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E-Commerce Tips

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In this post, I am showing you the best way to start an eCommerce website. There are many ways in starting your eCommerce store(like shopify,woocommerce,magento,bigcommerce, other shopping cart softwares etc). I assume you want to start an online ecommerce store, but you are not that sure about how to start it. This post helps you to start your eCommerce website in the best way.

So whats the best way to start your e-commerce store?

Answer: Bluehost+WordPress+Woocommerce+Woocommerce Theme.

Hmm… So what made me come to such a conclusion?

I am a Web Developer and has been working with various eCommerce platforms like Magento,Shopify, Opencart,Bigcommerce and many others(for 8 years) for various clients. I have also developed a shopping cart software. My judgment comes from this solid experience working in the eCommerce sector.

These are the factors I’ve considered in coming to this conclusion

  • Pricing – Woocommerce is totally free while for hosted shopping carts like shopify, bigcommerce etc , you need to pay life long(also a small amount of your sales as fee). Consider long term, even if you are using the most basic plan of shopify, you have to pay $3,480 (for 10 years). If you are going for higher plans you have to pay $35,880(plus the per sale fees). Keep in mind that its real hard to change the ecommerce platform once its chosen(you have to re-add the products, keep the url structure and all, believe me, its a real pain).
  • Design – I’ve developed some woocommerce themes for themeforest. And I can confidently says that woocommerce themes are the most good looking themes available in the industry. Themeforest wont approve sub standard designs, and you can see that a number of new woocommerce themes gets uploaded day by day in themeforest. All the designs are highly competitive, code is well written and highly secured.
  • You keep your code – If you are running an offline store, its better you be the owner of your own property right? By using woocommerce, you can achieve this. All the code, transactions etc will stay on your own server.
  • Light weight and fast loading – One of the biggest mistake in my life was to start an ecommerce store in magento for one of my important online business. Magento was notorious for slow loading speed and complexity, yet I decided go with magento(as my partner was a fan of magento, there was a general conception that woocommerce is suitable for small scale online business). But after 1 year of launch and facing lots of issues(like slow loading, bad feedback about design(we were using a magento theme), hacks(the store was hacked regularly)) we decided to change the store to woocommerce. Things got better afterall, the store loaded in seconds and the sales improved.
  • A wide range of plugins and easy customization– The WordPress plugin library is filled with woocommerce extensions. There are lots of free woocommerce plugins for many functionalities. Also, when it comes to customization, its far easier to customize woocommerce compared to magento and all.

So hope you are convinced with what I said from my experience.

Now, let’s have a look at 4 steps in starting an eCommerce store

Step 1: Register a domain and setup a hosting

The first step is to register a domain. You need a domain name for your e-commerce store, if you are not sure about your domain name, this article will help you in picking the right domain name for your ecommerce store.

Luckily, bluehost offer a free domain name along with their hosting, so that you can have it all in one account.

So, these screenshots will help you in setting up your bluehost account

1: Select the Pricing Plan

Bluehost does have 3 major plans(basic,plus and prime). To set up your first eCommerce store, I’d recommend you to take the basic plan. Initially, your blogs wont be having that much traffic so that the basic plan will be the perfect one to start with. Later on, once you build some traffic(visitors) to your blog, you can updgrade to bigger plans(this can save you some good money). The basic plan is $3.95 while plus and premium plans are $5.95 per month.

Well, you can go ahead with the plus or prime plans if you can get good amount of traffic initially. I am not at all against these plans, but what I meant is that you can always upgrade to higher plans anytime you want. This might probably save you some bucks.

Recommended: Basic Plan

bluehost-basic

2 :Register the domain

Enter the domain you want to register for your e-commerce store. You can enter a domain if you already have one, bluehost will show you how to transfer the domain to bluehost server.

bluehost-1

3: Fill in your details and the payment details.

bluehost-2

I am highly recommending you to uncheck the following options(which can save you some good money). Moreover, you don’t need this in the initial stage.

  • Domain Privacy Protection – Only select this if you want privacy for your domain,. Means you dont want to disclose the identity of the domain owner
  • Site Backup Pro – Your blog wont be having tons of contents intially. So that, it wont be hard for you take backup initially. You can easily take your blogs backup using the Backup WordPress plugin. You can always select this option later(if you need this)
  • Search Engine Jumpstart – This is not necessary, you always have the yoast seo plugin to make your blog seo friendly
  • Site security lock – Not needed intitally, you can use this later once your blog gets established. This can save you some money

I am saying this because I dont use any of these additional features for my eCommerce store and everything is super cool for me.

Again, its all up to you, if you think you need privacy and backup feature, just go for it.

