How to Start Your First Online Business

  • Check Amazon’s best sellers in your niche.
  • We recommend stocking some on-trend products but balancing your supply out with more evergreen items as well.
  • Without the ability to receive payments, your eCommerce site is just a website.

If you’ve never built an eCommerce site before, it can sound complicated (or deceptively simple). There are a lot of things to remember to make your site the best it can be. We’ll walk you through the steps of building a successful eCommerce website and provide some helpful tips along the way.

Decide What Products to Sell

Ecommerce website development starts with choosing the right products to offer. First, do some market research to see how your eCommerce site will fit into the rest of the market. Think about current trends. Go on Google Trends, TrendHunter, and see what Instagram influencers in the field are promoting. Check Amazon’s best sellers in your niche. We recommend stocking some on-trend products but balancing your supply out with more evergreen items as well. That way, you’ll still see traffic when the trend starts to die down.

Estimate Local Demand

Estimate the local demand, not just broad demand, for your product. Buyers always prefer to buy from local vendors, even from an online store. In a buyer’s mind, local vendors mean faster deliveries, easier payment terms with less hassle converting currency, and easier customer service communication. It’s easier to coordinate reshipments or replacements when orders need to be troubleshot.

Decide Whether to Dropship or DIY

Dropshipping is hiring another company to store and ship all your site’s products. You keep the website and broader business functioning without having to worry about as many logistics. The alternative is handling every order yourself or with help from employees. If you decide to DIY, consider product size and weight. If you’re filling every order on your own, you want the products to be light enough to handle. It’ll be easier on your arms and will help you keep better profit margins.

If you’re not dropshipping, there are several things you need to figure out. Where will you store your inventory? Where will your warehouse be? Will you use USPS, UPS, FedEx, or some combination of the three?

Plan for Shipping Logistics

If you’re not dropshipping, there are several things you need to figure out. Where will you store your inventory? Where will your warehouse be? Will you use USPS, UPS, FedEx, or some combination of the three? Keep a supply of packaging, making sure you have all the sizes you’ll need for all different types of items and sizes of orders. Will you provide any free samples, goodies, business cards, or promotional materials in your packages? If so, get those ready in bulk.

If there are any shipping restrictions on the products you’re selling (perishable items, beauty or skincare products, live animals, etc.), plan ahead to make sure you don’t end up in hot water over a violation.

Choose a Domain Name and Web Hosting Plan

If this is your first time setting up an eCommerce site, we recommend buying your domain name and web hosting service from the same provider to keep things simple. To avoid wasting money on hosting, make sure you’re certain about your site name and desired domain name before you move forward with this part.

Design Your Store

Designing an eCommerce website differs from an informative website as you need to pay a lot of attention to the user journey and experience. Although there are plenty of site builders we always recommend building custom-made eCommerce websites as it may affect the traffic and sales conversion dramatically.

We recommend including these features when designing the meat and potatoes of your website:

A search bar, so customers can quickly find what they’re looking for

Reviews, so products can build clout

Wishlist functionality; make it easy for customers to remember what they’ve liked in the past and find it seamlessly

Set Up the Payment Gateway

Without the ability to receive payments, your eCommerce site is just a website. PayPal and Stripe are popular gateways, but if you want to be able to process mobile payment, credit cards, or set up recurring billing, look into Authorize.net or 2Checkout.com.

In order to set up your payment gateway, you’ll need to create a secure checkout process, write privacy and return policies, determine shipping and delivery methods, and display customer service communication methods on your website. You’ll also need to pass a credit check, provide ID, and have a bank account for the business. Be prepared for this part to take some time and effort; don’t wait until the last minute to get started.

Install an SSL Certificate

Every website that handles data online should be secured with an SSL (Secure Security Layer). An SSL certificate also instills confidence in your customers; it makes you look professional.

Starting an eCommerce website might sound daunting, but with these tips, you’ll be up and running in no time. After your site launches, it’s time to celebrate – and to start marketing your new site.

Angine Pramzian

 Angine is the co-founder and creative director at the award-winning design and development firm, Concept Studio.
https://conceptstudio.com/

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