As the digital age continues to transform the way consumers interact with brands, more brick-and-mortar print shops are adapting to include an online retail presence. It’s a smart play considering the apparel and accessories e-commerce sector is expected to generate over $138.7 billion in revenue by 2022.
The time to take your business online was yesterday. Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to launch your e-commerce site.
1. Select a Domain Name and E-Commerce Web Host
A domain name is an address a user types into the URL search bar in a browser that directs the user to your website. Start thinking about a few domain names that would work for your business, and select the best one.
Note: There’s a possibility your desired domain name may already be copyrighted or taken. If that happens, Neil Patel lists a few things you can do.
E-Commerce Web Host
An e-commerce web host is a physical location where your site and all of its information is stored and includes features required to manage a commercial website (i.e. shopping carts). Some great e-commerce web hosts you can choose from are Squarespace, WooCommerce, Wix and Shopify.
Note: For this article, we’ll be placing an emphasis on Shopify, which is very user-friendly for those who don’t know HTML.
2. Pick a Theme for Your Site
Think of your website’s theme as the “storefront” of your brand. In a recent survey about e-commerce consumers, 47 percent of respondents said they preferred using mobile to shop online—so you’ll want your theme to be a responsive design.
Using a pre-designed, responsive theme will save you time and spare you from all the frustration that comes with starting from scratch. The Shopify Theme Store has over 100 free and premium e-commerce templates you can use.
3. Find a Web Developer
Unless you plan on using the drag-and-drop design features offered with your Shopify theme (which is a great option!), you’ll likely need to hire a web developer. To clarify, your theme provides the framework, however, your website still needs to be tailored with the necessary features for your online store.
To determine the right web developer for the job, ask these questions:
- Do you have experience building sites with this specific e-commerce platform?
- What does the launch timeline look like?
- Do you have a background in graphic design?
4. Start Building Out Your E-Commerce Site
At this stage, you’ll want to be thinking of powerful website copy that will convert your consumers from “browsers” to buyers. At the bare minimum, your site should include:
- Product pages with your inventory (If you’re selling graphic tees, make sure to include mockups of the artwork on blank t-shirts or take product photos.)
- A homepage where you can feature any announcements or deals
- An about page to tell your brand story
- A contact/customer service page so potential buyers can easily get in touch with you
5. Activate the SSL Certificates
SSL certificates are vital for any e-commerce website looking to gain trust from consumers. These certificates encrypt any sensitive information customers may provide to make it difficult for hackers to steal information, such as payment info. It also encrypts your online store and secures the content you publish. Having these certificates provides the green lock you see next to URLs when shopping online, and will change the link from “HTTP” to “HTTPS”.
6. Choose a Payment Gateway
To receive and process online or mobile payments, you’ll need to choose a payment gateway. You’re likely familiar with PayPal or Stripe, but if you’re using Shopify you can utilize Shopify Payments to accept credit cards (without needing a third-party). They also support many other external payment gateways should you find a better-suited option for your brand.
Note: Getting approved for a payment gateway is a long and tedious process, so don’t wait until the last minute to do this!
Once you have all of these things set up, you’ll want to square away the logistics, such as online pricing and researching shipping options. Don’t forget to let everyone know your new e-commerce site is up and running, and continue to market your online retail to gain traffic and revenue!
In search of wholesale apparel for your new e-commerce merch? S&S Activewear offers a wide range of high-quality options, featuring some of the most beloved brand names!