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10 Point Checklist to Starting an Ecommerce Business

10 Point Checklist to Starting an Ecommerce Business

With more than 206 million predicted shoppers spending money online this year, there’s never been a better time to start an eCommerce business. If you’re thinking about starting an eCommerce business and selling products online, use this checklist to do it the right way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqlsgjnePmg

The first thing to do (after you decide what you want to sell, of course) is choose a fabulous, memorable business name that no one else is using. You can conduct a corporate name search to make sure it’s not already in use. Once you’ve chosen the name, register it. (If you form an LLC or corporation, this will happen automatically in the state where you file your paperwork.)

Ideally, you’ll get your business name as your domain name, but if it’s not available, choose a URL that’s easy to say and spell, and relates to your business. So if your business is Karen’s Craft Creations and KarensCraftCreations.com isn’t available, try something similar like CraftsbyKaren.com.

The design of your eCommerce site may be the biggest business expense you have. But you want to ensure that it’s not only visually appealing but also functional. There are out-of-the-box eCommerce solutions like WooCommerce and  Shopify to begin with, but you may require something more custom-made if your needs are more than basic.

You’ve got several options when it comes to your business structure:

  • Sole Proprietor
  • Partnership (if you have a business partner)
  • LLC
  • Corporation

If you don’t choose a business structure like a corporation or LLC, you’ll automatically be considered a sole proprietor (or partnership) by the IRS. However, operating as a sole proprietor, your personal assets are at risk. If your company is ever sued, the court can seize your personal assets if your business doesn’t have enough to cover its debts. Both the corporation and LLC separate you and your assets from the business, and provide other tax benefits.

You can register on your own by filling out the appropriate business structure paperwork from the IRS yourself, or you can hire a business filing company to do it for you. A lawyer is another option, but that’s often overkill for the average small business owner’s needs.

You’ll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to open a business bank account and file your business taxes next April. Your EIN is a bit like your business’ social security number: it’s a unique number that identifies your business and helps you file important paperwork. Every business needs one, whether you’ll have employees or not.

Operating an eCommerce business does not exclude you from needing certain business licenses and permits. Check with your city, county, and state to see what sorts of sales tax licenses or home business licenses you need, and get those approved before you start operating.

You’ll have a lot of competition selling products online, so it’s in your best interest to find the best quality and best prices for the products you sell or materials you use to create your products. Shop around until you find a vendor you want to do business with long-term.

Even if you’re not up and running, it’s a good idea to set up social media profiles and writing content for your blog now so that you’re not starting from scratch Day 1. You can set up your website with a “coming soon” page where people who are interested can sign up to get updates, using a tool like LaunchRock.

Technology can make so much of your work easier, so before you start your eCommerce business, play around with customer relationship management, accounting, project management, and email marketing software that you can integrate into what you’re doing once you launch.

Whether you’ve got a warehouse full of products somewhere or your inventory lives in your garage, make sure you’ve got enough to launch. It can be tricky, not knowing how much you’ll need, but in general, it’s better to have too much inventory than not enough. Pay attention to how your sales increase so you can be smart with future orders.

Once you launch your eCommerce business, things are going to move at the speed of light. Don’t overlook filing your annual report, if you incorporated or filed an LLC, nor those annual fees for business permits. If you need to, put these deadlines on your calendar so you stay on top of them.


Can you check all 10 of these items off your list? Great! It’s time to launch. Having done all the preparation up front, your eCommerce business will skyrocket.

Why you should start an eCommerce Business

Why you should start an eCommerce Business

Whether you’re a bootstrapper or an investor with a bit of extra money to start a new enterprise, ecommerce is a great field to get into, especially today.

Whether you’re a bootstrapper or an investor with a bit of extra money to start a new enterprise, social media ecommerce is a great field to get into, especially today. Even as a beginner in ecommerce, the tools and resources are all laid out for you. All you need is a strong work ethic and a desire to succeed.

