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7 Things You Need To Do Before You Build And Launch An Online Store

7 Things You Need To Do Before You Build And Launch An Online Store

Are you ready to launch an Online Store? It’s super exciting when you get that sudden stroke of inspiration to start a new business. You can’t wait to rush in, and get started building and branding. Your vision is blooming in your mind and thanks to the internet, all the tools you need to create it are right at your finger tips.

I don’t want to put you off starting in e-commerce at all. I love that rush too! It’s a special feeling that only a new idea can instil inside. However, when you’re building an e-commerce business, the mistake most people make is not starting at the real beginning.

Many entrepreneurs skip some really important steps, and jump straight into building their fancy new website without doing their due diligence.

In this post, I’m going to show you where you should really start when building a new online store. These seven steps will give you all the information you need, to build your online boutique into a profitable business. 

Before You Launch an Online Store

While the seven steps I’m about to discuss with you aren’t the most fun or glamorous things to do in business, they are all incredibly important to the future success of your online store.

In this post, I’m going to give you a quick overview of each step so you can see how they all link together. I will then be going deeper into each of the steps in subsequent blog posts – when you’re ready to move onto each step, just follow the links in this post. I have also created a great cheatsheet where you’ll find all the worksheets I mention in this post.

Once you’ve completed all these steps you’ll be clear on…

  • How big the market opportunity is.
  • What products you’re going to sell and where you’ll get them from.
  • Who your ideal customer will be.
  • What your business will be called.
  • And what you need to get setup in order to sell legally.


If you don’t fancy reading, I’ve created a matching video for you on my Youtube channel Uplevel Your Online Store (you’ll find it further down this page) or you can listen to the podcast episode on iTunes or your favourite podcast player 🙂

7 Things You Need To Do Before You Build And Launch An Online Store

Pre-Build Cheatsheet

I’ve popped all these pre-build steps into a great cheatsheet and it’s waiting for you right now. It’ll guide you through all seven of these important steps. Don’t skip it!

Enter your name and email address below to grab your FREE copy of my Pre-Build Cheatsheet.

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I never spam and you can unsubscribe at any time. You can check out the privacy policy here.

Step #1 – Market Research / Competitor Analysis

While a great idea is a wonderful place to start, it’s really important to dig a little deeper before you jump in and start building your new business.

This is where Market Research comes in. It’s one of the most important steps in making sure your idea will be profitable in the long run.

E-commerce market research is all about finding out about your possible competitors, the profitability of the niche you want to focus on, and how many customers are looking to buy what you’re hoping to sell.

I’ve created a great guide to help you through the process, providing you with the tools and information you’ll need to build a wildly successful store.

Doing this research will also provide you with some great ideas on how you can beat the competition and improve your eCommerce business so that customers will love shopping at your site.

Why is Market Research Important?

Market research and competitor analysis is incredibly important for your business because if the market is crowded, or there aren’t enough potential customers you’re going to struggle to get sales. The sooner you know if this is the case the better!

Also, if you’re planning to sell a product that has a very low profit margin, you’ll find it hard to make any money even if you have plenty of sales coming in.

If your competitors have consistently sold similar products for a low price, you’ll need to work out if you can match it, or set a better price by adding more bonuses for your customers (such as higher quality, better design, or improved service).

What you need to do is…

  • Find out who else is already selling similar products,
  • Research how many customers are looking for those items online,
  • And learn the average selling price for similar items,


I would suggest spending a few hours doing the basic market research and competitor analysis worksheets that I have included with the cheatsheet (download your cheatsheet here), to get a good overall view of the market for your product.

How To Do eCommerce Market Research For Your Online Store

For more information on how to do Market Research and Competitor Analysis for your new e-commerce business just click the link. It’ll take you to an in-depth guide on how to complete the worksheets I’ve created for you.

Step #2 – Product Research

Once you figured out how big the market opportunity for your products is (having done the research and competitor analysis mentioned in step #1),  it’s time to go a little deeper on the product research.

This is where you will decide if you’re going to create your own products or curate a selection from other brands.

You’ll find out:

  • The wholesale purchase price of your products (if you curate).
  • The costs involved with making your products (if you create).
  • Where you plan on buying them from (you’ll need suppliers if you curate or create).
  • The timescales involved.


Without a product to sell, you don’t have an online store – it’s as simple as that. 

And, if your products cost too much to buy or make, you’ll never make any profit and could end up losing money. For that reason it’s super important that you don’t skip really researching your product.

I’ve created a handy worksheet to help you with this step – it’s in the cheatsheet you should have already download (you can grab your copy here).

For more information on the best way to complete your product research, check out the in-depth guide I’ve created for you. Just click the link below.

https://www.elizabethdrew.co/productresearch

Step #3 – Ideal Customer Persona

Does the perfect customer exist? Oh yeah they do! But you have to know who you’re looking for!

I’m going to walk you through how to decide who your perfect customer is, as well as the best way to design an ideal customer persona (or avatar – you can choose what you call it) that you’ll then use throughout the process of designing, creating and building your e-commerce business.

