How to Kick-off your E-commerce Store: A Step-by-Step Guide

Do you have an idea for an e-commerce store, yet you don’t know how to go about executing it? Have you read a few articles online and felt overwhelmed by them? Well, our guide will clarify and simplify everything that you need to do in order to make that store idea come to life, fruition, and success. 

Know your product

You cannot start an e-commerce store without knowing what it is exactly that you want to sell. So, for instance, if you want to start an e-commerce store dedicated to beauty, what beauty products will your store offer? 

Brainstorm product ideas if you’re still undecided, you may come up with an innovative product along the way that can make your store stand out from its competitors.

Okay, now that you have your product – or list of products – figured out, how do you know that your product ideas are strong enough? Well, before moving to our next step you need to evaluate your product ideas and see if there are any changes you need to make. 

Ask yourself the following questions when evaluating your product ideas: 

  • Does your product solve a problem? 
  • Is the problem worth solving to begin with?
  • Why are you solving this problem? 
  • Who are you solving this problem for? 
  • Is someone else solving this problem with the exact products as you? 
  • Is someone else solving this problem with different products? 
  • How is your potential audience solving this problem now? 
  • Are your problem-solving ideas and products profitable? 

Choose a manufacturer 

Okay, now that you have settled on your product idea, you need it to come to life, and in order for that to happen, you will need a manufacturer to produce your product for you. 

The manufacturer will produce the product, control its quality, package it, and ship it, all in addition to controlling its price. So, you can easily see why choosing the right manufacturer for you is crucial to your success. 

But before doing so, you have some prep to do: 

  • Make a prototype

A prototype is the basic model of your product, so it can be manufactured according to your specifications, alongside getting its functions tested and the process of manufacturing it.

It is the basis of which you will be developing your product off and working on with the manufacturer. 

  • Protect your idea

Get your ideas protected from theft and copying and buy a trademark, register for a patent, or copyright your work, so you get to work further on your products with peace of mind. 

  • Choose overseas or local manufacturing

Each one of them has its own pros and cons, for the overseas manufacturing, it has lower manufacturing costs, and many options to choose from; however, when choosing overseas manufacturing you risk lower quality, messiness of time zones and language barriers, and less frequent on-site visits. 

As for local manufacturing, on-site visits are much easier to achieve, shipping is easier and faster, and it is much easier to communicate. On the other hand, if going with local manufacturing, you have limited options, especially that not all types of products are manufactured everywhere. 

After having done your prep, make sure to do the following to choose the manufacturer that is right for you: 

  • Search for a manufacturer through online supplier directories, the reviews of each manufacturer’s profile will give you direction, such directories are Kompass, MFG, and Alibaba. 
  • Get a recommended manufacturer from someone trusted in business, especially within the same industry and field, this will help you limit your choices and get more in-depth insights about some manufacturers. In case you are a stranger to the whole thing, don’t be afraid to start conversations on LinkedIn. 
  • Speaking of LinkedIn, don’t hesitate to search Twitter threads, join Facebook and LinkedIn groups to see what people are saying about certain manufacturers, you never know what you’ll find there. 

Write a business plan

Now that you are done with lots of your workload, it is time to put everything in one place to keep your vision clear and your path strategic: time for the business plan. 

The business plan includes many things, but not to overwhelm you with too many details, here is a bullet point list of what your plan needs to include – and what you need to research: 

  • Business concept 
  • Goals and vision 
  • Target market 
  • The team 
  • Business structure 
  • Business model 
  • Industry 
  • Long-term and short-term objectives
  • Products and services
  • Marketing plan 
  • Financial plan 
  • Logistics and operation plan 

And let’s not forget some of the most important aspects of your store: its name and its logo. Take your time with these two, if chosen wisely, they do wonders, if not, well, that will cause you trouble, so don’t rush.

Build the store 

Now, it’s time for the actual store. 

The above steps are the basics you cannot go without before building your store, and now that you are done with them, here we come to the store building. 

In order to build your store, you need to follow these steps: 

  • Choose an e-commerce platform

Your choice will depend on some factors such as affordability, user-friendliness, customization options, mobile accessibility, traffic capacity, and payment and data security. 

  • Purchase a domain name

Regarding domain names, avoid slang spelling, complex names, and generic ones. Keep it short, simple, and unique. 

  • Pick a fitting template

You need a template that visualizes your vision, easy to use, and has flexible customization options. 

  • Add your products 

The thing you’ve started your whole journey for, the products. Add eye catching photos, descriptions, and categories if needed. 

  • Set up payment options 

You have three options to choose from: redirection, off-site payment, and on-site payment. Your choice depends on the steps you want the costumers to take for payment, and whether you need a third party included in this process or not. 

  • Set up shipping settings

Decide on your shipping policy, are you shipping for free? Does the shipping fee vary? Do you ship internationally? Make sure to clarify your shipping policy so you don’t lose any customers. 

Keep in mind that you can never go wrong with extra help from experts, so find yourself a developer if needed. 

Building your own e-commerce store is surely a challenging journey, but our guide got you covered with all the basics and steps you need to take to make your wishes a reality.