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A 10-step guide to launching your own eCommerce website

So you’ve sourced your products, decided to build your own store, and even come up with a name for your eCommerce business. Now, it’s time to launch your own website. But how?

Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re a seasoned Walmart, eBay or Amazon seller, building your own eCommerce website is a huge milestone. It can also feel like a huge task.

To help, we’ve put together a simple 10-step guide to launching your own eCommerce website – from picking a name to understanding your shipping options. For the purposes of this blog, we will be focusing on creating your own store in Shopify.

1. Sign up

First, you need to decide where to create your online store. There are many eCommerce platforms to choose from, but we’re focusing on Shopify because it’s simple to use, quick to set up, offers a free 14-day trial, and is powerful enough to handle your growth.

Begin by signing up for your Shopify account here and entering your email address, password, and a unique store name.

Source: Shopify

You’ll then be prompted to enter personal and business information. We recommend doing it straight away (before you forget) and we also recommend:

  • Setting up Google Analytics – it’s indispensable when working on reducing cart abandonment; and
  • Adding your credit card details – you don’t want to lose your work when your free 14 days are up.

2. Customize your store

Next, the exciting part: building your eCommerce store.

Buying your domain (optional)

Your domain is your website address. Shopify automatically allocates you a .myshopify.com domain, but if you’re serious about brand recognition and growth, you should buy a personalized domain name.

Head to your Shopify admin and click Online Store > Domains > Buy new domain and start searching for options. Ideally, it should be easy to remember, quick to type, and contain your brand name.

Picking a theme

Your theme is the backbone of how your website looks, feels, and acts for your customers, and it can heavily influence conversions. Head to the Shopify Theme Store to search the free and paid themes (all customizable without having to code), and look at example websites and reviews.

Tip: Ensure your theme is optimized for mobile.

Customizing your theme

Once you’ve picked a theme, you can begin customizing and aligning it to your brand. From the Shopify admin, click Themes > Customize and start adding colors, fonts, social media links, logos, and visual options (categories, menus, and items per page).

Source: Shopify

Here, you’re looking to create a good visual flow and seamless customer journey. Use plenty of white space, high quality (and quick to load) imagery, and a smooth layout that guides visitors to your buy button.

Adding content

Once you’re happy with the look and feel of your webstore, you need to edit the content. Begin with:

  • A home page;
  • A contact us page;
  • An about page (including shipping and returns information); and
  • Category pages.

Use clear and engaging words that excite your customers, and avoid large chunks of text. You want it simple on the eye, easy to follow, and, importantly, search engine optimized.

Adding extensions

You can enhance your eCommerce website with additional apps and integrations. The Shopify App Store has thousands of apps ranging from adding ratings and reviews to managing your Shopify inventory, but don’t get too carried away. Too many apps, or poorly designed apps, can slow your website speed and reduce conversions.

3. Add products

What’s an eCommerce website without any products? But first, you need to decide where you’re getting your products from.

Dropshipping or not?

If you haven’t already decided, you’ll need to pick between sourcing and buying products yourself, or dropshipping. With dropshipping you market and sell the products of a third-party supplier, while the third-party supply stores and ships the products directly to the customer.

The benefits of dropshipping can be great for new businesses but can also be outweighed by poor delivery standards, limited inventory visibility, and low-profit margins. An attractive alternative is self-sourcing products and using an outsourced fulfillment provider to store and deliver.

Adding a product

To add a product, enter the Shopify admin and click Products > Add products and complete the product details including:

  • A clear, concise, and accurate title;
  • An informative and SEO-optimized product description;
  • Clear, high-quality and optimized images; and
  • Any other relevant information such as price, SKU, and variants.
Source: Shopify

Organizing your products

Organizing your products into collections (for example womenswear and menswear) makes it easier for your customers to navigate your website. Create collections on the Collections page, and select whether you want to manually allocate products or have them automatically assigned.

4. Choose a payment gateway

Next, you want to ensure that you can take payment for your products. Select a payment gateway using the Payments section on the Shopify admin. The top things to consider when choosing a payment gateway are:

  • Transaction fees – these are taken on top of Shopify’s transaction fees;
  • Payment options – the more payment methods you accept, the more customers you appeal to; and
  • On-site checkout – keeping payments on-site ensures a seamless customer journey.

5. Set up your taxes

Depending on where you are located, you may need to charge your customers sales tax. Head to Settings > Taxes, where you can add tax regions and select options such as all-inclusive pricing, shipping rate taxes, and taxes on digital goods.

