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Oct 10, 2016
14 min of reading
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur associates are their own.
Some experts predict that e-commerce will surpass $ 2 trillion in the next few years – it is the fastest growing and one of the most valuable industries.
When you can shop online, check out freely, and conveniently get your favorite pair of jeans, a nice new watch, or even a custom PC shipped straight to your doorstep, you might think that the process is not that complicated.
As a digital marketer, I have helped many brands increase ecommerce sales. It made me want to start my own ecommerce site so that I could truly understand the process and what it takes to start an online store from scratch.
Below are tips and tricks that I learned over the course of a year that my sister and I needed to launch DermWarehouse, an e-commerce site that sells skin care and cosmetics products. The steps below will not only provide the fastest and most professional way to get your website up and running, but it will also set up your marketing and SEO for future success, which will increase your final result.
One year SEO strategy.
If you’ve never started an ecommerce store from scratch, it’s impossible to understand how demanding and detailed the process is. When looking at any ecommerce site, you never think about the fact that someone had to create content and load each product individually. Not only that, you need to negotiate with each manufacturer to be able to list his products online, before the actual listing process even begins.
In addition to all the work it takes to create a website, from the experience of my marketing agency, I realized how frustrating it is to have this functioning website and business model that you have worked so hard to do but not generate organic traffic. So, we started our SEO strategy early, one year before launching the site, while establishing our website. We needed this time to develop, so why not make the most of and kill two birds with one stone.
Below is a list of all the steps we’ve taken to get started and build our ecommerce site successfully:
1. Buy a domain name.
It’s pretty simple. You need a domain name that will perfectly identify your brand. Do not overlook the process. Using a site like GoDaddy, you can buy a domain name for less than $ 10.00.
Related: How to Choose and Buy a Domain Name
2. Find a web developer.
This is a key component in running your ecommerce site. If you want to run a site in a relatively short time and in a professional manner, be sure to give advice when it comes to hiring a developer. Get references from other ecommerce sites developed by the developer. Get a timeline for how much they’ll predict to launch the site. Make sure they have a graphic design background so they can crop images that will align with your site. Be sure to ask if the developer has experience in creating websites on the ecommerce platform you choose (see step 4).
Too often, entrepreneurs are moving forward with developers without careful research. Do not let this happen to you, as it can stop your site before you really get started. If you would like to know more about how long your ecommerce site is running, feel free to contact a web design expert.
Related: 5 tips for hiring a great web developer
3. Get all the paperwork you need for a legitimate job.
Register your business, get a vendor license and start studying legal business issues. You should contact a local attorney to help create your business. While this is an upfront expense, it will save you significant headache and expense in the future.
According to Alyson Letsky, an attorney at Eastman & Smith Ltd. in Columbus, Ohio, you will first need to strategize and determine the state in which you wish to reside, and then check the required filings with the Secretary of State and the Departments of the State of Taxation or Revenue.
You must register the relevant incorporation or organization deeds with the Secretary of State if you are running a corporation, a non-profit limited liability company, or a professional organization. In addition, if you are going to make taxable sales, you will need to obtain a seller’s approval or a seller’s license with the appropriate state agency. Many suppliers will require you to have this before they agree to work with you.
If you are starting a non-profit organization, contact the Attorney General’s Office to find out what charitable licenses and applications are required. Lastly, you will need the appropriate organizational documents. Contact your lawyer for more information, but this is not a step that should be skipped or overlooked.
Related: 4 Legal Documents to Review Before 2017
4. Choose an ecommerce site and hosting platform.
To save time and money, choose a popular ecommerce platform. I recommend Shopify, WooCommerce or BigCommerce. Most developers are familiar with this, making it easy to integrate plugins, process payments, and more.
For our skincare e-commerce site, we decided to use WooCommerce because of its WordPress capabilities. We chose WP Engine for hosting, which costs $ 29.99 per month and provides a fast and secure hosting solution.
Related: Are Ecommerce Solutions Overweight Available? Here are the top 4.
5. Find a topic that matches your vision for e-commerce.
To save even more time, you can buy a theme from ThemeForest to find the look that reminds you of the look and feel you want from an ecommerce perspective. ThemeForest has over 28,000 templates and themes for the $ 2 website. They are the number one marketplace for website templates.
Do not invent the wheel. Instead of building your site from scratch, download a template from ThemeForest or a similar site. We have learned from experience that the adjustment process can be very timely and frustrating. So, if you can find a theme you like, you will probably save yourself quite a bit on your head.
Related: 5 Store Color Modes Can Affect Customers
6. Keep your website live.
As soon as you commit to starting your business, get your site live, even before listing any of your products. Have the developer create you a homepage, a “About” page, and a contact page. It may not be pretty, but the functioning of the site will be useful for a number of reasons:
First, it will allow you to establish legitimacy when negotiating supplier contracts. You will have more than an idea. Second, when they reach out to reporters and bloggers, they can see that you have a website and they are credible. Third, it will give you a place to link all those sources back to your site, which of course is crucial to building SEO.
Related: Five Things to Check Before Your New Website Becomes Active
7. Assist the Journalist (HARO)
Help the Journalist (HARO) is one of the greatest PR and SEO tools that any business owner or digital marketer can leverage. It’s free, creates incredible exposure (if done correctly) and can really be a game changer (again, if properly executed).
HARO provides journalists with a robust database of upcoming stories and everyday sources of resources to ensure valuable media coverage. Sign up and use this resource as much as you can to build credibility and build media relationships for your site.
