With the explosion in online shopping over the past few years, now is the perfect time to launch that ecommerce business you’ve been dreaming of.
Think about it. You’ll finally get to be your own boss. Create your own working schedule. Make a living from something you’re passionate about.
Now THAT is the life.
However, as with any new project, you want to be sure that you’ve got a plan in mind.
After all, you’re probably not intending to just keep your online store open for a couple of months. I expect that you’re in it for the long haul!
With this in mind, it’s good to design a long-term vision for your ecommerce business, which should include a thoughtfully crafted launch.
Let’s begin with the basics, shall we? I’ll guide you step by step to ensure that you and your new online store are well on your way to success!
1. Pick your niche
The first part of beginning your new ecommerce adventure involves doing a bit of niche research to truly start your business off on the right foot. After all, no matter how amazing you believe your product idea to be, you want to ensure that your store will be competitive.
The success of your company depends on your ability to stand out from the crowd with whatever you’re selling.
So, what exactly is a niche in ecommerce?
It’s simply the specialized category where your products fit. An ecommerce niche can range from broad (e.g., pajamas) to narrow (e.g., men’s plaid pajamas made from recycled wool).
You might think that trending toward the broader end of the niche spectrum is better, as your product would likely appeal to a wider audience. However, when you consider the number of businesses that already sell that product, you can see that your store would have a lot of competition.
Although you may eliminate potential customers with a narrower niche, your target market will consist of people who have a strong demand for your product.
Now, how do you go about selecting a niche?
There are several ways to approach this, but you generally want to try and combine what you’re passionate about and what consumers want/need.
Being successful in ecommerce is better compared to running a marathon than a sprint.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll be dedicating a lot of your energy, time, and resources to your business. There’ll be moments where you’ll struggle with motivation, but having a product that you’re passionate about can help keep you going on those off days.
Of course, you need more than enthusiasm for your product when running an online store. People need to want what you’re selling too!
Research keywords, take a look at what your potential competitors offer, and learn from your own community to determine what products are in demand. Creating or finding a product that solves a problem or fills a need is a great way to attract customers and bring your business success.
2. Decide what product(s) you want to sell
Got that whole niche thing figured out? Great! Time to choose exactly what products you want to sell on your website.
This step is where you’ll work out all the nitty-gritty details of the products you have in mind for your company.
Perhaps you want to start with a single product or offer an entire line of items from the get-go. Either way, you’ll need to determine the sizes, colors, materials, etc. that you want for these goods.
Planning on sourcing products from an outside supplier? If so, research different supplier options to ensure that you find one that can meet the needs of your business.
You might locate a supplier that’ll give you a great deal on merchandise but takes forever to get those items to you. Maybe the long waiting time isn’t an issue for some businesses, but if you’re in a hurry to launch your store, the cost savings might not be worth it.
Quality is also something to consider.
If you’re not making the products yourself, be sure that they’re high-quality items that you’re proud to sell online. Though it’s impossible to please every customer, you should be able to stand behind all of your products.
At this stage, you’ll also want to confirm that the market isn’t already saturated with the specific products that you’ll be selling.
In addition, while it may be tempting to offer super-trendy items, note that they may not be so hot next month or even next week. When you’ve got a new ecommerce business, it’s often best to go with products that’ll have a reasonable amount of demand for a while.
3. Write your business plan
After choosing a niche and products for your ecommerce venture, you’ll then need to create a business plan.
Use this plan to map out your objectives, product details, target market, marketing strategies, operations, and finances. Clearly describe how you’ll create and run your business and what you hope to achieve with your online store.
Consider where you want your ecommerce business to be not just a few months from now but also several years down the road. Every action that you take during your ecommerce journey should be done with those goals in mind.
Detail how you’ll source your products, whether you’ll make them yourself, use dropshipping, buy them wholesale, or obtain them through another method.
You should also outline what makes your products competitive and allows your business to stand out in a crowded marketplace. In addition, state what you estimate your revenue and various costs to be.
Determine exactly who your target audience is and how you plan to market to them. You can include information regarding marketing strategies that may be working well for your competitors as well as those for which you have improvements.
Furthermore, you’ll want to describe how you plan to utilize social media to build your brand and attract customers to your store.
Which social media platforms will you use? How often will you post? Detail all of this information in your business plan.
Describe how you aim to use search engine optimization (SEO) to drive customer traffic to your site. If paid marketing is also part of your strategy, be sure to outline your ideas for this as well.
