So here is my 12 step plan for launching my new ecommerce brand! Exciting!
Step 1 – Choose your business / niche.
Whether you choose to sell on Shopify or Amazon picking a niche is so important.
If I could go back to 2015 when we started on Amazon, the one thing I would change would be to have picked a niche that we were passionate about, that we could have built an audience around, that we could have created content about and that we could have talked about all day long.
The mistake is just to go for a niche because it’s popular. That will get you so far, possibly even 7 figures far on Amazon, but the landscape is becoming so competitive, the more passionate you are about a niche and the more you build an entire brand around it the better an advantage you have.
I honestly believe that micro brands are the future.
Amazon has completely cornered the market for the one stop shop where you can find everything you need.
My personal recommendation would be to get very specific with your niche and start a store in one narrow area, such as yoga pants or a specific type of sunglasses or a particular type of water bottle etc.
Some great examples are;
My brand is an outlet for my ‘female empowerment’ passion. It’s called Legends Not Ladies, quote by Stevie Nicks and is a hat tip towards feminism I guess (am not a feminist per say). But I do have a desire to be apart of the female empowerment movement and thought his would be a great outlet to support women everywhere.
It’s also an experimental brand as I want to have a play with print on demand and drop shipping, neither of which are ideal long term options for me.
Print on demand suits creatives and artists more as the profit margins are tight so if you are the designer your outlays are less.
Drop shipping has long delays between ordering and receiving and you cannot always test the quality of a product. Plus there is no uniqueness. You are simply advertising someone else’s product and saying it’s your brand.
For a long term sustainable ecommerce business you want to be private labelling products and branding them with your own brand and even better, creating products which are completely unique to you.
However both of those require purchasing and holding large quantities of inventory and so to begin with we’re just going to pick the low hanging fruit to get a hang of the business model without too much risk.
Step 2 – Purchase domain
Ok so now you know your niche you can do steps 2, 3, 4 & 5 in tandem or in any order.
Step 2 is to decide your name and purchase the domain.
The name of my brand is ‘Legends Not Ladies’ based on a quote by Stevie Nicks. I love it!
It’s created mixed emotions in my community with comments such as the ’not’ part is negative and ‘why can’t we be both’, but this is where you have to go with your own gut instincts.
I believe if I named my site Legends & Ladies or something similar it would just be another vanilla brand in a sea of vanilla brands.
Legends NOT Ladies has a bit of oomph about it. It’s a bit contentious and has an air of feminism which I’m not particularly affiliated with, but I do like the connotation so I’m sticking with it.
Don’t spend too long here. You could spend months trying to think of the perfect name and domain. Just pick something you think could work, not too complicated, fairly easy to type and go for it, even if you can only get the .co or .net version.
People find websites via links these days so .com is nowhere near as important as it used to be.
Step 3 – Create brand outline – avatar, colours, feeling etc
Pretty important step is to decide who you’re selling too.
I talk a lot about customer avatars and truly there is no better explanation online that Digital Marketers customer avatar worksheet I recommended in last weeks podcast.
Just go to digitalmarketer.com and search for Customer Avatar worksheet or see the link directly under the podcast.
Once you know who you’re selling to, you can start to think about your brand colors, the feeling you want to portray on your site, how you want your site to look.
The best thing to do at this stage is to have a look through other ecommerce websites and make a list of ideas for your brand.
Just google ecommerce website examples or head over to the Shopify blog for loads of ideas.
Step 3 – Decide what you want to sell.
What products will you sell?
This will depend largely on the niche you have chosen.
For example if you have chosen the jewelry niche because you make it, then you’ve decided the product before the niche.
Let’s say you decide to go into the pet niche, there are so many ways you could go; outfits for dogs, pet food, safety products, training products, grooming products.
I would say start small and scale.
So for instance my brand is about female empowerment so my growth strategy is as follows;
1. Print on demand – T-shirts, pillows, bags, shoes, mugs, journals etc with empowerment quotes
2. Drop shipping – Jewelry / Stationary
3. Private Label / Own products – Journals, diaries, stationary, bags
4. Affiliations – books, other people’s products
5. Not for Profit – Ideally the end goal is to use the site as a vehicle to sell products made by women in developing countries funded by micro loans.
If we take the pet example, you could start with outfits for small dogs, then move into say harnesses, then maybe add safety products, then training products, then grooming products etc.
Or you could stay with just outfits and become a dog fashion store.
The choice is yours, go where your passion lies. (Hence my brand leans towards stationary, I love it!)
Step 4 – Choose how you’re going to obtain your products.
As I said in Step 1, you have a choice between Print on Demand, Drop Shipping, Affiliation, Private Label, Manufacturing Your Own Goods.
Only you can decide which business model suits you right now.
