Build An Ecommerce Site In 24 Hours Or Less
The 21st Century hasn't been easy for traditional brick and mortar retail.
Fortunately, holiday retail sales as a whole are forecasted to grow between 1.5 and 2.5% this year and ecommerce sales forecasts are extremely optimistic with double-digit growth projected in the following key gifting categories:
health and beauty up 23%
fashion up 19%
home furnishings growing 16%
At this point, you may be saying, "Great, how does that help me? I don't sell online and the holiday season is right around the corner."
Don't worry, it's not too late to sell online this holiday season.
You don't need a designer or a programmer to set up an ecommerce site for your business and it won't take forever to get started.
Read on to learn what it takes to start selling online in less than 24 hours.
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." - Benjamin Franklin
Taking some time for preparation will ensure that your project goes smoothly and is ultimately successful.
Launching an ecommerce website requires a combination of mental preparation and information gathering.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” - Henry Ford
The first thing to do is to prepare your mind by adopting a positive attitude.
It has never been easier to build an ecommerce store than right now.
You can do this!
Information and Assets
A can-do attitude will get you part of the way there, but you will need to gather some information about your business and the products you will be selling online to build your ecommerce site.
Make sure to have the following on hand before you get started:
General business information
legal business name
digital copy of your logo.
primary business email address(es)
business phone number
company mailing address
company billing address.
business credit card number information (card number, official name on the card, expiration date, and CSC number)
business bank account number and routing number.
Product information and assets
digital photo of product on a clean white background
digital photo of product being used (optional)
a short description of the product
a bulleted list of product features
current stock level for the product
Line Up a Techie Friend for Support (optional)
If you are comfortable with technology you can skip this step, but if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed it can be helpful to have a techie friend around to lend a hand if needed.
A good candidate will be someone who is:
Tech savvy. They don’t need to work in ecommerce or be a computer programmer. Think of the person you and your friends hit up for “tech support” in your personal life.
Trustworthy. They will have access to your business and financial information and should be someone you can trust.
Up for the task. You could be putting in a fairly long day staring at monitors. A reluctant helper can make a challenging job harder than it needs to be. You should find someone who is excited about the project and will enjoy the work.
Fundamental Steps to Launch Your eCommerce Web Site
To launch your ecommerce site you need to:
Register a domain name
Purchase a hosted ecommerce plan
Configure your ecommerce platform
Load your products
Tell people about your site
Register a Domain Name
What is a Domain Name and why do I have to register one?
A domain name is a sequence of usually alphanumeric characters (such as Merriam-Webster.com) that specifies a group of online resources (as of a particular company or person) and that forms part of the corresponding Internet addresses.
Examples of domain names include:
Why do I have to register a domain name?
Each domain name is unique and points to a single web site.
Domains must be purchased and registered to avoid duplication and confusion.
Many company's can sell you a domain name, but ultimately they are all assigned and managed by ICANN, a non-profit tasked with overseeing their global use and distribution.
How do I choose a domain name?
This may be a no-brainer, but if your business name is available, reasonable in length, and relatively easy to spell, you should try to use the name of your company as your domain name.
For example, if you own “Shenanigans”, you would register the domain name shenanigans.com.’
Unfortunately, domain names are a limited commodity and your company name may be already registered with another company.
Check to see if your domain name is available with this tool: https://www.godaddy.com/whois
What should I do if my business name doesn’t work or isn’t available?
Here are some options to consider if your business name isn't a viable domain name choice:
Combine your business name with other words to create a domain name
Use a business abbreviation or acronym
Use a non-dot.com top level domain name
Combine your business name with other words to create a domain name
Action, geography, Internet technology, and qualifying words can be added to your company name to create a domain name.
Internet technology words:
Use a business abbreviation or acronym
A business nickname or abbreviation or acronym may be easier to read, spell, and acquire than the full name of your business.
nytimes.com - New York Times
ibm.com - International Business Machines
Use a top level domain other than dot com
The top level domain is the extension after the dot in a domain name. Examples include:
If at all possible, it is best to use the .com top level domain for your business. It is far and away the most common and people will assume that it is your top level domain even if it isn't.
