The eCommerce business industry has expanded faster than ever in the recent COVID-19 crisis. Due to lockdown measures, online shopping was once a convenience, and luxury has become necessary.
Check out the following statistics;
A lot of people want to explore this area and show overwhelming interest in starting an eCommerce store. If your objective is to start earning a bit, the goal should be a scalable & profitable strategy having a long-term impact.
If you want to start an e-commerce business that offers a notable returns over minimal investment, this blog post will guide you along the way.
How to Start an Ecommerce Business out of Scratch
There’s nothing more appealing than starting a business from scratch and watching it sustain. You build it up once, and no one can snatch it from you. eCommerce is a skyrocketing business. But we can see too many eCommerce startups fail to get proper traction.
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Building an eCommerce platform requires more than just choosing a brand name, writing product listings, and selling products online. It’s a proper recipe, and with wrong ingredients and choices, even the best business ideas can crash. Now let’s discuss in detail and discover the roadmap to start an eCommerce business from scratch.
Step 1: Choose From Different Ecommerce Business Models
Starting your research is the first vital step. Keep in mind that growing any eCommerce business is an investment in time, money, and energy. So treat it accordingly, and no need to hustle.
There isn’t an absolute business plan that works for everyone. As we hear today, the types of businesses, like Service-based businesses, software products, and numerous physical products, are just the tip of the iceberg.
Before deciding what to sell on your eCommerce platform, you need to learn how to differentiate between the different business models available as it impacts your business structure.
If you want to start getting a profit without investing heavily, dropshipping or print on demand is the best choice ever.
If you are gearing up to set up your warehouse full of stuff, you’re investing too much upfront and working with a wholesaling or warehousing (retail) model. Want to launch your brand? Must look deeper into what white labeling and manufacturing may offer you.
And then, there is the subscription option, where you can custom build a category of products or a single product to be delivered regularly to your customers.
The eCommerce business model that suits newcomers is a single product category that you supplement with affiliate marketing. You can focus your content marketing and branding efforts on a single product and utilize the rest of your energy and time on driving sales by capitalizing on the traffic.
Step 2: Perform eCommerce Niche Research
It’s disappointing to see that people have eCommerce platforms filled with hundreds of products, dozens of categories, and no real focus.
Unless you have an overwhelming investment, you can’t be the next Amazon. You have to niche down your product choices to boost your return on investment (RoI).
Choosing your niche is the most crucial step in starting your eCommerce business. Start this practice by identifying successful businesses already working in this domain.
Must ensure that the domain is highly competitive because an absence of potential rivals usually reveals no market.
Refrain from pushing yourself in an overly crowded niche, and dodge anything dominated by major brands. If you’re facing problems with this, dig down deeper and find what you want to do – the more relative you are, the less competition you are likely to experience.
Niche-ing down also gives you the perks of having numerous partnership options. Related to what you do, but not identical, you can collaborate with other businesses in those niches, turning your rivals into partners and expanding your customer base.
Don’t forget to choose a product category with at least 1000 plausible keywords and focus on a niche that shows positive social media platforms.
Step 3: Validate Market Niche and Product Choice
Now that you’ve chosen a niche and business model, you might be eager to start acquiring products to sell. Don’t hustle. Before you think about product ideas, ponder over your targeted audience. You can’t expect people to buy your product if you don’t know who you’re selling to. Similarly, self-consciousness is equally essential. Ask yourself these questions.
- Who are you?
- What does the store represent?
- Who are your ideal customers?
- What are the demographics of your customers?
You need to maintain a consistent brand image that can promise you a long-lasting profit.
Luckily, Facebook allows us to find our target audience online. Specifically, determining how many customers, you can engage. You can dig deeper to get very dedicated numbers and detailed demographics. You’d be surprised to know that most entrepreneurs have no idea how many people are in their target audience.
Once you’ve chosen the brand outlook you want to showcase and the customer you will engage, it’s the right time to think about product ideas. Don’t put everything at risk. You can use affiliate marketing to validate your idea. On getting a reasonable response, you can consider making your brand of that product.
Before investing in a certain product, perform a SWAT analysis carefully. Even if you opt for a dropshipping business model, you must test it carefully and get a feel for that certain item yourself so you can foresee any possible issues and prepare a customer service response to address frequent questions.
The segment related to the validation of the idea is about determining its viability. Again, SWAT analysis comes into action here. Can you find the right suppliers that sync with your price model? What happens if your supplier leaves the table in between? Is there any backup plan?
Step 4: Register Your eCommerce Business & Brand Name
If you want to make a grand launch in the eCommerce market, you need a brand that showcases your identity. Acknowledging your persona makes it easier to set up an eCommerce brand. You might refrain from choosing multiple and contrasting colors and images if you sell products to corporate customers interested in living a minimalist life.
But before you set up your eCommerce store and get into the trouble of building a brand, you should follow a recommended roadmap. Let’s discuss it step-by-step.
- Choose a brand/business name and get your company registered, as some legal protections and tax benefits are involved.
- The domain of your eCommerce site and the legal name of your business doesn’t need to be the same, but keeping identical is a good practice.
- You’ll need to have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to open a business bank account, even if you don’t plan or have any employees. Your EIN serves as your business’s social security number that identifies your business and helps you handle necessary paperwork or legal activities.