Print on Demand means that you just need to design the artwork and all the products will be printed and shipped directly from the manufacturing company.
Drop shipping means that you advertise the product, the buyer purchases it and you them purchase it from the manufacturer who then sends it directly to the buyer.
Arbitrage means you buy things cheaply and sell them for a profit. So you may head down to your local stores at sale time and stock up just to sell at a higher price later from your own site.
Affiliation means that you advertise other peoples products and get a commission for every sale you make. Be careful with this one as profit margins will be low.
Private Label is where you source products in bulk, usually 5,000 or more and brand the product with your own brand name either directly on the product or on the packaging.
Manufacturing your own goods says what it does on the tin. You would design and then find a manufacturer to make your own unique branded products. To be truly unique you’d need to go down the route of patents etc or the manufacturer can just sell your design to someone else by the way.
I know it’s a crooked world!
Step 5 – Decide where you’re going to sell.
Locally? Internationally? In just one specific country?
Again this greatly depends on the niche you’re in and the business model you choose.
I have a friend I’m working with who wants to open a clothing store and she has all the clothes in her home which she had designed and made a while ago for another project she was working on and once she’s sold those she has a manufacturer she knows who she will continue to source clothes from.
She will wrap and ship the products herself so she will start her site selling only locally to ensure the system of shipping etc works, that she’s profitable and then we’ll look at expanding her reach.
You may find that print on demand is too expensive to ship internationally. I’ll tell you more when I’ve had a play.
Drop shipping most products will probably come from China so you should be ok to sell all over the world but to start with you might say just in your home country to test the waters.
If you’re arbitraging it usually means you’ll be shipping it yourself, so you’ll need to bear that in mind.
If you’re private labeling & / or manufacturing it will all depend on profit margins and where you’re shipping from.
We’ll cover this in more detail as we go and grow, but just bear this step in mind.
Step 6 – Create logo & site designs
Alright so with all decisions made it’s time for the fun stuff!
Get your logo designed! (Or design it yourself)
I’m a terrible designer so I paid $299 to 99 designs and started a design competition.
It’s still running at the moment but I’m pretty sure we have a winner. Plus it’s given me some great design and color ideas for the site.
Shopify comes with lots of great free themes so once you’re signed up you can select a theme and then decide the images and colors you want for that theme.
Don’t spend too long here. You could spend months building the perfect site only to sell nothing!
Focus on the products and the sales process, you can tweak and improve the site as you go.
Step 7 – Sign up for Shopify or your ecommerce store of choice.
For my store I will be using Shopify because it’s super easy to use, built specifically for you to sell products & has lots of apps & bells and whistles that connect it to print on demand services, drop shipping services & social media for easy promotions & sales.
Other ecommerce options are;
and various others.
You need to research the platforms & decide which is best for you.
Right now though I’m signing up to Shopify’s basic plan at $29 / month with a 14 day trial.
Step 8 – Add theme / designs / products / payment vehicles
Depending on the platform you choose you now need to add your site customisations such as logo, colours, images, payment vehicles (PayPal, stripe etc) & of course your products.
Make sure you’re in my FB group to watch over the shoulder videos of me adding products & setting up my store!
Step 9 – Go Live!
Yippeee! It’s time to go live.
You can let out a huge sigh of relief, your site is live & now people can come flooding to your gates…..
Wouldn’t that be nice!
Step 10 – Create IG / FB / Pin – pick one as your main one
Nope. Now the site is live it’s time for the hard work to start.
Here are 3 steps to get you started but I’ll discuss launch strategy & promotion in another podcast.
Firstly create a social media account / page, whether that be Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, you choose.
Pick just one as your main account.
You can setup apps that copy your content across to the other accounts just for when you get started. You can employ a team later to really start to cover all angles.
I’m starting with IG.
I’ve found a name & created an account & bio – you can check it out & follow if you like. The link is in the show notes.
Step 11 – Populate with cool content pertaining to brand
Start posting valuable content!
My strategy is to gather together lots of awesome quotes from lady legends across the eras, add them to nice backgrounds or photos & start posting.
I’ll also start to recommend books, websites, articles & podcasts created by legends!
Plus of course I’ll gradually be feeding in images & links to the products on the site.
Step 12 – Begin building your audience
Here’s we start to get super juicy.
With our valuable content we will start to build an audience of people who resonate with our brand.
Then we’ll create a freebie or two to encourage people to join our email list.
Maybe it’ll be a discount or a digital product that complements our products.
But the goal will be to begin building our community of potential buyers.
Then we’ll up the ante with more content, co promotions, influencer marketing and paid ads.
But that’s enough for now!
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode & it’s given you the steps & the impetus to get going.
If it all sounds too scary just start with baby steps.
Step 1, Step 2 etc.
Bite it off in small manageable chunks.