How to Build & Launch a Successful Online Store

Once you’ve made the decision to make an online store, the process of launching it can be confusing and overwhelming.  There are a lot of decisions to make, and focusing your efforts in the wrong areas can lead to months of wasted effort.

Fortunately, you don’t have to blindly guess at the best approach.  Based on my successes and failures founding numerous eCommerce stores, these guidelines will help make your own eCommerce launch a successful one. If you want to learn how to make an online store, you’ve come to the right place.

Pick an Easy-to-Use Shopping Cart

The more time you spend wrestling with a complicated shopping cart, the less time you’ll have to focus on what really matters:  creating valuable content, interacting with your customers and marketing your business.  So make picking an easy-to-use platform a priority when launching.  You can always change/upgrade later if you need to (just make sure you don’t botch your website migration).

The easiest way to build an online store is to use a fully hosted, subscription-based cart.  These services take care of all the hosting, payment integration and technical details, allowing you to quickly get a site up and running.

There are numerous options to choose from but I strongly recommend Shopify (aff link).  It’s the cart that I migrated my own store to and have been thrilled with the features, performance and support.  Here’s a full list of popular hosted carts on the market:

You’ll pay a monthly fee for just about any hosted cart, but it will be a small price to pay for not having to worry about security patches, server configurations and regular updates.

If you’re technically inclined and want a bit more control over your store, you’ll want to pick a self-hosted cart.  My top picks for self-hosted cart for a new store owner are WooCommerce and OpenCart.

WooCommerce is a plug-in for WordPress which transforms the popular CRM into a shopping cart.  It’s fairly easy to install and has a number of themes available for it.

OpenCart is a stand-alone open

source shopping cart that’s known for being lightweight and easy to customize.  If you’re a bit more comfortable on the technical side I’d recommend going with them.

I do NOT recommend Magento for new store owners despite it’s popularity.  It’s a very powerful cart but is overly complex and extremely difficult to host.  I used to be a Magento user and moved to Shopify due to the complexity and problems it caused – particularly for a small team without a dedicated programmer on staff.

Here’s a list of the most popular self-hosted carts on the market today:

I recommend staying away from ZenCart and osCommerce, as they are old platforms that people are moving away from. You can read more about the best eCommerce carts in our shopping cart comparison guide.


Launch as Quickly as Possible

It’s time to kill your perfectionist tendencies!  Making an online store and launching it quickly is one of the best things you can do for your fledgling business.

If you’re new to your niche, you likely have no idea who your customers are or what they need.  Oh, you may think you know, but you don’t.  So trying to invest in creating the perfect store to address your customers’ needs, wants and problems is almost certainly a waste of time.  Instead, build a basic store online as quickly as possible to start interacting with your customers to learn more about them.

Once you have a better idea about your niche, then you can improve your website based on your new knowledge.  And while you’ve been collecting all this information, you’ve almost certainly rung up a few sales, too.

Another reason to launch quickly is because it takes a lot of time and effort to market your store.  The sooner you have a storefront up and online — even a really basic one — the faster you can start telling the world about your business, building links and marketing.

In order to launch as quickly as possible, I recommend:

1)  Using stock descriptions and pictures – If you’re new to the niche, you likely know next to nothing about your products!  So use the manufacturer’s information to launch quickly and come back to write unique copy when you actually have something unique and authoritative to say.

2) Using a pre-built template – I don’t care what world-class graphics designers say; you do NOT need a fancy $5,000 custom-built template to do well with eCommerce.  One of my most popular eCommerce stores uses a built-in template, and I have never heard a single customer say, “Hey!  Is this a stock template?  I’m not sure about you guys ….”  Even if you use the most popular template in the world, 99.9% of your customers will have no idea.


Do It Yourself

When making your first online storeI strongly recommend doing as much as possible yourself in the beginning.  If you don’t understand how your business fundamentally works, you won’t be able to effectively train a team in the future.  And having to rely on paid contractors (programmers, web designers, etc.) every time you need to make a change is an expensive and helpless position to be in.

Doing things yourself also makes you prioritize what’s important to move forward and what can wait.  It’s really easy to throw money at a problem instead of really analyzing whether it’s: 1) really necessary and 2) a good investment.  When you do most things yourself early on, you’re less likely to waste  money on nonessential items.

I learned this lesson the hard way when I launched  In the past, I’d done just about everything myself, from building the site to marketing and SEO, when launching an eCommerce site.  When it came time to automate the business, I knew it inside and out and was able to competently train a team to manage it for me.

