Essential Checklist to Start an Online Store

I'll share the essential checklist to start an online store in today's article. It will be a general list and can be applied to all types of WooCommerce stores. 

Note: This list assumes that you have selected the products you want to sell and the suppliers or manufacturers. If not, you must first choose your niche and products and find a good supplier. 

Without further ado, let's look at what's required to start an online store using WooCommerce. 

1. Get a Domain Name and Hosting

To create an online store, you first need a website. To create a website, you must have a domain name and hosting. 

A domain name is a text user enters into a browser to see a particular website, like or anything else that may be of interest.

Hosting is a server that stores your website's files so that they may be retrieved when a visitor makes a request. You can get started with any of these WooCommerce hosting providers

You can purchase a domain and hosting from Bluehost or Hostinger because they include a free domain name with the hosting plan.

After that, you must install WordPress to create a website or store. Bluehost has a WordPress installation wizard to help you get started quickly.

You can proceed to the second step once you have installed a domain name, hosting, and WordPress.

2. Create a Website

Once you have installed WordPress, log in to your dashboard and install and activate the WooCommerce plugin to create a WooCommerce store. 

Fortunately, when you activate the WooCommerce plugin, it'll automatically create the necessary pages like shop, my account, cart, and checkout. But it would help if you designed them according to your niche and products. 

In terms of the design of your site, you can get started with a free or paid theme. Alternatively, you can hire a developer to create a custom website.

Besides this, you need a privacy policy, terms and conditions, and a refund policy. These are also very important for an eCommerce store and help users to trust your site. 

3. Add an SSL Certificate

A safe and secure environment for users to enter their credit card details is crucial for any online store. You should implement a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, an address verification system (AVS), and a credit card verification value (CVV) into your payment processing system. 

An SSL certificate can help you gain the user's trust and increase sales. According to studies, 18% of shopping cart abandonment happens because shoppers don't trust the eCommerce website with their credit card information. 

Many web hostings like Hostinger and Bluehost provide free SSL certificates. Your hosting provider will have guides on how to achieve this. 

4. Setup the Inventory Management Software

When running an online store, inventory management is crucial to ensure you don't lose money on stock or sales because of a lack of product availability. 

With WooCommerce, it isn't as difficult as it seems to be. Plugins available in the market can help you manage your inventory and simplify your job. 

You can manage it manually, but it will take a lot of your time which you can use to focus on other essential aspects. That is why inventory management software is vital to install and set up, as it will help you to manage your store's inventory.

You can find suitable software by reading the Best WooCommerce Inventory Management Plugins guide.

5. Setup Payment Gateways

The next step is to set up payment methods. It is vital to set up these because, without the payment methods, your users won't be able to purchase the products. 

Several payment gateways are available that you can integrate with WooCommerce and start taking payments. 

It is a good idea to allow customers to pay using various payment methods. You can use any available popular payment method, but it is good to use the method your local people use the most. 

You are not limited to that only if you are selling internationally, multiple payment methods will help you gain trust and more sales. 

6. Logistics and Shipping 

Before launching your store, you should consider how the product will be shipped to the customer. Logistics and shipping play a significant role in the success of any online store. Shipping and transport businesses are responsible for delivering products to customers as quickly as feasible. 

Shipping and logistics are significant obstacles for any e-commerce business. If your customers do not get the products on time, they won't order from you again. 

Your shipping service can help you succeed or fail in the online business. For more information on setting up your shipping, see: How To Set Up WooCommerce Shipping

7. Create an Optimized Checkout Experience

After setting up the shipping options, you should focus on optimizing the WooCommerce checkout. It is the final purchase step, where users will enter their address and payment gateway details, so it must be well-designed and optimized. 

68.2% of shopping carts are abandoned during checkout means that without an optimized checkout, you are losing potential clients. Make the following checks to have an optimized checkout.

  • Allows customers to edit the cart on the checkout page
  • Applying promo codes is a breeze.
  • Keep it store-specific.
  • Different payment options, including PayPal.
  • Email confirmations for orders. 

Although the default WooCommerce checkout is quite good, you could get an extra 10-15% bump by implementing best practices like removing unnecessary fields, adding upsells, and improving the design.

Some checkout plugins are available in the market to help you edit the checkout fields and optimize them according to your brand and needs. 

One of the best ones is the AIO Checkout plugin to optimize your checkout. Moreover, you can follow the How to Edit the WooCommerce Checkout page tutorial to learn more about optimizing it.

Here are a few examples of Successful WooCommerce Checkout Page Designs

8. Have Legal Documents

It's your responsibility to check if your business requires licenses or permits based on the sector you operate in. It is always best to consult a local professional on this as it will differ based on your country and state.  

You might want to register your business as an LLC to protect your personal assets in the event of being sued by a customer or business.

If you want to ship internationally, you must have some additional documents. Possible examples of this are the following:

  • Waybills are shipping labels that list the shipping price in addition to all the relevant info needed for transport and delivery.
  • Invoices are the documentation needed to bring goods into a country, listing each item, category, and value.

You may also require an employer identification number (EIN), EEI, certificate of origin, or unusual proof of ownership.

Having all the required legal paperwork that your business might need to run smoothly is essential. 

9. Have Good Packaging

It's important your customers must get the delivery in one piece. So serious considerations should go into the packaging to reduce the chances of breakage in transit. 

Some logistic companies do not take care of such things and just throw your parcel with others, which may break your item and negatively impact customers. 

Choosing the right shipping partner and ensuring that the packaging is suitable is crucial for growing your brand locally and internationally.

10. Work on SEO

Once you have the legal documents, you can start working on the SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO is a crucial factor in having a successful store. 

It will help you rank on google, bing, and other browsers, so you'll get some organic traffic. The more traffic, the more conversions will be. 

WooCommerce is an SEO-friendly platform, but you should research what's working for your competitors and see what you can implement in your campaign. Focus on becoming a thought leader in your niche, an authority figure that others will want to reference, which will help build your links


There are software and plugins available that will help you to improve your on-page and off-page SEO. If you have the budget, you can hire an SEO agency to help with this. Just know SEO is a long-term strategy. 

With WooCommerce, you can install the plugins like Yoast SEO, RankMath, or All-in-one SEO to improve the meta description, tags, keyword density, and more. 

11. Setup an Email Marketing 

Before launching your store, you must set up an email marketing service like GetResponse, Aweber, Sendinblue, etc. They are easy to integrate with WooCommerce. They also provide you with guides to help you get started. 

Research has shown that 81% of B2B marketers claimed that email newsletters are one of the most used content marketing methods.

Email is an excellent way to keep in touch with your customers, help them out, get them to buy more or buy from you again, and keep your business in their minds. Sign up for email marketing software and set up some essential emails, like:

  • Welcome emails
  • Confirmations of orders.
  • Abandoned cart emails
  • Receipts and Updates on shipping

12. Advertise Your Store Online

The final point is launching an advertising campaign to instantly get information about your target audience. You can start small with as little as $20 per day to test what works. 

It's worth mentioning that seeing what works on your ad campaign can help to inform your SEO and other marketing efforts.

You can also hire an ads agency to help you with advertising, primarily if they have worked with similar brands. An Ad agency can seriously fast-track your learnings and is an excellent option if you plan to spend more than $5,000 per month.  

Wrapping Up

That's it for today's guide. 

Before starting an online store, there is a lot to think about, but this checklist will help you cover the bases. You can follow this checklist and start your online store. 

You can add a lot more to this checklist, like offering different types of discounts, improving the shop page, etc.  

I hope this list was helpful to you.


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