However, if you absolutely must have your business name without added words as your domain and the .com is unavailable, you can try an alternative top level domain.
It is best to avoid top level domain names that are clearly associated with a type of organization such as:
.edu (educational institution)
.gov (government entity)
.org (non-profit organization)
Good alternative top level domain names include:
Check out this list to see all available top level domains: https://data.iana.org/TLD/tlds-alpha-by-domain.txt
Set up your domain name hosting at Go Daddy
There are lots of places where you can register a domain name but I recommend using Go Daddy to register your domain.
They are well established, offer great customer service, thorough documentation, and a number of special options and features. It’s a little more expensive, but worth it.
Triple check your name before you register so you don't accidently waste money registering a misspelling of your domain name.
Be sure to deselect any additional services that you don't want to purchase that have been added to your invoice.
Consider buying a multiple year registration to save money and reduce the likelihood of inadvertently losing your domain by failing to renew it.
Purchase a Hosted Ecommerce Plan from Shopify
Hosted ecommerce plans are all-in-one solutions providing payment, hosting, editing, and product catalogs in one package.
I recommend using Shopify for the following reasons:
Popularity - over a million stores hosted in 175 countries
Support and documentation
Price - plans start at $29 a month
Scalability - the platform can handle any sales volume, growing with your business as needed
Flexibility - Shopify offers a large selection of templates, apps, and integrations to allow you to customize your site to meet your specific needs.
Configure Your Ecommerce Platform
Now that you have signed up with your hosted ecommerce provider, it’s time to grab your techie friend and start configuring your website.
The exact configuration steps vary and may change with upgrades, but typically, the following steps are required. (For the latest from Shopify, check out the video above)
Add Business Information
Your website will be associated with your business and you will be required to provide basic information about your business, which will typically include:
Your domain name
Your store name
Legal name of business
Digital copy of your logo
Add Contact Information
You will need to configure the site to include information used for communicating with prospects, customers, and your ecommerce provider. This will typically include:
Primary business email address(es)
Business phone number
Add Billing Information
You will need to configure a method for paying for the ecommerce services of your provider and should have your company credit card or the following information available:
Credit card type (MC, Visa, Amex, etc.)
Name on card
Add Payment Information
You will need to provide the following for the bank account that you want to use to deposit the payouts from your ecommerce sales:
Add Shipping Information
The shipping information allows you to set rates and choose carrier options for items shipped from your location to your customers.
Load Your Products
Now is the time where you load and organize your products.
Start out with your best sellers from a sample of categories. You can always add more later, so keep it simple to get started.
Begin by entering one item, testing and fine tuning it before loading the rest.
Be sure to take advantage of functions that allow you to duplicate and edit listings to save time when appropriate.
Need a little extra help, check out the video below from Shopify:
Select Your Theme
Themes are used to modify the look and feel of your site to better reflect your business. Shopify offers a number of themes for free as well as a marketplace of paid options from third-party providers.
Themes can be challenging to work with, but the video below is a great place to start:
Tell People About Your Ecommerce Site
Now that you have your exciting new ecommerce channel up and running, tell your customers, friends, and family about your new online store.
Be sure your customers know that they can buy from you online. Add your web address to all your marketing materials and messaging including:
Store signage (include front windows to drive traffic during off hours)
Friends and Family
I’m not suggesting you hit your friends and family up with a sales message
However, your friends and family care about you, know your business is important to you, and want to help you celebrate this achievement, so let them know by adding a mention and image in your social media and/or holiday newsletter.
Receive and Fill Orders
Now that you have successfully launched your ecommerce website, it is time to receive orders and begin filling orders.
Be sure to stock up on the following supplies:
Create a standard operating procedure for packaging and handling and train your employees as needed to fulfill orders in a timely manner.
Now that you have your basic ecommerce store set-up you have many options for improving and marketing your online store. Good luck!
Here are some resources to get you started: