If you are thinking about starting an online store, there has never been a better time than now with this ecommerce checklist. With over 217 million online shoppers predicted for 2017, you can bet that there will be customers waiting for your products. But you may be unsure about where exactly to start, so we have put together a simple ecommerce checklist you can follow to starting an ecommerce business and get it up and running.
Steps to Starting An Ecommerce Business
#1 Choose a Name for Your Business
Assuming you have already decided what you will be selling, the first thing you need to do is come up with a name for your business. Be creative! You want something catchy that customers will remember.
Once you’ve narrowed your choices down, you will want to make sure no one else is using the names on your list by doing a corporate name search online. When you’ve found your perfect name, be sure to register it with your county clerk or state agency (depending on where you live).
#2 Secure a Domain Name and Website
First secure your domain name. Hopefully, the name of your business is unique and not being used. If it’s not available, try to make your domain name something similar and memorable.
You have a lot of options for your website. Some website publishers are free, but you pay for add-ons. For example, you can set up a WordPress website for free, but hosting and selling with Woocommere will cost a little extra.
#3 Decide on Your Business Structure
The next step is to decide what your business structure will be. You have a few options:
- Sole Proprietor
- Partnership (if you are working with someone else)
If you don’t choose to operate as an LLC or corporation, the IRS will automatically consider you a sole proprietor. One drawback to choosing a sole proprietorship is that it doesn’t protect your personal assets. If you are ever sued, your personal assets can be seized if your business doesn’t have enough money to cover debts.
The best thing to do is check with a professional for advice on which business structure is best for your situation.
#4 Get an Employer Identification Number
Every business needs an Employer Identification Number (EIN) even if you are the only employee. It will help you to open a business checking account and with filing your taxes.
#5 See If You Need a Business License
Some locations require that ecommerce businesses (even sole proprietorships) obtain a business license or other permit. Check with your city, county, and state governments to see what is required in your area.
#6 Locate Your Vendors
This step requires time and research. There is a lot of competition in the ecommerce world, so you want to find the best products for the best prices to sell in your store. If you create your own products, the same goes for your manufacturing materials. Check pricing and quality, but also look at any customer reviews or ratings of your potential vendors to see if other customers are satisfied.
#7 Market Early
You don’t have to be ready to sell to start marketing. Set up social media profiles for your business and get started with a “coming soon” page. Include relevant content to get your potential customers interested and excited.
#8 Find the Right Software
Even if you are going to be running a small business, getting the right software can save you a lot of time and money. If you plan to sell your products through multiple channels, it’s essential that you look into a multichannel inventory solution. It’s difficult and inaccurate to try to keep track yourself. If you are going to use a dropshipping system, there are also dropship management software solutions available. Most ecommerce software providers offer a free trial period. Take advantage of that and find one that works for you.
#9 Prepare Your Inventory
Make sure you have enough inventory to get started. It’s tricky to not know what you’ll be needing, but you want to be sure that you don’t run out of product. Keep a close eye on your sales so you know what to order. If you have invested in ecommerce software, the inventory management tool can help you with forecasting once you’ve started to sell.
#10 Stay in Compliance
Things will move quickly once you’re up and running. Be sure that you are staying compliant with online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. Also, it is never too early to think about your tax situation. Make sure that you are not missing any important deadlines with the IRS.
Are You Ready to Sell?
If you’ve checked off all the above steps on the ecommerce checklist, you are ready to launch your ecommerce business. Now the fun begins! Stay on top of inventory, customer service, and compliance and the sky’s the limit.