Keep in mind that you may not have a complete marketing strategy in place at the start. Nevertheless, it’s good to have a general idea of how you want to spread the word about your ecommerce website.
Lastly, remember that there are a variety of factors that can impact the cost to start an online boutique. Although online stores generally don’t require as much funding as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, every business requires financial resources to get going.
In your business plan, you should also explain if you plan to provide the initial funding yourself or obtain it from another source, such as via a bank loan.
4. Choose your business name
Deciding on a name for your new ecommerce business may seem like a relatively easy task. However, it can get a bit tricky once you begin brainstorming ideas.
A great name can be your business’s biggest asset, while a bad one can lead to a considerable loss of time and money due to missed sales.
It’s usually best to go for a name that’s short and simple so that potential customers will have an easier time remembering it. A concise business name will also fit nicely in the header of your website, making it all-the-more aesthetically pleasing.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your online store’s name, but make sure that it’s not too difficult for people to pronounce and spell.
Understand that certain words or phrases can evoke varying feelings in different people. While you’re of course as free to be as edgy as you like, I recommend erring on the side of caution when it comes to naming your ecommerce business. Avoid names that have negative connotations or that may cause people to question your intentions.
To determine if your first-choice business name is still available, you can start with a quick Google search. In addition, be sure to research different social media platforms, as you’ll want your social media handles to match your store’s name if possible.
Choose a name that’s original enough that when potential customers search for your business online, they won’t get confused by similar-sounding sites.
Once you’ve found the perfect name for your business, you’ll want to check with your country’s appropriate authorities to confirm its availability. For instance, business owners in the US can head to the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website to see if a name’s been trademarked.
To be 100% confident that the name’s still available, however, you’ll likely need to consult with a lawyer.
5. Select a domain name
Besides deciding on a name for your ecommerce business, you’ll need to choose a domain name. This is the unique internet address that customers will type in to access your website. While it may be lower on your list of priorities when launching your online store, it’s a critical element to your business’s success.
Your domain name should be compelling, understandable, and connected to your store. In fact, the name of your business and its domain would ideally be identical to help strengthen your brand. This is especially important for a new business, as it’ll also assist customers in remembering your store for future shopping.
If you aren’t able to make the names identical, the same rules mentioned for choosing a business name apply for domain names. You’ll want to keep the name concise and try to use something with positive, or at least neutral, connotations.
Make sure that the domain is easy to pronounce and spell. This will help customers to better remember your website for subsequent visits and can assist with word-of-mouth advertising.
Avoid numbers in your store’s domain name if possible. In addition, if the domain includes multiple words, try not to have the last letter of one word be the same as the first letter in the next word (e.g., “classiccookies”). This can be confusing to visitors and increases the likelihood of typos when they’re attempting to locate your website.
Finally, you’ll need to pick a domain extension for your ecommerce business. People generally tend to think of extensions such as “.com” or .net” when it comes to websites, but there are alternatives.
While “.com” may be your top choice due to its popularity, there’s a chance that the domain name that you want won’t be available with it. In that case, you could opt for the “.store” extension.
As it’s not as frequently used as other extensions, it may be easier to obtain your first pick for a domain name. Furthermore, “.store” clearly indicates that you have an ecommerce business, which can help build customer trust.
6. Register your business
Once you’ve chosen the perfect business and domain names, you’ll want to act quickly to ensure that nobody else has the chance to snag them.
It’s important to take your time when selecting your business and domain names. However, after you’ve made your decision, register your business as soon as possible.
Imagine the frustration of coming up with an amazing name...only to then have another entrepreneur take it because you delayed the registration process for a few weeks. Ugh!
Domain names are usually relatively inexpensive, so you may want to buy one even if you’re not yet sure that you’ll be using it for your store.
How you register your business will, of course, depend on where you live. Check with your country’s authorities, as you’ll likely also have to obtain a tax ID number and declare certain information about your business.
7. Build your product inventory
When you’re getting ready to launch your online store, it can be difficult to know exactly how much inventory you’ll need.
You may see a slow, steady trickle of sales or perhaps nothing for a few days and then...BOOM: more sales than you can keep up with it.
If funds are a bit tight, you don’t want to order or make a ton of products and then have them just sitting there for months on end. At the same time, backordered products can be incredibly frustrating for customers.
They may even decide not to make a purchase if they have to wait a long time to receive the item from your store.
For this reason, it’s best to have some product inventory ready before your website goes live. If you’re making the products yourself, give yourself plenty of time to order materials, construct the products, and test them for quality.
