Getting Started with Your Shopify Website: Your “Going Live” Checklist

Guide to Launching a Shopify Website

After you’ve completed your design, put in your content, and installed all the apps and features that you want, what’s left to do before launching your Shopify website? This checklist takes you step-by-step through all the details you should handle and double check before officially launching your store.

Products

When you are going through your “Going Live” checklist for products on your Shopify website, your primary point of focus will be your inventory and product descriptions. First, check that your inventory levels are where you want them to be. Then, take a look at your product descriptions. Do products have the correct tax status applied to them? Do your products (if applicable) have correct weights? Do you need to add any images to specify variety within products? Do your products have optimized and non-duplicate meta information? Have you determined your gift card and discount policies? If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then your products are all set.

Customers

This section is geared towards eCommerce business owners who have migrated their data to a Shopify website from a previous eCommerce platform. This can include customer data, so if you’ve changed eCommerce platforms, make sure you’ve imported previous customer groups. If you choose to do so, you can create customer groups for further organization.

Blog

If you are planning on having blog content on your site, double check that all the content to be listed is available. Then, there are a couple decisions you have to make in regards to your blog. Do you want customers to be able to comment? Have you added any featured images for your blogs? Do your blogs have unique meta information?

Content Pages

Content pages are an important resource for customers to find information on your business background as well as your business policies. Do you have an about us page? Do you have a contact us page (with an embedded contact form)? Do you have an FAQ and Terms and Conditions Page? Do you have a Shipping and Returns page? These are the most important content pages to include, but you should also double check that any sample or test pages that were used as filler in website development are deleted.

Themes

Before launching your Shopify website, you need to prepare your theme and content associated with it. First, make a backup and then also create a duplicate “test theme.” Another important tip is to add in language translations as a feature to your theme.

Website Navigation

Navigation is a critical feature on any website, not just an eCommerce website. It’s what allows the customer to easily move through the site from one page to another, and so before you take your Shopify eCommerce store live, double check that all of your navigation pages are working. So, make sure that your primary, secondary, and drop-down navigation menus are all available and working properly.

Payments, Checkout, Shipping, and Taxes

Before you launch your live website, Shopify fills in a testing payment option. So the first step to take is to determine your primary and secondary payment options, and also determine whether you want to add any manual payment options (paying offline).

Shopify’s checkout settings gives you a variety of options to choose how much information is given to and taken from the customer during checkout. In order to complete this part of the checklist, you need to determine which fields are required for customer checkout. You also will be prompted to determine what settings will be in place for abandoned cart emails, as well as making sure that refunding and privacy statements will be available.

Your comprehensive shipping plan needs to cover the following things: your shipping zones, what carrier you want to use, what shipping rates you prefer, and how to calculate shipping rates (based on weight or price). If you know there are times you will be offering free shipping, determine that now. Also, make sure your shipping label settings are complete and correct.

There are a handful of settings to determine for taxes. Do you want them added to the product price or added separately? Do you need to charge taxes on shipping? Are there tax overrides/exemptions for certain products or customers?

General Settings

This section is just small housekeeping details. First, make sure your images are optimized for your Shopify website. This will help your website performance and keep the images from slowing down the speed. Then, make sure your website’s homepage meta information is updated and grammatically correct. After that, make sure that you have inputted your Google Analytics account information into your Shopify information so that it can start collecting data as soon as your website goes live.

If you went through this comprehensive list and was able to check all the boxes complete, then you are all set to launch your business. After you go live with your Shopify website, it’s time to start watching your wallet grow. Did you find this article helpful or interesting? Share this to your social media and spread the word about Genius eCommerce!

Your Complete Going Live Checklist For Your Volusion Website

What To Check Before Going Live With A Volusion Website

ECommerce platforms like Volusion make it incredibly easy for anyone to build and operate their own eCommerce business. However, there are still things that a Volusion eCommerce business owner should double check before officially launching their Volusion website. This “Going Live” checklist is intended to help you stay on top of the details and have everything all squared away by the time you are ready to launch.

Link Functionality

If there is a broken link on your Volusion website, not only will your customers get a badimpression of your business, it also limits their ability to properly use the website. So prior to going live, it’s essential that you check all of the links within your website to make sure a customer can navigate through the website however they need to. Check each of your central navigation links and make sure they are going to the correct place. Then, check your header and footer links. Next, make sure all the category pages in your navigation is working properly, and that all of the products are listed under the correct category.