But when launching, I figured I could simply pay someone else to do all the hard work for me!  So I outsourced the site design to an expensive developer and invested a significant sum on a long-term SEO contract for marketing and traffic.  Overall, I invested more than $15,000 getting the site up and running.  With other people doing all the work, I figured this was going to be an easy, painless process!

But then I started running into problems.  When I needed to make a simple change to the site, I had to contact my developers for help.  I wasn’t familiar with the new shopping cart they used, and had to rely on them to make basic changes.  And because I wasn’t spending as much time marketing and connecting with others in my niche, I didn’t understand my market nearly as well.

Finally, more than a year after I hired my SEO firm, the site’s traffic took a huge nosedive when rankings dropped precipitously in Google.  The reason?  The firm I’d entrusted with SEO and marketing had used some sketchy tactics, and we’d been penalized by Google.

I’m now much more involved with’s site design and marketing, but it was an expensive lesson.  Don’t make the same mistake!  You don’t have to do everything forever, but make sure you’re intimately involved with the major aspects of your business early on.  It’s a much cheaper option in the long run.


Market Relentlessly

Most people grossly underestimate how much marketing is required to build a viable eCommerce business.  Especially in the early days, it takes a LOT of effort to get your business on the map and noticed.  For the first six months of any new eCommerce site, I’d recommend the following time priorities:

  • Month 1:  Make your online store and launch it
  • Month 2:  Improve your site
  • Months 3 – 6:  Market like your business depends on it … because it does!

That’s 67% of your time spent exclusively on marketing!  Not A/B testing, business streamlining or crafting a strategic vision. Not improving your site design or logo.  Fanatical marketing. The majority of eCommerce sites fail because they underestimate how crucial early stage marketing efforts are and don’t gain enough traction.  Don’t let that be you.

You may be thinking, “Chill out with all this marketing hype!  I’ll just run some advertisements.”  It’s true that advertising is a great way to kick-start your eCommerce business in the beginning, when no one knows about you.  And you can instantly drive traffic to your site to learn about your market by interacting with customers. But advertising, especially pay-per-click models like AdWords, is usually a poor long-term strategy for generating traffic.

The most effective advertising methods, like PPC Google ads, are expensive and will severely eat into (if not eliminate) your profits.  Pursuing SEO and other organic marketing efforts will provide a much higher return on your investment, more sustainable traffic and ultimately significantly higher profits.

Want to Learn More?

Like any business, there’s a LOT to know and learn when starting a successful online store!  If you’d like to learn more check out the free six day mini-course on how to build your own profitable store. There are also plenty of great eCommerce conferences with lots of useful information.


Photo by Jurvetson

Andrew is the founder of eCommerceFuel and has been building eCommerce businesses ever since gleefully leaving the corporate world in 2008.  Join him and 1,000 vetted 6 and 7-figure store owners inside the eCommerceFuel Community.

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  • Makes sense – it is all to easy and tempting to focus your energy on the site mechanics, especially for developers and engineers. Even if you are making no sales it still feels like you are making some kind of measurable progress (without really doing anything to boost sales).
    Marketing seems to be the hardest/scariest part, especially in a post Panda/Penguin world. It seems like a big black hole, with out a clear place to begin.

    • Over-optimization and tweaking can be a huge pitfall – you’re right! And next to picking a niche, marketing IS the hardest element of eCommerce success. I’ll be creating more resources about this in the future to provide additional guidance. Thanks for the comment!

      • Andrew,

        Please help me understand more on how to start the online store. I see and understand the above but its not specific on how to begin the the online store. What complexing the above is terms used to describe the business and platform to follow. the truth is I have no idea on what an online store is n how it works… by knowing it and knowing how it works I can be able to launch my online store.

  • Great post! And thanks for validating my choice of Shopify. They are great!

    We took this advice last week and went fully operational while waiting on the designers and already got a few sales! Check us out for nutritional supplements at

    • Congratulations on your launch and your first few sales – that is fantastic! Site looks good, and best of luck…

  • I’m starting to move away from Facebook Ads with my ecommerce store Andrew. The conversion rate is very low and it can get quite costly.

    What I would recommend is contacting the bloggers in your target niche. Many are very happy to bring the news of a new store/product and some will do a review for you if you send them a sample.

    Not only does this get your website in front of the right people for free, but the backlinks you’ll get are great for SEO.

    • Thanks for the tip – I’ve wondered about the ROI on Facebook ads. I’ve also had a lot of success with guest blogging, and it’s one of the best ways I’ve found to build traffic and SEO authority for a site.