Approximate Pricing for Bluehost: 45-72 USD a year

Step 2: Install WordPress in your domain

Now you’ve set up the domain and hosting. The next thing is installling the WordPress in this domain in your bluehost. The one click install of bluehost makes this process so easy(like installing a software in your pc). If you want a complete guide about installing WordPress in your bluehost account, read this tutorial . I’ve given a quick tutorial below about installing WordPress in your bluehost using 1 cilck installation.

1. Login to your bluehost and select the Install WordPress option.

step 1 installing wordpress bluehost

2. Click the Install Button

step 2 clicking install button wordpress bluehost

3. Select the domain you want to install WordPress
step 3 selecting domain to install

4. Enter the WordPress site title, username and password(to access the WordPress admin dashboard of your website)

step 4 setting wordpress user name and password and installing

5. Completing the WordPress Installation

step 5 installation complete and logging in

6. Logging into the admin dashboard using the admin URL
step 6 logged in wp panel

Step 3: Install Woocommerce plugin in your WordPress

Now lets set up the WordPress ecommerce (Woocommerce) store.

1. Select Plugins>Add New
Once you log in to the dashboard, select the Plugins> Add New button

woocommerce1

2. Search for “Woocommerce” and Press enter

This will prompt WordPress to search for the Woocommerce in the WordPress Plugin Repository. The Woocommerce Plugin will be shown in the list. Click the install button to install Woocommerce
woocommerce-install

3. Activate Woocommerce

After all you need to activate the Woocommerce. After activating woocommerce, you will be directed to a small survey page. You can select the Not Right Now(which can save 3 minutes of your life time) or complete the survey.
woocommerce-3
That’s all! You are done! The store functionality is ready.

Step 4: Buy a Woocommerce theme and install it in your WordPress website.

The next step is to buy an apt Woocommerce theme for your woocommerce store. I would only recommend themeforest woocommerce themes as they have the best quality and the most good looking and high quality WordPress themes available in the industry(I’ve developed many WordPress themes for themeforest and their quality guidelines are top class).

Download the WooCommerce theme(installable zip file) and upload it to the WordPress theme directory.

Go to Appearance>Themes>Add New>Upload Theme

 

theme

 

Once the theme has been uploaded you have to Activate the theme.

Approximate price of WooCommerce theme – 50$

Step 5: Integrate a Payment gateway in your WordPress-Woocommerce store.

After uploading a Woocommerce theme, your store will be ready. Now you need to integrate your payment gateway into your Woocommerce store. You have to take an account some payment gateway which is convenient for your like(stripe,braintree or whatever).

You’ll get WordPress integration plugins for the payment gateway you are using. For instance lets try an example with stripe.

Go to Plugins>Add New and search for “Stripe” and press Enter.

stripe

 

Select the right plugin you are looking for and install it. Here you can use the first one and second one(I prefer the second one).  Make sure, the plugin does have good start rating (I’d say something above 3.5).

Install the plugin and Activate it.

Configure the payment gateway plugin

You can configure the payment gateway at Woocommerce> Settings > Checkout > Stripe Payment

 

stripe-payment

I am saying about Stripe here. If you are installing another payment gateway, you can take the settings of that payment gateway.

You have to enter your stripe account credentials here, like Secret Key, Publishable Key, Live Secret Key, Live Publishable Key etc. There are two modes Test mode for test transactions and Live Mode for live transactions.

Any payment gateway should have these basic configurations.

How to integrate Paypal with Woocommerce.

Go to the same Woocommerce payment checkout settings

Paypal comes default with Woocommerce, so you don’t need to install any separate plugin for that.

Woocommerce> Settings > Checkout > PayPal

You can enter your paypal email, paypal receiver emails etc.

Once you’ve saved the settings, you can see the payment gateways integrated automatically in your checkout page.

Have a look at how I implemented paypal and stripe in my checkout page.

woocomerce-checkout

 

You can select your preferred payment gateway and make the payment and complete the purchase.

That’s all with setting up your first eCommerce store! And all under 100 $.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial in setting up the best ecommerce store for you using WordPress and Woocommerce.

You can contact me to help or implement an e-commerce website for you (I won’t be charging for the first 50 enquires).

 

 

Introduction

If you’ve decided to start on online business, I’d say its one of your best decision in the right time. The eCommerce sales graph is rising year by year and the amount of money spent through these eCommerce websites shows no signs of decline . Studies shows that eCommerce business are achieving a growth rate of 145% annually. According to the recent studies by Ernst and Young, the total revenues of the online consumer and retail products for the calendar year just completed were around $25-30 billion. In this eCommerce era, where many offline businesses are beaten by online businesses, its not at all a bad idea to get online.

So, before starting your eCommerce business, you do have to depict a clear business plan. In this blog post I’ll help you to develop a complete eCommerce business plan. We’ll this business plan is completely in the perspective of your ecommerce store only, I havent covered the other financial/tax aspects of your ecommerce store. I have written everything you need to plan about your ecommerce store.

