Ecommerce Business Blueprint: How to Build, Launch, and Grow a Profitable Online Store

The future of ecommerce is bright. But starting an ecommerce business is hard work and demands many steps and decisions that need to come together at the right time.

To help, we’ve put together a comprehensive blueprint for starting a business, compiled from Shopify’s most popular content. These blog posts, guides, and videos have been organized based on the most important tasks you’ll face when researching, launching, and growing a profitable ecommerce business.

I. Choosing a product

Finding a product to sell

The first step to building an ecommerce business is knowing what products you want to sell direct-to-consumer. This often is the most challenging part of starting a new online business. In this section, we’ll highlight strategies you can use to find product opportunities, explore the best places to look for product ideas, and finally, look at trending products to consider.

  • Find Products to Sell on Shopify with Oberlo

  • Strategies for Finding Your First Profitable Product Opportunity

  • Places to Look for Profitable Product Ideas

  • Trending Products to Sell in 2020

  • Online Business Ideas You Can Start from Home

Evaluating your idea

Once you have a product idea in mind, how do you know if it will sell? In this section, we’ll cover a few approaches that active entrepreneurs have used to validate their product ideas and potential market.

  • How to Validate Your Product Ideas

  • The 16-Step Checklist to Evaluating Your Product Idea

Obtaining your product

After landing on a strong product idea, your next step is figuring out where and how you’re going to obtain your products. The next four posts cover the various methods for acquiring your products, along with the pros and cons of each model.

  • Should You Make, Manufacture, Wholesale, or Dropship?

  • How to Find a Manufacturer or Supplier for Your Product Idea

  • 12 Shopify Apps for Finding Products to Sell (Without Shipping Them Yourself)

  • Print on Demand: A Low-Risk Way to Sell Custom T-Shirts, Books, and More

II. Research and prepare

Research your competition

You’ve found your product, evaluated its potential, and sourced a supplier. But before you get into that, you’ll need to thoroughly research your competition so you know what you’re up against and how you can differentiate your business from theirs.

  • How to Conduct a Competitive Analysis

  • How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis

Writing a business plan

With your competitive research complete, it’s time to write your business plan. A business plan is a roadmap that helps bring your ideas and thoughts together. A business plan is vital in determining what to prioritize and how to effectively reach new customers.

  • A Detailed Guide to Writing a Useful Business Plan

  • Business Plan Template: A Framework to Streamline Your Next Business Plan

III. Setting up your business

Naming your business

Aside from finding an actual product to sell online, another challenging decision is determining your business or brand name and choosing an appropriate and available domain name. These blog posts will help you tackle these important tasks.

  • What Should I Name My Online Store?

  • Choosing a Brand Name: 10 Tools & 5 Brainstorming Strategies

Creating a logo

Once you’ve selected a memorable name and registered a corresponding domain, it’s time to craft a simple logo. In these resources, we’ll show you several options for creating a great logo for your new business.

  • Hatchful: A simple logo maker by Shopify

  • 5 Easy to Use Online Logo Makers to Design Your Brand

  • How to Design a Memorable Logo in 7 Steps (We Make One From Scratch)

Understanding search engine optimization (SEO)

You’re almost ready to begin building your online store. However, before you jump into it, you should understand the basics of search engine optimization so you can properly structure your site and pages for Google and other search engines.

  • The Beginner’s Guide to Ecommerce SEO

  • What Can I Do to Help My Store Rank in Search Engines?

  • Keyword Research for Ecommerce from the Ground Up

  • Business SEO Checklist: How to Rank a New Site

Building your store

With a better understanding of search engines, it’s time to build out your store. There are many crucial elements to consider. Below, we’ve listed our essential reads to help you build high-converting product pages, write captivating product descriptions, shoot beautiful product photography, choose your ecommerce color palette, and much more.

  • 50 Exceptional Shopify Stores to Inspire New Entrepreneurs

  • 11 Experts Share How to Optimize Your Product Pages

  • How to Write Product Descriptions that Sell

  • The Ultimate DIY Guide to Product Photography

  • Customizing Your Shopify Theme: How To Use Images, Colors, and Fonts

  • Must-Know Tips for Optimizing Your Images

  • How to Create a Coming Soon Page and Start Marketing Before You Launch

Don’t forget, if you run into any problems getting your store set up, you can always hire help from Shopify Experts.