- Operating an online business does not give you a green channel to walk away from acquiring specific business licenses and permits. Determine and sort it out according to the rules and regulations of your country, state, or region.
- You’ll have many rivals ready to give you competition on every aspect from aggressive pricing to quality and service, so it must be your priority to explore the best quality products at the best prices. Keep exploring until you find the right vendor.
- Ensure that your logo doesn’t resemble any other company specifically in your niche.
- Must rethink and reconsider the colors of your brand, the images you’ll use, and the font type you’ll choose. If you’ve got a little more budget, don’t hesitate to hire a marketing firm to create a design for your company. If not, you can create your own on different online logo makers.
Step 5: Evaluate and Finalize Your eCommerce Business Plan
For now, you have got a tremendously rich idea about the overall appearance of your business. You have your business model, a target market, a product niche, and your very own brand name.
It’s high time now to put your business plan on paper and finalize your plan by considering your startup budget, loan requirements (if any), and monthly expenditure.
The financial question is the essential aspect of any business. Determine your break-even point, both in unit sales and duration (in months). Any real-time business practice is fundamentally an investment of resources and capitalization over these resources. You are in deep trouble if you fail to determine your profit margin.
The business planning phase must include the details of your staff (if any), product sourcing, logistics layout, and marketing budget. Ensure that you acknowledge all the financial resources available at the time.
Step 6: Create Your eCommerce Store
Once you’re officially an eCommerce business owner, you must register your relevant domain name. You have to choose the appropriate design for your eCommerce store.
There are numerous eCommerce shopping cart platforms. Choosing the right eCommerce platform is not easy. You need to consciously evaluate the essential factors like loading speed, features, compatibility with various payment gateways, your business structure, SEO features being offered, and more. Some of the essential eCommerce platforms available include:
You can explore more about these platforms and the drop-shipping options in our similar blog post: How to Launch Your Dropshipping Store.
Once you opt for your eCommerce platform, You can select many themes offered by the aforementioned platforms.
If you don’t want to indulge in credit and debit payments issues, you can sell products online on an existing marketplace like Amazon.
Keep in mind, setting up your eCommerce store requires more than just adding your products and content. It would be best to prepare your email marketing and automation setup.
Step 7: Driving Traffic to Your eCommerce Store
Want to skyrocket your reach and engagement? SEO is the key to unlocking this potential. You need to keep keywords and search terms in mind on each page of your eCommerce site, in your URLs, and your marketing campaigns. You also need to consider driving traffic to your site.
The best eCommerce sites are eye candy because of heavy investment in digital marketing. If you don’t have enough budget, you can still avail the perks of utilizing the true potential and proper use of SEO, not as instantaneous as digital marketing. Still, it has significant potential in the long run. Subscribe to digital marketing newsletters, join community pages, follow relevant threads and listen to digital marketing podcasts to stay updated about updates, trends, and recent breakthroughs in the digital marketing industry.
Your eCommerce platform isn’t the only thing you need to attract traffic to but the products you choose also need space in your marketing budget.
You are here to sell products, not just drive traffic. You have to think outside the box and find hidden dimensions to expand your approach to selling products.
Despite the way you choose to sell, the first step is to set up an email list. Place an option for free sign-up on your eCommerce site, run a social media campaign to attract subscribers, or arrange a giveaway session where the entry ‘fee’ is your customer’s email address.
Providing consumers with discount coupons and content via email helps keep your brand active in their minds, upsurge in sales, and promise credibility. Keep your emails interesting – ask for your customers’ input often, including reviews.
Evaluate your site operations and insights by looking at how and where traffic flows. Are your product pages relevant to your persona? Are you losing potential customers? If you’re driving traffic to your store but experiencing empty carts and low sales output, improve everything you think needs improvement in your sales channel by carefully optimizing each page and evaluating your product listings. Use Google Analytics to keep track of vital operations and insights. Some tools can help you observe and optimize every segment of the sales process. Don’t hesitate to use these tools and methodologies.
Look for a partner and collaborate to boost your brand presence by using affiliate marketing options.
You can also offer influencers and Instagrammers a gift sample of your product in exchange for reviews and marketing. It can bring you overwhelming traffic and boost sales.
Learning how to start an eCommerce business isn’t that much easy as you think — but by carefully taking one step at a time in the right direction, as we’ve discussed, you can make the process more organized, take control of things and mitigate possible risks.
Additionally, there are numerous perks of starting an e-commerce business, including the much lower investment, small start, and feasibility to utilize 24 hours a day, seven days a week while offering services to all around the world if you’re willing to ship that far. It’s also much easier and budget-friendly to expand operations if needed.
Refrain from getting things done in a hustle. Choose a business model and your market niche carefully. It is more important than the development and operation phase. Everything will start aligning automatically if you take the initial two steps seriously.
There is, however, a specific roadmap to follow and investments to make if you want your eCommerce business to provide you with appealing ROI. You should deal with your eCommerce site like any other business, follow the regulations and laws related to tax and registration, don’t forget to obtain necessary permits as per your country or state’s policy. Don’t hesitate to invest in customer retention and communication. Last but not the least, don’t forget about building a mobile-friendly platform as more than 60 percent of the purchases are being made through mobile devices, according to recent statistics.