The whole 45 plans are segmented into 5 sectors,

  1. Market Study.
  2. Website(Ecommerce Store and technology).
  3. Sourcing(Inventory) and Shipping Plans.
  4. Marketing and Brand Building Plans.
  5. Financial Plans.
  6. Monetizing Plans.

1. Market Study

As like any other business, market study is very important for your online business. You cannot simply start one store in a niche, you need to analyse the market,customers,competition and future of the online business. A proper market study can save you plenty of money. Market study plays a pivotal role in the success of any ecommerce store.

Customer Analysis

Customer is your god, you need to do a deep analysis about your customers. This will help you to identify the trends and to achieve a good conversion rate.

#Plan 1 – Identify the customer gender.

gender ecommerce

If you are selling some female apparels , then you need to market your products on behalf of female customers.You can use female dominating  social networks like Pinterest(80% of the pinterest audience are females).Gender oriented marketing is very effective, analyse which gender dominates your product and write down a marketing plan for them.

#Plan 2 – Identify the customer age.

Analyzing the customer age is really important for the success of your ecommerce portal. For instance, if your product is some kind of teenage tshirts, you need to reach out to the teenagers. Market the product through the social networks/media used by teenagers.

#Plan 3 – Identify the customer Location.

You need to analyze the customer locations, some products might be on great demand in some specific locations. And it certainly depends on numerous factors, for example a a christian statue might not be sold in a Muslim state, a Spanish book is less probable to be sold in an English state. Identify the right location and reach out the right customers.

Product Demand

Does your product has a demand? Even though it do have great demand in the offline market, it may not be same when it comes to online. You need to validate your product idea before launching your store. You should have a clear cut view about your product market so that you can figure out the right way to develop your eCommerce store.

#Plan 4 – Identify the Google Trends.

No one can deny the authority of google and other search engines. Recent studies says that more than 30 percentage of the total traffic of most of the eCommerce/ websites are from Google and other search engines.

trends

This is an example of the google trends analysis for two eCommerce keywords 1. Protein powder, 2. Dumbbells. And it is very much clear from the google trends graph that even though they were almost closer in 2006, protein powder got much greater demand in 2015. So it would be much wise if you focus on protein powder(you are prone to get more sales). Likewise you can validate your eCommerce product ideas using google trends.

#Plan 5 – Use the google adwords keyword planner tool to do product market study.

You can validate your eCommerce product idea using the adwords keyword planner tool, you can narrow down the search to your country/state of operation and check the competition and monthly search volume. High monthly search volume and low competition is the ideal case, if the search volume is high it means that the product is in high demand and if the competition is high , it means many other players/advertisers are in the same niche.

For instance, if you are starting a dumbbells eCommerce store, some of your hot keywords would be

Buy dumbbells online
Best dumbbells online
Best adjustable dumbbells online (Long tail keywords).

adjustable dumbbells

You should make a list of these keywords and develop products/contents in the keywords which has demand and this can bring in visitors/customers to the website.

#Plan 6 – Write down the future scopes of your product

You need to answer these questions

1. What if your product gets replaced by some other one ?
2. How are you gonna deal with this?
3. How are you going to expand your inventory to meet the sales?
4. Do you want to add another niche to your present niche?

Competitor Analysis

Every business should have competitors, as well as eCommerce. You need to figure out,

  • The strength and weakness of your competitors.
  • How they built a brand ?
  • Are they successful ?
  • How can you beat them ?

Well, no competitors? Good for you! But make sure your product does have a market.

#Plan 7 – Make a list of competitors

Any business has competitors, and the success is all about winning the competition. You need to make a list of your competitors , analyze the strength and weakness and chart down a plan to beat them.

Lots of awesome competitor analysis tools are available online, these are some of my favorites.

1. Google

Google your keyword, and you can get a list of competitors. For example if you are selling Christmas Tree, Google for

“Buy Christmas Tree online”

“Best Christmas trees”

“Buy Xmas trees”

If you are from Australia, google

“Buy Christmas Tree Australia”

Find your competitors

write down your competitors.

2. Semrush

Semrush allows you to search for a keyword, and it shows the volume of searches as well as the top leading competitors for the keyword(selling this particular product).

3. BuzzSumo

Buzzsumo allows you to research the top shared(check the social media shares in the below image) and popular contents for a particular keyword, use buzzsumo for your eCommerce niche keyword to see your competitors.

competitor

After using these tools and finding out who all are your competitors, group and write down all your competitors into a list.

#Plan 8 – Identify the pros and cons(strength) of your competitors.

After making the list, we need to analyse the strength and weakness of your competitors. You need to figure out an answer to this question.

