Setting up an E-commerce website is one step forward for any business that wants to expand its reach by selling their products online. Over the last 10 years, E-commerce has been a very essential contributor in the online marketplace. So having an eCommerce website for selling their merchandise is proving to be a beneficial strategy for every retailer and company. The reason behind this boom is the potential growth of internet users in recent years. Buying a product through the internet on a mobile device seems more feasible than actually going to a store. Therefore entrepreneurs have shifted their focus on creating an online store for their potential customers.
Now that the importance of e-commerce is established. You need to keep in mind that setting up an e-commerce site takes more than just designing an online store. With big names like eBay, Amazon, Alibaba and Best Buy in the scenario you need to have proper knowledge of how everything works in this sector. There are also numerous factors that one should consider before diving in to ensure success. Like checking your competition, finding the right niche, choosing the right e-commerce software and stuff like that which we will talk about in detail. With our in-depth research and experience in this subject, we have come up with a few major things that you need to consider before setting up an e-commerce site.
10 Things To Do Before Starting Your E-Commerce Store
1. Research The Target Market
The first and foremost thing you should do is understand the demand for your product in the market. By checking the online market one can get a rough idea of whether they have chosen a profitable category or not. See if there is enough audience who are willing to buy your product online. It would require you to see if people are searching for similar products to buy online. You can also get the information from many approaches such as creating and going through surveys, using Google Trends and more. Go for whichever seems appropriate for your business and product category.
2. Choose A Suitable E-Commerce Platform/Software
There are two types of E-commerce platform hosted and self-hosted E-commerce platform. A hosted E-commerce platform is an easier solution as it is hosted on a server that is owned by a company. The good thing about hosted one is that you don’t need to have the specific technical knowledge to create a site for your products. They provide you several tools, themes, designs and templates to choose from. Hosted platforms are user-friendly and ideal for someone who is just starting out or have a home-based business. There are many e-commerce software out there that let you build an online store and sell right away. 3dcart is one of those platforms that offers you a huge range of built-in features and free themes. At $19/month, we found it very affordable for the level of services it is providing.
The other type of platform is self- hosted one, that provides you more access to your database. You also have access to the source code of your website that can be edited. The only downside is this method requires more knowledge of coding. So it is ideal for a larger business who can operate a self- hosted e-commerce platform. As they need to customize the site according to their long term need and ongoing trend. Magento is a good place to look for an open-source, self-hosted solution for your site. Because of it being open source in nature, you have the options to add numerous plugins to your site and increase functionalities.
3. Purchase The Domain Name
Just like registering a company purchasing the right domain name is also based on availability. Once you have chosen a business name for your organization that no one is using, move on to the next step that is purchasing a domain name. Most of the time you will get the domain name that is similar to your business name. Often this is not the case, so make sure you secure the domain name of your choice as soon as possible. Due to its first come first serve nature, you could end up not getting the domain name you wanted. In that case, go for something that is close to that or relates to your organization
4. Find Your Vendors
This step comes once you have decided the products you are going to sell and the target market. It’s very essential to choose a suitable vendor for the supply of your goods. It’s best to go for those who have quality products at the best price. It is helpful in maintaining a long-term relationship with the customers. To do this, you should choose a group of suitable and trustworthy vendors for long-term business. So do your research and check for their user rating and reviews of the products they provide.
5. Create Early Marketing Plan
Before your website is ready for commercial use, you need to start creating a buzz for your products and services you are going to offer. It’s always beneficial to have a social media presence before you actually launch your platform. Setting up a social media profile/page and posting relevant content on them will promote your site. It is also advised to write up all the necessary content for your site in advance, so you don’t have to start from scratch.
You can also plan for other methods that are used to promote a website such as search engine marketing, paid ads through Google AdWords, email campaigns, and blogs advertising, etc. This will help your e-commerce website to get popular among online users.
6. Know Your Competition
You don’t have to necessarily copy from your competitors but it is a good practice to know what other successful competitors are doing. Start by searching for the type of product you are planning to sell. Go to the websites that are offering those products and note down the differences between their implementation. See if there is a difference in their prices and get an idea of the approx price that you could sell your product at. This whole practice will let you know your competitors, what they are lacking in and what you can do to improve that. Moreover, you can also know about their services by buying the products from their sites.
7. Check Your Inventory For Sufficient Stock
It’s very essential that you have enough stock in your inventory before you launch your website. Generally, it’s better if you have excess stock in your warehouse than getting out of stock very soon. It can be a very difficult job because you don’t know how much you will actually need to start with. In that case, keep an optimum amount of stock if you are on a budget and then gradually increase the demand from your vendor as the sales increase. Otherwise, keep excess stock because you never know how much orders you are going to get. For a new website, early out of stock doesn’t help in building customer relationship.
8. Setting Up Shipping Methods
One of the main reason why the online market has shown such a growth in a shorter span is home delivery and shipping facility. It becomes very convenient for the customers to get their product delivered to them through shopping online. That is why you need to partner with shipping companies and agencies to deliver products to the desired location. Some agencies will only provide shipping within the country. So if your products have demand internationally then you will need to contact some international shipping agencies as well. Choose the one that suits you the best and set up shipping methods with them.
9. Choose A Reliable Payment Gateway
For receiving payments from your customers you need to sign up with a trusted payment gateway. Since you can’t take payments directly from the buyers for their privacy, this step is necessary. Though there are multiple modes of online payments the best place to start with is PayPal. It is the most common transaction mode people prefer being safer and faster. Simultaneously you can also add other secure payment gateways and methods on your site by signing up with them. This not only provides security to buyers but also to sellers.
10. Choose A Design For Your Site
Designing an E-commerce website can be a little complicated than other types of website. Like other websites, it doesn’t just showcase information but also allows others to sign up and shop online. These are a few points that will help you in selecting a design.
- Match the design with the product you want to sell. For example- if you are selling gadgets then your design should be a bit futuristic and tech-oriented.
- Choose a shopping cart design that showcases product information and image. It should also have the feature to add, remove and save products to the cart.
- Include guest checkout to your design.
- Add social network implementations for sharing and getting reviews.
If you have taken care of these things before actually setting up an E-commerce website then you are already off to a good start. If you have started strong then be assured that you are setting a successful E-commerce website. Go through similar websites and don’t hesitate to take inspirations from them. Remember that the more you want to achieve from something, the longer it is going to take. Even after your website is set up, you need to keep working towards it and adapt to the newer market trend. Let us know if you agree with us or if we missed out on something very essential. Do share it with your friends who are on the verge of setting up an E-commerce site.