Here are five reasons to start an ecommerce business now.

Projections from eMarketer are showing rapid worldwide ecommerce growth through 2018. This year is expected to peak at nearly $1.6 trillion and by the end of 2018, almost $2.5 trillion. In the U.S. alone, ecommerce growth is anticipated to be somewhere between 11.6 and 16.5 percent from 2018 to 2020.

In choosing a business model, it’s always important to examine trends and to move into growth markets whenever possible. The stats back up the notion that the ecommerce model is a good choice for entrepreneurs that are looking to start a new company, or those that are interested in diversifying and expanding.

If you want to get into ecommerce, there has scarcely been a better time. The opportunities are growing by the day.

For brick-and-mortar businesses, location is of primary importance. It can make a huge difference in terms of visibility and sales. In ecommerce, you can set up a storefront at your own domain name and sell your products globally. You don’t need multiple storefronts to be seen across the entire world.

This seems obvious enough, but the implications are more far-reaching than you might even know. The trend of “pop-up” shops are on the rise, as some merchants are choosing to meet their customers in-person with little more than a tablet, a card reader and a few sample products in hand. This means proactive ecommerce merchants can build awareness for their businesses at parks, subway stations and high visibility street corners — without violating any regulations or laws, of course.

Ecommerce has a certain “passive” appeal to it, and while it is certainly possible to earn while you sleep, business owners should be looking to leverage technology at every turn to expand their businesses.

Not only have the tools for ecommerce gotten a lot better over time, there are more of them than there ever were in the past. From selling platforms to marketing automation and SEO tools, even bootstrappers can get up and running without breaking the bank.

The most challenging aspect of getting set up is product, but if you are passionate about a specific line of products — especially if they have helped you personally — it makes it much easier to walk through the process of building relationships with distributors or product sourcing. Additionally, it’s that passion that’s going to drive you to do the work you need to do to build a successful business.

4. Eighty percent of the web population has made a purchase online.

As you can imagine, that 80 percent is only going to grow. The key as an ecommerce business owner is to establish trust and credibility with leads and customers. From developing an attractive and easily navigable website to creating content that helps your customers, there are many different aspects to earning their trust, but if you commit to constant improvement, in time, you’ll build a loyal following.

It isn’t too much of a stretch to say that trust is one of the most important aspects of running an ecommerce business. People clearly trust etailers more than they did in the past, but security and privacy concerns are still foremost in many people’s minds.

Practically every ecommerce business finds that reduced friction is extremely important for making more sales. Abandoned shopping carts are a prevalent problem, and you have to have a willingness to tweak and optimize your funnel to ensure maximum conversion.

Fortunately, there are some great retargeting apps and tools, such as CartHook, that can help with capturing customers before they’re gone for good.

Social media ecommerce and marketing is another effective way to sell down the line. You can create relevant, value-adding content pieces for your readers, capture them as email subscribers, and then let them know about sales, discounts and promotions as you run them.

Conclusion

Most entrepreneurs have other business ideas they would one day love to explore. Once you’ve built up a successful ecommerce business, selling it may provide you with the capital you need to move onto greener pastures.

10 Ways to Speed up a WordPress Website

10 Ways to Speed up a WordPress Website

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so it’s important to ensure that you in no way leave your visitors with any reason to leave your site even before it’s even finished loading or reasons that could make them want to never return.

Speed is not only important to make a strong first impression with your visitors, but also for SEO because as Google has been telling us for years: Speed Matters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATXACFtcyKs

In this article, I’ll go over 10 things that you can do to improve your WordPress site load speed.

Choosing a Good Host

A good web host is a foundation where your website runs, it’s the first aspect to be addressed when working on improving site speed (even if not a WordPress powered site).

There are numerous WordPress hosting companies out there, it’s a highly competitive market and worth shopping around. If you are looking for a reliable hosting provider, the following articles will help point you in the right direction and help you make an informed choice when selecting a hosting provider:

Using a CDN

Content Delivery Network or Content Distribution Network (CDN) is a system of distributed servers that deliver web pages and other web resources to a user based on his/her geographical location.

A CDN typically copies all the static files (CSS, JavaScript, media files etc.) in use on your website and delivers them to users as fast as possible.

Caching

Caching is the temporary storage of content such as pages, image and other files used to render your page. This content is saved on visitor’s local drive as a cache, so when they are requested again by the same visitors, they are rendered much faster. Caching also happens on the server. It’s a technical area, but there are several popular WordPress plugins that help you configure and manage caching very easily, the most popular choices are W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache.

Minify CSS and JavaScript Files

The process of ‘minifying’ your CSS and JavaScript files compresses the original files to the smallest possible sizes, thereby improving the speed at which browser retrieves the files.

YUI Compressor will come in handy if you prefer a manual approach to minifying your site CSS and JavaScript files, or you can go for WP Minify which handles the work with an automated approach. Some caching plugins also offer minification as a feature.

Compressing Images

Apart from the fact that large image files contribute greatly to the sluggishness of a WordPress site, they also consume bandwidth too. Images are a good candidate for optimization.

Using the free WPMU DEV WordPress Smush API, the WP SmushIt plugin will help you reduce the size of these images without compromising their quality. I use this plugin and find it amazing how much it reduces image sizes.

speed up

Compressing Your Site

In simple terms, site compression is like turning your entire site into a ZIP archive. And when any of the pages of the site is requested for, a client’s browser acts like WinRAR and unzips the archive and then show the contents. Even though this sounds like an extra work and would slow things down, trust me, it doesn’t.

Even though W3 Total Cache is well known for caching, it can also be used in site compression. You can enable this feature by going to: admin page -> Performance -> Browser Cache -> Enable HTTP (gzip) Compression.

Optimizing Your Database

WordPress often auto-saves almost everything. This includes: unwanted revisions, trackbacks, pingbacks, trashed items, unapproved comments, or comments marked as spam.

Just as your hard drive can become fragmented, your WordPress database can also suffer from a similar problem. However, you can use the WP-Optimize plugin to optimize your database, or WP-DB Managerwhich enables you to optimize your database and as well as schedule dates for regular database optimization.

Choosing the Right Plugins

Installing a lot of plugins can add a tremendous amount of junk to your site and site files. There’s no point in installing or keeping plugins you don’t really need.

The best approach is to audit your WordPress Plugins, keeping the ones that are critical to the running of your site, and remove the ones that are not.

Disabling Trackbacks and Pingbacks

By default, every time another blog mentions you, your site gets be notified. These are called pingback and trackbacks. You can turn off this feature in WordPress here: admin page -> settings -> discussion, and uncheck the first two checkboxes as shown below.

Turning this WordPress feature off won’t harm your site.

Choosing a Good Theme or Theme Framework

While some WordPress themes are extremely fast and well coded, some are the exact opposite.

When choosing a theme, take note of the load speed of the theme’s demo page, this will give you an idea of the impact the theme would be adding to your site load speed.

Optimizing the Structure of Your Homepage

Showing post excerpts and minimizing the number of widgets and posts in a page is an excellet way to keep your homepage optimized.

Not only does this help your site load speed, it also improves your overall user experience. As I mentioned above, you only get one shot at making a first impression!

Enabling Keep-Alive

HTTP Keep-Alive is the idea of using a single Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) connection to send and receive multiple HTTP requests, instead of opening new a connection for each request.

Your web host might already have these sorts of settings enabled so check with them first, but if you have a typical hosting account, you can copy the line of code below into your .htaccess file to enable keep-alive.

Header set Connection keep-alive

Conclusion

In this article, I’ve covered twelve of the best approaches to help speed up your WordPress website. Effective implementation of these methods will greatly improve your WordPress site load speed. Web performance is a broad topic, if you’d like to read more on the subject, here are a few articles that you might find interesting.