You need to take a number of steps in preparation for setting up your ecommerce site as shown below.

1. Research Your Competition

Take time to research your competitor's pricing, delivery services and charges, promotional strategies, multi-channel distribution (e.g. ebay and Amazon) and social media presence and promotions. Ensure you can compete on price and service and still make your margins. Work out what else you can add that drives a competitive advantage for you.

2. Add 10% Marketing Into Your Business Plan

Ensure you have allowed a minimum 10% online marketing budget within your 3 year business plan costs. In your 12 - 18 months, it may require 13% to become established, or more if you are selling into a highly competitive marketplace. So if you aim to turn over £100,000 in the first year your marketing costs should be a minimum £800/month unless you have a soft start or alternative marketing approach. Read these articles for an explanation of the different marketing approaches.

3. Get Your Product Information Ready

Request all the product information you need from suppliers or manufacturers in electronic format, including:

Product descriptions

Product images (at least the the main image plus any additional images they have)

Product videos (links to Youtube are ideal)

Product pricing (the standard cost plus any quantity discounts)

Shipping costs (from them to you, or if a drop shipper then to your customer)

Returns policy

4. Prepare Your Images

Images uploaded into the system should be uniform in shape - typically square and measuring 600px by 600px. Read here for more information on image re-sizing and file sizes 

5. Calculate Your Delivery Costs

Contact couriers for the cost to delivery your products to your customers across your chosen geographic markets. You can set up as many delivery zones as you want meaning you can set different shipping costs to all countries in the world, plus sub-divide them into regional areas within countries if required.

6. Set Up Your Banking Arrangements

Start getting your bank account, merchant account and payment gateway or payment processor set up straightaway as this can take anywhere from 2 - 12 weeks. Read this article for more information on payment set up. Once you have your bank account set up you can then purchase your SSL certificate.

7. Source Your Packaging

Find suppliers for your packaging and for printing your compliment slips, coupons or other promotional material to go with your package. You will need a printer to print your despatch notes and "Documents Enclosed" envelopes with a transparent front. Your despatch note is designed to be folded to show the customer address and simply inserted into the documents enclosed slip to save you writing on the packaging. The system can also print despatch notes in batches to also save time.

8 Create Your Pricing Policies



customer groups

quantity break pricing

9. Create Your Terms & Returns Policy

Document the terms of use of your web site, privacy policy, EU cookie policy, your business terms and returns policy. Make sure you are familiar with the UK's Distance Selling Regulations and the Sale Of Goods Act.

10. Set Up A Google Account

Head over to Google and sign up for an account if you don't already have one. This is needed for sharing Analytics information with you.

11. Set Up A Marketing Diary

Prepare a simple calendar of activities to promote your business online and record key moments. For example, when you exhibited at shows, turned on Adwords, new product launches, new season stock, end of line clearance and so on . You can use the free Google Calendar  to record this.

Congratulations! You are new prepared for your ecommerce business.

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