How to launch your online business.

Oct 05 2018 | PayPal editorial staff

Get recommendations from our ecommerce experts for a successful launch.
Congratulations on finding your inspiration and deciding to bring it to market. This new venture can provide you not only a source of income and fulfillment, but also give your soon-to-be customers a solution to a need they didn’t even know they had.

We’ve assembled a list of recommendations from our top partners and small business experts to help ensure your launch goes successfully. Below are just of few of the tips to get you into the ecommerce game.

1. Should I make or buy my website?
Deciding whether to build your own ecommerce website or to go with a turnkey solution—or finding a hybrid solution somewhere between the two—is one of the first choices you’ll be faced with when launching. The answer depends a lot on your view of the following:
  • Customization. What level of customization do you need to sell your products or services? How often do you need the basic functionality of your site to change relative to your day-to-day operations and your projected growth?
  • Expertise. Most small business owners are Jacks and Jills-of-all-trades. However, very few of us also have the design and technical proficiency required to build and launch a successful ecommerce website, even just overseeing a developer.
  • Budget. Most small businesses, especially those requiring a large investment in inventory, are faced with limited launch budgets. The costs associated with building your own website can be high—sites can run into the tens of thousands of dollars for design and development.

2. Choosing a domain name.
The obvious choice is to use your business name. Surprisingly, that might not be exactly the best name for your website.
When you choose a domain name, you should go through the same process you did choosing your company name. You want it to be memorable, easy to find, and easy to promote. However, there are special considerations for your domain name that you should consider, such as length, avoiding special characters, and choosing extensions.

3. Designing your site.
If you’re shopping for a turnkey solution, make sure the service offers mobile-optimized templates (these days, most have built their templates with mobile viewing in mind). Look for phrases such as “mobile optimized” or “mobile responsive.”

If you’re creating an ecommerce website from scratch, it makes the most sense to approach your design as a multi-device web experience, rather than following one set of best practices for desktop and another set for mobile devices.

4. Choosing a shopping cart.
If you use a turnkey solution, the shopping cart will be integrated in your package. It’s important to check out the level of customization available, and whether the shopping cart works equally well for those of you selling intangible goods (software downloads, music downloads, etc.).

If you build your own website, you’ll need to choose a shopping cart provider who can integrate with your backend server and payment gateway.

5. Inventory and order management.
Depending on the number of SKUs you sell, uploading products into your ecommerce solution can be a time-consuming task. Turnkey website providers have built-in apps that walk you through the process of uploading products with options such as sizes and colours. If you decide to build your website in-house, there are software packages that you can integrate yourself.

6. Accounting integration.
If you don’t yet have an accounting solution, look for one with a robust set of tools that meet your needs. Beyond just balancing your books, today’s accounting solutions can give you the ability to perform a wide range of tasks:
  • Send invoices and get paid online: Great for service-based businesses. Most packages give you capability to customize your invoices for a professional look.
  • Order management: As we mentioned above, some accounting solutions have an order management feature to track goods once they’re sold.
  • Sync with your shopping cart and online payments: Likewise, make sure the solution syncs with your online merchant service/payments processor.
These are just a few of the recommendations for setting up your launch for success.
The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.