14 Essential Steps to Launching an Ecommerce Business - Page 2

By Jennifer Schiff
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8. Provide search-engine optimized product descriptions that inform, not bore, visitors

Product descriptions are what get people to your site and inform people about what it is you are selling. Make sure your content is descriptive and to the point, without being verbose. There are few products or services that cannot be described in a few well-written sentences, especially when accompanied by a photograph and/or video.

Tip: Think about how much text you are comfortable reading on your smartphone, and use that as your guide regarding length. If your product or service cannot be described in a few sentences and/or with a few photos or videos, you have a larger problem.  

9. Make your site easy to navigate

Make finding products and checking out easy – the fewer clicks, the better. And be sure to include a link to your shipping and returns policy on your Home page. Finally, before you go live, have a few friends and colleagues who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth test your site and provide feedback. 

10. Include Terms & Conditions, Shipping & Returns and Site Map pages

To protect your business, it’s important to include a Terms & Conditions page, which functions as a kind of contract with visitors regarding the use of your site (e.g., content, images, products) and their personal data (e.g., credit card and contact information). It’s also important to include a separate Shipping & Returns page, with a link on your Home page, as one of the primary reasons for shopping cart abandonment is unexplained shipping rates.

Finally, be sure to include a Site Map, and put a link to it on your Home page. Search engines, particularly Google, love a good site map, which will get more traffic to your site.

11. Support multiple browsers and mobile devices

What’s the point of setting up a site if the majority of users can’t properly view it? So before you go live, have your designer or Web developer make sure the site (not just the Home page) can be properly viewed in multiple browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari) as well as on popular mobile devices (iPhones, Android devices, iPads).

Many ecommerce software solutions include this capability, so typically you don’t have to create a separate version of your site -- yet another thing to check for when considering an ecommerce platform.

12. Promote your business before you launch

Don’t wait until after you’ve launched to spread the word. Set up a Facebook page and Twitter account for your business and start an online word-of-mouth campaign a few weeks before you are ready to go live.

13. Purchase accounting software – and set up a chart of accounts before your first sale

One of the least favorite aspects of operating a business is dealing with accounting – and paying taxes. But if you have a good, easy-to-use software program (such as QuickBooks or FreshBooks), set up with a chart of accounts before you make your first sale, it won’t be quite so painful.

Better yet, hire a small business accounting software consultant – someone who has helped other small businesses set up that particular accounting software – to sit with you and set up your chart of accounts together. Then have her come back to help you once you’ve made a few sales and again before tax season. Ask your accountant, other small business owners, your local SCORE chapter, or the software vendor for recommendations.

14. Be stocked and ready to sell

People want what they want when they want it – not two weeks from now. So before you tell people you are open for business, make sure you have stock on hand, or can get it quickly, or that your service is ready to go.

Did we leave something off the list? Let us know in the comments section below.

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff writes about small business issues and recently launched her first ecommerce business, Prepster Pineapple Clothing.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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This article was originally published on September 20, 2012
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