Is your competitor a success? If so why was it successful? If not why it was a failure?

To get the answer to this question, you need to do a research in your competitor website.

Here are some tools which help you in achieving this.

1. Open Site explorer

Open Site Explorer shows the popularity and authority of your competitor website. Just enter the url of your competitor and it’ll bring the results. It also shows the inbound links of your competitor.

2. Alexa

Alexa has a traffic rank system and it shows up the approximate traffic stats of a website. Even though not accurate, you can get an approximate traffic stats of a website through alexa. You can see the top keywords for which the website is ranking and also the traffic growth.

Generally sites having a global alexa rank less than 100K is expected to have good traffic.

3. Webpage Similarity Comparison Tool by Seobook

This is another great tool to analyse the difference between you and your competitor, it clearly list out how your competitor differ from your sites(regarding the basic seo stuffs and other things).

4. Quicksprout

Quicksprout helps you identify your competitors seo tags, social shares,backlinks,loading speed and website performance. Just enter your competitors url and see the results.

Analyze how your product will stand out from other e-commerce competitor.

#Plan 9 – Analyze the Price Competition.

So what are the two most important factors for the success of your ecommerce store? I’d say Quality and Price. Make sure your price competes with other players. Low pricing can attract customers to your store, so its always a good idea to price low in the beginning. You need to figure out a way to source your product at the least possible price.

#Plan 10 – Market Saturation check

Any business will touch a saturation point after some period. Do you think you can launch a store to beat amazon ?

Check whether your product is in a saturated market and your product(or store) does have a space in the eCommerce market. As you may know market saturation is the point where there is no more space for another business to occupy the market.

The best example would be mobile phones, its really hard for another mobile phone ecommerce portal to survive. Also you need to check the opposite scenario , whether your product is introduced early in the eCommerce market(the case where there is no/less buyers).

2. Website(ecommerce store) and technology

Building up a great ecommerce portal is the most important factor of the ecommerce business, it should be good looking,functional,fast loading,communicative and interactive.

Have a look at some important plans which you need to have before working on your ecommerce website.

#Plan 11 – Get an awesome design

First impression is the best impression. You need to get this right , or else you’ll loose your impression. Your store won’t work before the customers if your design is bad (even if your store has bulk of functionalities). In real world, no one enters inside or buy products from a dirty untidy shop ; right?

Likewise, you need to land an apt and beautiful design for your ecommerce portal. Hire a kickass designer to get a perfect design suiting your niche, for example it would be wise to use pink color if you are launching some fancy products for ladies.

If you are intending to save some money or looking for some awesome ecommerce themes go check Themeforest Woocommerce themes

#Plan 12 – Pick an ideal hosting provider

Its really important where you are going to host your website. Hosting affects the speed,security  and performance of your website. Bluehost, Wiredtreee or A2hosting would be the ideal hosting suggestions.

#Plan 13 – Picking up the right eCommerce platform.

This is really important, I don’t recommend you wasting your money building a custom shopping cart. You can use hosted or self hosted shopping carts.

In hosted shopping carts like shopify,bigcommerce etc, they host everything for you and you just need to pay them monthly.
In self hosted shopping carts like magento,woocommerce,prestashop, you need host the shopping cart software in your server and install it. The ideal platform might vary based on your requirements. For example, if you are looking for more functionalities, magento would be great and if speed is your prioity then yo8u should go for something light like woocommerce or prestashop.

#Plan 14 – Whether your ecommerce portal is speed optimized.

speed websites
When it comes in 2015,  speed is the biggest factor in success of an eCommerce business. Did you know that a 100 milli second of latency resulted in 1 % reduction in sales for amazon, and you can imagine how much million dollar is that . According to the recent studies, a 1 second delay in page results in 7% loss in conversions and 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.

You should also be wise in selecting the right eCommerce platform, for instance, Magento , even though very efficient, is very notorious for slow loading speed.
Essential Features

#Plan 15 – Check your eCommerce platform  has offers section.

Offers are the most important section in any eCommerce platforms. If you check the most popular eCommerce platforms, you can see that offers are highlighted with great importance. I’ve listed my products in snapdeal and amazon, and offer column is an essential field while we submit products in these market place. Its one basic consumer psychology to buy things with offers, products highlighted with offers are prone to get more sales.

#Plan 16 – Check for report generation functionality.

Your shopping cart should have a detailed report section. You need to track the orders and its details and plot graphs based on it. This data shows you the progress of your store, and that’s how your store can grow.

#Plan 17 – Reviews and Ratings.

Product reviews and ratings are something inevitable for an eCommerce website. People do buy products checking its reviews and ratings, and moreover its like a habit now. Make sure your eCommerce portal has these functionalities.

#Plan 18 – Product Recommendations.