Information About Your Business

This is when you set up your content pages on your Volusion website that aren’t related to your products. Your customers are going to want to know more about you, and they will inevitably have questions they want to be answered. Content pages provide areas where customers can easily find the information they are looking for. There are four essential content pages to giving the customer adequate information about your business. First, your “About” page where you let the customer know who you are and the mission and values of your business. Second, your “Terms and Conditions” page, which should be easy for the customer to find and understand. Third, you need to adequately explain your shipping and return policy. Without making this easily known on your Volusion website, you can run into a lot of problems with unhappy customers in the long run. If your return policy is easy to find and easy to understand, customers will be happier with your service. Finally, the fourth content page you should add is your contact information. Double check to make sure that all of your contact information is correct so that customers can actually reach you.

Test Your Orders

If any functions relating to ordering products aren’t working, then your Volusion website becomes pointless. And if these functions aren’t working, you also won’t be making a profit. That’s why it’s imperative that you put these functions through extensive testing before going live with your Volusion website. Make a test purchase with each of the different payment options you are providing, and look over the order confirmation page you get for each respective payment option. Double check your shipping rates for the products and make sure that they are added correctly, and make sure that the tax calculator is working properly. Find out whether there are any inconsistencies or issues and fix them before your site goes live. Another important tip is to test your ordering ability on all the major web browsers to make sure each payment options works on each web browser.

Email Functionality

Customers rely on their email to get information about updated products as well as their order and shipping information. So it is critical that you make sure email is setup within your Volusion website and that it is working properly. Go into the “order confirmation” and “order shipped” email templates and make sure that they are all customized to your brand and your eCommerce business. You don’t want to give your customers any incorrect information about your shipping policies, so double check that all the information is correct (including contact information).

SEO Setup

Start working on your SEO and analytics before you’ve even launched your site. A great tool to help you out is the Google Analytics app so that you can view all your SEO data from the moment you hit the go button. Double check all of your page titles and also your meta descriptions to make sure they are clean, concise, grammatically correct, and also unique for each one.

General Maintenance

At this point, the biggest job left for your Volusion website is to double check your spelling and grammar throughout any and all content to make sure you don’t have any spelling or grammatical errors. This doesn’t just include product descriptions and content pages, you also need to check any buttons or headings or any text on your website. Double check that it is not only spelled correctly but that it is formatted to your liking. Another final job is to test your eCommerce store in all the major web browsers. There can sometimes be variation with how a web page appears on a particular browser, so determine if there are any issues and find a solution.

Now you are all set to go live with your Volusion website! Need help from an eCommerce platform developer before going live with your Volusion store? Email info@geniusecommerce.com for a professional recommendation!

Comprehensive Going Live Checklist For Your BigCommerce Website

What to Check Before Launching Your BigCommerce Website

Prior to launching your BigCommerce website, complete this Going Live checklist to make sure you have everything handled!

Apply A Theme

One of the benefits of an eCommerce platform like BigCommerce is that you can get your online store working quickly and easily by choosing one of their pre-made themes. Any customizations you want to make to your themes, you can do it through the Theme Editor available on the BigCommerce website control panel. BigCommerce uses “stencil theme” which are their newer versions of themes. The Stencil themes are designed for quality and responsivity, and that need only light editing for functionality. A tip to keep in mind before launching, is that if you made any customizations you have made to the Stencil theme you chose, it’s important that you backup any theme files you have if you’re considering changing or applying a new theme.

Add Products

Before adding products, make sure to manage your categories. BigCommerce especially takes advantages of categories as a management system in order to help your customers find products easier. Through the control panel, you can edit your product categories, adjust your navigation settings as necessary, and also change which products are listed under which categories. When you are ready to add products, there are a number of ways in which you can do it through your BigCommerce website. First, you can add products one-by-one into the product sections of your stores. Or, for your convenience, you can import a list of products by using a CSV file. BigCommerce can also provide you with integrations to companies who provide suppliers for products, in case you find something that can help expand your business offerings.

