5 Things To Do Before You Design and Build Your First E-commerce Store
Tip#1: Find E-commerce Sites You Love for Inspiration
Study websites where you shop online and make a list of the features that you like and don’t like. Keep a list of sites that you think are great and have a sense of why they are great.
Tip #2: Study the Competition
Study the sites that will be your competition. Learn about their pricing strategies, shipping strategies, promotions and coupons. Check Amazon and eBay to see if your products are sold there – they’re competition too!
Tip #3: Gauge Demand for your Product or Service
Sometimes we fall in love with our own ideas very easily. Ask your friends and family if they would buy what you plan to offer. Then do some ad hoc demand research using Google Adwords Keyword Planning tool. If you have a gmail account you can sign up for Adwords and use their tools for free to estimate demand for your product – Google will tell you how many times the word(s) are searched in a month. So if you’re selling “widgets”, you can compare the demand for them to the demand for “sprockets.”
Tip #4: Plan the “Backoffice” of Your Business First
If you already have a business up and running you don’t need to worry as much about this but if you are new to it you need to understand how you are going to receive, process, fulfill, and service orders and the customers associated with them before you design and build an e-commerce store. Remember you will need to have a business entity (sole proprietorship, Corporation, Partnership, or LLC) set up first. Also remember you will need:
– Liability Insurance
– Registration with State unemployment office (depending upon the state)
– Registration with your state’s retail sales tax division
– Telephone Number
– Place to collect mail
– Bank Account
– Merchant Account
– PayPal Account (recommended as alternative to credit card for money collection)
Tip #5: Start with a “Hosted” Solution First: (Shopify, Big-Commerce, Volusion, or 3D Cart)
These hosted e-commerce providers essentially “rent” you an e-commerce store, already programmed, safe and secure, for a low dollar amount per month. You may at times get frustrated by the lack of features or functionality but you will not have to worry about security, uptime, downtime, or reliability. You may want to grow into your own “owned” store but you really consider a move into that world once you have achieved $millions in sales.
The Bottom Line
There are a lot of things to consider before venturing into the world of e-commerce. From choosing which platform to use to analyzing your competition, it can be overwhelming. Keep this tip list as your cheat sheet (and keep a lookout for more tips to come!). Need help designing and building your first e-commerce store? Let’s talk.