Canadian eCommerce Store Set Up Guide

Guide To Setting Up An eCommerce Store


How To Setup, Operate and Market An eCommerce Store

The Stages of Development:
1. Select and Purchase A Domain Name
2. Set Up Your Business
3. Your Site Hosted with A Normal Website Host
4. Your Site Hosted with A Dedicated eCommerce Hosting Company
5. Set Up Your Products
6. Set Up Your Payment Processing
7. Set Up Third Party Marketing Platforms – – Multichannel Selling and Management
8. Inventory Management and Fulfillment
9. Selling In Other Countries
10. Marketing Your eCommerce Store – SEO To Sell Products
11. Measure Your Progress

1. Select and Purchase A Domain Name

The entire process begins with finding a .com domain name for your business. Do this even before you actually setup your business. and – if you are a Canadian company, the process of starting your business begins with the .com name. Start up this one because it is one of the hardest ones to get. In selecting your name, you might have to adjust it in some way to find one that is available. Also, try if possible, to place as aspect of your business that people will be searching for into the name. Once you have the .com name, you then usually get the .ca name.

To some extent you can purchase a domain from whatever service provider you like. A domain is merely a “coded” IP address. The domain name via DNS converts the name into an IP address. An IP address is the backbone of the Website host addresses.

Some more information about selecting a domain and hosting can be found at this link.

2. Set Up Your Business

Now Time to Set Up Your Business – Once you have the very important step of have your domain name(s) secured, it is now time to formalize your business. This will involve setting it up as a proprietorship, partnership or an incorporation. Here is a link to more information.

You don’t need to set up HST (Canadian sales tax collection in the start – unless you want to).

Often, third party sellers and product suppliers require valid business setup papers. So it is great to get this out of the way.

It is now time to consider the “unique value proposition” of your product or business category. Ideally you develop a marketing plan with a consideration of finding a place in the product selling marketplace where you can be safe from competition.


3. Your Site Hosted with A Normal Website Host


When you are hosting your online store, you have two choices. One is setup your Website and then adding the eCommerce functions or you can host your entire website with an eCommerce host service provider. I will discuss hosting your online store with a “normal” hosting service here and then discuss hosting with a dedicated eCommerce host in the next section number 4.

HOSTING WITH A BUILT IN SHOPPING CART – Almost any website can have an eCommerce aspect built into it. If you are thinking of doing this, the best site is probably a WordPress hosted site. WordPress will let you fairly easily integrate a shopping cart plugin, with the two most common eCommerce plugins being WooCommerce and WP eCommerce.

With your own website being hosted, you will likely want to consider a website designer. However you can start the important part of creating a logo with this COMPANY.

HOSTING WITH AN OUTSIDE CART – You can also host your website with an ability to go to an “outside eCommerce shopping cart”. Some of the third party web-hosts and pure cart companies allow you to also use their shopping cart or platform from you own website (a shopping cart and payment module).

4. Your Site Hosted with A Dedicated eCommerce Hosting Company

Rather than hosting your Website and then building an eCommerce component into it. You can go with a dedicated eCommerce hosting platform.

THE BIG ONES – I would recommend that you stick with a big eCommerce hosting platform. The industry changes so rapidly, you need a company on top of the current trends and industry requirements. Some of the bigger players you can find listed here. They are Shopify, Bigcommerce, Volusion, bigcartel, 3dcart and SquareSapce.

5. Set Up Your Products – Product Selection & Pricing, SKU Management, Images & Copy

Important considerations in setting up your product is pricing, SKUs, images and copy.

PRODUCT SELECTION & PRICING – While the Internet gives you great opportunities to sell your products, it also brings about a great deal of competition. The proper pricing is essential, however if you pick the right products, it will be an easier decision.

Here is a good article on product pricing.

If you are looking to buy products from China…here is a start via Alibaba. And its baby company Aliexpress. But you might want to consider trying to find some product niche away from China.

SKU MANAGMENT – SKU is short for Stock Keeping Unit. It is a unique identifier for each distinct product you sell. In selecting a SKU, the important aspects are:
1) How will it sort or integrate into an excel spreadsheet or a database.
2) How the Parent SKU will work with Child SKUs.
3) The possibility of using a SKU pattern to deal with different inventory classes.

You also want to group your products into Categories this is important in terms of building larger product category landing pages and also for ensuring your website is filled out okay.