  • Great tips here and I quite agree.
    I have been thinking of switching over to Shopify as I’m yet to hear anything negative about this company.

    • Thanks Owen! I think you’ll like Shopify. Please drop me a line if/when you get a store live with them….

    • I used shopify for 3 months and then switched to big commerce. Big commerce has better seo features, more custom cart features, a built in contact us page, easy to use invoices and several other features that shopify can’t come close to.

      If you need a simply basic shopping cart then shopify works fine….but big commerce is better all around.

      • Thanks for the feedback and experience, Gabe! That’s really interesting to hear. I hope to do some side-by-side shopping cart reviews in the future or – possibly – even provide a venue for other store owners to share their experience with different carts. I’ll look forward to trying out BigCommerce.

        • Not sure – have never done it! Currently I run my sites on Magento. However, for those starting out, I think Shopify makes the most sense due to it’s easy-of-use and simplicity.

          • Shopify is for sure the way to go if your just getting started. I worked with Volusion for over a year now and I’m still learning something new everyweek but with shopify it’s very simple and was able to get a store up and running in 2 days, Try doing that with Volusion lol.

          • Haven’t used Volusion, but I’d tend to agree on Shopify. Anyone getting started should strongly consider it.

  • Thanks, I like your post.

    Just as Mustafa above mentioned, what do you think about the Facebook ads? I recently had a conversation with a fellow friend who mentioned that if people use google/yahoo, they are more likely to be on Facebook and some say Facebook will open up the eCommerce “want” platform which have been long untouched.

  • Good insight! It would be nice to hear more about the product, specifically how you found and built relationships with manufactures and distributors, pricing, margins, etc. Many post you read online simply state success stories with marketing, seo, etc… but not enough emphasis on the actual products being sold, and how to obtain such products. Great post and would love to hear more on the product side of the business.

    • Thanks, Brent! Building relationships with suppliers and pricing issues are great post ideas, and I’ll add them to my list. Appreciate the suggestions.

  • I’ve learned first hand how difficult it is to get traction. I think it’s absolutely essential for an early e-commerce start-up to generate traction/sales right away. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see people actually paying to purchase your product. I’ll have to say, the first sale is the hardest.

    • So true! I remember EXACTLY where I was and what I was doing each time one of my new sites got it’s first sale. There’s nothing quite as thrilling! And the first sale is the hardest. Once you’re past that, it gets easier and things scale much more quickly.

  • Hi! I followed the link in your name from a comment on a 4HWW post =) Your blog is great! I’m really enjoying the tips so far, keep it up! If you have any suggestions about my (very new) shopify store, I’d love to hear them. I’m getting decent traffic from Google AdWords, but my conversion ratio is crap. Is it the cost? the content? I can’t figure it out! Any insight you (or other fellow readers!) might have would be great.

    • Thanks Melissa! And congratulations on launching your new store! It looks really, really nice. I definitely don’t think design problems are at the root of your conversion issues.

      My recommendation would be to make your value proposition clearer. $15 for a pair of socks IS pretty expensive, so you need to make sure your visitors instantly know why they are worth that premium. It needs to hit home within 5 seconds of visitors seeing your homepage. Currently, what jumps out at me is:

      – “BigSocksBigFeet” Logo. Are these socks only for people with big feet? Not sure…
      – The Slider Bar, which starts with “Bamboo + Charcoal” and a picture, but I’m not sure what that means.

      …so while I’m looking, I’m not seeing WHY these socks are different, and the benefits they offer. If your socks are superior at stopping stinky feet, you should have in huge, bold letters on your homepage:

      “Socks that FINALLY keep others from smelling your feet!”

      Or something like that. You only have a few seconds to sell visitors before they hit the back button, so make sure they understand immediately the #1 benefit of your offering.

      Best of luck!

      • Thank you so much for your reply! Your advice was great. I am working on my SideBar graphics this weekend, I think you’re right: it’s not clear from the firs t second who the socks are for, and why they’re the best. Thanks again!

      • I’m receiving a lot traffic through fashion bloggers but no sales! Please take a look at my site. I’m all ears with any advice you can give. Pretty frustrating!!!

  • Andrew,

    Great tips on the starting up.

    I tried to launch as quickly as possible and had a deadline I wanted to meet (to keep myself from procrastinating). However, I relied too heavily on the website development and when I wanted to make small changes I ran into a lot of problems.

