The 10-Day Plan for Launching an E-Commerce Startup

Successfully growing an e-commerce business requires careful consideration and due diligence. There’s obviously a lot of work that goes into planning and formulating an e-commerce business, but the real hustle comes when you’re ready to launch and start selling.

The most important work comes between the time it takes you to buy a domain and collect your first order. This is when you build your brand identity, drive traffic to your site and convert visitors into lifelong customers.

Remember, Rome was not built in a day, so you must be patient. You’re probably not going to see immediate results, but over time, if you stay consistent with your initiatives, you can build a thriving e-commerce business.

While it may take some time to see results, it shouldn’t take you long to get your online store off the ground. In fact, you can follow this guide to launch your e-commerce business in 10 days!

Disclaimer: This 10-day guide will vary for each person. While some entrepreneurs can set up a site in a day, it can take others days or weeks. This timeline assumes you are moderately experienced in digital marketing and site development. However, this blueprint is still a great resource to follow – even if you’re not able to hit the timeline exactly. 

Day 1: Purchase a domain and set up a website

With your brand in mind, head over to a domain provider to register a domain. It’s important to pick a domain name that matches your brand name as closely as possible. If you’re not able to get “yourbrand.com,” look for a few other variations that still have your brand name in it. Avoid being witty or using a misspelled domain, as they can confuse your customers when trying to find you.

After you have your domain name registered, you’ll need to find a hosting provider. Many domain registrars like GoDaddy and BlueHost also let you host your site directly on their platform. Because you’re operating an e-commerce store, you must protect your customer’s personal information. Therefore, you need to get an SSL certificate for your domain.

You’ll then need to decide what platform you want to host your e-commerce store on. There are a few popular platforms like WordPress and Shopify that are popular options for selling online. Shopify is actually marketed as an e-commerce content platform and comes loaded with site themes for you to pick from.

Whatever content management system (CMS) you choose, make sure you’re comfortable working within its structure or have someone on your team with enough knowledge to navigate the system.

After you’re up and running on a CMS, the final step is picking a theme for your website. Whichever platform you choose above has custom themes built in. For instance, WordPress has thousands of e-commerce themes that can be uploaded and customized in just a few hours.

Day 2: Optimize your e-commerce site

Once you have your site up and running with a theme you’re happy with, it is time to start optimizing your pages. Arguably the most important optimization you should focus on is search engine optimization (SEO). Proper SEO requires a combination of onsite and offsite tactics, but at its core is creating a positive user experience and providing value to your visitors.

Optimizing your site for conversions is another important step. This includes adding call-to-actions (CTAs) in different areas of your site. You may even want to consider adding a pop-up to showcase a special offer on your site. You don’t have to focus entirely on pushing sales, you can add lead forms on your site to collect emails or phone numbers so that you can follow up with leads that aren’t quite ready to purchase.

Day 3: Focus on your product pages

Too many e-commerce startups fail because they neglect their product pages. These pages are the bread-and-butter of your online store. This is where you customers make their final decision whether to buy or not.

There are a few strategies for improving your product pages. First, focus on imagery. People like to see the product they are thinking about purchasing. Consider taking professional photos or even doing a video showcasing the product and its benefits.

Second, create engaging and unique product descriptions. The benefits of unique product descriptions cannot be emphasized enough. This is another way to improve SEO and it’s also a great way to convince customers why they need your product. If you’re not an expert copywriter, consider investing in a professional that can create great product descriptions at scale.

Day 4: Integrate third-party applications

By day four you should be well on your way to a thriving e-commerce startup. Now, it’s time to start thinking about the future. To build a successful online business, you need to track data and build automated processes to streamline your workflow. Fortunately, there are hundreds of amazing applications that can help you create a more efficient e-commerce store.

A good place to start is with your email marketing. Think about some of the online stores you’ve purchased from in the past – most likely you have received (and continue to receive) marketing emails pushing you to buy again or to try a new product. Email marketing is still one of the best ways for -commerce businesses to push users through the sales funnel. You can easily create and launch an email marketing campaign on sites like MailChimp or ConstantContact.

