9 steps to launch an ecommerce store

Launching an ecommerce store file

As shoppers continue to buy products online, more business owners are shifting to ecommerce. With over 70% of American consumers shopping electronically at least once a month, it’s never been more important to understand how to connect with your audience online.

If you’re new to the digital space, you might not be familiar with how to launch an ecommerce store. But you don’t want to miss out on new audiences and business opportunities. You need to learn how to launch your own ecommerce store.

This guide will help you do just that, with helpful steps from start to finish, plus tips for post-launch store management.

We’ll cover the nine steps to launching an ecommerce store:

  1. Pick a niche and define your audience
  2. Choose your product and set up an online store
  3. Create your brand name and assets
  4. Choose an ecommerce platform
  5. Build, design, and optimize your site
  6. Connect a payment gateway
  7. Register your business and choose a business structure
  8. Prep your store for launch
  9. Market your ecommerce store

We’ll also discuss:

Importance of an ecommerce store

Whether your business is entirely digital or has a brick-and-mortar retail component, online stores offer a range of benefits including:

While developing an ecommerce business might take a little upfront work, it’s a great way to future-proof your operation, reduce costs, and connect with more shoppers. Follow this nine-step process to build a thriving online store.

Percentage of American online consumers

1. Pick a niche and define your audience

You first need to choose your niche — the area your business will focus on. Since the digital market is so diverse, it’s important to research ecommerce niches so you can have a specific focus. For example, you’ll need to build a different type of store if you’re selling wedding-related items as opposed to operating in the automotive space.

This process involves several key considerations, such as:

Once you choose a niche, you’ll need to define your target audience. Part of refining your ecommerce plan for an online store is to analyze your target market and understand which customers you want to reach with an online platform. Knowing your ideal audience helps you find new customers and attract interested buyers, resulting in higher conversion rates and more sales. As a new ecommerce entrepreneur, consider the following points:

: Infographic to define target audience

2. Choose your product and set up an online store

Once you’ve chosen your niche and identified your core audience, it’s time to choose a product and set up your online store. First, ensure the products you sell will interest your audience.

One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is finding profitable products to sell. You don’t want to sell a product that’s too expensive or that no one is searching for. You also need to be able to store and ship the items. It isn’t always easy, but you can find profitable products to sell by:

Once you know which products you want to sell, it’s time to determine how you want to distribute them. Ask yourself whether you’ll maintain your own physical inventory and ship items or if you’ll use a solution like dropshipping, which can help grow your brand more quickly without as much upfront investment in inventory storage and management.


With manufacturing, you work with a factory to create the products. This is ideal if you have a unique product idea that will require more effort and resources. You’ll need to find a factory and a warehouse and logistics partner to store and ship the goods.


As a reseller, you become an authorized ecommerce store for an established brand. You need to follow the reseller’s rules, which often include pricing restrictions and brand guidelines. The upside is that you’re selling a product with proven demand, so this can be a great way to launch a reputable store. However, you still need to manage storage and shipping.


In the dropshipping model, you work with a dropshipping provider to pick, pack, and ship products as customers order them. You don’t need to store inventory, and you only pay for products when someone makes a purchase. This makes dropshipping the fastest and most affordable way to launch an ecommerce store. You don’t need money upfront, but you will pay higher fees to the dropshipping provider in exchange for their service.

Once you know how you want to store and fulfill inventory, it’s time to add the products to your website. First, photograph the items and set up your product listings. Ensure the photos are high quality — use Portrait Mode if you’re snapping photos with your phone. There are affordable options to get your products photographed professionally or to capture studio-quality images right from your phone.

Options like Square Online allow users to create, edit, and manage product listings, set up item types, and manage inventory easily. Add buy buttons, pricing information, and customer review features to make the purchase process easy. And don’t forget to write searchengine-optimized product descriptions to help you bring in more customers.

3. Create your brand name and assets

You’ll need to choose a brand name for your business and register a domain for it before launching your online store. Names and assets like logos can seem overwhelming, but they don’t have to be hard.

Make sure your name is unique and — if you can do so naturally — try to include a relevant word or phrase that resonates with your target demographic. This will naturally improve your site’s search engine optimization (SEO). Avoid words that are subject to spelling variations between different regions. For example, if you intend to sell to customers in the United Kingdom and the United States, using the word “center” in your brand could be tricky since it’s spelled “centre” in the UK.

Additionally, steer clear of names that are similar to those of existing companies, which could result in potential legal trouble. If you’re unsure whether the name you’re considering is available for use, seek out legal counsel. You can wade through name ideas by going to a domain name registrar, such as GoDaddy, and searching for available website domains.

You also need to pick a color palette, tagline, logo, and packaging for your brand and products. To create these brand assets, use a site like Adobe Express to browse dozens of free and easy-to-customize logo templates or hire someone to do it for you from a freelance platform such as Fiverr or 99Designs.

4. Choose an ecommerce platform

Next, you need to choose an ecommerce platform that will allow you to build and manage your online store. This isn’t the first step because you want to choose a platform with options that match your niche, audience, and aesthetic — and that can manage and distribute your products the way you want.