    I think I got caught up in the outsouring craze (due to inexperience). However, for you to teach someone how to run your business you have to know how to run it as well. So for my next site I’ll be doing everything myself – keyword research, website development, email marketing,

    Lesson learned.

    • Great story and very well said! You usually can’t effectively outsource what you don’t know / understand. Otherwise, you have a hard time managing the process and knowing what’s an acceptable level of work.

      I think your plan to do everything yourself first – and then outsource it – is a solid one.

  • I didn’t see any mention of Tomato Cart in your article or in the comments and was wondering if you had an opinion on it.

  • Andrew,

    Can you provide your advice about inventory levels if we are not able to use a drop shipping method.

    Our suppliers are overseas and it will take them 7-10 days to deliver the items via express and it will also cost quite a lot for single orders as we will be paying international shipping for each order. We have opted to purchase the products in bulk and use a local fulfillment house to do this.

    As a result we have run into our first major dilemma – We are selling small accessory items and are wondering how much we should be stocking up on? Should we be focusing on 3 of each, 10 of each etc? Ultimately we do not know how much we can sell, but we also do not want to lose momentum if the sales start coming through for popular products and have to make our customers wait approximately 14 days in total to receive their product.

    Our market will be mainly within the same country so by normal or express post will usually reach the customers within 1 – 5 days. I don’t know how happy people will be waiting 14 days for an item to be restocked and delivered but at the same time we do not want to pay additional hundreds of dollars on inventory if we cannot sell.

    Your feedback would be much appreciated.


    • The only way to gauge what your demand will be is to put them for sale, start to market, and see how many sell! I would recommend ordering a minimum quantity of your products at first and see which ones sell best. Then, when you have a bit of sales track record, you can start purchasing more inventory for your best selling items.

      You may have some temporary shortages, but I think that’s better than buying a bunch of inventory that you can’t get rid of. Good luck!

  • Great post! I have and I am sure many others have benefited from your pragmatism.

    My site has almost zero traffic. Don’t know why? About to hire a SEO specialist but I guess I would take time to familiarise myself but where do I start? I am a “dummy” in these things.

    I am also setting up an ecommerce store. If I use a fully hosted (like Shopify) service, my understanding is that it would be difficult if not impossible to switch to self host in the future. Would appreciate guidance here.


    • Lim,

      In terms of traffic and SEO, these two articles will give you a solid foundation to work from on building a stream of visitors:

      With hosted platforms like Shopify, it is a little difficult to migrate but not impossible. But I think if you’re just starting out the primary problem most people face is getting a decent cart online quickly. Worrying about migration before you’ve built a business or proven viability is, I believe, putting the horse before the cart. Or stated differently, I think the benefits of getting a site online quickly with minimal fuss outweigh any difficulties in the future IF migration needs to occur.

  • Great tips! I currently haven’t launched an e-commerce store. I have quite a few more challenges than the average person being deployed in Japan. Going on 6-9 month deployments without internet makes it quite a challenge.

    Despite that, I’m hoping to get set up so I can launch a web store by the end of the year. I found what looks to be a great niche, lot’s of searches (60,000+) and the top website on google has about 80 backlinks. I only found one website that is specific for this niche, and it’s not even in the U.S.!

    My only challenge will be to find suppliers.

    As far as fulfillment goes, have you any experience with Amazon? I feel like if I use Amazon for fulfillment the free super saver shipping will be huge.

    • Thanks Adam! In terms of Amazon Fulfillment – or Fulfillment by Amazon – I haven’t used them, no. However, I’d definitely consider it if / when I expand into a niche where I stock my own products. Worth looking into for sure. Best of luck as you’re looking to get your store up-and-running!

  • Hi. Thank you for all your great, relevant information. I launched a ecommerce site late last year and am trying to figure out the best marketing plan. I too have spent too much on Adwords with little conversion. Now I am working on link building. Any suggestions would be appreciated. FYI: I am using Volusion.

    • In terms of AdWords, you’ll have the most luck if you focus on exact match searches that are focused on individual products – and NOT on general terms. Then, as you test for profitability, you can expand into phrase and broad match IF the exact match campaigns are profitable.

      Best of luck, and glad you’re enjoying the site!

  • Great article! I totally agree on the ‘do it yourself’ since ‘you’ know more about your business than SEO experts do. You also get a chance to learn from you mistakes. Let me get to marketing while I learn more about SEO…

  • Thanks Andrew for your insightful tips.