Set Up Payment Options

BigCommerce provides its merchants with a variety of options for collecting payment from customers. These options include PayPal or PayPal powered by braintree (a particularly popular option) and credit cards, or even selecting that your customers can pay by check. Other online payment methods available are Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, QuickBooks payments, and more. Other offline payment methods available are receiving it by money order, paying cash upon delivery, or receiving direct bank deposits.

Set Up Shipping Options

Through your BigCommerce website, you can select from a range of shipping options, but domestic and international. You should choose the shipping that is going to work best for your budget, for your customers, and also what will work best for your product. Is it heavier or bulkier, and would cost you more? Then you should choose an option like the “ship by weight” shipping method. If it’s a smaller item that doesn’t require much work for shipping, you can use a simple “flat rate per item” shipping method. They also use USPS through Endicia, which will let you print labels from your BigCommerce control panel.

Set Up Taxes For Your eCommerce Business

BigCommerce will calculate tax for you at the checkout of your BigCommerce website if you want to use their automated tax tool, but this is only applicable for sales in the United States. If you need to make more complex tax options, or you have tax exemptions you want to take advantage of, then there are manual settings available in the control panel.

Create Content Pages

Your customers want to know more about you than just what products you offer. Through the control panel, BigCommerce makes it very easy to add content pages to your website. This includes options like Shipping and Returns policies, FAQs, About Us pages, or creating a Contact Us form.

Connect a Domain

Throughout the process of building a BigCommerce website, you will initially be hosted through a bigcommerce.com domain. However, prior to making your store go live, you will need to purchase a custom domain. This you can easily do through your BigCommerce control panel. At this point, you should also link your email account associated with your eCommerce store so that it can be seamlessly integrated with the BigCommerce control panel.

Add An SSL

The last stop on the checklist is to purchase an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate (or Secure Sockets Layer certificate) is the standard security system implemented between a web server and a browser. THis is mainly used to protect your customer’s privacy and information to prevent things like their payment information getting stolen. BigCommerce does provide an SSL certificate through their server, but if you prefer to have your customers on your own domain during checkout, you will need to purchase an additional SSL certificate.

Before launching, an excellent tip is to allow others to preview your store. In the control panel, you will find a “preview code,” which you can give to certain people to access your site. When they visit your domain prior to official launching, they will see a box that says “Coming Soon” and a space to enter the preview code. Make any necessary adjustments or changes based on the feedback you receive from their preview. Now you are ready to launch! Simply scroll to the bottom of the Getting Ready Guide on your control panel and click Launch Store. Have any questions about starting a BigCommerce website or any other eCommerce platforms? Contact info@geniusecommerce.com and have a professional digital agency answer your questions!

What Is The Difference Between Managed eCommerce Platforms and Open Source CMS?

A Simple Guide to Managed eCommerce Platforms vs. Open Source CMS

The biggest difference between these two eCommerce solutions is that a managed eCommerce platform is hosted on a separate server, which you won’t be able to access. Generally, this means that your eCommerce website will be provided for you (with the ability for some customizations and added features) and all you need to do is add your content and products. On the other hand, when you use an open source CMS (instead of a managed eCommerce platform) you will host it on your own server. However, this leaves you to set up your own online store. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a managed platform over or open source CMS, so to make the choice it’s helpful to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each type of platform.

Managed eCommerce Platforms

There are two primary advantages to using a managed eCommerce platform. The first is that it requires less website development. The various managed eCommerce platforms use pre-built templates that you can choose from when setting up your website. For eCommerce business owners with no website development experience, or any knowledge about web programming or code, this can be a huge advantage. Of course, it’s always possible to hire a professional to develop your website for you, but that isn’t realistic for everyone’s budget. The platforms are set up to have easy-to-use and intuitive admin dashboard that allow you to go through and add your content to make any changes you want. The disadvantage to this is that it limits your ability to customize your website how you want. You may find you want a feature that isn’t available on the platform, but that you don’t know how to make a code for it. Or everything on a template is great, except for one major detail that you can’t change. The ease-of-use means that your website is going to look not as unique than if it was fully customized. Chances are that another eCommerce store out there is using the same template as you.

