Welcome, 2023! ✨
The start of a new year is always a great motivation to set up new goals and objectives, both personally and in your professional life.
Maybe this is the year when you finally decide to launch your own business or give it a second chance. If that’s the case, we want to help you establish the basics so you can start your e-commerce store and do your first sales successfully, all without leaving your home.
Without leaving home you say? Yes! Nowadays with Print-On-Demand services, starting a business is easier than ever 🏠
You don't have to worry about sourcing, fulfillment, and shipping, which are probably the hardest, most expensive, and time-consuming parts of a business.
Instead, you can focus on building your brand and engaging with your customers.
Of course, that's a lot easier said than done. Knowing what to sell, who to sell it to, and how to sell is a great challenge. And one that we want to help you with! 😉
Since starting a new project can be overwhelming, we've created the ultimate checklist so you can stay organized through the whole process and avoid missing any important steps.
This way you can actually save time and money, which is key when you’re launching a store from scratch. Just be sure to follow it carefully and you will be running your own business in no time 😊
Checklist to have your own POD store! ✅
Let's go through them one by one! 👇🏻
1. Define what kind of product/s you want to sell
This is the core and foundation of your business, the most important decision. What do you want to sell? Do you have any design ideas to differentiate your products from the rest? Is there a market for that product? Are you going to offer ready-made things, offer your own designs, or offer personalized things? 👕
Print-on-demand companies have hundreds of options for you to choose from, but if you don't want to sell the same product that everyone else does, try to find something unique!
Maybe you already have a specific idea or objective, but if you’re at square one, make sure to do some intensive research before deciding. Here are some options of products that will be best-sellers in 2023!
Luckily, today we have research tools that can make your search a lot easier. You can analyze beforehand what are the best-selling products on any market, their current prices and profits, engagement on social media, and more!
2. Define your audience
This is also a key point, where you have to decide and understand who your audience is. Who will want to buy your products? Are they for a specific gender or age? Maybe for a specific occasion or time of the year? 😊
Knowing your audience will also help you define your logo and brand image, and will be important for your future marketing plans. If you understand who your buyers are, you can target them with the correct message.
3. Research for competition in your niche
Once you are sure what are you going to sell, and to whom, it’s time to do some research and analyze your competition. How many are they? Who are they? What do they offer that makes them stand out? What can you do to differentiate from them? 🤔
If you want to dig deep into your competition, there are advanced tools that can help you analyze your competitor's performance on search results or on social media, such as SproutSocial, SEMRush, or Ahrefs.
4. Think about which sales channels you are going to use
The e-commerce world is vast, and there are many channels you can use to sell. It’s not only a matter of choosing whether you’ll have a brick-and-mortar or an online store 🏪
There are many platforms and marketplaces online where you can showcase your products. You can have your own e-commerce store or sell your products on a marketplace such as Etsy or Amazon, or most likely both! Analyze the benefits of each channel and where your audience usually shops to understand which one is the best for your products.
5. Choose the right platform for your store
Once you have chosen the best channel, it’s time to pick the right platform. If you want to have your own e-commerce store you can use platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce to easily launch it.
Each one of them has pros and cons, so make sure you do a bit of research before going with one. We recommend going with one that gives you the best ease of use, this will be your bread and butter so understanding how it works is key. They all offer free trials, so our advice, try them out and see which one feels more comfortable for you 💞
6. Pick a Print on Demand (POD) service for your business
Then, it's time to choose the POD company! There are different options available, but something important you should consider is to choose one that can easily integrate together with your e-commerce platform of choice, to automate order processing.
You can also order samples to check the quality and make sure the product you are selling is something you'll be satisfied with. We have a complete article on tips to help you choose the best POD company for your business, so when in doubt, check it out! 😉
7. Think of a great name for your store
The heavy and intense research part is over, now it’s time to be creative!
Choosing the name of your store can be a fun process. Do a list with options, try naming them out loud to other people and ask for their opinions.
8. Check if the domain for that name is available
Now that your store has a name, you must verify that it’s available and there isn’t another store with the same one (at least in the area where you’ll be selling).
Verifying if the domain is not being used is really important as well, and of course, if it’s available, buy it!
