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Step-by-Step Guide to Launching Your First Successful E-commerce Store

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If you get it right, selling online with your own eCommerce business can bring huge rewards. And it doesn’t have to be as daunting as you think. We’ve helped dozens of clients start and grow their online stores. If you have a company, a product, and you’re ready to start developing your site, let’s talk about some of the key areas to consider. This is a long one, so settle in.

Choosing a domain name

With almost the whole world online, getting your ideal domain name isn’t going to be easy. Chances are, your-exact-business-name.com isn’t going to be available. You may need to compromise. Below are some simple tips for choosing the right domain name for your online business.

Easy to remember, easy to type

Choose a domain that’s easy for your customers to recall and that doesn’t provide too many opportunities for misspelling or typing errors. In general, shorter is better than longer, and catchy is king. Something that links to your business or product name is also very helpful.

Use a .com extension

While there are many different extensions available for websites (.net, .org, .biz, etc.), .com is still best for your eCommerce website. This is simply because most people still associate .com with businesses and eCommerce.

Avoid hyphens and numbers

While hyphens and numbers can certainly help create a unique domain name, they can also be lost in communication, making it more difficult for people to remember your address, never mind type it in. It would be best to avoid these if you can.

Is it available on social media?

If you plan to promote your eCommerce business on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it’s important to make sure that the name you’ve settled on isn’t already being used on there by someone else.

Does it accurately represent your business?

The name you choose for your eCommerce website should accurately represent your brand or business. For example, if you’re selling handmade jewellery, it may be an idea to use a domain name that includes the word "handmade". Or at least supports the impression you’re trying to create. This will help customers know what your website is all about and what they can expect to find when they visit.

Check if it’s available for purchase and registration.

Once you have an idea, you need to make sure your name is available so you can actually use it for your website. You can check if a domain name is available for purchase and registration by using any domain name availability checker tool.

Choosing the right eCommerce platform

With so many eCommerce platforms out there, how do you know which one is the right fit for you? Let’s take a look at three of the most popular.


Shopify is a cloud-based eCommerce platform that gives businesses the tools they need to create an eCommerce site on the Shopify platform. It’s easy to use and provides a wide range of features, such as payment processing, shipping, and inventory management. Shopify comes with a built-in blog and SEO toolkit to help you promote your eCommerce website. Setting up a basic website is easy, and with a low monthly fee and no large upfront cost, it’s great for startups.


WooCommerce is a popular eCommerce plugin designed for websites built on the WordPress platform. It allows businesses to create their own online store, or transform an existing WordPress site into a store. It is easy to use and provides a wide range of features, such as payment processing, shipping, and inventory management. WooCommerce also comes with a built-in blog and SEO toolkit to help you promote your eCommerce website.

Big Commerce

Like Shopify, Big Commerce is another subscription-based eCommerce platform that businesses can use to create their own online store. Although it’s still fairly easy to use, it’s arguably a little more feature-rich than Shopify, so the learning curve is a little steeper.

Finding an eCommerce website agency

The next stop on your list is finding a web designer or web design agency to help build your store and support the launch of your eCommerce business. So how do you know who is the right fit for you?

Know what you need (roughly)

Web developers are not all the same. Having a loose - or even a very specific - idea of what you want them to achieve will make your search for an eCommerce website developer a whole lot easier because you’ll be able to rule people in or out quickly.

Ask for referrals

If you know any business owners who have had an eCommerce website built, ask them for referrals. This is a great way to get first-hand information about developers and agencies.

Check their portfolio

When you’ve made a shortlist of eCommerce website developers, be sure to pore over their portfolios. This will give you an idea of the work they’re most comfortable producing. Does it look like what you need?

Preparing your eCommerce product data

With a developer on board you'll need to provide the information they need to build your new website. The most important of which is your product data. Getting this right is key to having a successful store. With no products to touch or feel, and no sales assistant to demonstrate the benefits of what you’re selling, all your customers have to go on is what you give them on your product pages.


Images are everything on an eCommerce website. Your customers need to be able to see what they are buying, so make sure you have clean, clear, high-quality product photos. If you can, get shots from multiple angles and include close-ups of any important details.

Product Descriptions

Your copy needs to be well written, informative and persuasive. Ideally in your brand’s tone of voice. Descriptions should answer any questions your customers might have, and highlight the key features and benefits of your products.

Product Videos

Videos are a great way to cover off important features and details and tell more of the story around your products.

Product variations

Make sure product attributes, such as material, size and colour are correctly assigned. These attributes allow buyers to drill down and quickly find what they are looking for. They’re also used by marketing platforms such as Google Merchant Center to advertise your products to potential customers.

Choosing a courier for your eCommerce business

When your products are ready to go, you need to decide how you’re going to ship them to your customers. Low order volumes when starting out may mean you can’t get brilliant rates with a main courier. But don’t compromise too much though as it can affect your customers’ brand experience. You want a reliable courier who will deliver your products on time and in good condition. Some of the most popular eCommerce shipping couriers are DHL, UPS, FedEx, and DPD.

It is also important to consider any additional costs you might incur when using a particular courier, such as packaging and insurance. Additionally, many eCommerce businesses offer free shipping, so make sure you factor this into your eCommerce business strategy.

Choosing a payment processer for your eCommerce business

Payment providers come in a few different models. PayPal and Stripe are two of the most recognised. They’re free to set up and will charge you % plus a transaction fee. Paypal’s charges are 1.5% + 20p per transaction, Stripe is slightly cheaper at 1.4% + 20p. There is no cap on this fee, so as you grow this could become expensive depending on your average order value.

An alternative is to go with a provider like Opayo (formerly Sage Payments) or WorldPay. These providers charge a monthly fee for your account, but have a matrix of fee charges based on the card type used.

It’s best to start with an account that provides the best cost benefit to you and allows you growth for the future. Also, ensure your payment provider offers other integrations such as Google Pay and Apple Pay as this will improve your shopper experience and contribute to good website conversions.

What legal documents do you need for an eCommerce business

When setting up an eCommerce website, it’s important to have the relevant legal documents in place. These include a Terms of Service agreement and a Privacy Policy. This will protect both you and your customers by outlining what rules need to be followed when using your eCommerce website.

Other documents you might need to include are a Returns Policy, a Refund Policy, and a Shipping Policy. These policies will give customers clear guidelines on how to return items or request refunds if they are not satisfied with their purchase.

Good luck!

Well done, you made it to the end. If, after all that, you’re still not sure how to start creating your eCommerce website, don’t worry. Just get in touch, we’d love to talk it through with you.

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