    I am an SEO and have handled everything online over the years, but for my own e-comm start-up I too was considering getting a custom design and hiring an SEO Writer to do the marketing for me. However after reading your post I think I’ll try to do as much stuff as possible by myself, specially at the early stages of business development.

    Thanks once again!

    • I think that’s wise, Ashish. To grow, you eventually have to start outsourcing and delegating. But the more you understand, the better you’ll be able to delegate and manage others.

      Best of luck and thanks for reading!

  • I really wish I read this article much sooner. I just realized that I wasted over $11k on web design, google adwords and Prestashop modules within the past 4 years. Totally sucks, but we live and we learn.

    Thank You!

    • Don’t feel too bad, Tierra. Even if you did spend $11K, you still learned a bunch of stuff about design, AdWords, and other issues. It may not have been worth your total investment, but you did likely get more out of it than you might think AND you’ll be much better prepared next time.

  • Hi Andrew:

    Great article, really. Unfortunatley I read after we launch our Online Store however good luck for us that in a intuitive way, we just did it as you recommend in the article 🙂

    We launch it the past week and now we’re focus on the Mktg Strategy, focus in our target market and studying our post statistics, ohh I realize that I forget to mention that is a Online Store ON Facebook, you can access it from anywhere but we don’t have an own domain or url web site.

    My big concern at this point – keep in mind that we’ve just one week open – HOW LONG WILL TAKE TO SEE THE FIRST SALES?

    Thanks in advanced for your response

    • Congratulations on your launch! The time to first sale really varies, and depends on a number of things including your marketing, offering, pricing and a number of other factors. But personally, I’ve always seen the first sale within a week or two of opening.

      Best of luck!

  • Andrew,
    Great article, it was very informative. I am trying to research to launch my own ecommerce site and I have a question about inventory. How does manage its inventory if you don’t mind me asking? Drop-shipping? Large warehouse? I’m just confused on how to launch a successful business as far as inventory goes. I’ve heard mostly cons about drop-shippers but have no experience.

    Any information and advice would be extremely appreciated.


    • We drop ship 100% of the products from and use to sync our inventory with our suppliers to reduce the chance we’ll sell something that’s out of stock. Drop shipping definitely isn’t perfect, and cons include low margins and fierce competition. But if you’re good at marketing and adding value, it’s a low-cost way to startup a business and run it from anywhere.

      Hope this helps!

  • Hi Andrew,

    I have found your blog just a few days ago and I have to say that I am quite impressed and I am regreting that I did not find it earlier.;) Almost all the information you have here I already know by finding by myself over many months. But here all the information needed is on one place. It’s simply awesome.

    I am from Czech Republic and last year I have set up business in US in order to sell on Amazon to make some cash to build and run my own online store. The process of setting up everything legal and finding supplier took almost a year, but in January I finally started to sell products on Amazon via FBA. After three months on Amazon I got really sceptical to be able to make decent money due to very low margins. But in any way, I tested several types of products this way so I got a clue of what sells good. After those three months I started working on my own online store and just a few days ago I launched it. You can check it, it is about lighting –

    It took me less than two months ( omg, I just count it! It is really only less then two months. Seems to me like a year! ) and I know it is not perfect. Many things are not finalized – I would like to add some banner on the home page about free shipping, adjust descriptions ( Im using feeds from my supplier, but he has really poor descriptions ), etc.
    What I am really proud of is that everything I built to automate everything. So, I dont need to care about importing products, pictures, inventory, etc. The store is build on OpenCart platform ( I did not want to pay monthly to anyone, even commission. 😉 ) using one stock template for 30USD. In total, to run the store I pay only for domain and hosting.

    I would like to concentrate now about promoting the store using Facebook, Pintereset, blog and other techniques you describe here. In the meantime I want to improve the design, descriptions, etc.

    I must agree with you in one thing you mentioned in the post. Do it yourself! This is not important only when building online store, but in any other job. When you know the basic processes, you can beat anyone later with your knowledge. Also, with strong base, your house will not fall down. My favourite saying is – when you want to reach the top floor of the house, you have to step on each stair.

    • Wow, great story Lukas. Thanks for sharing! I checked out your light shop and I think it’s a GREAT start. Clean design, good pictures and you didn’t spend years getting it online. Well done. I think getting a site up quickly is important, so you can start marketing it and interacting with customers. Then, once you have some traffic coming in and know a bit more about the niche you can invest the time to really make it a valuable resource.

      Best of luck with your new store and thanks for reading!