If you’re getting your products from a third party, ensure that you have a written contract that includes all the important delivery and payment details. It also wouldn’t hurt to check in with your supplier again for last-minute confirmation that you’re both on the same page regarding this information.
8. Find an ecommerce platform
When launching an online store, you have several options for the actual creation aspect of your website.
You might initially consider an open source solution, as this type is usually free and just requires an investment in web hosting. However, note that it comes with its fair share of negatives.
Open source platforms generally provide limited technical support. So when a problem does occur, you could spend hours browsing help forums to find an answer and get your site back up and running. For this reason alone, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution like WiziShop is often much preferred.
With the WiziShop ecommerce solution, you’ll never be alone. Whether our clients have just signed up or have been with us for years, we’re dedicated to helping their online stores achieve success.
When you create an account with WiziShop, you’ll have access to our helpful team of ecommerce experts, our Business Coaches. They’re available to answer any questions you may have about your store and offer personalized advice to give your business an edge over your competitors.
In addition, you can check out hundreds of free resources, such as tutorials, videos, documents, and articles to further your ecommerce knowledge. We’re truly committed to helping you to manage your ecommerce site and make your business be the best it can be!
Furthermore, WiziShop offers fair pricing that’s based on the performance of your store.
When you sign up, choose from three different pricing plans, paying either $27 (USD), $77 (USD), or $297 (USD) per month. The only other fee we take is a small percentage of your sales, at 2%, 1%, or 0.5%, depending on your plan.
Finally, our platform provides you with the reliability you need to relax and know that your website’s in good hands. Should an issue ever arise with your store, we get to work on fixing it immediately so that your sales will continue to flourish!
9. Create your website
Got your ecommerce platform situation figured out? Excellent. Now you’re ready to build your store!
There’s quite a bit that goes into crafting a high-quality website design. It’s generally best to use a clear, simple layout that’s easy for customers to navigate.
You also want to be sure to have great product photos and product descriptions that present your goods in the best light possible.
Be transparent about your store’s policies, such as for shipping and returns. In addition, make your contact information easy for visitors to find. Once the sales start coming in, consider adding customer reviews to your site, as these can make shoppers more confident in making a purchase.
For many of your customers, your website is the first impression of your brand, so it should look professional and provide an enjoyable shopping experience.
If you’re a little technologically challenged, the idea of creating the site for your online store may be intimidating. However, there’s no need to worry about this part when you choose WiziShop!
With our intuitively designed interface, you won’t have to spend hours on end trying to figure out what goes where and how to customize your site. We understand that every online store is different, so you’ll have access to a variety of design templates from which to choose.
Our easy-to-use WiziBlock templates allow for plenty of creative customization of your online store. Simply select the one that best suits your one-of-a-kind brand!
In addition, you can take advantage of over 400 features made to optimize the performance of your website. Every one of these tools was created and integrated by the WiziShop team, ensuring improved efficiency and consistency.
10. Choose your store’s payment methods and delivery providers
With a high-quality online store and a top-notch business plan, there’s no telling how much you can make with your ecommerce site.
Nevertheless, in order for it to be profitable, it’s going to have to be able to accept payments from customers. I know...crazy, right?!
Today, there are all kinds of payment methods available for online stores. However, there are some that’ll likely be more applicable to your business than others.
You may think it’s enough just to offer a couple of popular credit card options like Mastercard and Visa. While you’ll probably want to include these methods, I recommend considering others for your customers as well.
Remember that whichever payment methods you decide to allow on your site can affect customers’ online security and therefore influence trust in your brand. Furthermore, your chosen methods of payment will also have an impact on your business with transaction fees and conversion rates.
In addition to the standard credit cards, think about allowing digital wallets such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, Stripe, PayPal, and others.
Consumers often prefer being able to make purchases online with these options. As they don’t have to input their credit or debit card information directly during the checkout process, they feel more secure with their purchases.
Besides adding payment methods to your website, you’ll have to decide which delivery providers to use. Again, you’ll want to keep both your customers and your business in mind when making decisions for how your products will be delivered.
Be sure to consider different providers’ shipping costs along with the quality of service. These days, many consumers are accustomed to receiving the items they order quickly and often with low-cost or even free shipping.
If it’s feasible for your business to offer free shipping, it can be a great way to win over potential customers.
Fortunately, when you choose the WiziShop ecommerce platform, adding payment methods and delivery providers to your online store is a cinch!
There are no complicated integrations to mess with. Just a few clicks of the mouse will have your preferred payment methods and delivery providers added and ready to go!