You can increase the sales by recommending products(or like combo products) in your product page or checkout page. Assume that you are about to checkout a pair of shoes, recommending a pair of socks would be ideal right? So , you can get additional sales through product recommendation feature.
recommended

#Plan 19 – Add to cart /Checkout.

Most basic feature, rather than inventing a new method for online shopping, use this globally familiar Add to cart > Checkout shopping experience. Also make sure your checkout form is very simple and pleasing for the user. Surveys denotes that very long checkout forms prompts the buyer to bounce off from the site abandoning the checkout. Its recommended to use a one page checkout, which is super popular now.

#Plan 20 – Ensure the use of a secure and efficient Payment Gateway

Its wise choosing the most popular payment gateways, customers might not hesitate using a well known payment gateway. And moreover its the matter of money, and its better not to use sub standard stuffs.

#Plan 21 – Invoice/Shipping/Other features

Make sure your shopping cart has the invoice generation, shipping functionality and other required order processing features. You can save lots of time if the shopping cart software has its own invoice generation functionality(so that you just need to print it out and put inside the packing).

#Plan 22 – Customer support functionality

Customer support is the most essential sector in any eCommerce website. Customers will bounce off from the portal if proper support is not given. Make sure you give awesome customer support.

#Plan 23 – Live Chat Functionality.

Live chat functionality ensures and gives customers confidence to buy product from your website. Moreover its a great method to clear the queries of the customer and motivate him to buy the product. I’d recommend the Free Zopim Live Chat for your portal.

#Plan 24 – Proper method to handle returns.

Your ecommerce portal should have a proper product return functionality. Customer should have a proper method to return the product in case of damage/dislike or something like that. Most of the popular eCommerce websites have product return feature(Based on a specific  return policy) like exchange or replacement or refund.

#Plan 25 – Building a mobile app.

Many super popular ecommerce websites have fully switched into mobile applications alone. At present, once we enter the web portal, we will be prompted to download the mobile application. This denotes a changing trend. Its highly recommended to launch a mobile application for your eCommerce store, so that the customer can shop through the app(a better an easy shopping experience). Even if you didn’t launch an app in the early stage , keep in mind about launching it later on.

#Plan 26 – Maintenance and management of the portal.

You need to figure out a way to maintain your portal, like taking backups, customizations, securities and updates. It would be better if you can get a tie up with some technical team for maintenance.

3. Sourcing(Inventory) and Shipping

Sourcing and shipping is the backbone of any eCommerce business. Sourcing products for the least possible price and shipping it at the right time is a winning situation for your store. If you can source products for cheap cost, you can compromise on your price and this can attract customers. Many of the biggest eCommerce stores like Amazon,Flipkart and all focus on 24 hour shipping, which means a product will be shipped within 24 hours once an order is placed. 24 hour shipping can attract potential customers to your eCommerce portal.

#Plan 27 – External Factors affecting your product sourcing and business.

Different external factors might affect your online business. Think about PESTLE (political, economical, social, technological, legal, environmental) factors affecting your business. For example changes to tax on imports may affect your profit and you might need to increase your pricing.

#Plan 28 – Efficient packing.

You need to pack your product properly in order to ensure that there is no damage to the product. The product should arrive at the customer end safely,in most cases item damage happens because of improper packing. If you have breakable materials like crockery or glassware,wooden packing with bubble wrap or platstic air cushion will be ideal.

#Plan 29 – Fast shipping and proper logistics.

This is a supreme factor which determine the success, fast shipping is something that adds value to an ecommerce store. Customers love fast shipping. Make sure you select the right logistics partner or it will affect your ecommerce sales and the customer may bounce off from the website. Moreover fast shipping is the best method to get returning visitors.

4. Marketing and Brand Building

Assume you’ve launched a super sexy ecommerce store and have made all the sourcing and market study. How would the customers come to know about your store? This is where marketing and brand building becomes super important. You need to reach out to your customers, and you can achieve this through the various online marketing techniques possible now a days.

#Plan 30 – Build an Email List.

Haven’t you seen many ecommerce websites showing banners on the landing page, like
 “join  our email list to get 20 % offer for the first purchase“.
email
This is really important, once you get the email of a user/customer, you can notify him newsletters. For example, if a new product is launched, you can email your customers about that. Moreover, studies indicate that email marketing is the best method for you to get returning visitors to your website and returning visitors are more potential customers.

#Plan 31 – Promotion through Social Media channels.

Social media promotions are one of the most effective strategies to build traffic to your eCommerce website, its said that social media posts influence 71% of purchases for an eCommerce company.

The first thing you need to do is to start pages in the popular social media channels like,

#Plan 32 – Video Promotions.

Video promotions are a great way to market your products, and the best thing is it has great conversion rates too. When it comes to videos, nothing beats YouTube. You cannot simply promote your videos, if you are using YouTube video ads, you only have 5 seconds to grab the attention of a user or else he can skip the video.