You should also use day four to create and connect your social channels to your site. The types of products you offer should dictate which social sites you are most active on. Lifestyle brands excel on Instagram and Pinterest, while business-to-business products should try LinkedIn. You will also want to integrate a service like Google Analytics so that you can track activity on your site like traffic, impressions, bounce rate and referrals.

Related: Create a Profitable Dropship E-Commerce Store in 6 Steps

Day 5: Ask for constructive criticism

Wow, can you believe we’re almost halfway through the launch of your new online business? Now, it’s time to take a step back and collect some input about what you’ve done to this point. The midway point is the perfect time to collect feedback from your employees, potential customers, friends, family or anyone else who is willing to help.

Some questions you should ask for feedback on include:

  • Do you like the design and UX of my site?
  • What would you do to improve my branding (logo, style, colors, language)?
  • What action do you think I want you to take on this specific page?
  • Based on what you see, would you make a purchase from me? Why or why not?

You can adjust the questions based on your specific needs, but the important takeaway from day five is to remove yourself from the project and collect notes from others. Whether you use the feedback is entirely up to you, but this exercise is an excellent way to gain insight and different vantage points of how people view and use your site.

Day 6: Incorporate relevant feedback and start content marketing

After you’ve collected feedback from day five and assessed which notes were most relevant, you can start to make tweaks to your site. Depending on the complexity of the feedback will determine whether you can move forward with the next step: content marketing.

Content marketing is an excellent tool for e-commerce businesses to share their message and build rapport with customers. At the heart of great content marketing is storytelling. Your brand has a unique message to share, so make sure you can communicate that on your site, in your newsletters, on your social channels and in columns on other publications.

To get started with content marketing, create a few articles on your e-commerce blog that are relevant to your target audience. For instance, if you’re selling clothes to young adults, create a few articles about the latest pop-culture trends. Think of creative ideas that are interesting to your customers but are also relevant to your brand.

Day 7: Start working on off-site promotions

Now that you have a few relevant articles on your site, the next step in content marketing is to drive inbound traffic to those pages. You can do this a number of ways from guest articles and sponsored content to PPC (pay-per-click) or influencer marketing.

PPC is an easy way to generate traffic to your site. You can buy traffic through Google AdWords or on your most relevant social channel. Your budget will determine whether PPC is viable, but you can typically create engagement and traffic for pennies on the dollar.

Day 8: Try influencer marketing  

Some products are better suited than others for influencer marketing, but generally speaking, influencer marketing can be a great way to drive traffic to your e-commerce site. One of the best forms of influencer content is video.

Try finding a YouTuber who has a solid following in your space. Reach out and see if they’ll review one of your mainstay products. Much like brands pay celebrities to endorse their product, so too can you find targeted influencers in your space that are willing to try and share your product to their followers. This is a quick and easy way to get your product in front of a larger audience.

Day 9: Promote the influencer piece and offer a discount on your site

Day nine is all about leveraging the influencer piece of content that was just published. The more eyes that see the influencer piece of content, the more people see your products. Conduct PR outreach to publishers that cover similar topics and see if they would feature it or share it.

To coincide with the influencer piece and your subsequent outreach, you should also consider running a promotional campaign on your site for the product that was reviewed or discussed. Create a popup on the site that offers a discount for that product or add that item as a focal point on your sidebar.

Related: Sign up to receive the StartupNation newsletter!

Day 10: Assess, iterate and move forward  

Day 10 is here and you should be in a good place with your e-commerce venture. You’ve crossed off the major categories of launching an online store like selecting and setting up your website, optimizing your site for search and conversion, building out your online marketing and connecting with relevant influencers.

The cogs in the machine are running smoothly and it’s now time to see what worked best. Use the data that was collected with your Google Analytics to see which referrers are generating the most traffic to your site. Check your email statistics to see if your leads are opening your emails and whether they are clicking any of your promotions.

Based on the results, you can make adjustments and test different strategies. After all, there is no uniform blueprint for perfectly launching an e-commerce store. What works for one brand might not work for the next, so it’s always important to look at your data and make strategic decisions that are grounding in those insights.

Now that you know what it takes to launch an e-commerce store, you can finally take the leap. Let us know how the 10 day plan worked for you in the comments section below.

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