In creating what we like to call an “online business blueprint,” the important basics all revolve around building, launching and growing a profitable online store.
Indeed, we’re not going to lie – starting an ecommerce business is hard work and demands a multitude of decisions and steps that need to converge just at the right time.
To help, we’ve put together a comprehensive blueprint for launching such a business which encompasses the most important tasks you’re likely to face when researching, operating and ultimately growing a thriving ecommerce operation.
1. Choose Your Product
Knowing exactly what products you want to sell is the first step when constructing an ecommerce business. While it seems almost rudimentary and elemental in nature, most entrepreneurs-to-be aren’t aware of the fact that this is actually often the most challenging part of starting that new online store.
In this step of choosing what product(s) you wish to sell, there is also the following to take into consideration:
• Evaluation of Your Idea – Once you have decided on a product, you must determine if it’s a viable item to sell. There are a few approaches that active entrepreneurs have utilized to validate their product ideas – as well as the prospective market they plan on selling in.
• Obtainment of Your Product – Following the establishment of a strong idea for a product, your next step becomes determining how and from where you’re going to obtain the goods; in this step is the consideration for making, manufacturing, wholesaling or dropshipping, as well as finding a manufacturer or supplier for your product idea.
In the world of marketing – of any kind – the notion of understanding what’s going on with your competition is extremely important. This, in turn, allows you to get a clearer picture of your immediate marketplace and what challenges may lie ahead…not to mention the myriad of benefits that come along with getting a leg up on the competition. As such, the number-one step here is research, because after you’ve decided on your product, evaluated its potential and sourced your supplier, it’s time to actually go to work.
• Researching Your Competition – Here’s where you begin really digging in, writing your business plan and all that encompasses. But before you get into that, it’s important to thoroughly research your competition so you know what you’re facing…and how you can make your business stand apart from the rest. (*We always suggest conducting what is known as a Competitive Analysis during this stage.)
• Writing a Business Plan – With your research concerning the competition complete, the next stage is to write your business plan; a business plan represents the roadmap that helps bring your thoughts and ideas together, and is a vital element in determining priorities and how to effectively reach prospective customers.
3. Setting Up Your Business
In this stage you will primarily be taking the following factors into consideration:
• Putting a name to your business
• Crafting a logo
• Grasping important marketing elements such as search engine optimization (SEO) and Magento extension
• Building your store
• Selecting your sales channels (Etsy/Shopify/eBay et al)
Let’s take a brief look at each of these now.
• Naming Your Business – Another challenging decision, beyond coming up with an actual product you can sell online successfully, is determining a name for your business or brand while choosing an appropriate and available domain name. Indeed, boasting a strong brand name provides you an immediate advantage when first kicking off your business, as the right name can be a brand’s most valuable asset, driving differentiation and speeding up acceptance…on the other hand, the wrong name can cost millions, whether in workarounds or lost income over the lifetime of a brand. What you want to do here is keep it short and simple, be different, consider your online presence, get creative with the domain name, be original and find new inspiration.
• Creating a Logo – Once a memorable name and registered corresponding domain is established, it’s time to craft a simple yet effective logo for your business/company/brand. There are a plethora of online resources to help you design your brand’s face to the world, as well as simple logo-making entities such as those available via Shopify.
• Understanding Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – This is absolutely vital for a modern business launching in today’s get-it-in-an-instant world; before jumping into building your online store, you need to understand the basics of SEO so that you can properly structure your site and pages for Google and other search engines. The key here is to what is called “rank” in these search engines, so that when prospective customers research a product such as the one you’re selling, your company pops up first in the search results. There’s a lot involved here, including keyword research and usage, so it’s best to turn to a pro such as Mageworx if you feel over your head.
• Building Your Store – Once you understand how important search engine optimization is, you can move on to building out your store. However, there are many critical elements to consider, including building high-converting product pages, writing awe-inspiring and attention-grabbing product descriptions, shooting gorgeous product photography and much more. Again, if you run into any issues setting up your store, you can always turn to help from Mageworx.
• Choosing Sales Channels – Here is where you reach prospective new customers by way of the sales channels they already shop; the right mix of sales channels is highly-dependent on your products and target customers, but there exists a number of ideal options that definitely compliment and support a self-hosted store. At any rate, some of the biggest channels you can choose include Etsy, Shopify and eBay.
4. Preparation for Launch
No, we’re not referring to a NASA command for a space shuttle takeoff protocol – we’re talking about the launch of your new business, as there are several shipping and fulfillment elements you have to prepare for, in addition to other factors that need to be considered. Some of these include:
• Understanding the ins and outs of shipping and fulfillment
• What you need to know about international shipping
• How to price and implement a strategy to handle returns
• How to reduce shipping costs as a small ecommerce operation
While this guide may seem a bit daunting, building your own ecommerce store is as exciting as it is challenging. It is our hope that the aforementioned information helps provide you with a more clearly-labeled roadmap to your success, and, as we mentioned multiple times in this post, if you run into any trouble along the way, the experts at Mageworx are standing by to help, even for applications such as Magento extension.