Choosing your sales channels

One of the best ways to reach new customers is to choose sales channels where they already shop. The right mix of sales channels will depend on your products and your target customers, but there are a number of great options that can complement and support your self-hosted store.

  • Etsy and Shopify: How Three Makers Used Both to Grow Their Businesses

  • Selling on eBay: How One Business Finds New Customers

  • This Business Generates 76.8% of Orders Selling on Amazon with Shopify

IV. Preparing to launch

As you prepare for the launch of your new business, there are several shipping and fulfillment elements you need to prepare for. In this section, we’ve curated a few comprehensive guides on how to determine your shipping strategy.

  • The Beginner’s Guide to Shipping and Fulfillment

  • International Shipping: Everything You Need to Know

  • How Do I Price and Implement a Strategy to Handle Returns?

  • How to Reduce Shipping Costs as a Small Ecommerce Store

It’s also a good idea to define your key performance indicators up front so, once you launch, you know what measures of success to track.

  • 67 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Ecommerce

  • What Are the Basic Ecommerce Metrics I Need To Focus On First?

As a final checklist, this post covers the 10 essential things you need to do before launch.

The Essential Shopify Store Launch Checklist

V. Post launch

After launching your ecommerce business.

Acquiring your first customer

Now that you’ve launched, the hard work of marketing your products begins. While many new store owners should consider selling their physical products in person, the rest of digital marketing rests on doing one thing well: driving targeted traffic. Next, we’ll share a variety of marketing tactics that will help you in your first months.

  • Marketing Checklist: How to Get Your First Sale in 30 Days

  • The Beginner’s Guide to Getting More High Quality Traffic

  • Customer Acquisition: How to (Profitably) Gain New Customers

Marketing your store

You’re well on your way and now likely have a few sales under your belt. It’s time to get serious and focused. The following posts will help you zero in on your top-performing marketing tactics or expand into new ones for driving traffic and converting that traffic to sales.

Email marketing essentials

  • Email Marketing 101: How to Build Your List, Send Effective Campaigns, and Track Results

  • 7 Email Campaigns Every Ecommerce Store Should Run

  • How to Write an Effective Welcome Email

  • Teardown: 60 Days of Emails from a Fast-Growing Ecommerce Brand

Driving traffic from social

  • How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy

  • How to Get More Followers on Instagram: A Guide for Businesses

  • Pinterest Marketing 101: Why You’ll Need a New Playbook to Win

  • How to Start a YouTube Channel for Your Business

Driving traffic and conversions from paid ads

  • Facebook Ads for Beginners: A Step-By-Step Guide to Running Your First Campaign

  • The Google Ads Playbook: 13 Campaign Types And What to Expect From Them

  • The Best Price Comparison Engines to Increase Ecommerce Sales

Optimizing for higher conversions

  • The Complete Guide to A/B Testing (Tips from Google, HubSpot, and Shopify)

  • How to Find and Plug the Leaks in Your Conversion Funnels

  • Drive More Sales and Revenue with Targeted Live Chat

  • 19 Experts Share How to Increase Revenue Without Increasing Traffic

  • 9 Ways to Earn Customer Trust When You Have Zero Sales

  • How Trustworthy Is Your Online Store? 39 Ways to Build Customer Trust

  • Driving Traffic but No Sales? Here's How to Diagnose and Improve Your Store

Using analytics to uncover insights

  • The Beginner's Guide to Analyzing Shopify Reports and Analytics

  • What Basic Ecommerce Metrics Should I Focus On First?

  • 5 Google Analytics Segments You Can Use to Increase Revenue

  • 9 Google Analytics Custom Reports by the Experts

  • Facebook Custom Audiences 101: A Starter Guide for Ecommerce Businesses

A blueprint is just the beginning

Building your own ecommerce business is as exciting as it is challenging. At a rapid pace you’ll learn a ton about choosing a product, evaluating its viability, figuring out how to get it produced, building an online store, and marketing and selling to new customers. The process can feel like you’re solving a head scratcher of a puzzle, but it’s rewarding all the same.

We hope following this resource roundup helps provide you with a clearer roadmap. As always, the best advice anyone can give is to just get started and to enjoy yourself along the way.


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