Social Media for Businesses

How to Start an Online Store: The Ultimate Checklist

how to start an online store

If you’re wondering how to start an online store, take a look at our handy checklist. It’ll tell you everything you need to know to get the ball rolling!

With e-commerce sales set to soar to $4.5 trillion by 2021, it’s no wonder you’re looking to open an online store. Everyone shops online these days, so why not make a profit from it?

If you’re unsure on how to join the millions of moneymaking e-commerce shop owners, we’re here to help. Fortunately, learning how to start an online store doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds. When you’re ready to start, just abide by this checklist to make sure things run smoothly.

Pick Your Niche

When you pick your product you need to be sure that you’re actually interested in it. Since you’ll be selling the product every day, it has to be something that you don’t utterly hate.

If you’re knowledgeable and passionate about a certain product, that’s great. However, the most important part of this process is finding out if it’s a good financial choice.

Scope out other e-commerce shops specializing in your field. Does the market for this item seem overcrowded? In this case, you’ll have to make yourself different from everyone else–consider doing better marketing, offering free shipping, or letting customers customize their orders.

Figure Out Pricing

How much does your product typically sell for online? While it’s helpful to mimic what other online shops are doing, it’s not always the best choice for you. It’s important to offer a reasonable price that works for you and the customer.

Selling your items for prices that are too low means that you won’t get a high return on investment (ROI). But if your prices are too costly, your customers will be less inclined to buy the product on a whim. Instead, they’ll scour your product reviews and might even need to contact your customer support with questions about the product.

Choose Your Platform

You don’t have to be incredibly tech-savvy to know how to open an online store. There are e-commerce platforms that even the most inexperienced can operate. You just have to choose the one that’s best for you.

Open Source

Building your e-commerce store using an open source framework is usually completely free, but it’s not for someone who doesn’t want to dabble in code. While you’ll be able to customize your store, you might encounter some problems when you begin to program it if you’re not experienced.

One of the most popular open source platforms is Magento. Magento is perfect for anyone looking who wants to have complete and total control over their website’s functionality and design. More importantly, Magento has a huge community who can help in case you get stuck.


Using a hosted platform is easy if you want to set up your store quickly and without many obstacles. Hosted platforms allow you to create your store on their own servers, and provide you with the required tools to do so. You’ll likely have to pay for this service, but it’s usually worth it.

Shopify is a leading e-commerce platform that makes it easy to build your store. With plenty of themes to choose from, along with the ability to track inventory, Shopify is perfect for the beginner who’s willing to pay a monthly subscription fee.


This platform is also not for those who are shaky with technology. Licensed platforms allow you to install their platform on your computer and start an online store from there. However, you’ll be required to get your own hosting and security for your store.

You can try CS-Cart if you’re willing to go through the trouble of hosting and finding security. With a one-time payment, you can build your website using pre-made themes and a user-friendly interface.

Create and Design Your Store

Here’s the fun part. You get to choose everything that you want in your store. From product pages, categories, and the home page, you get to design it all.

Don’t underestimate the power of design. Since your website is the first thing that your customer sees when they click on your link, it needs to look legitimate and sophisticated in order for a customer to want to purchase an item from you. Most e-commerce platforms allow you to choose from hundreds of themes that’ll make your website look attractive.

Logo design is another thing you should consider when you’re opening an online store. Your logo is representative of your company and should look professionally done. If you can’t design the logo yourself, consider hiring a graphic designer to do the job for you.

Payment Options

You want to get paid, right? Determining how your customers will pay on your website is crucial. Allowing credit card payments is essential to making your business convenient and successful.

Most websites can use credit card processing options for a fee. Research all of your options before choosing one for your website.

On the other hand, businesses selling cannabis products, or gambling services, can’t use regular credit card processing. You’ll need to consider using high risk ACH processing instead.


You’ve got the product, the website, the design, and you’ve chosen how you’ll get paid. Now, all you need to do is advertise your business. There are plenty of ways your business can reach your customers.

Use search engine optimization (SEO) to get your website on the top of the page on Google. You can also try your hand at advertising on social media, whether it’s through boosted posts, or by creating regular updates on your all of your accounts. Email marketing is another way to reach your customers–having your customers sign up for email updates can be used as a lure to get your customers to buy more.

Learning How to Start an Online Store Isn’t So Bad After All

Once you know the basics of how to start an online store, the rest is simple. You might encounter some challenges along the way, but running an e-commerce store can prove to be satisfying in the end. Who knows, maybe your e-commerce store will make enough profit so you can finally quit your job.

Want more tips on marketing your online business? Check out our blog.

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