When it comes to HARO, there are several key components to enforcement. First is timeliness. When a reporter queries, he or she can receive hundreds of pitches in response. Each query has a deadline as well, so make sure you answer immediately, in the morning, afternoon and evening for both reasons.
Another key element is finding the right industry expert with ease of access. Fortunately, we had a dermatologist available at all times for DermWarehouse. This gave us an edge over thousands of parcels of entrepreneurship (to which we continued to respond but had a lower conversion rate).
If you waste time and submit two runways daily for a one-year period, you will get great exposure on some of the most popular websites. Not only will this increase your brand exposure, it will also greatly help your SEO.
Related: 5 Media Getting Tips To Swipe Right In Your Press Release
Developing relationships with media contacts is very important. This is where Pitchbox comes from. Pitchbox automates fieldwork so you can focus on what you do best – creating real relationships between people and the people you want to make. Pitchbox helps you scale your efforts. It handles all aspects, from searching to emailing to monitoring and managing while working.
After PitchBox sends the initial step, if someone does not respond, their SaaS software will send an email tracking based on a timed schedule. You can create your own emails (both initial and later) so that the message still sounds personal.
Pitchbox starts at $ 95 for startups and is a great resource for building quality relationships. We used this service to spread our suppliers and to inform the media. It saved us a huge amount of time. If you are also a Moz user, you can integrate Moz into Pitchbox, allowing you to filter search results based on domain authority.
Related: 7 Tips To Master The Fine Art Of Tracking
9. Personalized information.
Personalized relationships are very important for both suppliers and the media. If you have successfully implemented an SEO strategy, you definitely understand the value of personalized relationships.
Make sure you value something on the site. It’s important to do research on journalists and editors so that when you present them with an idea of a story, the email isn’t buried in your inbox or unread.
Let’s say your ecommerce store sells “Pete’s Pasta Sauce.” Share your expertise through articles that teach readers and cooking enthusiasts about your most delicious recipes. Send the editor a sample of pasta sauce to explain why your pesto stands out from the competition.
If you sell only your homemade pasta sauce, you will not engage with suppliers, but if you sell different brands and products, you will work closely with those suppliers. Or at least you should have been!
Pick up the phone or meet your coffee partner. Suppliers are people who dictate sales and promotions. They can keep you up to date on the latest trends for their brand to help you improve sales. They are the people who know the most about the products you sell, so it is very important to establish relationships with them. Let them know you are a team and want to work with to achieve success for both of you. They will appreciate it and think of you whenever they have a special job or promotion or even a great marketing idea. If you’ve built a relationship with them, your site will want to share these ideas and offers.
Related: Why a Phone Call is Better Than Email (Usually)
10. Get the payment gateway.
Ever wondered how credit card payments are accepted on e-commerce websites? This is through the payment gateway and the credit card processor. You are probably best known with PayPal or Stripe. But if you want to accept credit cards, recurring payments, and mobile payments, a gateway like autorize.net or 2Checkout.com offers great options. WooRockets.com offers a great list of “5 Best Payment Gateways for Ecommerce Websites.”
Approval for a gateway and credit card processor is not an easy process, so research and make sure you are ready. Before you can log in, you’ll need to set up a secure sign-out process on your website, create Privacy and Return Policy, come up with shipping and shipping methods, plus have a phone number and email address to work with.
All this information should be visible on your website. Make sure you also have a clean credit history, US driver’s license or government ID, US bank account for your job, and a federal tax code. You will need a canceled check (or bank letter with your account information), and it is also a good idea to include a cover letter with your application explaining your business and why you will be successful.
Setting up a payment gateway and processing your credit cards can take some time. These processors do not want to take the risk of a job with no experience or it is unlikely to be successful, so you have to prove to them that this is not the case with your company. Do not wait until the last minute to begin this process.
Related: 5 features to look for when choosing the right e-payment model
11. Google Shopping + Facebook Product Catalog.
We have talked a lot about building your SEO presence during the development process, so instead of waiting for a website to be created and SEO completed from scratch, you can start strengthening your SEO while your developer plugs into your site.
There are, however, some things that you cannot complete until the site is ready to launch and all products are not uploaded. When you are in the final stages of development, be sure to set up a Google Shopping campaign to ensure that your product images are filled when users search for relevant keywords. If you are unfamiliar with Google Shopping, I give step-by-step instructions on “4 Easy Steps to Set Up a Google Shopping Campaign Through the Merchant Center.”
You can use the same feed from the mall and upload it to your Facebook product catalog.
Related: Knowing Google for introducing geographic purchase alerts
12. Order packaging and think of shipping / storage options.
Before launching your site, you’ll need to think of how to store and upload your inventory. You must specify storage to negotiate with vendors. Some of the questions you will need to answer are the following:
Will you use drop shipping or will you store all your inventory in storage? Will you use USPS, UPS, FedE or some combination of trios to send and track packages? What will you ship your package to? What is your packaging size? Will you include any promotional material in your packages? Are there any shipping restrictions on any of the products you offer (e.g., are there any cosmetic products that can only be shipped via country)?
You need answers to all these questions before you are ready to ship any goods. As you can see, running an ecommerce site is a pretty involved and detailed process. By following this list, you will be guaranteed to take the appropriate steps to launch your site in a timely manner while being active with your SEO and marketing.
Thanks for visiting our site. As a way of saying "thanks" here's a FREE course on how to make $688 a day online using FREE methods: