Since 2015, the e-commerce industry has grown by roughly 11% a year. By 2021, worldwide e-commerce sales are expected to reach almost $5 billion, up from just $1.3 billion in 2014. If you want to cash in on the digital boom and get your slice of the e-commerce pie, you need to begin by building a website and getting your business online. Here’s our 10 point e-commerce checklist to get you started.

1. Secure your domain name

One of the first things you’ll need to do when setting up an online business is secure your domain name. Ideally, your domain should be the name of your business followed by .com, or another good quality TLD. If you find that your preferred domain isn’t available, you can either use a variation of your business name or opt for a less popular TLD.

2. Register your business

Before you can begin trading, you need to register your business. Firstly, you’ll need to choose a structure for your new company. If it’s just you managing the website, ordering stock and dealing with customers, you’ll be a sole proprietor. If you’re working with someone else, your business will be a partnership, or you could also choose to make your business into an Ltd, a Plc or a community interest company. The type of structure you choose will have an impact on how your business operates, so make sure you do your research before making a decision.

3. Find hosting

In order for your site to appear on the web, you need to find a host for it. Take a look online, and you’ll see that the choice of hosts is fairly extensive, so you’ll need to put a little work in to see which option is right for you. Before you sign up for a hosting company, make sure you put some thought into how much space you’ll need and if there are any extra features your site will require. You’ll then need to compare companies to see which offers the best combination of quality and value.

4. Photograph your products

Good photos can make a huge difference to an online business. Having high-quality pictures on your online shop will help visitors see your company as professional and trustworthy, so it’s well worth splashing out on high-end images.

5. Build your site

Once you’ve decided on a company name, found a host and taken pictures of your products, it’s time to start building your website. At this point, it’s a good idea to pay for professional support if you want to achieve a good quality finish. Make sure that whoever builds your site creates an easy-to-use content management system so that you can update images, text, and copy in your own time.

6. Add copy

The copy is another essential element of your website. As well as informing your customers about your products and services, it helps to tell search engines what your site is all about. Instead of cobbling together a few basic sentences, try putting a little more effort into making your copy easy to read and interesting. It’s also a good idea to keep SEO in mind as you write your text.

7. Add a shopping cart

If you want customers to be able to buy from your online shop, you’ll need to add a shopping cart feature to the site. This shopping cart will allow customers to select various products from your site as they browse, before making a payment when they’re done shopping. There are a large number of shopping carts available online, some free, others paid for. Spend a little time going through the available options to ensure you select the cart that suits your needs.

8. Add a payment gateway

The payment gateway is one of the most important elements of an e-commerce site. If the gateway isn’t easy to use, or if it doesn’t look trustworthy, customers may well give up on the purchase before payment is complete. Ask your web developer to talk you through the various payment gateway integration options to decide which best suits your site.

9. Go through your site to check for errors

Spend a little time going through your site to check for typos, errors, and anything that isn’t working as it should. Mistakes will make your company look less professional and, therefore, less trustworthy – which can put potential customers off and have a negative impact in your business.

10. Start promoting your e-commerce business

Your webpage should now be fully functional and ready to go! Start promoting it on social media and send an email round to any existing customers telling them about your new site. You can also promote it via a blog, if you have one, or ask a related business to link to your URL from their webpage.

With e-commerce growing at such a rapid rate, now is the perfect time to build an online business of your own. As more and more transactions take place online, the potential for profit is only going to grow. Make sure you get in on the action now, before it’s too late!