You’ve done your homework and worked hard to prepare your eCommerce business for it’s debut.
But before you hit the publish button, go over this checklist — or a version tailored to your business — to make sure you’re ready to fly.
You don’t necessarily have to cover every base before getting up and selling; you can always update and tweak your eCommerce site once it’s live.
On the other hand, the more professional your business looks and operates from the get-go, and the fewer snags you run into, the better. Some advance preparation should help.
1. Consider your name and domain.
The right business name should attract attention and help you sell your products or services. If you haven’t done so already, put some thought into a name that reflects your business’s personality and will appeal to your target customers.
Perhaps a whimsical or edgy image fits your venture, or a straightforward moniker that makes your business’s purpose clear.
A group of PR and marketing pros on Forbes.com give several tips on picking a name, including figuring out your brand identity, which takes awareness of your desired market, culture and values. They also suggest making the name short, distinct and simple, possibly even concocting an entirely new word.
A moniker like Blue Mountain Vineyards describes the nature of the business and creates an image of its country setting, while Harper’s Chic Closet offers a sense of the “savvy and chic” children’s clothing boutique.
Among other considerations, the Forbes PR pros recommend choosing a name that reflects your company’s story.
The Naked Goat Soap Co. brand aims to convey something about both the merchandise and the company’s focus on simple, pure, “farm fresh products.”
Naked Goat’s owner addresses the name on the company’s website: “The name of our company is simple too. Defined, ‘naked’ means to be without decorations or clothing. Our soaps and other skin care products are just that. No dyes, no additives, no hardening chemicals – simply naked.”
SCORE also offers several tips on picking a name, including ways to distinguish your business as a consumer-facing tech firm (simple one-word names are popular), a B2B service (they tend to choose straightforward brands), an old-fashioned shop (think “vintage”) or a business with a regional tie (popular foods or beverages, for example).
Experts also suggest doing research to avoid potential trademark infringement, starting with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website.
Beyond that, a Google search can help show if any competitors are using the same or a similar name. As for your web address, it’s easy to conduct a domain search to see whether your chosen name is available, and to find close alternatives if it’s already taken.
Be sure to register your business with relevant government licensing and taxing authorities.
2. Create a sleek online shop.
You don’t have to hire a web designer to have a professional, sophisticated eCommerce site, thanks to user-friendly DIY web builders that make it easy even for a tech novice to create a sharp online shop.
Weebly’s drag-and-drop website platform features a wide selection of appealing pre-fab themes, or digital templates, geared toward online stores. Themes give even solopreneurs the chance to showcase products and events like the savvier major online retailers, offering in a few clicks an elegant structure that might otherwise take hours or days to build.
3. Set Up Your eCommerce Features.
Weebly themes and other visual features integrate seamlessly with our eCommerce platform, enabling you to incorporate helpful marketing tools such as email sign up, customized email templates, coupons, promo codes, gift cards and Facebook Ads that you can create directly from your site.
Guided onboarding support makes it easy for people with no coding or design experience to set up shop, helping proprietors apply payment and shipping options, print shipping labels, track orders, automatically calculate sales taxes and analyze site traffic.
Make sure you’re aware of and ready to use the relevant marketing and analytics tools available for your online store — and to download the mobile app if you want to manage your store on the go.
4. Tell your story.
Companies that tell a good story — whether it’s about their origins, their products, their social mission, or all three — often find it easier to engage visitors and turn them into customers.
Do you have a good “about us” or “our story” section?
Is it easy for visitors to quickly discern exactly what your business does?
The story should draw readers in but not overwhelm them. In fact, you may be able to tell it with a simple slogan, or in two or three lines.
Consider lining up a few evergreen blog posts that touch on topics related to your products or company values, or that your target audience members would find interesting. Perhaps you can tie your posts to holidays or seasons.
Before going live, check spelling, grammar and content across your site, not only for typos but for anything that may be unintentionally off-putting.
If you don’t have time or interest in producing copy yourself, consider contracting with an experienced writer for your website’s content and blog posts.
Customers want to know they can reach you if need be, so make sure your email address and phone number are easy to find, if that’s how you choose to be contacted, or easily add a contact form.
If you don’t have it already, consider creating a business email address that incorporates your domain name.
SCORE, among other recommendations, suggests making your pricing, shipping costs, refund policies, return procedures and any other pertinent information clear and easy to find.
While it’s important to dot i’s and cross t’s, don’t wait for perfection before launching your website. As Voltaire is believed to have said, “The best is the enemy of the good.” Or as one Weebly-based entrepreneur recommended, “Just start wherever you are.”
You can’t sell online without getting online, so do your best to prepare, then take that big step and turn on your digital “open for business” sign.