14 Questions Before You Launch an Ecommerce Website


An Australian entrepreneur recently earned over $20,000 in online sales in only four days, just to stop accepting orders and sell the company. In the end, the store made money, but the curious story needs to encourage other entrepreneurs to […]

An Australian entrepreneur recently earned over $20,000 in online sales in only four days, just to stop accepting orders and sell the company. In the end, the store made money, but the curious story needs to encourage other entrepreneurs to ask some critical questions before launching an ecommerce site.

Mat Carpenter’s narrative is, one supposes, largely positive. Mat, who apparently hates glitter, opened his business, Send Your Enemies Glitter, almost as a joke. For $9.99 the company might send you one of the many enemies an envelope filled with glitter with the expectation that if the receiver tore open that envelope the sparkly contents could spread everywhere and make a nightmarish, albeit glistening, mess.

The Send Your Enemies Glitter site earned more than $20,000 in sales in only four days.

Turned out that the joke was on Mat. Orders poured in — perhaps thanks in part to the website’s foul-mouthed promotional copy — meaning that Mat had to handle gobs of glitter. That, it appears, wasn’t worth it.

The site stopped accepting orders, and substituted the checkout with a message. “Hi guys, I am the founder of this site. Please stop purchasing this dreadful glitter product — I am sick of dealing with it. Sincerely, Mat.”

In the Long Run, Mat managed to sell Send Your Enemies Glitter for $85,000 on Flippa. The new owners are already accepting orders again, and they have even dropped the price for mailing a glitter bomb to only $4.99.

If you’re going to begin an ecommerce company, you may be thinking that you wouldn’t be too upset if it was like Send Your Enemies Glitter. However, in the off chance your online shop does not go viral, would not it have been better to ask some insightful questions before you have started?


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What follows are 14 questions that you might want to ask yourself before you start an ecommerce site. The purpose, however, isn’t for you to browse through them like a checklist, but rather to use these questions that will assist you ask questions of your own — the appropriate questions, if you will, for your new company.

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1. How Much Can I Expect to Sell?

Having a business plan before you launch your site is vital. By way of instance, if you do not know how much you expect to market, you won’t know how much to spend. You may over or under spend on hosting, web development, or perhaps on stock.

Why not have a realistic idea of how you expect the company to grow? Look at competitive websites or try to find market quotes from industry sources like trade associations.

2. How Can I Build the Website?

Often entrepreneurs will begin an ecommerce company for one of 2 reasons. Either they have a passion for a product or business, or they have the specialized skills to construct an ecommerce website and wish to use those abilities to make money.

In the latter instance, building the website will be relatively straightforward. But in the former, you are going to need help. You may want to hire a web programmer or pick a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that offers easy-to-use templates to get the website up. If you hire a programmer, you’ll most likely get a more customized website, however you’ll also pay more.

Also, think about what your website will have to do. Send Your Enemies Glitter had one product and only 1 page on the entire website. It was, undoubtedly, a lot easier to develop than a website selling a few hundred products.

3. How Can I Manage Site Maintenance and Updates?

Before your ecommerce website goes live, you are likely to need to have a strategy for how to deal with updates to the website platform or any related software or services.

4. How Can I Host the Website?

SaaS ecommerce platforms will include the hosting; there isn’t anything more to do for many companies. But SaaS isn’t the only alternative. Hosting a website on the cloud has become quite inexpensive, so it’s worth running the numbers and deciding what makes sense for your company.

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5. How Will I Place Products on the Website?

This question may sound obvious, but really getting products loaded into an ecommerce platform can be a substantial challenge.

In case you have ten products, manually inputting product information and uploading product images will not be too bad. But in case you’ve got a couple hundred products, all that data entry will get old, quickly.

Is there an automatic or programmatic means to get up products on the site?

6. How Can I Manage Inventory?

After products are up and active on the website, how will you handle stock? If you just sell online from this 1 shop, it will not be too bad. Brick-and-click retailers will need some way to reconcile stock from a physical store with items sold on the virtual one. And if you intend to market on marketplaces such as Amazon, how will those sales impact stock on your primary website?

7. What Types of Payments Should I Accept?

What sorts of payments will your new ecommerce company take? There are credit cards, PayPal, as well as Bitcoin. How will the payment options chosen affect the website? Will you want a particular checkout form? What about extensions or plugins to encourage those payments?

The goal of a ecommerce business is to sell products or services electronically. That will not happen unless you have got the payment processing figured out.

8. How Can I Safeguard Customer Information?

When you are considering payments, do not forget to think about how you are going to protect customer details. The Payment Card Industry (PCI) has a standard which you will need to meet if you’re going to accept payment cards. And in addition, there are considerations beyond payment info. Customer addresses and emails will also be confidential. How will these be protected?

9. How Can I Collect Sales Tax?

Sellers in america may want to collect sales taxes for many authorities. Before, online retailers only had to collect sales tax for countries or jurisdictions where they had a physical place, so an internet seller in Colorado only had to collect sales tax in Colorado.

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Now ecommerce businesses may have to collect sales tax for each purchaser’s state, county, or town. You will need to understand what you’re accountable for and how you are going to look after that obligation on your new ecommerce website.

10. How Will Order Fulfillment Work?

Once the website is up and orders are rolling in, how are you going to process and fulfill orders? Will you will need to look at a dashboard to find out when an order comes in? Are you going to receive an email about every purchase? How do you process the order or print the packing slip? Do you want a physical box? Which carrier will deliver the package?

11. What Sorts of Consumer Service Can I Provide?

How will customers ask questions or express concerns? You need to take care of your clients and ensure they have a terrific shopping experience, but how will they get a hold of you? How can they interact with you? You will need to know the answers to those questions before you begin selling.

12. Can I Integrate Reviews and Opinions?

Reviews, ratings, and comments can help build trust. Shoppers that are not familiar with your business may be ready to give your website a try if there are positive reviews both on your website and on other websites. How are you going to integrate these? Are you going to use a third party tool or rely on something built into your ecommerce platform?

13. How Can I Bring Shoppers?

Mat Carpenter built his website, sparked some attention, and brought plenty of customers. Are you able to do the same? Will you will need to incorporate a blog on your website? Links to social media? What is going to make your website stand out on search engines?

14. What Other Questions Should I Be Asking?

Hopefully those questions got you thinking about your new ecommerce company in a manner that can allow you to avoid some issues. However, the most important questions to answer aren’t necessarily those listed here, instead they are the specific-to-your-own-business questions that you will need to ask yourself as you launch your new ecommerce website.

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