With hundreds of millions of online shoppers, starting an eCommerce website and online business seems like a great decision. But to make it successful (and legal) there are step you need to follow. More and more businesses are either starting up online or creating an eCommerce website to sell their products on, so competition is always growing. Read through the points below and make sure you have your checklist covered!
If you're an established business and you're starting an eCommerce website then you already know what products you'll be selling, but if you're a new business or want to dive into the eCommerce business world, this is where to start. Consider how competitive different markets are and the potential profit margin of the items you'll be selling. It's much easier to be successful in a space with larger markups. We've seen some of the most successful eCommerce businesses sell some pretty strange items, so think outside of the box!
Coming up with a catchy name can set you apart from your competition, so spend some time making sure you nail it. Plus, changing your name isn't an easy thing to do, so chances are you'll be stuck with it for quite a while. Also, consider search engine marketing and the domain name you'll be choosing. Including keywords in your name can have a big impact on you future marketing effort (more on that later). Use online tools to see if other businesses already have your name. Read up on tips to make your business name great.
There are multiple options for the way you legally structure your business:
If you opt from choosing a structure you will be considered a sole proprietor for your taxes and by the IRS. There are many things to consider when choosing your structure, mainly responsibility if you were ever sued, so be sure you talk with an attorney to make the right decision. If you're a corporation or LLC your business assets and personal assets will be separated and protected.
Every business has EIN (Employer Identification Number) and you'll be asked for this by your bank, when you file your taxes and more. An EIN is very similar to a personal social security number, but its for your business. Even if you're not planning to have employees, you'll still need to get one.
Business permits are different on a state by state, sometimes county by county based, so be sure to check what permits you'll need. Because you're an online business you shouldn't need as many (depending on what you're selling), but chances are you may still need a few. Calling a local attorney is an option or do your research online. You can also call up your city town hall and ask them to point you in the right direction. Remember, all cities are looking for new businesses to boost tax revenue, whether it be online or offline, so they are willing to help.
How you'll be stocking and shipping your products and inventory is a big decision to make. Many online business drop ship, meaning they never touch the product, but many manufacturers have also moved away from drop shipping Depending on what you're selling, drop shipping may or may not be an option. If you're going to be stocking items, be sure you have the space to do so and an insurance plan to protect your assets from theft or fire.
Running an organized business from the very beginning will make future growth much easier. Use software such as QuickBooks to get started and be sure to set it up to match your business model. This will allow you to do your taxes quicker when the time comes around, but will also allow you to run profit and loss statements and other helpful reports. Knowing where your business stands financially at all times is extremely important and will help you make informed, smart decisions.
Choosing your domain name is as important, if not more important, than the name of your business. You'll want to pick a domain name that includes keywords, if possible. As your domain name gets older and older it will rank better in Google and the other major search engines, so you'll want to stick with the domain name you choose from the beginning. Also, be sure its easy for customers to remember.
The fun begins when it's time to get designing your eCommerce website! Main critical decision and the success of your business begin here, so don't take the decision lightly. There are two main points to consider:
Check out the following guides:
The speed of your website will be largely dependent on website hosting. Who you need to use for hosting will be based on the eCommerce platform you decide to use. If you're using a hosted eCommerce shopping cart provider, hosting will be provided to you within the cost. If you're using an open source platform (Magento, NopCommerce, Onveos, etc.), then you'll need your own host. You web design company will be able to point you in the right direction, set up and configure the account for you.
If you build it, they will not come! Having a solid marketing plan is the foundation for the success of your online business. When running an eCommerce business being on the first page of Google and the search engines when customers are looking for your items is paramount. There are two ways to achieve being on the first page of Google:
Check out the following guides:
There are many softwares that you'll want to use to track the success of sales and your search marketing campaign. Tracking your stats and getting a pulse for the business and trends will allow you to make smart business decisions. While software costs can rack up a bit, it's well worth it to know what's going on and stop "guessing".
Basic Recommended Softwares: