Starting Your First Ecommerce Store

September 2019

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Your Base For Business Growth

Whether you’re taking an existing brick and mortar store online or starting a new ecommerce store from scratch, challenges abound. You’re going to have to put in a lot of time, energy, and thought to make this work – it’s not all bad though! Along the way you can find partners and resources to help make it easier through helpful guides and reviews or a longer-term partnership with agencies like Gemini where we take some of the burden off you. So, how can we help you get started with your first ecommerce store? In this post we won’t be going very heavily into branding or product marketing and instead will focus more on considerations before you choose a platform and begin building your ecommerce site.

Product Development

If you are figuring out your product, platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify have some great resources for determining what product development method to pursue & how to go about identifying a manufacturer – they’ve put in the research so you don’t have to. Let’s take a look at the resources they’ve put together to help you!

To Make, Buy or Dropship?

Finding A Supplier

Don’t get hung up on this stage, just because you establish a preliminary product source doesn’t mean you can never change post-launch! Figure out a cost-effective way to launch quickly and test your product.

Naming Your Store

Trying to find that perfect name? If your brainstorming isn’t cutting it, here are a few tools to take a look at.

Squadhelp: Business Name Generator

Namelix: domain availability checker

Squadhelp has a community of people who have developed brand names you can purchase for usage, you can even launch a custom naming contest. Namelix is a different & particularly interesting tool in that you can enter a set of keywords and get a long list of potential business names whose domains are available – if you’re trying to find the perfect name for your ecommerce store, this should be one of your first stops.

Email Marketing/Marketing Automation

Have you already been using an email marketing platform that you want to carry over for your ecommerce store? If so, it will be important to determine how certain ecommerce platforms integrate with email marketing platforms. Mailchimp is one of the most popular email platforms and Shopify is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms, seems like a match made in heaven right? Wrong.

These two platforms have broken up and do not have a direct integration anymore. If you want to use Shopify for your store, a platform like Drip or Kit (Shopify’s new virtual marketing assistant) could work for you. Drip is really interesting as it has a visual workflow builder to allow you to easily craft automation campaigns that really do something; also, they’re focused entirely on ecommerce.

Design Capabilities

If you’re not a designer (most people aren’t, its ok), this is a really important component for evaluating what e-commerce platform to use. Most platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, etc. will offer themes that are fairly easy to edit; however, if you crave simplicity in design and want to do as little creatively as possible beyond choosing a theme for your site you may find a platform like Squarespace or Wix best fits what you need. Be sure you’re honest with yourself about your skills and how much effort you are willing to put into site design – because you may find yourself with several hours invested into a platform only to find you have to hire a design partner or switch platforms. Web design is one of the more challenging tasks out there, don’t be afraid to find a partner who can help take this off your plate.

Members Area & Logins

Do you anticipate wanting to let customers create accounts & login, or have access to a members-only area? These offerings, and similar niche features, are not going to be universal among e-commerce platforms. If you need a members area, Shopify can’t handle that but these do: Wix, Weebly, Bigcommerce & Squarespace. If you need customer logins all of them except Wix can do that. Interestingly, this means that if you need (or might need) both then Squarespace, Weebly or Bigcommerce would be good choices for your store.

Payment Options

This may not be a big concern for most store owners – but if you’re operating a brick & mortar location as well, or even if you’re selling your products at the local Farmers Market, there’s a chance you’re using Square. Want your store to also accept Square payments to keep everything in the same place? Squarespace and Shopify can’t do that. This is why you cannot completely overlook payment options of a platform when choosing how to build your store – by ignoring this as a consideration factor you could overly complicate your revenue stream and accounting processes with multiple (and potentially unnecessary) payment systems.

What Does It All Mean?

If you’re reading this in an attempt to prepare for launching your first ecommerce store – we feel your pain. The items we covered above should go a long way towards getting there, but continue to do research and consider reaching out to us for help. Gemini has expertise in ecommerce store building and has the marketing experience required to help you grow.