You need to develop your own video channels and bring visitors into it and after all you can promote your products.
Slikhaar TV is a great example, they’ve uploaded lots of top notch hair styling tips and videos and this has attracted a channel subscribers of more than 1,101,680. They sells their products through their eCommerce store. Slikhaar Shop(They sells hair styling products). They’ve placed a sticky banner link to the slikhaar shop website throughout the video which drives visitors to their eCommerce store.

#Plan 33 – Developing a blog for your ecommerce.

Building readers is a great idea to develop your ecommerce portal, what you need to do is to develop great content in your blog. For example, if you are doing ecommerce for skin care products, write articles about skin care. Develop great and unique content that can attract readers, you can convert this readers into customers(by collecting emails,popup notices etc).

#Plan 34 – Getting traffic from Search Engines.

More than 30% percent of overall traffic of the eCommerce websites are driven from search engines.Optimize your ecommerce website to get more traffic from search engines, especially google. Optimize your portal with keywords(including the long tail ones). Say, if your website is about protein powders, its good to rank for “Buy protein powder online” , right? More sales!

#Plan 35 – Start an affiliate to get more sales and promotions.

Affiliates are great way to build traffic and sales to you ecommerce portal. Add an affiliate module to your shopping cart. Well I used the magestore affiliates plugin for my ecommerce store developed in magento.

#Plan 36 – Paid advertising to get more brand value and sales.

You can use paid advertising in order to get more brand value for your ecommerce portal. Some of the most popular paid advertising methods are,

Facebook ads – Facebook ads are now one of the most popular advertising methods for eCommerce websites. Even though many marketers says that the conversion rates are less, we can properly target the audience that the right thing is delivered to the right audience, which is always good. Right?

facebook ads

Google Ads – Google ads are much more popular than facebook ads, more potential customers can be driven through google ads.

Youtube Ads – Video ads are trending, use youtube ads to give much more clear picture of your product to the customer.
Press Release(PR) – Getting a PR can benefit you in multiple ways, PR can build a trust factor to your brand. And this trust factor can bring in more sales to your ecommerce portal.

#Plan 37 – Using Influencers in your product niche.

Influencer marketing is one of the hottest trends in the eCommerce marketing. You can contact bloggers,vloggers,social media stars and so called other INFLUENCERS in your niche and ask them to review or promote your product. You can set a deal with them, like paid reviews or commisons per sale, well, it depend on the attitute of the influencer.

You can check the story of Emmanuel Eleyae , who was able to make a profit of $65,000 in 4 months selling Satin Lined Caps leveraging influencer marketing.

#Plan 38 – Use google analytics and ecommerce tracking to monitor your growth.

Google analytics as you know is the best anlytics tool available online, and yes it is free. You need to integrate google analytics with your ecommerce portal in order to track down visits/location/language etc.
From this data you can come to know who likes your products, and can develop/market your store based on this data.
google anlytics
Ecommerce tracking is another wonderful feature in google analytics, where you can track and group the data once a sale happens. Even though there should be sales reports section in your eCommerce platform, integrating all(visits,sales,bounces) etc under one platform(google analytics) is much more efficient and organized.

5. Financial Plans

You need a financial plan for the store. Like, budget,taxes so and so. Proper financial planning can help you to avoid losses and other unexpected liabilities.

#Plan 39 – Budget Planning.

Set a budget for your store, divide this budget into product sourcing budget,marketing budget,employee salary and other expenses.

#Plan 40 – Break Even Analysis.

As you all know Break even analysis is where when your business covers all your expenses and losses and begins profitable. Do a break even analysis for your store.

#Plan 41 – Calculate the sales tax and other taxes.

You need to calculate and plan the overall taxes(mainly sales tax) for your store, one of the biggest constraints would be handling taxes for returned products. Think and analyse the taxes of the store.

#Plan 42 – Future funding and expansion.

You need to think about getting funds from an investor in order to expand and scale your eCommerce business. At one point, you may not be able to manage the orders with your available resource. At this point you might need more funding to take this business to the next level.

6. Monetizing Plans

Well, eCommerce is about sales and you can make money through these sales. But, do you have any other monetizing plans or do you have a plan to sell your online business in future?

#Plan 43 – What are your money making plans?

Ecommerce sites are expected to make money by selling products and taking profits. Yes I do agree. But there are also also other money making methods through your eCommerce portal like promoting other products, B2B methods, advertising and so on. If you have other plans, write it down.

#Plan 44 – Will you tie up with other players?

Tie ups always helps you to scale your business and take it to the next level. Think whether you have any plan to tie up with some other eCommerce business in order to make much more money and sales.