The other advantage is that a managed eCommerce platform is much easier to stay on top of and manage, particularly for people who don’t know a lot about website programming or don’t have a lot of technical knowledge. When your website is hosted by a separate server there are fewer things for you to worry about or be in charge of for your website, because the managed eCommerce platform is doing it for you. This means that features like payment and visitor information protection will be covered and managed by the hosting platform’s security. Another big advantage is that you will have greater access to a customer support and technical team. You are technically renting the server from the managed eCommerce platform, which means they will be available to help you through any technical difficulties.

Open Source CMS

An open source CMS is definitely geared towards eCommerce business owners that have a greater technical knowledge of web programming and development. The first advantage of an open source CMS is that you have a much less limited ability for customization. You can modify any of the features available, which means that you online store is completely unique. The next advantage has to do with how you own your store; with an open source CMS you have to actually purchase the server for your website (whereas with a managed eCommerce platform, you are technically renting a server for your eCommerce store). However, this means you will most likely have limited access to any technical help should there be a problem over your server.

Another advantage is that an open source CMS is better equipped to handle larger online stores with more traffic. This is because of the ability for customizable features, so an eCommerce business owner can find a server to host a larger online store and still have the ability to run a well-functioning eCommerce website.

The main disadvantages associated with an open source CMS is that there is a lot more to manage with your website, because you are in charge of your own server. This could be a great feature for some, or a hindrance to others. And if you struggle with website development and programming, an open source CMS can be particularly difficult for you without professional help.

Overall, choosing between either a managed eComerce platform or an open source CMS boils down to personal preference and technical knowledge. Someone who prefers to have more control and more ownership of their website should turn to an open source CMS, while someone who needs more of the technical work managed by an outside source should use a managed eCommerce platform. At the end of the day, the right choice is whatever is going to work best for you and work best to make your eCommerce business a success. If you have any questions, or are trying to start your own eCommerce business, contact Genius eCommerce and get your successful business started.

Make Sure You’re Ready To Launch Your eCommerce Application With This Checklist

Don’t Miss A Step With Your eCommerce Application Launch With This Checklist

You’ve figured out everything for your eCommerce website from the product you’ll be selling to the template and logo for your website down to every last product description. You are ready to hit the go button and launch your eCommerce application, but you’re nervous you may have missed a step.

This feeling is completely understandable; with so many things to stay on top of with the launch of an eCommerce application, sometimes human error comes into play and mistakes are missed. That’s why this checklist will walk you through everything you need to prepare before setting your website to go live.

Writing

There are few things worse than having a glaring typo on your live website that you didn’t notice before. This is why it’s important to go through any text listed anywhere on your website and make sure that there aren’t any misspellings, grammar errors, or typos. This means checking product descriptions, buttons, navigation, page names, etc. Checking for typos and errors is difficult to do by yourself; you often will miss errors in your own writing. If you don’t already have a staff to help you with your business, recruit someone you trust to help you go through the website’s text.

Next, check that you’ve optimized all of your images. This includes web design checks to make sure they aren’t excessively large (which will cause your website to slow down), but also that their titles and alt-text (including captions and descriptions) are optimized for the website.

Web Design

The first thing to check for eCommerce application is to make sure your website performance is optimized. A slow website is going to dramatically affect the customer’s experience. Google has an online tool that allows you to test your site speed and make recommendations to increase your website performance (keep in mind that a slow site speed can negatively impact your search engine rankings). Next, if you have made your website responsive to mobile devices, make sure that the mobile version of your website is working properly.

Then, check your eCommerce application on a variety of different web browsers (Google Chrome, FireFox, Safari, etc.) to make sure it is compatible across the board. Once you’ve check compatibility, take a fine tooth comb through your website to check fonts. Sometimes font can be affected in a template or font codes can alter how letters look, so make sure the formatting is how you want it. Last but certainly not least, triple check every avenue of your website navigation. Check every possible journey throughout every possible page of your website to make sure that you have equal access to other pages from any page of the website.

Web Development

Go through your website and test each of your URLs; you can do this by navigating throughout each page to ensure that they all work properly, or by using an online tool to test it for you (Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool is a great resource). With a larger site that has more than 500 different URLs, you will most likely have to use a paid resource. An excellent resource to take advantage of to keep your web development in check is the Google Search Console. Google will let you know when anything goes wrong on your site so that you can quickly fix it.

