Starting an online business can be exciting, to say the least, but it is in this excitement and anticipation that many forget to build a reliable business plan and checklist that reliably guides them through the planning, execution, and scaling stages of their business. For example, while it is often advertised that starting an online eCommerce business is easy, many forget to mention that there are still licenses, market research, and other business tasks that need to be taken care of long before a storefront is developed. Even after launch, maintenance is required. If you are interested in selling products online but want to ensure that you do not set yourself up for failure due to a lack of preparation, here are 6 things you must do before launching an eCommerce marketplace.
1. Determine Your Target Audience
Every eCommerce marketplace specializes in a specific niche, which is what allows them to market themselves successfully and grow their customer base. It’s much easier to grow your business around one kind of product than to sell a ton of products that are of lesser quality. With that in mind, take a moment to figure out what type of product you want to sell. Are you looking to sell products in the beauty industry? Do you want to sell home goods that will make things easier for people in the kitchen? Figuring out your product and your ideal customer is the most important step in this process. If your product doesn’t sell, your business doesn’t grow!
2. Develop A Sustainable Business Plan
Once you have a successful product in mind, the next step is to take that idea and map it out. You shouldn’t only focus on immediate success and growth but on your future growth as well. How are you going to scale your business over time? What will make you a brand that people will want to go to for years to come? How are you going to maintain profitability? Taking the time to create a serious business roadmap that outlines all of the aspects of a great business, the challenges you will face (and how you will overcome them), and what you need to do in order to change for the better is the only way to succeed.
In addition to your business, you should also consider what tools and employees will go into your business growth. For example, thinking about scheduling social media using automation software or using ecommerce accounting service to streamline the financial side of things are all topics that should be touched upon.
3. Come Up With Your Brand
With a product in mind and a business plan in hand, the next step is looking at the small details of your business. Aspects like your logo, your store’s name, and your overall brand tone and style go a long way in marketing. If you choose names, images, logos, and content that aren’t attractive, you are going to have a harder time achieving success. Truly think about the direction of your store’s brand and what design aspects are going to be needed in order to make you a top seller in this competitive market.
4. Uncover the “Why?” Behind Your Marketing Strategy
Why are people going to buy from you? How are you going to convince them to do so? If you can’t answer these two questions, chances are that you are not ready for the world of online sales. Determining how you can draw people into your store and convince them to not only purchase your products but to come back from more is the only way to stay in business. Take some time to think about what makes big online marketplaces successful and how you can personalize that to meet your own needs.
5. Figure Out How To Distribute Your Products
There are many ways that you can choose to distribute your products. If you are in control of your inventory, you can store and ship your own products. If you are not looking to deal with the hassle of self-storage and the costs of shipping, you can choose a dropshipping company to handle the hard part for you. Do your research and make sure that you have access to the products you need long before you go online.
6. Figure Out What Licenses You Need (And Prepare for Any Legal Issues Ahead of Time)
Every business comes with paperwork, and every business decision that you make will impact what forms you need to file. For example, you may need to register with your state, apply for a business permit, and report your business name if you are starting an eCommerce marketplace. Make sure that you go through the state and federal laws and requirements to avoid any legal issues after launch. Additionally, you consider your legal needs in the future. If your company grows, you may want to consider other counsel like that of a FINRA arbitration lawyer if you plan on selling securities and other stock.
Once you have all of these steps taken care of (and you have created your website and double-checked your processes), you will be able to launch your own eCommerce marketplace. If at any point you come across problems, you can refer to this guide to help you get back on track and re-establish your footing as an online store.