How to Start an E-Commerce Store
E-commerce is the future
The projections for e-commerce are looking good! It's time to join the market.
1. Start your company
You’ve probably heard about something called Limited Liability. It’s what you get for registering your company with the state and following certain formalities. It's a big deal because without it, your personal assets (like your car, house, and bank account) are considered company property. That means they can be taken by creditors to pay your business debts. With limited liability, only your company assets are at risk.
Youʼll start by completing the state paperwork to register your entity. First, you'll need to decide what kind of entity is the best fit for you. If you haven't decided yet, check out our guides to Sole Proprietorship, Partnerships, LLCs, C Corporations, and S Corporations.
Now you're ready to register. If you are registering an LLC, the form is usually called Articles of Organization. If youʼre forming a Corporation, the form is called Articles of Incorporation. You can find these on your stateʼs corporation agency website. Youʼll also need to choose a registered agent, principal place of business, and business purpose. Keep in mind that all of this information, including your address, will be public.
Tip: Call in your business attorney if you’re not sure which entity is the right fit for your company.
2. Lock down your brand
A trademark allows you to own your brand. It means you're the only company who can use your company name, logo, slogan, domain name, personal name, product name, or hashtags. Here's why it's key: without it, you can be sued, forced to rebrand, or have your customers stolen by copycats.
Trademarks operate on a first to file system. That means the first person to file the trademark gets the exclusive rights to use the name. So if someone else files first, they’ll own the rights to your name and you won't be allowed to use your brand anymore and you can be sued for using it.
Think about how many brand pieces feature your company name: your website, social media, business cards, products, marketing materials, press links, inventory, etc. You'll need to change all of that, pull back all inventory with the brand on it, and possibly pay monetary damages. You'll lose customers, money, and valuable momentum.
Bottom line: if you’re building a brand, you need to own your trademark.
3. Find your products
If you’ve read our popular blog post, How to Start a Business, you have a plan for what you’ll sell. Let’s take it a step further. Ask yourself:
Will you make these products?
What supplies or ingredients do you need?
How much does it cost to make the products?
Where will you buy the products?
At what price will you buy the products?
At what price will you sell the products?
Make sure the numbers add up before you commit to your products and supply system.
4. Create a Website
It’s 2018 so you need a gorgeous branded website to attract customers + convert them to buyers. You’ll also need a personalized website terms + conditions to secure your customer service policy.
Thinking it doesn't matter? Think again! Your online policies have a big impact on customer happiness and your bottom line. Plus, they'll need to meet certain legal requirements to prevent fines and lawsuits.
Your policy tells customers what they need to know about browsing your website. You'll want to spell out the rules for using the site, sharing content, and where users can contact your company. If you run an ecommerce site, make sure to spell out how you handle orders, returns, and shipping.
Need a website terms? We offer a simple e-commerce policy that hooks up your website with exactly what it needs. If you want to talk more about website policies, start with a free consultation.
5. Promote your store
Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, email newsletters, etc. There are so many ways you can market your e-commerce store online. Find out where your customers are online and join them! You can also check out tradeshows and trade organizations for your industry.