      • Andrew,
        thank you very much for your feedback! I appreaciate it!
        Currently I have in the store few main categories, but subcategories are just Manufacturers, which I dont like to have it this way. It is quite messy and I am worried, that if I start marketing the store now, no one will place any order. What do you think about it?
        I actually already started analysing all the products to separate them in other subcategories – e.g. in case of baterries, the subcategory will be type of the baterry ( AA, Rechargable, etc ). I think this will add value and also help customers to easily find what exactly they need. I have to say also, that this way ( to sort out how to manage subcategories ) one can get many ideas of what to write about on blog, or so, because I am currently like a customer – trying to go through products and pick the one I need. That is great to get to know everything about the niche.

  • Andrew!

    Amaizing tips I must say.. I am planning to start a webstore in China and wanted to ask if shopify and would work since the content will be in chinese. Also I am very confused in deciding a marketing strategy due to non existence of facebook etc. Your any information or advice about chinese online market would be highly valuable.

    • Hi C! Yes, I’m fairly sure eCommHub and Shopify work together. Don’t know too much about selling within China, I’m sorry. Best of luck!

  • Hi Andrew, great article! Thank you so much!
    I’m a bit down as I’m struggling to get that first sale. My site has been online for about 2 months, I have checked the competitors prices and I have some deals that make me competitive. I think the site looks professional as I hired both designers and developers to help me build it.
    I’ve been running Google Adwords for few weeks with CTR around 16%, but no sale yet so I had to stop that as I don’t have any budget for it anymore.
    Can you suggest any recommendations? I’ve started social media campaigns about 3 weeks ago, so far have about 270 fans, but they seem to stick for free stuff and giveaways only….
    I would be really grateful for any suggestions.

  • Andrew! I’d just like to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading what I stumbled upon above. Not only are you clearly a Pro at this stuff, you are thorough as well as thoughtful. I like the fact that you listen to people and also respond to their questions/comments, it says a lot about you. I am just starting to learn about online business and how to open and operate my own online store, so I’m sure glad I found you! I’m not in a position to pay much upfront, trying to get it going on a shoe string, but I won’t let that hold me back. At the moment what I have is a desire, a domain name and time to learn how to make those things work together to provide a modest income. Part of me wants to do a small handmade craft store (or LARGE!) selling items I create (5-7 different types of handmade and small batch items) and the other part wants to start big with a drop ship type of business selling items manufactured by someone else. Any ideas, input, advice from you would be greatly appreciated. I already have a few pages of notes from your above replies and when I can afford it will be buying your ecommerce book! Thanks for being a solid guy in a world of internet confusion and craziness!

  • I wish I had seen this a year ago…I wasted so much money hiring a web designer that did nothing but cost me. To top it off he made me believe I have to go purchase hosting and after spending all that money…everything died. But now after reading and picking myself up again I have restarted using shopify and I’m doing it all on my own. I’m only just now beginning but that article has given me the encouragement that I needed. Wish me luck!

  • That’s awesome. I built an eCommerce website (Rakfirst) and still in it’s early stage, but yet to be lunched. I believe this article will really help me in perfecting a better pro launching strategies.

    I use Tomatocart for my design and hosted by ipage, i believe starter’s can take advantage of this platform. Is really simple and looks professional.

  • Great ~~ BEST AWESOME~~~~Article.
    I was struct with this article very.
    I encouraged great. I’ll try my ecommerce site again.
    sorry my pooooooly english ! (I am japanese)

  • Hi I’ve recently done a web site as I’ve been selling at fairs, shows etc and people keep asking if I have web site. So I done it and although I seem to have people going to site (368 in 3wks) no one seems to be buying I made web site myself as haven’t got resources to pay someone can u help me with tips to get people to my site
    Many thanks karen

  • Loved the piece. How do I get over being a perfectionist though? I’ve got a vision, it’s not over the top but I want to atleast have a great start with quality. Also, I’ve been told to start small with my products. Now that’s not quite possible as I have a big range. What do I do about the risk of stocking more products?

  • Every success is in the marketing. You should be marketing as soon as you have at leas 5-10 items on your store. Becoming a social media ninja is a MUST! and that means not just on Facebook, EV-ER-Y SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM. if you spend at least 20 hours per week on marketing you are still not doing enough, pull your finger out and make success happen

  • Hello there, OMG! i found your article at the right timing, i was just getting ready to give up on my online purse store store i’m trying to set up on shopify, everyone keep saying shopify is easy but for me its not, i was suppose to launch my store on March 27th but i haven’t been able to do so.. i tried editing the theme store my self but i cant get the right look, i’m so frustrating, Shopify customer service is not that great every time i call they keep saying they have a high call volume and hang up on me….i’m paying $29 every month, i feel like i’m giving free money away.. I even thought about switching to “Weebly” do you have any info about them… because i need a hosting page that’s cheap and that has the most minimal amount of work to be done by me. i wish i was a computer geek instead of a fashion guru.

