10 Steps To Launching Your E-Commerce Site
Do you have an itch to sell a product?
Many people may be surprised to learn that e-commerce began to develop in the 1970s. Today, new trends and strategies are making it more and more popular to sell items online every year. While building and running your own e-commerce site is no easy feat, the rewards can outweigh the challenges if you plan well and put the right processes into place.
Here are the 10 steps to taking your new e-commerce business idea from its inception to the final stage, ready to take the e-world by storm.
Step 1: What do you want to sell?
You are probably thinking, “duh,” at the thought of considering this step in the process. But this is one of the most important questions of all. If you don’t have the right product, tools or passion, you may be set up for failure from the beginning.
Today, e-commerce sites come in all shapes, forms and focuses. From kids bicycles to coffee, the options are endless. This is the time to do the most research and planning.
What is being sold online? What are online shoppers looking for?
Take some time to evaluate what products have a market demand. Take into consideration the costs and efficiency of selling a product, what competitors are doing, and how passionate you would be about offering that product to a consumer base. If you have no passion or personal interest in the product you are selling, chances are your business will be very hard to run as a long-term project.
Step 2: What is your business name?
If the perfect name didn’t hit you before the idea for your business came about, this is another important aspect to consider. The name of your business can make or break the amount of interest it attracts from consumers. This is especially true in e-commerce, since the internet moves a mile a minute.
Should the name be short and simple? (Probably.) Should it be completely unique to the competition? (Yes.) Make sure to pick a name that can rank well on Google search and isn’t already trademarked, as well. Once your name is thought out and decided, that’s the perfect time to head to the next critical step.
Step 3: Develop your marketing strategy
Marketing strategies are constantly evolving, and your ability to keep up with these strategies and market effectively can make or break the business’s success. Here are a few of the most common (and necessary) ways to market your new e-commerce site:
- Pay-per-click advertising — Pay other sites to advertise your new site based on how many times your ad is clicked. This type of advertising is a great way to jumpstart your website, from its inception to having several thousand visitors a week.
- Search engine optimization (SEO) — SEO is made up of organic (unpaid) strategies to building your site and content so it most appealing for search engine algorithms on Google, Yahoo and more. This is critical, as the higher you are ranked on Google, the higher your chance is of having visitors.
- Display advertising — This refers to any type of visuals you can promote online...banners, images, videos and more.
- Affiliate marketing — Unite with other sites and businesses that will refer your business through reviews, comparisons, testimonials and more. Be prepared to contribute to your affiliates business as well...these relationships are mutually beneficial.
- Email marketing — Keep in contact with website visitors through email, whether it’s a welcoming message to new members, a monthly newsletter or a notification about their online shopping cart.
And of course...
- Social media — Social media is a huge, unavoidable marketing strategy for businesses today. The most popular social media platforms today each bring a unique way to communicate with a different audience. Will posting visuals of your product attract consumers? Then Instagram is a must-have. Looking to engage with an active, community-like user base? Twitter is the way to go. Learn more about which platform is best for you, and don’t be afraid to dive in.
There are lots of great software options for marketing your growing or established business. Check out the Business-Software.com Top Marketing Software reports to make the right choice.
Step 4: Register and secure
You will have to register your business (even if it’s just online) because you must charge and collect sales tax for the state. To find out what is required, you can go to your state’s Department of Revenue Services website.
At this point, you will want to make sure you have secured the domain name and website, as well.
Step 5: Choose the platform and design
As you can guess, choosing the design of your e-commerce site is a big deal. Picture walking into a new clothing store on a sunny day. On the inside, that store is dark, rusty and run-down, with clothes and signs flung everywhere. What are the odds you would actually start looking, let alone buy something?
The same goes for an e-commerce site design. A website with a clean and appealing design will keep an audience around and build your customer base, especially with the right design thinking tools. And in order to find a good design that’s right for the audience you’re looking for, you must use a suitable e-commerce platform.
E-commerce platforms allow you to sell directly on your website. They can include multi-channel support and can install an online shop onto a WordPress or HTML5 site. The costs and features vary, so it is important to do the research on what platform is best for your business needs.
Step 6: Apply for licenses and permits
Once again, running your online business still has the same legal requirements as other businesses out on the street. Before you start operating, check to see what state licenses and permits are needed and get everything approved.
Step 7: Open a business bank account
You should separate your business assets from personal assets. First, apply for an Employer Identification Number online.
Next, apply for a business credit card as well. Determine which card features are best for the business, whether it’s better interest rates, cash back or rewards. You will thank yourself for the financial decisions in the long-term.
Step 8: Plan your shipping and inventory strategy
An important part of your plan as an e-commerce business will be implementing timely shipping methods and storing enough rotating inventory to keep business moving and consumers happy. There are many questions to answer in this step, such as:
- How will I package my items?
- Which shipping carriers will I use?
- How often will I replenish inventory?
Once you have set answers, it should lead you to the next step of the process...
Step 9: Look for the right software
There are many available e-commerce solutions out there, and you can find the perfect option based on your business needs. For example, Skubana is perfect for high-volume merchants looking for advanced order, inventory and analytics to drive your inventory management strategy.
The software will help manage the virtual marketplace by offering tools for website creation, maintenance, product inventory, marketing, promotions, payment processing and more. For more information on the best software for you, check out the Top 10 E-commerce Software report on Business-Software.com.
Step 10: Launch
Once all of these steps are completed, there will be nothing quite like the joy and anticipation of presenting your project to the world. Of course, this doesn’t mean the work is over — the challenges have just begun.
However, with the right planning and strategy, launching your e-commerce site is the first step of a project that will hopefully bring joy and growth to every aspect of your life. So don’t be afraid to take that leap, and don’t forget to take pride in your hard work along the way!
This is a guest blog from April Stearns, Content Marketing Associate at Business-Software.com. Business-Software.com is the free online tech source for articles, product reviews and whitepapers on software.