Your Online Storefront: What You Need to Know Before Your Launch Day
Launching an online store is a dream for many people. However, even though it is easier than ever to do these days, there is still a lot of work involved in getting your site set up.
Here is a guide for anyone who is keen to launch their own store, from coming up with ideas to selling your first product.
First Things First
First of all, if you don’t have a business yet, you need to know what you are going to sell. For example, will it be your own products or someone else’s products?
Deciding this can be the hardest part of all. Will it be something unique? Or will you have a lot of competition? How will your business be different?
Speaking of competition, this is the time to do your research. Find out who your biggest competitor is as well as other competitors you will be up against.
Is there room for your business in this niche? Follow your competitors on social media and use a tool like www.chatmeter.com to help with your research, so you know exactly what they are up to, and what their customers think about them.
It’s also time to come up with a business plan, just as you would with any business. Use this to gather your ideas in one place, decide how you will progress, and set your goals.
Then you will want to come up with a name for your business and buy your domain name. It’s also a great idea to create a logo, and you can hire a professional logo designer to help you with this.
Choose Your Platform
Once you have got all the basics in place, it’s time to build your online store. The first thing to decide is your platform, and there are many ecommerce platforms that you can use to launch a store with ease.
One of the biggest is Shopify. This is very powerful while remaining fairly easy to use, so it is suitable for any type of store.
It includes plenty of features that you may want either now or later on, such as cart abandonment emails, payment integration, and everything you could want.
Other solutions include BigCommerce and Volusion. For a simple store, you could even use a product like Weebly, which makes it really easy to launch a basic store and start selling things.
They all have their pros and cons, so read up on some reviews and try them out for yourself. One may be easier for you to use, or more features that you need, so try the free trials and see how you get on.
Design Your Store
Once you have chosen a platform for your store, it’s time to create the store itself. You have two options here: Do it yourself, or hire a designer to help you.
There are options that allow you to create your own store using a template. You can then make changes to the template to make it fit your brand, and change the colors and layout. Just make sure you avoid common ecommerce design mistakes.
If you have the funds, you may want to hire a professional designer. Find one who is experienced in your chosen platform, and see what they can do. This will cost money, but the investment can be well worth it.
This does not just include how the store appears, but also how it is arranged. You will want a clear navigation and a powerful search feature. Do everything you can to make it easy for customers to find what they are looking for and make their purchase.
You will also want to create content for your site, including unique product descriptions, an “About Us” page, and more. Use keywords to help your store get found in Google searches.
Choose a Payment Option
How will people buy your products from your store? You will probably want to provide them with as many options as possible. Many people will want to pay by credit and debit cards, while others may prefer PayPal.
Research payment gateways and choose a secure and recommended solution, one that makes it easy for you and your customers.
And After You Launch…
Of course, launching your store is just the first stage. Next you will need to ensure that customers find you so that they can purchase your products, and there are many ways you can market your site to get more business, including:
- Launch a blog
- Work on your SEO
- Be active on social media
- Get more online reviews
- Optimize your store for conversions
- Use paid advertising
- Answer questions on Quora
- Set up an email list and send a regular newsletter
These are just a few ideas to get you started. The most important thing right now is to get your storefront up and running, so follow the guidance outlined here, and launch your site today.
Collin Holmes, founded Chatmeter, Inc in 2009 and serves as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Holmes is a graduate of the University of California, Riverside and graduated with an MBA from San Diego State University. Prior to Chatmeter, Mr. Holmes served as Vice President of Product Management and Director of Product Marketing for xAD, Inc. (LocalAdXchange) (also known as V-enable). Mr. Holmes comes with a couple decades of overseeing and developing product roadmaps, business development and managing the process of driving applications to market.