When choosing your ecommerce software, consider some key features, including:

5. Build, design, and optimize your site

As long as you have an ecommerce platform, setting up an online store doesn’t require any special technical skills. You can simply select a template, customize it, and launch your site. But there are several factors you must address to ensure your website’s content is correctly displayed and populated.

Create an account and build your site

Once you’ve chosen an ecommerce platform, the next step is to create an account and start building your online store. While the steps will depend on what platform you’re using and your unique business needs and type, they typically will include the following:

Choose a theme

The bones of your site are there, and now it’s time to flesh it out. Instead of building a website from scratch, use a ready-made theme from your ecommerce provider. Consider the style and built-in features of each theme — as well as its price — to choose the best option for your products.

Your branding should also be consistent across your site. Use the same fonts, colors, imagery, and logos everywhere. If a customer switches from a PC to a smartphone, your site should still look the same. You don’t want customers to think they’ve mistakenly navigated to a different site because the theme or branding of one page is different from that of another.

Photo of a website theme being designed

Optimize your site

This step helps with visibility by bringing in more website visitors. It’s also crucial if you want to be found on search engines like Google. One important consideration is ensuring that your website content is SEO-friendly. Identify high-quality keywords customers might use to search for items you sell and place these keywords naturally throughout your site, in page titles and content. Be sure to also include keywords in your header tags, meta descriptions, and images.

6. Connect a payment gateway

At this stage, you’ll decide on payment methods and how you, as a store owner, will be paid. Most ecommerce platforms allow for online payments with built-in, PCI-compliant transaction processing through tools like PayPal and Stripe.

Many customers today prefer to pay digitally, so accepting digital payment methods can boost your chances of making an online sale. For example, WooCommerce gives sellers access to multiple payment gateways including PayPal and simple bank transfers. Regardless of which ecommerce platform you’re using, you can easily set up different payment options by toggling your account settings.

To get more value from your payment gateways, be sure to simplify the checkout process as much as possible. Opting for payment options like PayPal or Apple Pay can help shoppers skip the step where they type in their credit card information, which can reduce the chances of cart abandonment.

7. Register your business and choose a business structure

This step is about making your new business legal so you can build a professional relationship with customers. As a small business, it’s possible to register your business name only with your local or state government, which cuts down on the complexity of this step.

Consider how you want to set up your business structure. Depending on your needs and goals, you’ll likely need to register an ecommerce business as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation.

Sole proprietorship

This is the simplest way to structure your business. Sole proprietorships aren’t incorporated, which means there’s no legal distinction between you and your business.


A limited liability company separates you from your business and allows the latter to be taxed as a corporation. However, it’s easier to manage than a corporation, which often comes with annual requirements.


Under a corporate structure, you have limited personal liability in the business. This is generally what small businesses register as, since it protects your personal assets if your company is ever sued. However, corporations come with formal requirements, so make sure this is a fit for how you want to run your business.

8. Prep your store for launch

Now that you’ve done the bulk of the work, it’s time to prepare your store for launch. Follow this process to get your store ready for launch:


9. Market your ecommerce store

Frequently asked questions

  1. What are some easy businesses to start?

Ecommerce stores are relatively easy to launch. Simply sign up for an ecommerce platform, choose your products, and start selling.

  1. How much does it cost to start an online store?

If you choose a dropshipping model, it can cost $0 to start an online store. You may need to pay a small subscription fee to an ecommerce platform to create an online store or purchase a domain, which usually costs $30 to $150, depending on the setup.

  1. Where can I get products for my online store?

You can manufacture your own items at a factory, but the quickest way to source ecommerce products is by becoming a certified reseller or a dropshipper.

  1. Where can I sell products online?

You can sell products on your own website via social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook, or on platforms like Amazon, eBay, or Walmart.

  1. How can I create an online store without inventory?

Become a dropshipper. You only pay for products when customers place an order, and your provider will manage the storing, picking, packing, and shipping on your behalf.

  1. What are the most important sections that my online store should have?

Your online store needs a home page, a contact page, an FAQ page, product pages, a checkout page, and a page detailing your terms of service.

  1. How can I manage shipping costs and taxes for my online store?

Your ecommerce platform should offer shipping options and calculators, and some even have state and federal tax calculators.

Launch an online store with future-proof commerce technology

More than half of consumers today shop online, so it’s vital for businesses to meet customers where they are. Choosing the right ecommerce platform makes a world of difference in getting your online store off the ground.

You know what steps are needed to launch an ecommerce store — now make sure you have the right tools to simplify the process.

Adobe Commerce is the world’s leading digital commerce solution for merchants and brands. It’s more than a flexible shopping cart system — it’s the building block for business growth. Manage multiple global stores and brands all from one platform, and deliver frictionless customer experiences across digital touchpoints, including web, mobile, and marketplace.

Take the Adobe Commerce interactive product tour or watch the overview video to learn more.