Your Checklist for Launching a Successful E-commerce Business

Your Checklist for Launching a Successful E-commerce Business

In many ways, it’s never been easier to launch a retail business. E-commerce technology has made entrepreneurship incredibly accessible, lowering the threshold to entry considerably. But just because it’s easy to launch an online store, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to succeed. Not every e-commerce shop makes it, and the line between failure and success can feel merciless.

One way to position yourself for success is to do plenty of prep work, ensuring you have the right structures in place for longevity and impact. Here’s a checklist to get you started.

Table of Contents

A Checklist for E-commerce Success

1) Choose your product or niche.

Here’s a simple starting point: Think about what you’d like to sell! This may be a product you happen to feel especially passionate about, but it may also be something that just happens to make economic sense. For example, you might want to take into account factors like ease and cost of production, along with ease and cost of shipping. Thinking in terms of your audience, defining the niche you’d like to zero in on, can also help you identify the right product or family or products.

2) Know your market.

Once you’ve identified an e-commerce product, it’s time to investigate its viability in the marketplace. Do some research to understand the competitive landscape. In particular:

● Use surveys and demographic research to get to know your target audience.
● Create buyer personas, outlining the basic needs, goals, values, and pain points of your target consumers.
● Make a list of the biggest competitors in your field, and try to articulate some of the ways in which your e-commerce store will be able to stand out.

3) Develop a business plan.

Business plans can serve as roadmaps for your business, not necessarily spelling out every granular detail, but offering a general sense of your strategic trajectory. For example, your business plan should discuss:

● How will you make revenues? Which products are most lucrative/beneficial to meeting your sales goals?
● How will you market your business and bring in new customers?
● What are your revenue goals for the first six months? The first year? The first five years?
● Relatedly, how long do you think it will take for your company to break even?

4) Establish your business as an LLC.

Registering as a Limited Liability Company can provide tax advantages and also shield your personal wealth from potential lawsuits. Registration for an LLC can look a little different from one state to the next, but the general process looks like this:

● Choose someone to serve as your Registered Agent.
● File Articles of Organization with your state.
● Pay the state-specific filing fee. (For example, consider how much does it cost to set up a Texas LLC?)
● Claim an Employer Identification Number from the IRS.
● Make sure you have an Operating Agreement in place to outline how your LLC is run day-to-day.

Note: LLCs are not the only legal structure for e-commerce companies, but they are among the most advantageous.

5) Choose your e-commerce platform.

You’ll need robust technology to power your e-commerce business. There are plenty of options to choose from, but they aren’t all created equal. Compare a few different platforms, considering factors like:

● Scalability.
● Compatibility with different payment gateways.
● Inventory management options.
● Customization options.
● Total fees and cost.

6) Develop your website.

Your online storefront can be make-or-break for e-commerce success. Some factors that are especially salient include:

● Fast loading times.
● Mobile optimization.
● Clear, consistent calls-to-action.
● Security.
● A simple site structure with easy-to-use navigation.
● Plenty of unique, original copy on each individual product page.

7) Consider different inventory management options.

There are different ways to approach inventory management for your e-commerce business. With most inventory management models, you’ll need an efficient inventory management system to track stock levels, forecast sales trends, and prevent stockouts or overstocking. An alternative approach is to partner with a print on demand fulfillment company, which allows you to avoid the need for warehousing and for overinvesting in inventory.

8) Market your business.

When it comes to e-commerce success, effective and efficient marketing is a must. There are a number of strategies you can use to bring shoppers to your digital storefront, and in truth, you’ll probably benefit from implementing several of these strategies in harmony. Examples include:

● An investment in ongoing SEO for your e-commerce website.
● Influencer marketing on social media, including micro-influencers who are tailored to your niche.
● Unboxing or product demo videos, providing customers with a clearer sense of what you’re selling.
● Social media, including both paid and organic.
● PPC advertising.
● Online review generation and response.
● Email marketing, allowing you to remain in contact with previous shoppers.

9) Plan your customer service offerings.

Robust and responsive customer service is essential for any successful store, and that very much includes e-commerce.

Consider ways to keep pace with customer questions and concerns. Some options to explore include:

● AI-powered chatbots.
● Email support.
● Phone support.
● Customer service via direct messaging on Instagram or other apps.

10) Keep an eye on your analytics.

Finally, remember that even a successful store can be optimized for ongoing improvement. To ensure you’re iterating your site in a smart, strategic way, make sure you’re monitoring your key performance indicators. Some numbers to keep an eye on include:

● Website traffic.
● Conversion rates.
● Average order value.
● Customer lifetime value.

By incorporating website analytics in your online store, you can ensure up-to-date information about the life of your shop and the behavior of your customer base.

Establish Lasting E-Commerce Success

From marketing to legal matters and from inventory management to analytic assessment, there are countless ways to position your online retail business for ongoing success. Use this checklist as a jumping off point as you seek to build a thriving online business.

Author Bio

Picture of Amanda E. Clark

Amanda E. Clark

Amanda E. Clark is a contributing writer to LLC University. She has appeared as a subject matter expert on panels about content and social media marketing, and is an expert in advertising for e-commerce businesses.

June 3, 2024

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