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The Kong Academy provides actional hints, tips and guides to making the most of your eCommerce store.

Key steps to launching your eCommerce business

Kong Academy - How to sell online

Here we take an indepth look at particular topics of interest to beginner and established webstore owners.

Key steps to launching your eCommerce business

Julian James

Successful businesses are built on strong foundations – and a solid plan.

As tempting as it is to leap right into the fray and start selling your goods, some considered preparation can help ensure that your business starts out strong - and stays that way.

So before opening your digital doors to your customers, take a step back and work through our suggestions below. By the time you’ve got to the end you’ll have everything in place for business success.

Setting up your store

Your store is the heart of your business, so do right by it with a solid set-up and some great content. Here’s how.

Photography
Great product photography translates to great sales. To tempt your customers to buy, set your products against an appealing background, get the lighting right, and invest some time in touching up your images.

Sounds daunting (and expensive)? Not at all. Head to our Product Photography 101 guide for handy tips on how to create top-notch product photos using just your smartphone. Happen to have a snazzy DSLR or compact camera handy? Visit our Product Photography 102 guide for more tips. 

Design
Design is a skill - and like any skill it can take time to master. Fortunately in the world of templated design you can outsource that mastery to someone who already knows their stuff. If you’re a Kong user, head to our rich selection of designer-crafted store themes to see what works for your store.

So much choice you’re not sure where to start? Don’t worry. Check out our article on choosing the right design for your brand for some pointers on getting the best results.

Content
Greeting your customers in person is a lot tougher in the digital world, but there are plenty of other ways of building connections with your customers – including through your content.

For tips on letting your brand’s personality shine through in the digital space, check out our articles on how to sell your products with storytelling and how to big-up your product descriptions.

Domain
If you’re building your store with an online platform, you’ll typically be given a domain name that’s a subdomain of that platform. For example, if you’re a Kong store owner, your domain will be something like www.yourstore.kong365.com.

If you want a domain of your very own, you can purchase one through a company like GoDaddy. Once you’ve done that, you can follow the easy steps in our article about adding a custom domain to your Kong store.

If you're a Kong user, you can follow all the steps on how to set up your store, in our support centre.

The social side of business

Your business won’t exist in a vacuum. Building a following via social media can be a great way to drive people to your store – but it can take time, so start early, and be patient.

Social branding
Everything you create for your business should support your brand, so make sure that your social accounts are consistent in terms of their names, their icons, their background images, and even their “voice”.  

Social platforms
There are platforms galore out there, but each requires a time investment. Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube are key for sharing content and driving traffic – but their influence varies depending on your industry, so if you have limited time, pick the ones that work for you.

If you’re in the health space, for example, then Instagram and Pinterest are where you’ll want to be – both have large user groups in this space, and these groups will be a receptive audience for your product pictures or snapshots of inspirational quotes. Love the idea but not sure where to start? Head to our Instagram 101 article for all the basics.

For more detail on what sizes and formats you need for your social assets, grab this cheat sheet

Search Engine Optimisation

Ranking well in search engine listings can be a blessing for your store. How can this be achieved? There are all sorts of nuanced ways, but the main idea is to make sure that search engines are able to understand what you do and what you’re selling so that they can accurately and appropriately rank you in their search results.

A key way to achieve this is by using relevant keywords throughout your site – this way search engines like Google will know how to list your store.

Want a handy primer on how to do this? Head to our article on what you need to know about keywords.

Looking after your customers

Customer service can make or break a business, so look after your customers as best you can from day one. A contact form or other contact details are a must – and so is responding promptly to any questions.

If email’s too slow for you, then consider a live chat service that you can use to provide responses to enquiries in real time – but only take this step if you have the time and resources to support it.

Need some tips on keeping your customers happy? Check out our article on 10 ways to provide great customer service.

Analytics and Metrics

Data and analytics are golden to any store owner. Why’s this? Because they give you insight into how your business is performing – and can help identify areas for improvement or change. Once you’ve identified these, you can set new goals for your business and track how things are performing.

Google Analytics is the big player here, so head over to our articles on setting up Analytics and the essentials of Google Analytics to cover the basics.

Pricing and Costing

Here comes some number crunching. Pricing shouldn’t be an arbitrary thing – and it shouldn’t be one of trial and error, either.

You’ll want to be competitive while still having healthy margins, which means making sure that your costs are covered, with allowance for some profit.

A good approach is to estimate costs inherent in each of your products, then determine a price based on this – and informed by competitor research.

For some nitty-gritty insights, see our articles on the basics of pricing products properly and pricing for skyscraper-high revenue.

Packing and Shipping

Shipping can take a bite out of your profits if you’re not careful, so having a solid shipping strategy is essential. Not only will it help you make profit, but it’ll save you time – and make sure that your customers receive their packages promptly.

Packaging
Packaging is partly about keeping your products safe, and partly about promoting your brand. Sturdy and clearly labelled packaging makes for ease of delivery – while packaging that looks great can be a cost-effective branding strategy that helps build relationships with your customers.

Shipping
Shipping strategies can vary from pricing options such as free shipping and returns offers through to the inclusion of options such as courier shipping and parcel tracking. A generous shipping offer can encourage customers to buy up, while speedy shipping can be a must-have during seasonal events.

Brush up on your shipping and packing know-how with our articles on eCommerce shipping basics, on making a great impression with your product packaging and on adding free shipping to your products.

The legal side of things

Legals can be daunting to new store owners, but they’re essential for running an above-board business.

To save you time – and help you avoid any confusion over those tough-to-understand documents steeped in legalese – we’ve put together some handy legal document templates that you can easily drop into your eCommerce store.

Now you’re on your way to launching!

Launching and growing a business takes time and effort – that’s why only some of us put ourselves out there as entrepreneurs.

But with passion for your work, a great product, and all of the information we’ve given you here, you’ll be well on your way to opening your eCommerce doors to an excited audience of loyal customers.

From there, it’s all about the up and up. If you’ve got that initial taste of success but can’t help but long for more, swing by the Kong Academy for extra insight on growing the business that may just make you an eCommerce mogul!

www.trykong.com

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