11. Create social media accounts for your store
In today’s world, engaging in social media marketing is pretty essential for any ecommerce business hoping to achieve success. Social media platforms allow you to highlight your products and make meaningful connections with your followers.
What’s more, they give you a fabulous opportunity to convert site visitors into loyal customers!
With so many social media channels out there, how do you know which ones to use to promote your online store?
Well, that kind of depends on your target market. As certain platforms are more popular than others with various demographics, be sure to do your research beforehand to learn which options are optimal for your business.
Nevertheless, there are several social media channels that are generally a good idea for any ecommerce entrepreneur to take advantage of.
According to Statista, as of Q2 2020, Facebook boasts 2.7 million active monthly users. With the vast number of people on Facebook, it’s no wonder that it’s a popular platform with ecommerce businesses. Not only can you post content and connect with potential customers here but also create a “Shop” tab from which people can buy products directly from your page.
Instagram is another great option for online stores trying to expand their business. Statista notes that the platform is especially popular with people aged 34 or younger. In fact, more than two thirds of Instagram’s users were made up of this population as of October 2020.
Images are the focus with Instagram, providing fantastic opportunities to show off your products. You can also avail of the platform’s shoppable posts, which let you tag specific products in the images.
Snapchat, YouTube, and Pinterest round out our list of social media channels that you may want to try out for your online store.
Remember to create accounts with your chosen channels as soon as you’ve decided on a name for your business. Try to use the same handle for every platform and make it as close as possible to your actual store’s name.
12. Use organic marketing to drive traffic to your website
After you’ve put in all that hard work to get your ecommerce business going, you’ll likely be ready to pop some bubbly and celebrate!
Go ahead, you deserve it.
However, remember that the work has actually just begun. Now, it’s up to you to spread the word about your website to get more customers for your ecommerce business.
Using both organic (unpaid) and inorganic (paid) marketing efforts, you can attract more people to your website in the hopes of converting them into loyal customers.
Though both forms of marketing are beneficial, the organic version has the added advantage of requiring mostly just your time rather than money.
Organic marketing involves driving traffic to your site naturally instead of via paid advertising. It can involve building your email lists, managing your social media and blog posts, optimizing SEO, and more.
We at WiziShop like to make things as easy as possible for our clients in all aspects of their businesses, including their organic marketing efforts. When you build your online store with us, enjoy access to innovative tools such as our Auto-Mail Booster, which is very handy for email marketing.
Our Auto-Mail Booster helps you save time by allowing you to program automatic email follow-ups (e.g., abandoned-cart reminders, “welcome” emails, etc.). You can also personalize the content of your emails and keep an eye on the results of your email marketing campaigns as they happen.
In addition, WiziShop takes care of all the technical aspects of SEO for your website!
We’re very passionate about this topic and love sharing our knowledge and experience to help our clients succeed. To do so, we ensure that your site features optimized images, loads quickly, and makes use of all the recommended best practices for SEO.
13. Invest in paid marketing to further boost your business
Though you can certainly achieve wonderful results for your online store through unpaid marketing, you may opt to invest in paid marketing as well at some point. It’s generally less time consuming than its unpaid counterpart and tends to provide quicker results.
If the idea of coming up with a paid-marketing strategy is causing your eyes to glaze over, no worries! A couple of great options to start with include Google Shopping Ads and Facebook Ads.
As there’s no question that Google’s the most popular search engine in the world, it’s understable why it’s a good idea to focus your attention there. Did you know that most people don’t look past the first page of results when performing a search?
You may be able to get your website on that first page through organic marketing, but it can take a bit of time and effort.
Using the right bidding strategies with Google Shopping, you can get your ads for your business to appear at the top of the first page of Google’s search results. These ads can also show up on other websites that shoppers browse, such as news sites, Gmail, and others.
Finally, as previously mentioned, Facebook is an extremely popular social media platform. When you run ads for your company on Facebook, you’ll know that they’ll be seen by quite a few people.
Furthermore, the platform knows A LOT about its users. While this can seem a bit unnerving, you can also use this to your advantage for your ecommerce business.
Your ads on Facebook will be super targeted, ensuring that they’ll reach potential customers who are likely to be interested in your products.
Now that you’ve read through this handy guide for launching your online store, you’re well prepared to get started with becoming an entrepreneur today.
You’ll soon discover just how amazing being your own boss and achieving ecommerce success feels.
It’ll be possible to create an account with the English version of WiziShop in the coming months and take advantage of all of the great features that our platform offers. Be sure to visit our homepage and provide your email address to sign up for early access and email updates!