  • We are about to start a ecommerce market place portal in India and would need some recommendations, answers to FAQ’s related to this business.

    1). What platform is best suited for a ecommerce market place in India, looking at big players already in the market.

    2). If we get this developed from a vendor , completely outsourced and hire a team simultaneously to maintain, update, look after the site on day to day basis , will the procedure be helpful

    3). I want to go by pace of a tortoise and not run along side big fishes and end up my small capital

    4). Being new to this business with no background, the big question in my mind is I see thousands of products one com market places already existing, and how will our new portal bring in these products online.

    5). Can you advise more tutorials online where I can study about the portal basics and know what my team / outsourced partner is doing.

    6). While planning for a team, do you think a team of 2 Technical guys updating and maintaining site on day to day basis + 2 guys looking after content management / merchant management / new a/c set up etc + 2 guys for post sales logistics

    looking for your comments.

  • I agree on all aspects of your blog. I just Launched my website about 9 months ago and it has been a really rough road. I use I use PrestaShop for my e-commerce Platform. Great Post!

  • Andrew, I have quite the opposite issue from most. I have been a long time marketer with much success. Radio, print and personal appearances. At 63 years old I am not an internet novice but I am certainly not up to par. Where and how to aim my marketing is my issue. When I find the arena and know how to navigate it I will be fine. Hope you can help. Oh yes, you gave the gal with the sock store good advice. Everyone should heed it. “It doesn’t matter what venue you are marketing in, you have precious little time to catch the consumers attention. Don’t get caught up in being cute, funny, fancy or any other time wasting effort, first and foremost state what your product does, then why its best, then why they should buy it and then the name, unless you did the most important thing in marketing first, made the name describe the product. If you don’t have a zillion dollar McDonalds ad budget, make your name describe you product or what you are doing specifically. Then you can see conversion happen. Works the same in all marketing. Thanks Again Andrew.

  • I enjoyed the post as well! I will have to spend some time coming up with some marketing strategies now. Also, I would love if you check out my site and give some feedback, it’s fairly new and I so have o work on the product images. But other than that, what would you recommend? Trying to get my first sale but it hasn’t happened yet. Fingers crossed! Thanks for the info.

  • Hi,
    I’m desperate for some help. My own online brand of supplements has been available to buy for over a month but still no sales! Am I wasting my time? My supplements are suitable for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free diets!
    Any help appreciated, thankyou x

  • I also recommend Shopify for start-ups! Easy of use, affordable package plans, awesome and modern themes to choose from, and excellent customer service! This is really a great platform if you are considering to open an online store.

    Please click the link below to know more what Shopify can offer to your business:

  • Any advice on integrating all selling sites to be managed thru the one site. One that is compatible with Australian sites like eBay, quick sales, gumtree as well as personal website?

  • Good points you round up here Andrew.The most critical part is selecting the platform on which you want to work to develop your website.Shopify services are no doubt excellent.If I have a choice of selecting the hosted solutions than I will for sure select the Shopify.

  • Hello,
    Thanks for the tips. my store is 2 months old exactly and I don’t think we are doing so well, is there something I am not doing right? we get lots of abandoned carts and so many visitors who just look around and leave. I put so much into this business and also hired web developers who only started coaching me on uploading photos just last week. I quit my job to start this business and I have spent a lot already. please help!!!!

  • Makes perfect sense.
    Am just curious to know about the logistics part too. The shipping retainer fees that I am getting proposals for for my upcoming online marketplace are far more than I would make any profit for the whole year.

  • Great article Andrew. The importance of needing to put a lot of effort into the marketing side has made me feel positive about all the efforts I am currently putting in to try and get my business of the ground. Thanks!

