Starting an online store is easy but what seems rather demanding is the task of checking all the items, cross-checking them and testing them so as to ensure an excellent customer experience. The most difficult part would be to get your website to the top of the list, work on conversion (making sure that visitors turn to customers) and retention (working in making the customers come to visit your online store again).
Given below is an expansive checklist consisting of steps that you need to follow before starting your very own e-store. Go through the detailed list and then mark off items so as to make sure that your site is ready for launch.
The very first step is to decide whether this website is your business or a hobby. Contemplating your expectations in terms of both income and lifestyle at this stage is rather crucial. Your journey would sure be a lot less hectic if you are aware of some eCommerce concepts.
This step would focus on assessing the eCommerce process with some of your products. Your aim here should be to learn from your mistakes and not make money. Begin by buying or making the products that you wish to sell. Next, figure out a way to get these products to the customers without you paying more or breaking it in transit. Packaging and shipping costs can often eat up your profit.
Pro Tip: If the product is fragile, try to ship it to yourself and find the perfect way to get it in one piece.
Now, set up an Etsy or eBay account and begin selling a handful of your products. The goal here is to get used to making/picking, packing and shipping along with figuring out the basic customer service. You would eventually get a feel of customer needs, total demand, and FAQs.
If you are serious about this eCommerce store, take some time to learn about warehousing, drop shipping and pick’n’pack service as it forms a crucial part of shipping. If you are thinking about buying products from manufacturers, you would need to find ones who are responsive, communicate efficiently and offer the best price. Also, choose courier services that are quick and can meet drop-off deadlines.
When it comes to the online shopping cart, you could either maintain it yourself or have a team of professionals do it for you.
Building the online store is a lot of fun but remember that it is a lot of hard work too.
• Create a Domain and Email – Choose a store name which goes well with your niche. Remember that this would be the first impression on the customers. Next, register the chosen domain name and set up proper email accounts. There would be different email accounts for various departments so that you don’t mess things up.
• Store Design – The next step would be to work on the design of the store. Begin by using a temporary logo and template so that you can begin selling. When looking to customize the design, you have to ensure that you have covered all the vital conversion tactics. You could opt for the services of a graphic designer if you wish your website to really stand out.
• Configuring the Shopping Cart – You would need to configure your shopping cart for SSL, currency, tax rules and shipping which would enable you to begin selling online immediately. You could also add Google Maps API for internal tracking.
• Content Pages of the site – You would need to add an about page, a live sales map for your credibility, contact page, help pages (for FAQ’s, warranty, shipping, returns and more), custom brand pages for items in case you sell on others’ behalf and more. Metadata for each of the pages would also have to be added. You could even add shipping deadline info so as to keep the customers updated.
• Product Pages – The product category page is one of the best places to describe briefly what you sell and why customers should purchase from you. Write titles for products which include keywords and will help you rank better in the search engines. Include product descriptions consisting of the keywords (avoid keyword stuffing) and don’t forget to write Metadata for all the pages.
• Photos and Videos of the Product – To help the customers in making a better decision, add photos and videos of the products that you sell. If you aren’t great at taking pictures, take the help of professional photographers and retouching experts for best results. Also, remember to watermark every picture so that it’s easy to find your store.
• Analytics – Google Analytics is free to use and can be set up rather easily. Submit XML sitemap, work on setting up Google webmaster tools and install e-commerce dashboards into the analytics. All of this would help you to keep a track of the progress being made.
Now that your website is completely ready and has been launched, it’s time to grow it organically. Work on developing better relations with the customers, use social media platforms (including but not limited to Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest) to advertise your store and set up your own blog consisting of helpful content. You could also use email marketing to reach out to more people and offer attractive deals and discounts to existing customers.
With a fully functioning store in hand, you would have to optimize it efficiently for further growth. Optimization is extremely essential especially in today’s time when there are hundreds and thousands of online stores. Build a good team who would regularly monitor your site and optimize it for further growth.
Starting an online store is surely tougher than ever but by working smartly, you can move ahead on the path to success.