If you are thinking about starting an online store, there has never been a better time than now with this ecommerce checklist. With over 230.5 million U.S. online shoppers predicted for 2021, 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.
#1 Choose a Name for Your Business
Assuming you’ve already decided what products to sell, the next thing to do is come up with a name for your business. Be creative! You want something catchy that customers will remember. Need help? Give these ecommerce domain name generators a try.
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
Next, secure your domain name. Hopefully, if you used the domain generator above, you know whether it is available or not. If it’s not available, try to make your domain name something similar and memorable.
You have a lot of options for your ecommerce website. Some options 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. Check out our post to see which shopping cart is best for you business.
#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. Depending on your ecommerce business model, the license options may differ.
#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 Suppliers
This step requires time and research. There is a lot of competition in the ecommerce world, so you want to find the best products that are also affordable to sell in your store. If you create your own products, the same goes for the 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 ecommerce inventory solution. It’s difficult and inaccurate to try to keep track yourself.
If you’re going to focus on dropshipping, there are also dropship management software solutions available. Most ecommerce software providers offer a free trial period. Take advantage of those trials to find one that works for you.
#9 Prepare Your Inventory
Make sure you have enough inventory to get started and have it organized. Not only is it tricky to not know how much you’ll need, but trying to forecast with unorganized inventory can be a nightmare for new companies. Check out this inventory guide for multichannel sellers for an in-depth look at inventory organization.
Keep a close eye on sales so you know what to order for each season and start paying attention to trends.
#10 Stay in Compliance
Things will move quickly once you’re up and running. Be sure that you’re staying compliant with online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. Also, it is never too early to think about your ecommerce tax situation including state tax collection and specific deadlines for ecommerce businesses.
Are You Ready to Sell?
If you’ve checked off all the above steps on the ecommerce checklist, you’re 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.