  • Hi, 1st off all, I am very impressed by ur post. Thank u for the post.
    Currently I am running a mobile shop. I have some doubt to clear. For example, for the product Micromax MMX377G, the MRP is 1900 and the micromax distributor is giving me 20% discount. But, the online whole-sellers are selling this product by 60% discount.
    I would like to run an online store too beside my mobile shop. So, my question is, is it possible to sell that product online as well as offline, if I purchase the product from online wholesellers. Will there be any objection from the local distributor, if I sell that product offline, i.e. in my mobile shop.
    Please clarify my doubt.
    Thank You

  • It’s necessary to move your store online or integrate ecommerce onto your website is as eCommerce skyrockets as an industry. I enjoy the focus this article has on the importance of the eCommerce platform. Business owners are forced to pick from a variety of different platforms, a decision that can have its advantages and disadvantages. Shoprocket has a similar bost post that you may be interested in reading.

  • Great blog – thank you – still relevant years after it was posted. We’re in the early stage of the journey at and trying to balance SEO and SEM along with other approaches (affiliates, email lists etc….)

    We feel we’ve got something really strong to offer but it clearly takes time. Any advise (if your still monitoring replies) on good places to post content

  • Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for writing this article. I have recently launched my web store selling lifestyle items and men’s fashion ( and I think many of these advices would have done me some good had I saw them sooner. I definitely agree with the doing it yourself strategy. It is much cheaper and prevents you from depending on others in the future. I have also found out that the meta data things for social media scaring (open graph) are a pain in the a$$.

  • Love this article. I think the reality of starting up is you have to force relevance! No one owe’s you anything and you have to earn brand knowledge and relevance- how do you do it? Marketing, marketing, marketing. You either pay for it, or work hard getting your message out.

    I’ve recently started – selling branded merchandise into Australia- to date, all my traffic has been paid for in some form or another. Either CPC or affiliate. Am I working on growing unpaid? Absolutely but up front I am trying to get the message out there. Feedback on my site is alway’s appreciated!

  • Hello Andrew

    You are a God sent. I am inspired by your words. I am a Young African from Cameroon. I want to creat an online store for the first time and will be getting into a niche that needs valorization in cameroon. The fourniture sector. I think what i just read from you at the moment has given me the fuel needed to make this happen dream a reality.

    Stay bless and continue to write inspiring arts like this.

  • Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for such inspirations and ideas you’ve shared, deeply appreciated.

    I’ve ran into so much problems regarding my clothing line ecommerce web ever since year June 2014. Its been half a year.

    I have all the ideas and story regarding my streetwear brand. However, I have no idea how can I share it with my audience. I have no idea how can I do a perfect webstore like other brands do. In additionally, I’m facing serious financial problem with this company. I have thought of using SEO.

    right now my plan is to:
    take better product pictures.
    nicer lookbooks
    better descriptions
    Live chats with customer

    Right after these are all set, I’ll use SEO.

    Does this plan sound reasonable? I’m stuck and lost. I have no idea how to generate my sales, although I have my ideas on this business.

    Please help me out Andrew!

    Best regards,

  • Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for such inspirations and ideas you’ve shared, deeply appreciated.

    I’ve ran into so much problems regarding my clothing line ecommerce web ever since year June 2014. Its been half a year.

    I have all the ideas and story regarding my streetwear brand. However, I have no idea how can I share it with my audience. I have no idea how can I do a perfect webstore like other brands do. In additionally, I’m facing serious financial problem with this company. I have thought of using SEO.

    right now my plan is to:
    take better product pictures.
    nicer lookbooks
    better descriptions
    Live chats with customer

    Right after these are all set, I’ll use SEO.

    Does this plan sound reasonable? I’m stuck and lost. I have no idea how to generate my sales, although I have my ideas on this business.

    Please help me out Andrew!

    Best regards,

  • Great post. In addition to getting your ecommerce shop up and running quickly you should also consider to check some of the more manual processes to make sure your plan is solid. Do you know how you are going to ship for example? or what about the return process? Here are some other things you might want to think about as well:

  • I am having some difficulty because I am trying to get my distributors product information to show up on my site. I have absolutely no knowledge of xml and that is what I need in order to integrate their site with mine. I have tried to go through the distributor, but all I get is a written guide.

  • Great post, I followed your advice and created a website in shopify., now to market it!

  • Great article! I learned some good information. I’ve been planning my store for about 2 yrs now and finally got the means to get my online jewelry store up and running. And my road blocks have been my marketing strategies. I reach out to people, but don’t really see a lot of interested people. I just launched a few days ago and could use some productive criticism. Thank You!

  • Great article and thanks to all of your readers for their helpful hints. I have not found Google ads have given me any return. I may not have been taking full advantage so don’t take my jaded experience as gospel. I have just had a website developed ( ) and I was told that my response times were slow so I might be penalised by Google. Any truth in this?

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