Search Engine Optimization

First, go through all your pages and make sure each one has a unique title tag as well as a unique meta description. If you are using an analytics tool through your eCommerce platform or you have Google Analytics working on your site, it’s critical to make sure either is working prior to launch in order to get accurate data. Next, check the icons that you have to integrate your social media throughout your website; test each one to ensure that each icon goes to the correct social media platform. Lastly, if you are planning to run any PPC campaigns, double check that they are ready to go prior to launch.

Network Settings

The first part of network settings is checking monitoring; utilize a site monitor to regularly check pages to ensure they are readily available for website visitors. Then, check the server’s backup system. It’s vital to make sure that if the server goes down, the backup server is properly set in place. Next, test the traffic loads. You won’t know how your site handles heavy traffic until it happens, but there are tools that will test traffic load on the different pages of your website to make sure they can handle it. Finally, check your security. This means if you have any pages that can only be accessed by login credentials, make sure that only by using the login credentials, the pages can be viewed. You also need to check your security certificate to ensure that eCommerce visitors payment information is properly protected.

That’s it! Now that you are through the checklist and everything is set in place, you are ready to launch your eCommerce application. Have any questions? Leave them in the comments and a professional digital agency will jump in and answer!

The Three Steps You Need to Follow to Launch An eCommerce Website

What You Need to Know to Start Your First eCommerce Website

Launching an eCommerce website can be easier than most people think, as long as you approach it with the right steps in mind. With these three steps you need to launch an eCommerce website, you will be well on your way to eCommerce success!

Find the Right Product with the Right Manufacturer

Determining your product is one of the hardest parts of the process of launching an eCommerce website. Here are the most important things to consider when determining your product.

First, you should keep in mind both the anticipated cost of your product, the market price to set it at, and the margin of profit you will be making. Another thing that can help you pick a product is to find out if it’s easily available to people locally; if it’s not, people will be much more likely to turn to purchasing it online. You also need to consider the shipping of the product. Is the size or weight of the product going to make it exceptionally difficult to ship? If you want to meet customer’s expectations of free or low-cost shipping, a heavier or bigger product is going to mean special shipping, which will increase the cost to the customer. The best products to choose for an eCommerce website are ones that can be easy or relatively easy to ship.

Now it’s time to pick your manufacturer. You also may choose to use a supplier, which means that you are ordering already made products (usually in bulk). A couple resources to use is Google Shopping (which searches for online products), WorldWide Brands (a paid directory for suppliers), or Wholesale Central (a free directory for suppliers).

Choosing the Right eCommerce Platform

Are you wondering why products and manufacturers come before setting up the website? Most people are drawn towards having their storefront set up before filling it with products, but particularly when it comes to an eCommerce website, it can take awhile to figure out and get manufacturers on board. Interestingly enough, it can also be faster to get manufacturers to work with your business when you have an eCommerce website coming soon rather than an empty website. A great way to start getting the word out about your eCommerce business without investing in a full website is to create a simple page that says “Coming Soon” and maybe has some details about your company.

Your eCommerce platform is going to handle all the various functions of your business, including your products and checkout. The fastest way to narrow down your search for the right eCommerce platform is to figure out what you need first. Determine what size your business will be, what features and functions are absolutely essential, what security/privacy options are available through the platform, how it fits into your budget, and anything else you feel is necessary. A quick search through the industry leaders will allow you to read specific features of each and see how it compares to your checklist.

Two great options for new eCommerce business owners are Shopify and OpenCart. Shopify is a hosted platform, which is great for business owners who need something that is easy to set up. Shopify takes care of pretty much everything, all you need to do is choose a template and the apps that you want it, and start filling it in with your own information. A downside of this is that it doesn’t easily allow for customization. OpenCart is the opposite of Shopify; it is an open source platform which allows for greater freedom of customization. However, it does mean you have to set up your own hosting and security measures.

Logos and Web Design

Although it’s not in everyone’s budget, utilizing an eCommerce design agency is an excellent way to ensure that everything from your logo to your web design is on brand and customized exactly to your preference. One web development company that does this is 1 Digital Agency, who is a team of people experienced in developing eCommerce platforms, including OpenCart and Shopify. They can design and develop a personal brand for you that covers your logo and newsletter design, to implementing a coherent and on-brand look for your website.

