It has never been as easy to set up an eCommerce website as it is today. There are, however, a lot of different decisions to make and steps to take before your new business comes to fruition. We’re going to outline exactly what you need to do and establish the steps you need to take, to get your fledgling business idea off the ground. Let’s get started with the absolute basics.
The Product Idea
Your first step is to choose a product – or products – to sell. Don’t underestimate the importance of this step, as it is often the most challenging aspect of setting up your new eCommerce business. In an ideal world, the products you sell will be limited in their current availability, but also in demand – a tricky proposition in anyone’s book. You will need to evaluate your product and question whether there is a market need or a desire for it. Then, you will have to work out where you are going to find the products. Will you set up a relationship with a local supplier, or tap into the global market – importing from somewhere like China, for example?
Another vital step you will need to take is to perform thorough research on your competition. Is there anyone selling the same type of product as you? How are your products different? Will you be cheaper than them, provide better quality than them, or simply be better than them? Establishing your differentiation will give you the perfect starting point for identifying your target market and creating a winning business plan.
Register your Business Name
The next step is to decide on a business name. Ideally, your name should include a word or phrase connected to the products you sell. Let’s say your name is Smith, and you are selling stationery – Smith’s Stationery would be ideal. You will need to check that the name isn’t trademarked to someone else, which will avoid any legal problems going forward. It’s also important to check that the domain name is available, on a service like GoDaddy.
Getting a Start on the Website
You have several choices for creating your first eCommerce store. Online builders are becoming very popular, and many are easy to use, offering simple drag and drop functionality that anyone can use without any coding knowledge. For example, we like PrestaShop and osCommerce. However, while these types of products are perfect for getting started, if you have a large enough budget, you may want to hire a professional web developer. You will find the professional sheen it gives your eCommerce site will be second to none, and, most importantly, it will give you a clean base of code to work from.
Your eCommerce store must have a few essential features if you want to be a success. Make sure there is a good user experience, and that the site flows well with first-class navigation and excellent interaction. Ensure you keep your checkout process short and straightforward – anything overcomplicated will scare people away. And finally, offer a broad range of payment options. Don’t just stick to credit and credit cards – use services like PayPal, too.
The Importance of SEO
Search engine optimization – or SEO – is a critical part of giving your eCommerce business exposure. People use search terms to look for things on services such as Google or Bing, and the search engines display the results they feel are best. Ranking high in these search results is imperative – you will need to be on the first page at least, and using SEO techniques is the only way you can achieve this. SEO is a vast subject – not too difficult to get to grips with, but tricky to master. If you have time on your hands, great – you can get to grips with the basics of SEO in a few months. If you are in a rush, however, it’s vital to get help so that your eCommerce business gets off the ground with the best possible start.
Starting a Blog
Finally, one of the best ways to ensure your eCommerce site is ranking for your chosen search terms is to create a blog. By writing about subjects relevant to your products, you will be strengthening your industry authority, and sending signals to the likes of Google that you deserve a higher ranking. Create interest in, engaging posts that are original and helpful to your customers. Market those posts by sharing them on social media and via email, to increase exposure.
We hope you have enjoyed this guide to some of the basics of building an eCommerce store – Good Luck!