9. Create email accounts for the business
After buying your domain create some business email accounts with it. You will probably need different ones to keep everything organized, some options, for example, could be email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
10. Create a logo and brand image
You have already defined the name, the products that you will sell, and your target: now your brand needs a look and feel. If you are the creative type this will be a fun task to tackle yourself. If not, find a designer, explain everything you have decided so far, and create together a brand image that represents it. If you don't know any designers, you can hire expert freelancers online on webs like Awesomic or DesignCrowd.
This step is super important, so don't be afraid of being picky. Once the website is launched and you start advertising it, that logo and colors will be the ones that represent your business and how the public will recognize your brand ✨
11. Configure the basics of your store's site
Preparing the basic pages of your store might seem simple, but it's very important that you get it done correctly. For most people, your homepage will be the first approach to your brand. Make sure your brand is well-represented and that people can easily understand what you have to offer without scrolling too much.
The contact page is the second most visited page of a website. Make your contact channels clear, and add a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page explaining shipping, returns, payment options, and more, that will always help people easily find the information they need ❓
12. Establish different contact channels so your customers can reach you with ease
Try to establish different contact channels for your audience. Some of them will prefer to send an email, but others will always choose a quick chat or a phone call to dismiss their doubts faster.
If possible, allow people to submit a form directly on your website instead of asking them to write an email. The more options you give to the audience, the better 📲
13. Prepare materials to showcase your products
Think what's the best way to showcase your products. What specifics do customers need to know? Their size, what they are made of, how to take care of it? Include all of this in a thoughtful description.
Then think about how you will show the product. Good product pictures are key, most POD providers will provide you with mockups which is a great way to start. If you can also invest time in getting studio pictures of your product that will give you an extra edge.
Always remember to keep your product in mind, if it's very complex you might want to add a gallery with photos from multiple angles. If it is personalized, you might want to add a preview so your customers can see how it will look in real time.
14. Organize to optimize your products setup
The cataloging of your store is probably the most time-consuming step of the way, depending of course on the number of products that you have.
After you're done with the basic pages, you have to properly configure and set up all of your product pages with the material you have. Preparing what you need to upload ahead of time, is a great way to keep things efficient 💪🏻
Create a list of your products and add all the product titles, descriptions, attributes, and variants. Optimize the images with the correct size and make sure they all have the same file type.
15. Carefully review and define the payment and shipping methods
Doing some test orders on your store is key to making sure everything works smoothly. Verify if the prices are displayed correctly if the shipping methods and costs are right and clear if discount codes can be applied, and how, if a confirmation email is sent after the purchase, etc.
The payment process is the more delicate part of an order, so make sure all the information is clear and that the checkout process is easy to follow 💳
16. Install an analytics tool
It's important that you set up an analytics tool from day one, so you'll have data to analyze from day one. Who is visiting your store? Where did they come from? How many of them made a purchase? 🤔
Some e-commerce platforms have their own data reports included, but you can always add another one, like Google Analytics, to complement the information.
17. Install other apps to enhance your store
If you’re new to the e-commerce world, you should know that there are many apps you can add to your store today to enhance it and make your job easier. And by many we mean THOUSANDS.
18. Create social media profiles to lead people to your store
Social media profiles are really simple to set up, and what’s best, they are free!
Do some research and analyze which are the ones that your audience uses. Having a presence on social media with basic contact information is really important today because most people search for indications and social proof online 🗣️
This doesn't mean you have to go crazy and invest all your efforts here, but at least take some time to configure the profiles, make sure that your logo and brand image are properly displayed, publish your website URL, and make all your contact channels clear. That will work for a start!
19. Bonus: Invest in paid ads
Investing in paid ads is always a good idea. It doesn't have to be a lot of money, you could set up a campaign with a budget of 1 dollar a day!
If you've done your job correctly and your e-commerce store and social media accounts are configured properly, the people that know about your brand will surely find you online easily. But what about the people that do not know you? The fastest way to reach them is by paid ads. You can run different types of ads, and on different platforms such as Google, Facebook and Instagram. If you feel overwhelmed by this, just try to start with 1 ad, on one of the platforms, and analyze the results. Then you can progressively add more options.
20. START SELLING! 😊
Now you have a lot of tips to start your own business, or to try again if you did it before and weren't successful 💪🏻 You can do this!
And you know what? The best time to start is NOW! 🎯🚀
Happy 2023! 🥂