Starting An Ecommerce Store: The ULTIMATE Checklist

If you’re just starting out with your ecommerce store, it can be overwhelming. There are a lot of things to keep track of and think about…So let us help you out a bit.

Here is a checklist of all of the things we think you should consider as you go about launching your new store.

Already have a running ecommerce store? Don’t worry, this is a good reminder of everything you should be doing on an ongoing basis, so read on!

Get clear on your company vision internally

That is to say your brand. Make sure that not only you as the founder knows who your company is and why you are in business, but that this is communicated clearly throughout your entire organization. Your company is more than what it sells, so don’t just jump straight to the product and shipping something out the door. Get everyone in your organization on the same page, establish your culture, and align your core values.

Get clear on your target customer

Make sure you know who your ideal customer is. We don’t mean just basic demographics and some vague idea of what they might like. We mean intimately. You need to understand your customers habits and behaviors, their likes and dislikes, and most importantly, their pain points. Thinking through this in detail will not only validate whether or not your products will work with this audience, but also how to reach your ideal customers (through which channels and which types of messaging).

Define your external messaging

This should flow out directly out of your brand and your target customer. It is a combination of the two. Your external messaging should clearly answer how your brand solves a pain point for your ideal customer. Answer the question, “How are you going to make their lives easier and/or better?”

Write an about you page or section for your store

Customers feel more comfortable buying products online from companies they know, so include information about who you are, what the company is about, and what it stands for directly on your site.

Include proof you are reliable and trustworthy

Customers also feel more comfortably buying products online from companies they trust, include trusted symbols ensuring the safety of your checkout process, and make sure information about guarantees and warranties are readily available.

Buying something online from a new source can be stressful and scary for a customer, so be open, transparent, and consistent throughout your site and help allay their fears.

Provide helpful decision making tools along the conversion path

Another way to combat customer’s fears or distrust is to answer their questions before they even ask. If you’re selling clothing, include fit guides. Include testimonials on your site and ratings and reviews on your product pages. If you have any questions that comes up commonly via email or phone, add this information visibly to your site so that your customers don’t even have to ask.

Including this type of information reduces friction in the conversion funnel and will help your customers make a decision quickly when buying your product.

Make sure that your product lives up to the promise you make to your customers

You should be promising to solve a real pain point for your target customers through your messaging. Make sure you live up to this promise. In fact, you should not only live up to it, but exceed your customers expectations to make sure they come back again and again.

Choose an ecommerce platform

Unless you plan to build and maintain a custom ecommerce platform (which we highly recommend against as it’s rarely worth the investment for large corporations, let alone new stores starting out), you’ll need to select an off-the-shelf platform through which to run your store. We typically like Shopify, but it will depend on your specific store and needs. Any off-the-shelf platform will come with plenty of templates to choose from to get you started.

Make sure you have stellar product photography

You are not going to sell anything without product photography. But it’s better to have no photography than bad photography, because bad photos will hurt your cause even more.

So the moral of the story is you’ll need to have great photography in order to sell. No photography or poor photography is simply not an option.

Also make sure to have photos of not only your product alone, but also in context. When customers can see your product in use, it helps them envision it in their own lives, increasing conversions.

Write product descriptions of the right length and depth

The key is to provide enough detail for someone to make the buying decision, but not so much that you overwhelm them. Customers need to quickly be able to scan product information and details to evaluation whether a product is right for them or not.

If you can afford it, we recommend investing in a copywriter. Great product descriptions make all the difference (especially when accompanied by great photography).

Add social proof and reviews to your site

Trust is transferred. Customers are more likely to have confidence in your ecommerce site if others are giving you good reviews. Make sure to be asking customers for reviews after they purchase to build up your social proof.

Design a visually appealing and easy to user site

It is best if you can design the front end of your ecommerce site from scratch, as you can personalize it to your products and your brand. However, even if you don’t, there are great templates available that provide a good user experience. Make sure to choose one that will be intuitive for your users to follow.

Define your KPIs and make sure that you have a plan to track and monitor them effectively

Data will help you make smart marketing decisions in the future, but you have to be tracking the right metrics. Figure out which metrics a are key for your company’s success. And beyond that, have a plan for how you will use these metrics to make realtime decisions to adjust your marketing strategy to improve your business.

Be hyper-focused on customer acquisition

There are many really good ways to advertise these days where you can know your exact ROI. Target your audience with the right message and through the right channels and track your results so that you know where to spend more money and where to pull back in your marketing.

Build contextualized landing pages for all your marketing campaigns

If you are spending money to direct traffic to your site, make sure to design accompanying landing pages that “maintain the scent” or your campaign messaging and ad copy. If you are offering a discount or feature a particular product, this better show up on the page they customer lands on when they click on your ad. This will lead to a much higher conversion rate than simply dropping users on your homepage or a product category page.

Make the price of shipping transparent up front and don’t ever be late on delivering your product

Many customers won’t consider shopping on your site if they can’t get free shipping, at least above a certain threshold. Typically we recommend following this pricing strategy for shipping. If you do charge for shipping, make sure that the price of shipping is clear from the get go. If it is a surprise at the end of checkout, you’re likely to get lots of people dropping off.

Commit to excellent customer service

Your customer comes first. And the surest path to make your customers loyal to you is by going above and beyond if/when they have a question or a problem. So train stellar customers service representatives and wherever possible be generous with your customers.

Offer a worry free purchase experience

Another way to turn your customers into loyal fans? Remove all of the risk. Offer money back guarantees, warranties, and/or free and easy returns.

Plan offers and promotions and make them shareable

Some businesses refuse to offer discounts or promotions on their products because they think it will lower the perceived quality of their product or brand. While we understand this thought process, price and quality do not have to be linked. Let your product quality speak for itself.

Promotions are a great way to get the word out about your company, especially when you are just starting out. And whatever you do, make all of your promotions easily shareable so that customers can spread to word for you.

Set up follow ups for abandoned carts

Following up on abandoned carts is low hanging fruit. These customers have gone through the trouble of exploring your product category and adding items to their cart. They’ve expressed sincere interest, so don’t just let them go if they don’t complete the checkout.

Include retargetting campaigns in your marketing mix

This is another great way to follow up with clients that have visited your site and has a high conversion rate, especially if they’ve made it to product detail pages. Just make sure you don’t freak out your customers by following them around the internet too soon or too often.

Set up post conversion emails

Conversion should not be the end of the story. People that have bought from you before are likely to purchase again, and if they become fans they might even share your brand with their network. So make sure to use email marketing intelligently and keep the communication coming. Build a long term relationship with your customers by providing valuable content to increase your customers’ lifetime value.

Tired yet? It’s not a short checklist, but these are all things you should think through when launching an ecommerce store.

Bonus points if you do the following as well:

Be optimizing your site experience continually through CRO

With CRO (conversion rate optimization), you can systematically and scientifically grow your conversion rate over time, making all of your marketing campaigns more effective. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it is.

Learn more about CRO and what a vital role it plays for your ecommerce store.

Personalize your on-site experience for your customers

Wherever possible, use personalization software to make your experience more targeted and relevant for each individual customer that visits your site. This software dynamically changes your site experience in real time based on a customers data, history, and behavior.


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