#Plan 45 – Do you have an exit plan?

Exit plan is very much important as the other business plans, you need to analyse the future of your eCommerce business also. Write down whether you have any plans to sell your portal to some one (investors) afters some years? You might need to exit from the business in case of unexpected losses , and in order to play safe with out suffering much losses, write down a clean exit plan for your online eCommerce business.

Conclusion

As we all know, eCommerce is one of the most looked after online business models. Setting up an online store is no one day business, you need to plan well and execute properly. Hope these 45 plans will help you in landing a great eCommerce business. Please share the post with the world if you liked it. And yes! I will be available in comments to clear your queries :).

Looking forward to start an e commerce website? Which platform is apt for you? Hosted or Self hosted shopping carts? I am writing this article with a motive of helping non technical people who don’t have much experience in online/e-commerce business. Your start should be perfect, selecting the right e-commerce platform plays pivotal role to success of your e-commerce store. Have a look at the worlds biggest and most successful e-commerce websites.

There are two kinds of shopping cart platforms

1. Hosted shopping carts
2. Self Hosted Shopping carts.

[steps number=”true”]1[/steps] Hosted Shopping Carts

Hosted shopping carts are those ones hosted by the providers. You don’t need any kind of technical knowledge to use a hosted shopping cart software. You don’t need to worry about hosting,installation,maintenance,security in the case of hosted shopping carts. What you need to pay is a monthly subscription fees and the providers will take care of the rest.

So what all are the best hosted shopping cart platforms?

[well]

1.  Shopify
2.  BigCommerce
3.  Volusion[/well]

shopify

Have a look at my detailed article about selecting the best hosted shopping cart software and advantages of one over other. You might also be interested in creating a shopify e-commerce website in 5 minutes.

[steps number=”true”]2[/steps]  Self hosted shopping carts

These are shopping cart softwares that need to be hosted on your server. You need to worry about installation and setup.
You very much need to worry about some steps if you are preferring a self hosted shopping cart to hosted shopping cart(given below).

  • Buying a hosting/server space to host your website.
  • Downloading and installing the shopping cart software(Magento,Opencart etc).
  • Setting up the right e-commerce theme.
  • Need to worry about data security and backup measures.
  • You may need to hire a web developer for support(Most of the Hosted shopping cart service gives you 24 x 7 customer support ).

What all are the best self hosted shopping carts?

[well]

1. Magento
2. Opencart
3. PrestaShop

[/well]

I could have flooded this list of self hosted shopping carts with the available ones(like, zencart,cs cart,xcart,oscommerce,tomatocart etc). But I wish my readers could make a choice (rather than getting confused). Becuase of this specific reason I’ve shortlisted the whole self hosted
shopping carts into four(The best and practically useful four)

For sure first rank holder among these self hosted shopping carts would be magento.

[steps number=”true”]Rank 1  [/steps] – Magento

magento ecommerce

[alert style=”green”]Why and  When should you use magento?[/alert]

1. Wide Range of features.

Magento is feature rich, you will get all or more features than you require in Magento. The powerful extensions offered by Magento can make your store more powerful.

Visit Magento Store

2. Ideal for large scale business.

The bigger your business, its very much likely to use magento as your ecommerce platform. I’d recommend opencart for small business as it is very light,fast loading
and less complicated. But once your business gets big you’d be forced to use Magento . Opencart lacks many of the awesome feature magento does have. It
would really be complicated in migrating from one platform(opencart) to other(Magento). So, its always better using Magento in terms of long term benefits.

3. Great Support and theme availability.

Magento does have the support of a big community, where as opencart and prestashop doesn’t. If you need customization or some kind of error fix,you can ask the
help of the vast community of magento.

Lots of sexy magento themes are also available in the industry. As you all know,if you have a good looking website the half job is done.

[steps number=”true”]Rank 2[/steps] – Prestashop or Opencart

opencart prestashop

[alert style=”green”]Why and When Should you use opencart?[/alert]

1. Ideal for small scale business(minimalist features)

Well, if you are about to run a small scale ecommerce store ,I’d highly recommend opencart for you. Opencart is the lightest ecommerce platform you’ll ever get.I did use
opencart for my online artificial flower store and it is doing good. I’m very much satisfied with the features provided by opencart for this particular website(I don’t require much, I am not planning to take this store that big).

2. Better loading time compared to Magento

This is were Magento turns out to be a villain. As , someone said, Magento is good in theory but bad practically. Magento is an extremely heavy platform.
It does have more than 330 database tables (WordPress have 15 tables only!) Magento, with all those heavily coded library ,takes much more time to load compared to opencart.

3. Ease of use and low cost customizations

[alert style=”green”]When Should you use Prestashop?[/alert]

All the above mentioned features are applicable to Prestashop also.

