Checklist: 10 Elements to Launching an Ecommerce Business
Posted on Februray 17, 2014
It is finally time to become your own boss. You have a product idea that you know people will love to invest in that can make you more money than what you make at your regular job. It's time to start an online business. Yet before you begin marketing yourself to friends and neighbors through social media, you'll want to get your online business off to a great start from the very beginning. Use this checklist of the 10 elements to have in place before opening your online business.
1: Have a Business Plan
Business plans are basic outlines and details about your business as it shows what you will do to make your business a success. It helps define who you plan to market your products to, what products you will be offering, how your product fits into the industry market, how you plan to promote your business, and how you plan to finance it.
2: Secure Your Vendors
You will want to secure all the vendors who will be supplying the materials and merchandise for your online store. Evaluate vendors to ensure that they can deliver your items to you in the fastest amount of time and that the products are of a quality that you want to associate your name with when selling them to customers.
3: Get Financing
Unless you have a nice nest egg you can use to finance your business for the first year or so until you start to make enough profits, you will have to get the working capital to see your business become a reality. You can obtain a business loan from a financial institution or a government-backed loan. If you have poor or no credit to get a loan, consider asking friends and family members to finance your business.
4: Obtain any Business Licenses, Permits and Insurance
Even though you will be offering products or services online instead of through a regular brick-and-mortar store, you still need to abide by all state and federal laws based on the type of business you operate. Obtain the suitable licenses or permits to open your business. You should also look into getting insurance to legally protect yourself and your business.
5: Create Promotional Materials
Even though you may be selling your products exclusively through your online store, you will still need to create physical promotional materials to hand to people so they will visit your website. Create promotional flyers to hang on store bulletin boards or pass out to pedestrians. Also make business cards to hand out to people you meet.
6: Develop a Functional Website
The website is the hub of your business. While it should be appealing to all web traffic, it also needs to be functional with easy-to-use navigation features and ordering instructions. Strive to make the website look professional with photographs and content that appeal to your customer niche. There are tons of website templates to allow you to create the website yourself, or you can go through a web design company who can help you get your business seen online.
7: Set Up Your Website for Payment Processing
There are so many e-commerce software and hosting solutions available that you truly can pick the right one that works best for your business. Whether you want to set up a simple shopping cart on your website, or you want something more robust through an e-commerce hosting company, will be based on your business preferences. Research and compare your options so you can process credit cards or accept payment services such as Paypal without any problems.
8: Define Your Customer Support Services
For some reason customer support always get pushed to the side as eager small business owners are more focused with promoting and marketing their sites. Yet you need to set up a reliable customer support service to handle returns, upsell products and deal with customer complaints. Options you have for customer support include email contact pages and a dedicated telephone line for your business. Always set aside a portion of your time to deal with customer service issues or hire someone to strictly handle this role.
9: Market Your Business Online
Customers won't know that your online business exists if you don't have an online marketing plan. While you promoted your business out on the street, you also need to promote yourself through all online avenues. Create a social media presence, set up a blog, offer opt-in newsletters and engage in ad campaigns to spread your business brand far and wide.
10: Optimize Your Website for Mobile Devices
While marketing your products to online customers, you don't want to leave out mobile customers. More people are shopping and making purchases through their smart phones or tablet devices. You will need to have a mobile-optimized site, landing page and ad marketing campaign suited to mobile customers.
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