Getting to know your ideal customer is really important for your business because…

  • You’ll be able to sell the products your perfect customer actually wants.
  • You’ll stop wasting money on marketing that’s failing to speak their language.
  • You’ll be welcomed into their tribe as one of them.


In the cheat sheet you’ll find a page dedicated to creating your stores perfect customer.

If you need some extra help, which many people do around
customer personas, I want you to check out the blog post below. It’ll give you lot’s of additional information about how to design a customer who perfectly embodies your future business.

https://www.elizabethdrew.co/customer-persona-for-ecommerce-store

Step #4 - Business Plan

Firstly, let me just say, creating a business plan really doesn’t need to be scary or intimidating. It’s just a way to write down all the important parts of your business so that you can see how each element works towards the successful running of the store.

Now I don’t believe you actually need to write a 60 page mega document – your business plan only needs to be one page of A4 to be incredibly useful. I’ve created a great template for you to use, it’s in the cheatsheet so just use that!

You’ll find a link below that will take you to a blog post I’ve written that takes you through each section of my one-page business plan – so please don’t worry if it looks a bit complicated, it’s actually pretty simple!

https://www.elizabethdrew.co/businessplan

Step #5 – Deciding Your Business Name

Yay 🙂 This is where we are getting into the fun stuff!

You are now ready to find an amazing name for your online store.

On this page of the cheatsheet you are going to brainstorm lots of possible names for your online store. Go crazy here, and write down anything that pops into your head.

Now, I want you to keep your ideal customer in mind – what name would resonate with them.

Once you’ve finished brainstorming, cross out any names that your customer would definitely not love.

Next, you’re going to need to check to see if any of the names left on your list are already trademarked – if it is, you’re unfortunately just going to have to cross it out and forget about it.

Next, for the remainder of names on the list,  it’s time to search for an available URL, and matching handles for the social platforms you plan on using.  

Once you’ve checked the name is available and you happy with it, it’s time to secure it!

Here’s what you need to do now:

  • Apply for the trademark in the main country you plan on selling in.
  • Purchase the URL.
  • Set up a matching business email address.
  • Claim the name across social media.


You want to have the name fully legally secured before you launch!

7 Things You Need To Do Before You Build And Launch An Online Store

Pre-Build Cheatsheet

I’ve popped all these pre-build steps into a great cheatsheet and it’s waiting for you right now. It’ll guide you through all seven of these important steps. Don’t skip it!

Enter your name and email address below to grab your FREE copy of my Pre-Build Cheatsheet.

Yes Please!

I never spam and you can unsubscribe at any time. You can check out the privacy policy here.

Step #6 – Budget

Woop woop we’ve reached step six! Now we are going to get stuck into those dull but very important numbers.

Having a clear budget, and knowing how much money your new online store is going to cost to set up, launch and run on a monthly basis, will help you avoid cashflow issues in the future.

Use the budget page of the cheatsheet to write down all of the costs involved with…

  • Building and launching your store
  • Buying inventory
  • Monthly running costs such as:
    • Warehousing
    • Insurance
    • Software


The actual list of expenses needed to run an online store is actually much longer than this.

Make sure you include as much as you can, but also leave room for emergencies and unexpected costs – trust me, there definitely will be some.

You’ll also need to think about how much you’re willing to spend on marketing. And, if you don’t currently have the cash available for all the costs you’ve written down – you’ll need to work out where you’re going to get it from.

Step #7 - All The Legal Stuff

Last but certainly not least, you need to make sure your business is set up legally.

Now, because this can vary depending on the country you’re selling in, I‘ve just created some key areas you will need to look into.

This list is by no means exhaustive, so make sure you do your own research and get everything setup so your business is fully above board.

You need to look into:

  • Tax
  • Company structure
  • Insurance
  • Employment Responsibilities
  • Business Bank Account
  • Legal Documents for your website such as:
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms and Conditions
  • Oh and don’t forget about GDPR!


If you’re unsure about anything legal, I highly recommend seeking professional help. Yes it costs money, but it’ll be worth it down the line.

Subscribe & Review in iTunes

Are you subscribed to my podcast? If you’re not, I want to encourage you to do that today. I don’t want you to miss an episode. I’m adding a bunch of bonus episodes to the mix and if you’re not subscribed there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on those. Click here to subscribe in iTunes!

Now if you’re feeling extra loving, I would be really grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too. Those reviews help other people find my podcast and they’re also fun for me to go in and read. Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favourite part of the podcast is. Thank you!

Links & Resources Mentioned In This Episode

  • Link Mentioned

 

I really hope this post helps you work out if starting an eCommerce business is a good option for you, and gets you started on the path to a profitable online store in the best way.

Trust me, doing this exercise is so valuable to your business – don’t skip it! I’d love to hear about your thoughts, questions and plans. in the comments below 🙂

Chat soon, 

Elizabeth

Elizabeth Drew

Elizabeth Drew

Elizabeth Drew is a British e-commerce entrepreneur and coach. She is the owner of online scented candle retailer Osmology and is passionate about helping women realise their online business goals.

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Elizabeth Drew

Elizabeth Drew

Elizabeth Drew is a British e-commerce entrepreneur and coach. She is the owner of online scented candle retailer Osmology and is passionate about helping women realise their online business goals.

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