If this isn’t quite in your budget, there are ways to work around it rather than attempting a DIY project. You can purchase additional templates outside of the ones specifically available on your eCommerce platform from resources like ThemeForest, where you can even find ones designed specifically for the eCommerce platform that you use. For logos, you can look at freelancing websites to find a freelance graphic designer to pay for a one-time project to create your logo.

Take what you’ve learned in this article and get ready to launch your own eCommerce website. With these three basic steps, you are equipped with the advice and information you need to make your way in the eCommerce industry. Looking for a professional advice for launching an eCommerce website? Send a message to info@geniusecommerce.com and we will connect you with a professional!

 

The Comprehensive Guide To Setting Up An eCommerce Store

Learn How To Set Up an eCommerce Store That Will Generate Profit

Online shopping is a booming market, so it’s no surprise that entrepreneurs are turning to selling online through an eCommerce store as a way of making money and earning a living. If you are looking to take advantage of the opportunities the internet can give you, but you aren’t sure where to begin or how to start making money, then you are in the right place.

Setting Up Your eCommerce Store

The primary step to setting up an eCommerce store is to pick a produce to sell. You can either approach this decision by choosing something that is important to you, or you can take something that is already on the market and find ways to improve it. If you are new at eCommerce, it can be helpful to take the second option because it is less of a risk.

Although the product you chose may not necessarily be something that’s important to you, choose something that you don’t have to do a lot of outside research to learn about it. Again, if you are new to eCommerce you should generally choose low-risk options and fit into a market that you already know about is certainly a lower risk. A resource that’s incredibly easy to access and to view existing products all at once is Amazon. You can start by looking at the best-selling and highest rated in the market and see what improvements can be made.

The next step to figure out is how you are going to source your products. An excellent resource for this is Alibaba.com. All you have to do is input a keyword or a group of keywords into the website, and you can view a list of suppliers the offer variations on the product you’re hoping to sell. Not every company that you view will be able to meet all of your demands or will fit what you’re hoping for your business. The best advice to follow is to contact several different suppliers; figure out what you feel is essential for your product and what policies and services you’ll need from your supplier and find out how each potential supplier matches up.

Now it’s time to set up your eCommerce store. A lot of merchants choose to sell their products solely on Amazon, but you can also choose an eCommerce platform to help set up your own website where you can sell your products. If you still like the advantage of how many people Amazon reaches, keep in mind that several different eCommerce platforms provide integration with Amazon so that your products can be sold on your eCommerce store and Amazon at the same time.

An eCommerce platform is an incredible resource; the software used for these platforms have dramatically improved as the online shopping industry has completely taken off. Many of these platforms are specifically designed for the average entrepreneur to be able to figure out and design their own website. For more complex or customized designs, web development companies like 1 Digital Agency are a great professional resource to turn to if you want to make sure that your website is innovative and uniquely designed.

Strategies To Generate Sales

The best way to generate sales? Drive traffic to your website. When setting out on this goal, determine who you want to be driving toward your website. Think about the market that you are occupying, and figure out who is most likely going to need or want your product. This can greatly vary how you drive traffic to your eCommerce store. Take millennials, for example. If you are targeting this age group, that means everything mobile and social media needs to have extra attention paid to it. Because of the dramatic increase in smartphone use (which is the phone of choice by millennials), you need to make your website responsive to mobile use. And you need to concentrate your marketing efforts on social media; rather than making a commercial, consider using Facebook or Twitter ads.  

Another sale generating tip is to consistently re-target your audience. This means re-introducing your product to visitors to your website that didn’t purchase anything. This is where Facebook ads can come in handy because if a visitor (but non-customer) consistently sees your product advertised after originally choosing not to buy it, they become much more likely to purchase. Another great way to continue to generate sales is to target cart abandonment. This is when a visitor added something to their shopping cart but decided not to buy it and leave the website. A great way to target those visitors is by sending emails reminding them that they left products in their shopping cart. You can further encourage them to make a purchase by offering them a promotional sale or discount if they choose to come back and buy your product.

Now that you know the basics of setting up an eCommerce store, and a solid foundation of tips for generating sales, take the leap for yourself! Build your own eCommerce store and watch success come your way. Did you find this article helpful? Leave us a note in the comments or share to your social media!

7 Steps To Starting A Successful eCommerce Store

Step-By-Step Guide To Start A Successful eCommerce Store

The key to starting a successful eCommerce store is going into it with a plan or a proper guide. This step-by-step guide to starting a successful eCommerce business will see you through the nitty-gritty preparation required for building a solid foundation.

First Step: Determine Your Niche Market

Finding a niche that is going to give you a profit has to take several things into consideration. First of all, picking a product that you’re either passionate about or highly knowledgeable about from the get-go will help you out in the long run. This is because there is already a lot of information to take in about starting a successful eCommerce store, and if you already know a lot about your product then that’s half the battle. So, think about activities or areas of interest you have in which you often turn to online shopping to purchase. Maybe it’s something that you or most people couldn’t necessarily find within driving distance, which creates a need-based drive to online shopping. Compare what you find to products being sold on Amazon or eBay; this is one of the easiest ways to see who else is selling the product you’re thinking about selling.

If you are still trying to narrow down your niche, think about what people in your life generally complain about. Is there an avenue of opportunity for a product or an online store with a series of products that could help solve the problems they’re complaining about? If yes, that’s a great place to start. Do some online research and find out what other people are complaining about as well (there will be most likely no shortage of this over the internet).

Second Step: Analyze the Opportunities Present in the Market

If you are choosing a product that is only a current trend, that could be something you’re interested in capitalizing on, but a trend doesn’t guarantee a large market for the long term. During and also after you’ve chosen your product, for a successful eCommerce store it’s important to keep in mind what the projections are for your target market. Also, collect some research on how big the market is and what the profit margins are. If you have a product in mind and don’t do research on the market, and find out later that it’s a small, low-profit market, that can be a costly mistake. Industry reports and also the Google Trends tool are both great resources for finding out information on your potential market.

Third Step: Decide on Your Target Audience

Don’t try to sell to everybody – chances are very high that not everybody is going to want your product. What you need to figure out is your buyer persona or people who actually want or need your product. You should create an in-depth profile of all areas of their life: demographics, behavior, purchasing motivations, and what they will gain in their life from your product. Determining this will also help you figure out your pricing later on. If you are selling a product to a college-age customer, they may not have as much money to spare as a settled middle-aged adult.

Fourth Step: Idea Validation

Before you start selling your product, you should determine whether people will actually fork over money for your product. See if you can sell some of your product to people in your community, not necessarily online, and find out what they think of it. Make sure to have them be completely honest with you, because this is an important step to test out. If you find that the majority of people would pay money for it, then great. You may also find out information that could lead you to adapt your target audience.

Fifth Step: Find Out Where To Position Yourself and Your Product

Positioning yourself within an existing market requires some innovation and creativity. There are most likely already eCommerce stores that are producing similar products to what you have in mind. Try to avoid directly competing with other stores, instead try to find a further niche within that category that isn’t being occupied yet. Find out what isn’t being satisfied or met within the current market, and make it your goal to have that be part of your business. That’s true if it’s about convenience, policies, variety, or simply the speed of getting the product out.

Sixth Step: Pricing

To sell a product, you have to first price a product. First things first, figure out how much it’s going to cost you per product. This includes everything from shipping costs to production costs to salary for any staff members. You can’t sell a product for less than what it costs you to produce. Once you’ve determined your lowest possible price to still get a profit, start to check out the prices of your competition. This can help you figure out roughly where you should fit in with pricing, but often manufacturers or suppliers will give a suggested price for your product.

Seventh Step: Technical Basics

Avoid the temptation to start with the technical basics. Although it seems more entertaining and possibly easier to research eCommerce platforms and starts creating your own, what you eCommerce store needs should be heavily based on the previous steps. The first thing to do is acquire a domain name, which will most likely be based on what you are calling your company (which is another thing to figure out). Then, sign up with a type of eCommerce platform; there are several variations out there for an eCommerce business owner to choose from and it all depends on what you and your business needs. Once you have your domain name and have set up your online store, figure out how you want to manage payment options. At this point you should also purchase SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, to ensure that your customer’s payment information is properly protected.

At the beginning, starting a successful eCommerce store can feel like a monumental task. All you need to do is follow this step-by-step guide, and you will find yourself creating a solid foundation for your future in eCommerce entrepreneurship. Have any questions? Let us know in the comments and get an answer from a professional digital agency!

Want To Start An eCommerce Business From Scratch? Here’s How To Pull It Off.

