by Mian Taimoor Ahmad
Launching an e-commerce store looks like a daunting task, but following a structured approach can ensure that you have all the steps covered for launch of a successful e-commerce store. Once you have the products and know what to sell on your e-commerce store, the following 10 steps are required to launch an e-commerce store from scratch.
- Decide a Domain name (the website name) that you would like for your e-commerce store. You can register for a domain from Godaddy.com for global domains or Pknic.net.pk/ for .pk domains.
- Decide the Platform to launch your e-commerce store. You can go for Open Source platforms like Magento, WooCommerce and merge it with your customized or WordPress website, or choose SaaS like Shopify, Fishry Wix. You can find more details about deciding the best platform here.
- Prepare Content for the website, including but not limited to, banners, product images, product file including the name of the product, its description, prices, inventory. At this stage you also need to prepare the static pages for the website which include things like About Us, Exchange/Return Policy, Shipping Policy, Contact Us, FAQs etc. Product photography will play a big role at this stage of the process as customers will see the product image first.
- Finalise the Navigation of the website by specifying the header/footers pages and sections, thus focusing on the UI/UX user interface & user experience of your e-commerce store. E.g. static pages at the footer, home & collection links in the Header etc., the filters to choose on the website according to which your products can be identified. The search option on the website also needs to be clearly visible on the website to provide an enhanced user experience.
- Decide the e-commerce operations & Order Fulfilment Process. At this stage, you have to integrate the SMS notification, Email notification and streamline the fulfillment process. This also includes the channel, product, Inventory & SKU management. The best way to start is to have dedicated inventory for your e-store so as to ensure the product availability upon getting the order. You need to define multiple smaller things here like setting up favicon, setting up taxes & delivery charges in the pricing, finalizing what information to get from customers at checkout, ensuring the banners are Mobile optimized, business & care address and its modus operandi.
- Decide on the Logistics partner for your product delivery, both local and international. TCS, M&P, Call Courier, Cheetay & Leopards seem to be doing the bulk deliveries in Pakistan, whereas DHL leads the way for International deliveries. Integrate the shipping partner with your e-commerce store so you can generate the order slips automatically & provide order tracking service from your website. At this stage, you also decide whether you’ll be using your own product packaging or sending your products in the shipping partner packaging.
- Finalise the Payment options for your e-commerce store. Though more than 80% of orders in Pakistan are COD, but still you need to provide more options to the customers. Credit Card merchant accounts are provided by 4 banks in Pakistan currently, MCB, UBL, Bank Alfalah & HBL. Keenu also provides merchant accounts services. Apart from Merchant accounts, other payment options include Finja SimSim, Easypay, JazzCash, ARY Sahulat Card etc. for local payments. For International payments, Paypal, Stripe, 2CO seem to be the most common payment gateways being used in Pakistan. Advance Bank Transfer is also used by many players, but it slows down the purchase process.
- Enable Analytics and tracking codes and required Add-ons for your basic e-commerce store. Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel are the 2 most common and helpful tools that should be enabled on your website so you can get insights about your store, track the customer journey and start collecting data on the basis of which you can grow your sales. At this stage, you can also integrate other add-on apps/services like re-marketing tools, referral tools, loyalty services, email tools, CRM tools etc.
- Integrate your Social Media (Facebook Page, Instagram, YouTube Channel) with your website so you can provide a single entity to all your digital assets. At this stage, you also need to set-up your chat option on the website which can also link with your Facebook page.
- Launch your E-commerce store! Start promoting your website on Social Media, launch performance marketing that can help you drive traffic to your website which will pass through the sales funnel and perform conversions on your website. At this stage, you should also set-up your E-mail marketing, SMS marketing and engage other tactics that will help to attract, activate & retain the customers.