eCommerce Start Up Tips
If you’ve never started an e-commerce store from scratch, it’s impossible to understand how time consuming and detailed the process is. When looking at any ecommerce site, you never think about the fact that someone had to craft content and individually load each and every product. Not only that, you also have to negotiate with each manufacturer to be able to list their products online, before the actual listing process even begins.
We have provided the following guide to help you understand the process of building an eCommerce business.
1. Product/Niche Research/Business Expense Research
If you have come to this page looking to build a website you probably have done this step already, but before spending any money on building a eCommerce business do your Product, Niche and Business Research to determine if you think this is going to be profitable or not. Up to 97% of new online stores fail. We see this often when new business owners want to try to sell products that are oversaturated or that have strong local or well-known brand competition. Take Yoga Pants as an example. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve known who have wanted to get into this niche but never did any research. Large companies like Gymsharks and LuLuLemon own the market. People can also buy Yoga pants in local stores for the same price you will try to sell online and avoid the multi-week shipping time. Also, people fail to check a products quality. Most products sold on sites like Aliexpress are cheap for a reason, the yoga pants you buy from that site are often very sheer and ill fitting so you would have a ton of returns. Since there is so much competition ad spending is high. If you want to create a real sustainable business take the time to find quality products that have low competition.
2. Get all the paperwork you need for a legitimate business.
Many people skip this step and run into trouble later by doing so. Register your business, get a vendor’s License if necessary and start looking into legal business issues. You should contact a local attorney to assist in the creation of your business. While it is an upfront cost, it likely will save you significant headache and expense in the future.
According to Alyson Letsky, an attorney at Eastman & Smith Ltd. in Columbus, Ohio, you will first need to strategize and determine the state in which you wish to be domiciled, then check the required filings with that state’s Secretary of State and department of taxation or revenue. This is especially true if you live in California.
You will need to register the appropriate articles of incorporation or organization with your state’s Secretary of State if you are starting a corporation, nonprofit, limited liability company or professional organization. Most people choose the LLC route if creating an online business. Additionally, if you will be making taxable sales, you will need to obtain a Seller’s Permit or Vendor’s License with the appropriate state agency. Many vendors will require that you have this as well before they agree to work with you.
3. Purchase a domain name.
This is pretty straightforward. You need a domain name that will perfectly identify your brand. Don’t overthink the process. Using a site like Namecheap or GoDaddy is generally the best places to start. We prefer Namecheap but the choice is yours. Once you determining your Domain name you can check the prices on both sites and see if one has a cheaper price than the other. This happens a lot since both companies have frequent sales.
4. Select ecommerce and website hosting platform.
To save time and money, select a popular ecommerce platform. I recommend GrooveKart, Shopify, WooCommerce and CommerceHQ. Most developers are familiar with these, making it easy to integrate plugins, payment processing, etc.
GrooveKart is easily the best value since you can create a website for free with no monthly costs if you use their freemium plan, they will just take a small percentage from each sale no different than what Shopify does but which has a monthly fee. You can avoid Groovekart percentage fee if you sign up for their lifetime Platinum Plan, Currently $1397. Which is a huge bargain. Check out the chart below to see the savings.
Select a payment processor. Most eCommerce platforms come with a payment processor gateway. You are likely most familiar with PayPal or Stripe. But if you want to accept credit cards, recurring billing and mobile payment, a gateway like GrooveKart, authorize.net or 2Checkout.com provide great options.
These payment processors don’t want to take a big risk on a business without experience so you can expect them to place a hold on funds. If you have no credit history you can expect this hold on funds to take up to 3 weeks in Paypal’s case. They do this to try and limit the fraud risk.
5. Find a web developer.
This is a crucial component in launching your ecommerce site. If you want to launch your site in a relatively short time span and in a professional manner, make sure to do your vetting when it comes to hiring a developer. Get references from other ecommerce websites the developer has built. Get a timeline for how long they anticipate it will take to launch the site. Make sure they can build a mobile responsive website design. Be sure to ask if the developer has experience building sites on the ecommerce platform you choose.
Too often, entrepreneurs move forward with a developer without doing their due diligence in terms of research. Don’t let this happen to you, as it can put a halt to your website before you really even get started. If you want to learn more about how long your e-commerce site should take to launch, feel free to contact a web design specialist.
Okay, we are slightly biased but if you contact us we’ll be glad to discuss with you your project or you can fill out the form here and we’ll create a free prototype website for you to see.
We can build either WordPress or GroovePages websites.
6. Find a website theme that matches your eCommerce vision.
If using GrooveKart you can actually copy any website theme by using their URL scraper. However if you are building a website yourself on another platform you may need to purchase a theme. Most free themes are free for a reason-they aren’t that good. You can purchase a premium theme from MyThemeShop or ThemeForest to find a layout that resembles the look and feel you desire from an eCommerce perspective.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Rather than building your site from scratch, download a template from MyThemeShop or ThemeForest or a similar site. We learned from experience that the customization process can be a very timely and frustrating one. So, if you can find a theme you like, you’ll likely save yourself quite a headache.
If you hire us you do not need to purchase a theme. It is included in our website builds.
7. Going live.
As soon as you commit to starting your business, take your website live, even before listing any of your products. Have your developer created a homepage, an “About Us” page and a contact page. It doesn’t have to be beautiful but having a functioning site will be helpful for numerous reasons:
First, it will allow you to establish legitimacy when negotiating deals with vendors. You’ll have more than just an idea. Second, when reaching out to reporters and bloggers, they can see that you have a website and are credible. Third, it will give you a place for all of these sources to link back to your site, which is, of course, key for building SEO.
You can add products even if you have not actually negotiated deals with vendors yet by becoming an Amazon Affiliate and listing products being sold on Amazon. Some people actually make a living just doing this but the commissions Amazon pays are very small versus buying from a supplier or manufactuer.
8. Press Releases.
Developing relationships with media contacts is a very important. This is where issuing a Press Release comes in. All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust– Bob Burg, Author of Adversaries Into Allies. Getting your website listed in various news sites can give you instant credibility. You have probably seen sites where they say a product or service was seen on ABC, FOX, CNN, etc, etc. Our sister company Digital Papercuts has a Press Release and Distribution service you can utilize.
9. Social Media.
Developing your social media following on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc is a great way to try and obtain website traffic. To build your following you can do it through either paid advertising or through organic growth by providing great content.
You can begin this process as soon as you know the name of your business before the website is even built. And then you can also include links to your social media pages on your website when it is built.
Unless you wish to spend money on advertising continually having a SEO friendly website and a offsite SEO strategy is critical for long term success of a online business. As soon as you commit to starting your business, take your website live, even before listing any of your products. Have your developer created a homepage, an “About Us” page and a contact page. It doesn’t have to be beautiful but having a functioning site will be helpful for numerous reasons: Unlike many other marketing channels, SEO doesn’t have a shelf life. There is no ‘pulling the plug’ on SEO. For instance the moment you stop paying for advertising your website traffic drops. SEO on the other hand works 24/7 265 days a year to bring you traffic.
The downside to SEO is that it takes time to grow. Depending on your keywords and competition this can take a couple of months to many months to get ranked on the first page of Google. Our associates at Digital Papercuts are experts in getting eCommerce websites ranked using multiple SEO strategies.
Contact us at Spiderwebdesign.company for more information on building a online business.