Tips and Tricks to Start an eCommerce Business From the Ground Up

Starting from scratch isn’t necessarily a bad idea. The most creative and innovative products and solutions can often come from the process of building a business from absolutely nothing. It requires incredible determination, a lot of hard work, no small amount of passion, and a great idea. Whether you find yourself as an entrepreneur who makes a living off of starting businesses, you have a passion that you want to enterprise, or you are ready to work for yourself rather than spend any more time working for someone else. Whatever your reason, here are some tips and how-tos to learn how to start an eCommerce business from scratch.

Preparation and Determination

Preparation comes in a lot of different forms, but one of the most important things to prepare for is your eCommerce product. Anyone who goes out on a limb and decides to start creating an eCommerce without proper preparation and adequate decision-making on the product they want to sell is automatically going to struggle, a lot. Not knowing what to sell is another reason why people may be hesitant to start their own business, and so an early flame of enthusiasm may be blown out.

When you have your product idea already, it’s incredibly helpful to take advantage of some pre-sales research before going forward with it. Simply put, ask people you know what they think of your product. If everyone hates it, then don’t put your time and money into trying to sell it. What’s more likely is that by asking people about the potential product and business idea, it can help you get a sense of how customers will react to your product, what audience you should market your product toward, and any alterations you should make to the product(s) going forward.

If you are creating a product yourself that is innovative and creative, and you’re not sure if people will understand how it works, invest some time in creating a how-to video as well as written testimonials by people you have tested it out. When you are starting from scratch, ask your friends, family members, and neighbors to try out your product and see how they like it. Use their testimonials in the future when your eCommerce store is up-and-running so that potential customers have some feedback.

Your determination comes in the form of letting go of the fear of failure. At every stage of this process, when you want to start an eCommerce business from scratch, the fear of failure is going to permeate into your brain and you are going to have to resist. The truly successful entrepreneurs overcame their fear of failure in order to push their innovation and creativity into something truly unique and profit worthy.

Tips and Tricks for the Nuts and Bolts

The basics will be your best friend going forward. The biggest tip you can hold onto is that once you have established the basics of your eCommerce store, every decision from there on out is going to be better informed and more on point with what direction you want your company to go in. This includes figuring out your product, and from there, hone in on what market niche you want to sell it to. A trick to success is to distinguish yourself from your competitors; what are they doing, and what can you be doing differently?

The next trick is to choose the right eCommerce platform. Depending on what you’re looking for, which only requires a little bit of research to determine, the right platform can set you up and make this process quite a bit easier. From there, you need to design and develop your eCommerce store. Unless you are planning to DIY your entire website, a great tip is to find a web developer or web development agency that can create a website that is seamlessly on brand and has all the customizations you want and that you might not have been able to make for yourself. A web development agency like 1 Digital Agency is a great example; they have experts certified in a variety of eCommerce platforms, so they can help with any amount of design or development that you want or need to be done. They are a full-service agency, so another tip is that they also can provide you with SEO and digital marketing.

Digital marketing is another really important thing to keep in mind when you want to start an eCommerce business because with an eCommerce store you are going to want to make sure it is search engine optimized and that you are properly digitally marketing it. You’ll want to make sure you are using social media to it’s fullest potential. Any social media platform that is relevant to your business or can aid you in reaching your target audience, is only going to be an asset to your eCommerce store and your overall ROI. Also, a huge trick to bringing in more customers and revenue is to make sure that your eCommerce store is mobile site friendly. With the surge in smartphones since their invention, so many people are accessing the internet and shopping online through only their phones. If you want to start an eCommerce business from scratch, you might not necessarily have the cash to create a smartphone app. However, not having a mobile friendly site is going to hurt you in the long run.

Another big tip is to take advantage of social networking. You can reach out to other eCommerce business owners on platforms like LinkedIn, Google+, or even Facebook and bounce ideas off of each other and ask questions. Maybe you will link up with someone who is in a similar or the same industry and you can have your eCommerce stores promote each other or even have dual-promotions for sales.

Whatever your inspiration or motivation was to start eCommerce business from scratch, as long as you have the preparation and determination to make it happen, then you can. If you figure out your product, determine your basics, and let go of the fear of failure, you’re already almost there. Are you determined to start your own eCommerce business? Contact Genius eCommerce today and get started.