IMAGES & COPY – Creating Product Copy and Images is a lot of work! Makes sure you start on this long before you open your webstore. Also, keep in mind that the product copy should be unique and not just what comes for the product supplier or what you find on the internet. Here is some important information to consider in building your product pages.

6. Set Up Your Payment Processing

IT ALL STARTS WITH PAYPALPayPal is the gold standard in payment processing. Even if shoppers do not have a PayPal account, PayPal will allow them to use their credit cards as they normally would.

There is also another processor to add to your mix in case you have a face to face sales and this via Square processor. It allows you take credit cards via your smart phone. You can also use a Paypal on a phone or desktop for a face-to-face sale.

You could also consider setting up Amazon payments.

7. Set Up Third Party Marketing Platforms

They have become possibly a necessary evil, especially for the smaller seller. The big three are Amazon, eBay, and Etsy.

AMAZONAmazon is an ideal marketplace primarily for new items without deep discounting.

EBAYEbay is an ideal marketplace for selling deeply discounted items. The buyer is looking for a great deal.

ETSYEtsy is a good marketplace for selling craft items.

If you want to get into Japan there is Rakuten.

8. Inventory Management and Fulfillment

Whether you are selling in one marketplace versus many greatly influences the complexity of stock control and fulfillment.

ONE MARKETPLACE– This makes inventory control a lot easier. With only one marketplace, you only have to ensure that your physical inventory matches the channel.

MULTIPLE MARKETPLACES – It gets very difficult to manage inventory once you open up your products to multiple marketplaces. The big issue being, that the product should appear correctly in various marketplaces at the same time. So if it sells in one marketplace, the inventory needs to update in the other market places. One way to inefficiently manage this is to have a lot of extra product at all times or some type of spreadsheet system or database you would be updating daily. However, a better way to manage it would be to have automatic inventory control system. There are lots of systems out there, my preferred one is Ecomdash.

For one to many marketplaces a good inventory fulfillment control tool is Shipstation.

An essential way to get a reasonable shipping rate is via

9. Selling In Other Countries (and Buying Inventory)

The most dirty word here is “customs”. This is followed very closely by shipping costs.

USA – It is very expensive to get inventory from the USA into Canada. One solution is to set up a USA Warehouse where you can go across and pick up your stock. For those living in the GTA Toronto Area, the best service I have found is CBI Warehouse.

One way to get around shipping times & costs and trying get around customs is to host your fulfilment in the country you are shipping into to. One service that will help is called Shipstation. Shipstation allows you to ship your orders using their online interface to ship from any service of your choice.

OTHER COUNTRIES – It is gets a lot harder even still to sell in other countries.

Customs Brokers can be expensive for the smaller eCommerce store. Here as some options for figuring out the codes on your own.
HS Codes for importing into Canada can be found HERE.
HS Codes for exporting to the USA can be found HERE.
The process might be easiest if you start with a general Google Search like THIS.

A good shipping company for sending goods from Canada to USA is

10. Marketing Your eCommerce Store

You need to bring customers to your products via SEM (Search Engine Management). This involves using Organic and Paid management of browsing traffic..

ORGANIC – Organic is another term used to describe bringing customers to your site and deriving sales via the structure of your website so that your products are found via normal search. With the high costs of Paid Advertising and costs of hosting your product on other Selling Platforms, you want to ensure that you are best utilizing your Website SEO techniques to bring in free traffic.

Your SEO tactics can be found via this link.

A cornerstone of your Organic marketing is building a good landing page for your product pages.

PAID – A big piece of the Paid advertising puzzle is going to come through PPC, namely Google Adwords and Bing Ads.

11. Measuring Your Progress

The entire process begins with finding a .com domain name for your business. Do this even before you actually setup your business.

THE CORNERSTONE– The cornerstone of your measurements is going to be Google Analytics and Google Webmaster or Search Console.

Here are some handy pre-built eCommerce dashboards for Google Analytics.

Here is a Google Analytics article over-viewing eCommerce Analytics setup. It will be a lot easier to use the Yoast plugin for WordPress WooCommerce.

OTHERS – There are a lot of other services as well. Here is a link to some of them being discussed.

Want to learn more about how eosFirst can help you with your eCommerce store setup?

Learn More about setting up eCommerce Store using eosFirst

Written by

Garrett Hall is an online marketing & development expert with eosFirst AuroraCon. eosFirst is a website design, online development, online marketing and information technology consultancy.

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