How to start an eCommerce business?

Start an eCommerce business is one where goods or services are bought and sold over the internet. Branding is important for your eCommerce business, the sale and purchase of a product or service happen online. With retail e-commerce sales worldwide reaching nearly 4.9 trillion U.S dollars in 2021, it has never been an opportune time to start an online business.

Here is a comprehensive blueprint for starting a business which is based on the most important tasks you will face while researching, launching and growing a profitable e-commerce store.

Types of Ecommerce business:

  1. B2C-Business to Customer: -Selling a good or service to an individual consumer (buying a jacket from an online retailer) 
  2. B2B-Business to Business: – Selling a good or service to another business (e.g. a business selling wholesale products to another business for their use).
  3. C2C- Consumer to Consumer: – Selling of good or service to another consumer (e.g., selling stuff on Olx or used items) 
  4. C2B-Consumer to Business: – Selling goods or services to a business (e.g., an influencer shares exposure to their audience in exchange for a fees).

3 Prime steps to build an eCommerce store

  1. Finding out how to start an ecommerce business
  2. Calculating start-up costs
  3. Understanding profitability, audience and the product type

A) How to start an ecommerce business

In order to start off, one should consider the below aspects:

a) Chose a product

b) Research and prepare

c) Set up the business

d) Prepare to launch

e) Post launch

a) Chose a product

i) Finding a product to sell:

The first step in building an e-commerce store is to know what products you want to sell to a consumer. It is often the most challenging part of starting a new business online.

ii) Evaluate your product

Once there is clarity about the product, then you need to evaluate whether it will sell or not? 

This can be done by product research, where we identify whether it can be a success in the market, what the similar products available in the market are and what can be the best way to develop and sell in the market.

iii) Obtaining the product

After deciding on a strong product idea, the next step will be to figure out where and how you’re going to obtain the products. 

iv) Selling products online

Shifting the brick -and mortar business online helps many independent retailers. It generates better cash flow and helps build a more resilient business.

b) Research and Prepare

i} Research your competition

Once you have found the product, evaluated its potential and sourced a supplier, it is essential to find out by research about your competition. This helps you to know what they are up to and how you can differentiate your business from theirs.

ii) Writing a business plan

Once your research is done, it is important to write your business plan. A business plan is a roadmap that helps identify and bring your ideas and thoughts together. It’s important to determine what to prioritise and how to reach potential customers. A plan also highlights the company’s mission statement to gain confidence and show investors and employees about the core values of your brand. 

c) Set up your business

i) Choose your business name– Another challenging decision is determining your business or brand name and choosing an appropriate and available domain name.

ii) Creating your logo– Once you have selected a name and registered an appropriate domain, it’s time to design a simple logo. 

iii) Understanding Search engine optimisation (SEO)– Before beginning to build your online store, it is important to understand the basics of search engine optimisation. This will help you to structure your site properly and pages for Google as well as other search engines.

iv) Building your store– With an understanding of search engines, it is time to build out your online store using a website builder. You would need to build high converting product pages, write striking product descriptions, shoot product photographs, and choose your e-commerce colour palette and look and feel of the site.

v) Choosing your sales channels

One of the apt ways to reach out to new customers is to choose sales channels where they already shop. In order to decide the mix of sales channels, you need to see your products and the target market.

D) Prepare to Launch

As you get close to the launch of the new business, there are several elements regarding shipping and fulfilment you need to prepare for. You will need to check whether you are doing international shipping. Furthermore, you will need to know about the do’s and don’ts beyond the borders about delivering to customers without cutting your bottom line.

It is important to decide your key performance indicators upfront so that once you launch, you are aware of the measures of success to track.

You may refer to this checklist for e-store launch

1. Add your desired sales channels

2. Add your custom domain

3. Review your cart checkout experience and payment options available

4. Prepare standardised pages

5. Review your email notifications and their settings

6. Do a content audit

7. Install an analytics tool

8. Focus on e-commerce search engine optimisation

9. Optimise all images on your website

10. Have a pre-launch marketing plan

11. Adjust your tax and shipping settings

12. Make it easy for shoppers to connect with you

13. Install only essential apps

14. Check and set up your billing information

E) Post Launch

i) Acquiring your first customer

Now since you have launched your online store, the work of marketing your product starts where the most important aspect of digital marketing is driving the targeted traffic.

ii) Marketing your store

Once you are on your way now and likely to have a few sales under your belt, it is time to get serious and invest in marketing your store. 

You may adopt automated email campaigns that can win customers and make them come back. You may also write engaging welcome emails. Market your store on social media like Facebook and Instagram.

QUICK TIPS FOR STARTING AN ECOMMERCE STORE

Starting an e-commerce business is thrilling. Whether you are starting your first or tenth one, keep the following things in mind:

Do not consider first year’s profitability 

One should not measure business success by profitability in the first year as the start of a successful e-commerce business is a marathon and not a sprint. Give yourself a runway of 18 to 24 months for the business to get off the ground. Spend the first year testing and reinvesting your sales back into your business.

Know your target audience

You need to get your product in front of the right customers who are the ones actually buying your product on the site. You will spend the majority of time getting the attention of the customers, so the awareness of the target audience is essential. It can help you reach them faster and make more sales.

Sell an in-demand product

Create or sell an amazing product which has proven market demand. “Product quality is essential because a good product sells itself.” You need to look for the growing trends and markets where customers are not touched and step in with an excellent product and give them what they want.

Experiment with marketing and advertising 

It is essential to get the word out about your business after its launch. You will want to try different digital marketing strategies to understand where the audience is available and responds best to your content.

Try using different online marketing tactics like:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Instagram ads
  • Website pop-ups 
  • Checkout upsells, cross-sells
  • Organic search 
  • Content marketing
  • Loyalty programs

Experimentation is the best way to stop yourself from falling into any assumptions about your audience, and it could end up hurting you rather than helping.

Use data collection to create more effective campaigns that drive traffic and profit. If you optimise your ad campaigns and gather data regarding how the customer base responds, it will help in shaping the website’s features.

Invest in outreach and link building 

  • Another tip for new e-commerce stores is to have a link building plan and an outreach in place. These tactics help boost your SEO rankings on Google.
  • When search engines see a link from an authoritative source, it is treated as a vote of confidence, and they take your site and trust you as an authority. 
  • It is recommended that new SEO for your e-commerce store owners and marketers should invest in digital PR and link-building campaigns early on. This helps in long term SEO success, and hence you rank higher on Google. It helps earn more organic traffic and hence more sales.

Conclusion

To conclude, we can say that it is exciting as well as challenging to build your own e-commerce business. With it, you can learn a lot more about choosing a product, evaluating its market viability, figuring out how to get it produced, creating a website, and marketing and selling to new customers. You may be puzzled at times, but it is rewarding at the same time.