You’ve decided to launch an ecommerce business, joining hundreds of thousands of others who are already doing business online. You have a lot of things to consider as you prepare to launch your website, some of which have the potential to make or break your business. The following are a list of questions to ask yourself before your big launch, to help you have a sound plan for starting your ecommerce business. Hopefully, the list will generate a bunch of other questions and considerations – some that you may not even have thought of. Use this as a way to inspire continued research and make the best decision for you to launch an ecommerce business.
- How Much Do You Expect to Sell?
An ecommerce business is no different than any other business: you need to have a business plan. Forecasting sales is an important part of every ecommerce business plan. It helps you know how much to invest, how much inventory to order, and what you can afford to spend for hosting and web development.
That said, you may have no idea how much you will sell. That is where research comes in. Look to competitive sites and market industry information to help you launch an ecommerce business.
- What Will Your Site Be Like?
There is a ton to consider when it comes to your ecommerce website. Luckily, in 2016 we no longer have to be web design experts to get a sleek looking website. WordPress, Wix, Shopify, and countless others offer beautiful pre-made customizable templates. However, if you’re interested in self-hosting your ecommerce site, you’ll need to research cloud-based open source ecommerce shopping carts, preferably in conjunction with shopping inventory management software. If so, keep in mind that you will have to budget for that in your business plan and what would be good to launch an ecommerce business.
- How Will You Manage Inventory?
Your products are your business so you need to always be on top of your inventory. Inventory considerations include whether or not you plan to keep stock on hand yourself or use a third-party fulfillment solution, like Amazon FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon). Accurate management of your inventory is crucial. How will you make sure that you don’t oversell or overstock your products? Investing in inventory management software is something you should consider. Make sure that whatever you choose integrates with other programs you plan to use. For example, if you plan to use QuickBooks for your accounting, find an inventory management solution that works with QuickBooks Online.
- What Type of Payments Will You Accept?
How do you want your customers to pay for their purchases – credit cards, PayPal, or other payment options? The goal of an ecommerce business is to sell products broadly, so you have to accept as many different kinds of payments as possible. If you find this an inconvenience, just remember that every payment option you don’t accept is a market of customers that you’re boxing yourself off from.
- How Will You Keep Your Customer Information Safe?
You will collect a lot of customer information while operating your ecommerce business. How will you protect it? If you are going to accept credit cards, you have to abide by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards. Other information will need to be protected as well including customers’ names and addresses. Have a plan in place that will ensure your customers’ privacy.
- How Will You Fulfill Orders?
When you have your site up and going, what will order fulfillment look like? Will you be handling it yourself, using third-party fulfillment, or starting your ecommerce business with dropshipping? Consider using order fulfillment software to ease the process.
Another plan to iron out is which carriers you will use for shipping, and how shipping will be managed. Will you need to purchase packaging supplies, or will your order fulfillment be done elsewhere?
- What Will Your Customer Service Look Like?
Your customers will want to communicate with you, and you have choices on how they can do that. Will you use email, provide a customer service telephone number, use live chat, or other methods of communication?
Unfortunately, you will likely have a customer complaint at some point. When it happens, you will be better equipped to handle it if you already have a plan in place. On the flip side, you’ll also want to consider how customers will be able to leave their positive comments and feedback as well. If you use a marketplace like Amazon, eBay, or Jet, it’s already built into the platforms. If you go another route, you need to figure out how to include reviews, ratings, and/or comments on your site.
- How Will You Engage Your Customers?
Marketing your products and making your site engaging will increase your bottom line. How will you make your site stand out? Consider adding a blog to your site, using social media, or some other form of marketing and customer interaction to launch an ecommerce business successfully.
- What Else Do You Need to Consider?
Ideally, the above questions will have sparked even more for you to be able to launch an ecommerce business. The considerations may seem endless, but the more you prepare, the better off you’ll be when your site goes live and you begin selling. Many ecommerce businesses are extremely successful, yours can be too when you take the time to research and weigh options, come up with a plan, and use the right tools.