1. Advanced backend features than opencart

I would put Prestashop and Opencart in same position but if you need a little more advanced back end and management features and paid support, go for Prestashop.

Visit Opencart Store

Visit PrestaShop Store

[steps number=”true”]Rank 3 [/steps] – WordPress E-commerce using WooCommerce

wordpress and woocommerce

[alert style=”green”]Why and When Should you use WooCommerce?[/alert]

Majority of the worlds website uses WordPress. 1 out of six websites runs in WordPress. Many million dollar business websites have been setup in WordPress.

Ok , I said too much about  WordPress , but this was just to let you know how strong is the WordPress Community and users.

It wont be a bad idea to start a shopping cart in  such a globally approved platform. Moreover WooCommerce plugin does have all the essential features demanded
by a shopping cart software. Being WordPress, the product management and customization will be easier. The vast WP community all over the internet can give you awesome support plus
woocommerce extensions are always there to make your ecommerce platform much better.

The best advantage of using woocommerce is the large availability of WordPress Woocommerce themes. Woocommerce themes are one of the most sold themes in themeforest now.

Are you familiar with WordPress?

Dont know much about WordPress ? Read this detailed article about the advantages of starting an online business in WordPress.
If you are already familiar with WordPress platform you wont find using Woocommerce any hard. So , Woocommerce would be a wise choice for you if you know WordPress very well.

Download WooCommerce for WordPress

Conclusion

The selection of the right platform depends on your business. If you are less technical and have some additional money to spend go for hosted shopping carts. You dont need to worry about the security,installation and all.If you are in a tight budget, go for self hosted shopping carts. Go for magento if your store is big. Use Opencart,Prestashop or Woocommerce for small scale business. I am always happy to help. Contact Me if you need some assistance in setting up your eCommerce store.

I’ve used many shopping carts (both hosted shopping carts and self hosted shopping carts) and have reviewed the popular ones , Shopify seemed like the easiest one to start. Shopify provides free trial for 2 weeks, so don’t hesitate, try out their demo. Here in this post I am providing a beginners tutorial guide to set up a Shopify website in 5 minutes, yes very much in 5 minutes! 🙂

Shopify is really good, but if you want to save money read my blogpost about best method in starting an ecommerce store by yourself under 100 USD.

Section 1 – Creating a Shopify account.

1.1 Get into Shopify Login and select the Create Your Store Now Option. Signup to the store entering your personal details(email,username,address,phone etc).

1.2 After signing up into the store, you’ll get the web address to your store mine was (linjo.shopify.com). Once the store is created select the Manage My Store option.

step 1

Have a look at my store front end,

shopify -2 store front end

Section 2 – Explaining Shopify Dashboard

The major sections given in the Shopify admin side are

  • Orders – Here goes your orders section, all your processed, non processed orders will be listed here
  • Products – Product management section goes here, you can add a new product to your store from here.
  • Discounts, Gift Cards – If you want to give a gift card or particular discount to your products you can set it from this section.
  • Reports – Reports section will show you the visitors flow to your website.
  • Blog Posts – Shopify allows you to create a blog for your ecommerce website and you can manage your blog posts from this section
  • Pages– You can add custom pages (say an about us page)to your ecommerce store from this section
  • Themes – Through this section you can navigate to your theme store where you can select good looking themes(free/premium) for your website
  • Apps – Like your android/ios phone apps Shopify also have its own app store from which you can download Shopify apps and can install into your store . Example : A popup window application which displays notifications in a popup
  • Settings– Here lies your store settings like adding a new domain, managing shipping, checkout etc

Section 3 – Adding a domain to your Shopify ecommerce store .

Well, you’ve seen my temporary domain (linjo.shopify.com ), adding a new domain to your Shopify account is that easy.

Go to the Settings section and take the Domains tab and select the Add New Domain option in the right hand side (check screenshot)

shopify add new domain

You can register a new domain name or can link an existing domain to your Shopify account(very easy than you think :)). Just enter a domain name and add it to your account (by purchasing it or by pointing your ip into domain registrars admin section). Contact Me, if you have any doubts regarding this.

shopify add new domain
Section 4- Adding Products to your store.

Adding a new product in Shopify should not take more than 60 seconds (it is that easy). Get into the Products Menu and Add a New product. You can also Add a new product from the dashboard(right hand side) itself.
shopify add products

shopify add new product
Section 5 – Adding a new theme to your store

The default Shopify theme is too ordinary and for sure no one will buy from your store if you are using that 🙂 . You need to select a new theme for your store from the themes section. Both free and premium shopfiy themes would be available in different niche . Select one according to your preferences

shopify theme store

Thats all with the basic tutorial for Shopify, clearly you can start a descent e-commerce store following this tutorial. Hope you enjoyed this Shopify Tutorial.