An eCommerce store is something many of us have considered founding, but it can be difficult to figure out the first steps. A gig that can be just as much fun as it can be lucrative, establishing a strong foundation for your online shop is crucial. Although this will require some study, it’ll also be one of the most rewarding experiences of your career.

With so much to think about regarding the type of store you’re going to form and how you’re going to run it, it’s good to review the basics of the process.

Create A Timeline 

If you’re going to be launching an eCommerce shop, you’re going to need to plan accordingly. While the basics of how to start an online store can sound relatively simple, their actual execution and taking your business to a level of profitability is anything but easy. As noted by Inc File, there are over 38 million home-based businesses out there already, making an eCommerce shop one of the top choices among entrepreneurs and driving some fierce competition. That’s why establishing a timeline is vital.

Create a skeleton of what your goals are for your online store, including the type of inventory you’re going to have, the features you’d like to include on your website, and metrics such as gross sales or number of new or returning customers you’d like to see each month. Not only will these figures provide benchmarks for you to assess your progress, but they’ll also give you a sense of the brand identity you’re developing. While many of us can envision the exact website we’d like to launch, writing it out will provide you with the necessary direction to see the project through to completion.

After you’ve established your primary goals, start setting specific timelines in which you’ll get them done. For example, let’s say you’re not the best programmer, but want to implement an email signup program and estimate that it’s going to take you at least two or three days to code. By developing a concrete timeline, you can not only give yourself a little extra cushion to complete tough tasks and develop a realistic timeline for investors and colleagues, but you can also hold yourself accountable to your goals.

Focus On UX 

User experience, or UX, is perhaps the single most important aspect of any website. This is how people navigate your page, including everything from the first thing they on your landing page to how seamless your checkout process is, and it can be a pretty sophisticated science to work through. In fact, according to Hubspot, as much as 77 percent of agencies believe poor UX is a significant weakness, as the flow of information/events helps to drive sales. UX is something a lot of big-name firms spend thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or even millions, on each year, because it’s that important to an eCommerce vendor’s success.

Start by drawing some maps to reflect the flow of your website, including what elements you find essential (for example, your blog, product demos, and so on). Depending on your skill set and budget, you might want to look into contracting an agency or searching for the best website creator. When it comes to a builder, you want to find something that meets all your needs the first go-around, as adding elements later can either cost extra to code or are incompatible with the platform. Whatever you decide to do to build your website, remember that the flow of your site should lead to your end goal, whether that’s a sale, an email signup, a blog share, or some other relevant action you want visitors to take.

Don’t Forget About Branding 

In finalizing everything that’s going to make your website amazing, it’s time to start finalizing your branding and how that will play into your site and the rest of your online presence. Your brand will be the business’s identity, and it’s imperative to get it right the first time and come up with features which resonate with both your vision and that of your customers.

Start by imagining your brand as a person, including what type of personality they’d have, the clothes they would wear, the job they would work, etc. As silly as it may sound, these are important elements to consider, since they will help you determine everything from color schemes to the typefaces your brand uses. As noted by LucidPress, color alone increases brand recognition by 80 percent; in combination with your other branding elements, you can begin building a reputation.

It can be useful to check out some case studies for solid branding as you consider what design elements you’ll choose for your business. The vape brand Juul, for example, utilizes fruity textures and color schemes to highlight the different flavors of their cartridges. Looking at your favorite brands with a more critical eye toward their branding strategy can help you build your own business identity. Overall, your brand will ultimately be an extension of yourself, so invest the time and effort to get it right.

Have you established an eCommerce store? Share your strategies for starting a new business in the comments.