Checklist for your new shopping cart website

Checklist for your new shopping cart website

Been thinking of starting a new online business? If so, here is a quick check list of some of the main things that you can check on the way as you get your new business off the ground. We’ll cover the details on some of these points in other posts on our Ozcart e-commerce blog.


Understanding what exactly you are selling, who will buy it, and why is absolutely essential if you wish to build a successful online business. The online marketplace is becoming more and more competitive, and knowing exactly who your customers are, rather than trying to sell to anyone who will buy can make the difference between a success or otherwise for your business.

Most people consider planning a chore and believe that planning is not necessary because they just need to try it and see if it works. But you can’t afford to do that. Competitors are always looking on the web for good ideas, and a great idea that’s not well thought out might appear to you as unsuccessful but picked up by another business and turned into a mega-success. Like it or not, there are many unscrupulous competitors in the marketplace who will register the domain name that you want before you do, or promote your ideas with a more professional approach to look like they are the existing seller of those products and you are copying them. These kinds of situations do happen here in Australia and are not just e-commerce urban legends. Good planning can make the difference. You don’t have to write up a 50 page corporate report, but it definitely pays to understand what you are doing and why before you start. Don’t sell first and plan later or you might regret it.

  • Choose your products to sell online – a great online product is one that is hard to find in the area that you are selling, is popular amongst your target customers, can be easily posted and is not too difficult to describe or requires detailed viewing prior to purchase.
  • Know your costs – if you’re not sure what will drive your online business costs, take a look at our article on the costs of starting an online shop
  • Understand your customer – don’t just define a general market for your product. Think specifically about who will buy it. Put yourself in their head and think through situations in which they will be buying the products you will sell. Why will they buy this product? What things will be important to them? How will they search for the right product to buy? How price sensitive are they – is this a product that they will shop around a lot for, or is finding the product with the right feature or brand worth a premium? etc.
  • Know your competitors – even if you have no direct competitors in Australia for the product that you sell, the Internet is global and Australians are not shy to search for a product overseas if the quality of the item and the postage times are right. Search for your products on the global Internet in other countries that frequently post to Australia like the USA and UK to make sure that a foreign company is not going to steal your sales without you even realising. Also, think about close substitutes for your product that people might buy. The better you can understand your customer and why you buy, the better you will understand potential competitors and substitutes that you might not have thought of.
  • Work out your point of difference – if you know your strengths and weaknesses relative to others in the market it will help you plan for competitive responses of existing businesses or new entrants and help you work out what you should do in return. You don’t want to get into a price war with a new entrant unless price is a crucial part of your strategy, customers are price sensitive and you have a low cost structure in order to compete. Online businesses usually have lower cost structures than offline businesses, but if your prices are so low that you make no money, why are you in business?

Choose the right shopping cart

There are many shopping carts on the market, each with different features and benefits, pros and cons. What will determine the right shopping cart for you will be the way you want to do business. The cart that is the cheapest may not be the best for you, as it may not support the way you want to do business, may not be configured for Australian business conditions, be too hard to learn and use, or cost your business considerable extra money in add-ons, modules or components that you find out that you need to buy to support the basic functionality that you need. It really pays to try out the demo of a shopping cart before you buy and make sure that you have either the time to learn it or you choose a shopping cart provider with the in-house skills to get you started. For example, Ozcart websites include graphic design of your home page slideshow built in, as well as setting the colours of the website to match your brand.

Completing the sale – trust and customer experience

  • Can customers find your website by going to or if they forget the www
  • Does your checkout show the padlock to show your customers it secure (this means that your site’s checkout is encrypted by a technology called “SSL”). If it is, then you should demonstrate this to your customers – use a footer banner with imagery showing your SSL provider or if your site is using a third party verification tool use the clickable icon for that. PayPal have a “Paypal Verified” logo that you can also show.
  • Is your website “clipart-free”? Flashy little popup graphics and shopping cart that don’t indicate whether there are items in the cart are big no-nos for a successful checkout – they look unprofessional, which makes visitors subconsciously question the quality of your products or service. Do you see little clipart images on the largest websites that you shop on?
  • Have you removed any “splash-pages” or Flash graphics from the home page that can prevent customers from loading your site or slow down their browsing experience?
  • Can your site be viewed on a mobile phone? More shoppers than ever are shopping on mobile phones, or using mobile phones for price comparison and then
  • Do some test orders in your website. Try checking out as a guest. Try checking out as a registered customer. Try logging in as a customer and looking at your orders.
  • Test the order management system. What will your first order number be? Start at something higher than 1 so your website feels to a new customer like they aren’t purchasing from a “new” store but from a seasoned professional.

Offering choices in your online store can also help you grow trust and build sales.

Before you go live, make sure you check

  • You give customers a way to contact you – if you take calls then you should publish your phone number on your contact us page, or even better on your header. Publish your ABN (this is a requirement for invoices to be tax compliant in Australia, but just good common sense as you don’t have anything to hide).
  • Make sure you have a shipping policy defined – think carefully about how you will price your shipping – see strategies for shipping
  • Make sure you have a privacy policy defined – as people do worry about their privacy – it’s not just legal mumbo jumbo. Remember, trust is important to getting and growing your store.
  • Don’t use bright garish colours, change the font and font sizes all over the place, or use excessive underlines and capital letters throughout your site. Mismatched formatting is one way to frustrate potential customers and turn them off your site completely. What looks great to you on the screen might not appeal to your target customers.
  • Tell people how they will pay for their products, and that you are using Australian Dollars. Your bank will require you to do this before you can get a merchant account but you should do this even if you’re only accepting bank transfer payments.
  • Use social media to build and promote your store. As your customer and community base grows, so will repeat purchasers
  • Tell people what your returns policy is – even if you have a “no returns for a change of mind” policy, you should tell people about it. They want to know where they stand.
  • Check your images – are they big enough to see? Are they detailed enough so that customers get a good idea of what they’re buying? Are they small enough however so they don’t take forever to load (don’t forget about your mobile customers in this regard).
  • Check your descriptions – don’t just use the manufacturer’s description. Write an appropriate description for each product, relative to the level of complexity required for that product. For a guide on this see our article about getting the level of detail right for your product descriptions.

For more information about planning your online business strategy, see Choosing the right product to sell online

Now is the time to start a business

Turn your new year’s resolution to start a business into a reality. Get your own business started with a flourish. If you approach your new online business with careful planning and the right direction, there’s no reason you can’t built it into a huge online shop success.

Ozcart Ecommerce

Ozcart has been in business since 2006 and is an online, hosted shopping cart that you can use for your current or new online store. We offer so many features for the same low price. In fact, we are addicted to adding new ones to ensure that we remain one of the best choices for a shopping cart.

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