, when looking at our list of general online store examples, you will see names like:

  • Life Booster Shop
  • Buy It Carl
  • Inspire Uplift
General online store name example

And if coming up with a name for your new online store isn’t really your thing, then remember there are tools and methods out there that can help you to come up with an awesome name!

So, if you are looking for help with choosing the best possible name for your general store, check out our 10 tips here!

5. Try to minimize the number of suppliers you are working with

A general store sells products in all kinds of different niches. As a consequence, it is difficult to source all your products from a single supplier, especially when you are working with niche suppliers!

This is why it’s natural for a general online store to work with multiple suppliers.

However, while working with multiple suppliers is definitely possible, it does complicate things a bit.

For example, what happens when a customer orders multiple products that need to be sourced from different suppliers?

Since different suppliers will supply those products, your customer will receive their order in separate packages:

Working with multiple suppliers infographic

For two suppliers, this process is still somewhat overseeable. However, if you are going to start working with a lot of different suppliers, the whole order processing and management process will get a lot more complicated.

Therefore, it is best to try and source the products on your general online store from as few suppliers as possible. It will simplify the process and leave you to have more time for other important tasks.

If you would like to know more about doing ecommerce with multiple suppliers, then check out our dedicated article about the topic!

6. Add a disclaimer to your shipping policy or FAQ page

Wait!

We are not done with the topic of working with multiple suppliers yet. I have another tip for you!

If you are going to work with multiple suppliers for your general online store, you should add a disclaimer to your shipping policy or FAQ page which states that your customers may receive multiple separate packages if they order multiple items.

By doing this, your customers won’t be surprised when their entire order isn’t in one package, and it will save you a lot of time since you won’t have to answer all the support emails you will get.

Here is an example of such a disclaimer by a store called Bestsellrz:

Shipping policy disclaimer example for general online stores

If you are interested in reading about all the do’s and don’ts of creating your own shipping policy for your general online store, then check out how to create one here!

7. Keep an eye on trending products while running your store

One of the upsides of running a general online store is that you can always add any trending products to your store and start selling them. Since you are running a general store, pretty much any product will be a fit!

By keeping an eye on trending products while running your general online store, you will be able to capitalize on new trends by starting to sell those new trending products as one of the first stores.

There are several ways how you can keep an eye on new trending products. However, one of the easiest ways will be to use a product research tool like Sell The Trend.

Sell The Trend homepage

It’s a great tool that constantly scans platforms like AliExpress, Amazon, Facebook, and more to find the latest and greatest trending products.

Once a trending product is identified, it will be added to Sell The Trend’s dashboard:

Find new trending products using Sell The Trend

In short, you will be able to find new trending products every day in just a couple of minutes!

If you would like to try out the tool, here is a link to a 7-day free trial.

Want to know how Sell The Trend works in detail first? In that case, check out our full review of Sell The Trend here!

8. Test products until you find a winner

One last tip for starting a general online store is to test, test, and test until you find a winning product. Here, you can learn how to quickly test products without spending a lot of money.

As said before, testing any product you like at any time is a significant upside of having a general store.

Once you have found a winning product, a great option is to proceed and build a niche store or a private label brand around that product!

For instance, Dr. Squatch built a whole brand around their bar soaps:

Private-labeled brand example

A private label brand will allow you to scale even higher.

Your product will be branded, so its perceived value will increase. Besides that, you will have to deal with less competition since you’re the only vendor for that exact product.

Lastly, a private-labeled product includes your company’s name and logo, which positively affects customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing.

Awesome, right?

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article gave you a better understanding of how to start a general online store.

To turn your idea into a profitable business, it’s crucial not to give up and follow the eight tips that I have given in the article.

A general online store is different from a niche store, so there are a couple of things you should know about before taking the leap.

If you are still debating about whether or not a general online store will be the right decision for you, our article comparing general stores with niche stores might help you.

After reading it, you will be able to answer the question: “Will I go for a general or a niche store?”

Remember that if you have any questions left, you can always leave a comment in the comment section below.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article, and I wish you a great rest of your day!

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Author

Hey! My name is Patryk and I've been dropshipping for 2+ years now! After being exposed all the time to dropship "gurus" trying to sell their courses and learning from my mistakes, I decided to help build Do Dropshipping and make all information you need to succeed in dropshipping available for free to everyone!

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