4 Key Topics When Planning Your Online Store

When you’re starting an online store one of the largest decisions to make is which store software you are going to use.  Before making that decision it’s best to plan ahead to make sure the software you’re selecting will be able to cover all the features you’re looking for.

In this post we’re going to highlight 4 key areas that we recommend you review before selecting the software and building your store.


How do want to ship your packages?
Determine which shipping carriers you want to use, such as USPS or FedEx.  Take into account international customers as well.  You may find that you want to ship your domestic orders by FedEx but USPS is more economical for international orders.

How do you want to calculate the shipping charges?
Many carriers offer real-time shipping APIs which allow an online store to calculate the shipping costs by passing your zip code, the customer’s zip code, and the package weight to their servers.  This is a popular way to calculate shipping charges since it will return the exact rates from the carrier.

Other options such as flat rate charges, or calculations based off the price or weight can be performed.  You may also want to offer free shipping or an option for the customer to pick up their order.

What will the business process be?
Before the orders start coming in it’s best to have a plan in place for how they will be handled.  For example:

  • Will you be printing packing slips?
  • Will you be printing address labels?
  • Will you be dropping off packages with a carrier, or will they be picking them up?

Payment Options

Credit cards, COD, Check, PayPal, Amazon Payments, Google Checkout – there are countless payment options available these days.  Think about what options you want to provide to your customers, but don’t overwhelm them with too many.  Then check to make sure the store software you want to use will support the payment options you selected.

With credit cards you also have to make sure the store will support the Payment Gateway you currently use, or will be using.   If you’re new to taking credit cards online we would recommend reading this post which will delve into more details for you:

Product Display & Marketing

There are many ways to display your products and just as many options when it comes to marketing them.  Think about what you like to see when you shop online and which features you may want to have for your store.  Examples include:

  • A product detail page with multiple photos [tip 1, tip 2]
  • Product Options (select a size, color, or other attribute from a drop-down box)
  • Coupons (enter a code to take a percentage or amount off the sale)
  • Quantity Discounts (buying a larger quantity of a product lowers the price)

Extra Features

Once the basics of the online store are determined you may want to think about any extra features you would like to provide to your customers.  This could be things like product reviews, a wishlist feature, or the ability to share a page from your site on Facebook.

It may seem like a daunting task since the options and features that you can provide with an online store appear to be endless, but by taking a few hours to write down your thoughts on the topics above you may be able to save a lot of time and save some stress as well when you’re bringing your store online.

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