6. Create shipping rules

The next step is to consider your shipping strategy and creating shipping options. Does it make sense to offer free 2-day shipping, similar to Walmart’s fast shipping program?

Fast shipping can be more expensive than standard shipping, but it can also do much for your conversions. We’ve seen sellers get 900% sales boosts when offering 2-day shipping on their listings. One strategy you can consider is offering 2-day shipping on your popular items to increase their traction, and self-fulfilling slower-moving items on standard speed.

When you know what strategy you should follow, decide how to fulfill your Shopify orders. Fast delivery is important to 99% of US consumers, so we recommend picking the option that will guarantee your customers their orders on time.

You have two choices here:

Self fulfillment

This means fulfilling orders from your home or warehouse and handling labels, packaging, and shipping yourself. This can provide a useful insight into your business if you’re just starting out, but is difficult to maintain as your store gains traction.

Outsourced fulfillment

This means partnering with an outsourced fulfillment solution that handles storage, packing, shipping, and tracking. Shopify integrated fulfillment solutions are a popular option for eCommerce stores wanting to benefit from expertise, unlimited staff, and preferential delivery rates. Plus, with Deliverr, onboarding takes just two minutes.

Once you’ve decided your method, you need to determine your fees.

Free shipping

90% of customers are encouraged to buy when offered free shipping; It’s a customer favorite. Reduce the costs of providing free shipping by using all-inclusive pricing and unbranded packaging.

Tip: Use our fulfillment calculator to see if outsourcing your fulfillment can further reduce your shipping costs.

Flat rate

Determined by destination, weight, or value, flat shipping rates are great when selling items of similar sizes and weights. Howwever, when items vary this can be costly to either the customer or the seller.

Real-time carrier rates

Shopify connects with certain shipping carriers to provide real-time shipping rates. This, however, is only available on the most expensive Shopify plan and it doesn’t let you offer preferential rates.

Once you’ve decided how to ship and how much to charge, head to Settings > Shipping to add shipping origin, destinations, weights, sizes, and rates.  

Source: Shopify

7. Test

Now, for the reveal-all: the test. Before going live, it’s crucial to test your eCommerce website, specifically:

  • Accessing your store;
  • Browsing the products;
  • Buying a product (you can use Shopify’s bogus gateway, but we prefer using the real payment gateway to ensure it works – just be sure to cancel and refund immediately); and
  • Testing multiple devices.

Was it quick, did you find what you wanted, were there errors, were you drawn to the checkout, were the shipping options clear, did your inventory update itself? Ultimately, would you buy from you? If not, tweak your eCommerce store until you would.

8. Market

Going live is no fun without any customers. Create and start a pre-launch marketing plan that utilizes social media, videos, advertising, discounts, and blogs to generate excitement and gain followers. It’s also a good idea to think about your post-live Shopify marketing tactics.

9. Go live

Start the drum roll and get ready to cut the ribbon as you prepare to go live. If you’re still in your 14-day trial, you’ll need to pick a plan and then, head to Online Store > Preferences and uncheck the Enable password page option and click Save.

10. Expand

Congratulations – your eCommerce website is now live, but the work doesn’t stop there. Once you’re open for business, you need to start working on your next challenge: expansion.

Multi-channel selling

73% of online shoppers use multiple sales channels for making a single purchase. Customers look at reviews, check out competitors, and sometimes prefer buying from a brand they trust.

Integrating online marketplaces with your online store is essential for capturing these customers, and it’s easy when using multi-channel fulfillment providers, cross-channel inventory tools, and multi-channel listing software.

Outsourcing fulfillment

If you chose self fulfillment at step six, you might find keeping up a struggle as you begin to expand. Outsourcing your fulfillment in part or in full takes the pressure of meeting strict delivery deadlines off, especially during peak seasons.

It also has added benefits when selling on multiple sales channels, enabling you to qualify for fast shipping programs such as Walmart Free 2-Day Shipping.

Getting reviews

95% of consumers are influenced by reviews. Give customers positives to talk about such as timely tracking information, excellent customer service, and quick deliveries and ask them to review you using Shopify integrated ratings and review software.

Final thoughts

There are many benefits of having your own eCommerce website, and with Shopify being so simple and easy to set up, there’s no excuse to not have one. Take your time, build with your customer in mind, and never stop testing or asking for feedback – it’s the key to growth.

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