Setting up your first online store is a daunting task. There is a lot you can get wrong at the beginning, and while it is possible to course-correct later, finding success is easier when you start with a strong grasp of the fundamentals. Here are some tips that will help you launch your online store on the right foot.
1. Choose the right eCommerce platform
Your chosen eCommerce platform won’t just be the place where your online store lives. You will to a large extent, be confined to the plugins and tools available on that platform after that store launches. You will also have to deal with their fees and monetization practices. And moving your store to a different platform down the line can be a difficult process, meaning you will likely be stuck with your first eCommerce platform for a while.
Platform owners know this, and while there are plenty of great eCommerce platforms out there, some will try to hoodwink users into a terrible deal by hiding fees and other costs in the fine print. Often tying additional fees to how many sales your store makes or how much traffic it sees. You should be careful and stick to reputable platforms when creating a store. If possible, check what platforms your competitors are using.
2. Offer plenty of payment options
Accepting payments online isn’t as hard as it once was, and there are plenty of tools that integrate with popular eCommerce platforms to enable payments from a variety of sources. It’s a good idea to do some research to make sure you’re offering at least as many payment options as your competitors do or as many options as you can practically offer at this early stage of the store.
Customers hate having to jump through hoops to complete payments. And if you don’t take payments in their favorite method, some of them will abandon the cart instead of trying to work out an alternative.
3. Plan order fulfillment
When order fulfillment systems work well, customers never even think about them. But when you’re launching a store, getting order fulfillment right is a huge part of the job. You need to make sure customers can go from clicking “buy” to receiving their package without a hitch. Leave too many kinks in the system, and those hiccups will lose sales and damage your reputation.
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4. Study your competition
You can avoid a lot of rookie mistakes by studying your competition, as well as stores run by other beginners. Go check their stores, identify their target audience, pay attention to their presentation and product selection, etc.
The more you know about your competitors, the easier it’ll be for you to find ways to offer more value than them. And learning their strategy and history can also help you avoid some of their past mistakes.
5. Get quality assets
First impressions matter, especially when a store is new on the market. You don’t have to spend hundreds on web design and product photography right away, but you should at least make sure your online store looks good across desktop and mobile. And whenever possible, use professional photos used by the manufacturer, rather than trying to take them on your own.