Starting an e-commerce business is hard work and demands many steps and decisions that need to come together at the right time.
In this article, weâ€™ll walk you through the steps of starting an e-commerce business so you can generate revenue from your online store as fast as possible.
01. Choosing a Product
Finding a product to sell
In this section, weâ€™ll highlight strategies you can use to find product opportunities, explore the best places to look for product ideas, and finally, weâ€™ll look at trending products to consider.
It’s challenging to sell products online. If you want to sell directly to consumers, the first step is knowing what products you want to sell. In this section, we’ll look at strategies for finding product opportunities, exploring the best places to look for product ideas, and examining trending products to consider.
Evaluating your idea
How can you determine if a product will sell? Active entrepreneurs have used a few strategies in the past to validate their ideas and gauge market interest.
- What is your market potential?
- What’s your target market?
- How will your product differentiate itself from the competition?
- Where do you plan on selling your product to?
- Are there enough people willing to buy it that it will turn a profit?
- What is your markup?
- Whatâ€™s your potential selling price?
- What is your productâ€™s size and weight?
- How durable is your product?
- Is your product seasonal?
- Is your product a passion killer, pain reliever, or problem solver?
- How often will you need to turn your inventory over?
- Do you want your product to be consumed as fast as possible or used only once and then discarded?
- Is your product good for a limited time only?
- Your product is ingenious. Any restrictions or regulations?
- Is your product scalable?
Obtaining your product
In a nutshell, itâ€™s how youâ€™re going to source the products you sell on your site. When sourcing for your business, you can either choose to do it yourself or enlist the help of a third party drop shipper or manufacturer
The most common way is sourcing products from suppliers who will manufacture and supply the goods to you to sell on in your retail store or online. Although this method of sourcing is simple, it can prove time consuming. Youâ€™ll need to research the best suppliers for your business, negotiate contracts and set up a system for monitoring orders, payments and communications.
02. Research and Prepare
Research your competition
You may have already identified your competitors, but your research shouldnâ€™t just be limited to those businesses that are selling products similar to yours. You’ll also need to consider companies that sell related products and services.
You want to stand out from the crowd, and youâ€™ll need to provide more than just great products. The first step is to research your competition at different levels of detail.
Researching and understanding the competitive landscape is essential for building your business and your plan; without it, you could be setting yourself up for failure.
Here’s everything you need to know about preparing a competitive analysis.
Writing a business plan
Why are business plans important? It’s the perfect time to write your business plan. A business plan will be your roadmap that helps bring your ideas and thoughts together. A business plan is vital in determining what to prioritize and how to effectively reach new customers.
Every entrepreneur faces decisions regarding what to prioritize, when and how to effectively reach new customers, and the obstacles faced along the way. Whatever your circumstance may be, one thing is clear: you’ll need to know where you’re going and how to get there if you have any hope of succeeding in building a thriving business.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, there are plenty of business plan templates available online to help you get started. These make it quick and easy to build your business plan around your particular needs. Your business plan will be used by potential partners, investors, banks, or anyone else that may need to back you with capital. With a well thought out and written business plan, this should represent your best chance of convincing others that you’re ready for the demands of running a successful business.
03. Setting Up Your Business
Naming your business
The internet has been around for a while now. If you’re thinking of starting a business online, or if you already have an online business and are looking to increase your online sales and presence, then the chances are that someone else is competing with you for the perfect domain name for your business. Everyone on the Web is rushing to create a memorable name for their company and getting a descriptive .com address.
You can have a great domain name and if it is not with the right domain name registrar, it may hurt your online marketing efforts including SEO.
Creating a logo
An e-commerce business is here to stay therefore a logo for the company would need to be created that attracts and reflects the entire idea and scope of the company. Moreover, a complete starter kit would be provided to start your online venture.
Understanding search engine optimization (SEO)
If you want to create a website you’ll need a search engine optimization strategy. SEO or Search Engine Optimization – is a framework for everything you do online to help your website rank higher in popular search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
After figuring out your audience and the keywords you want to rank for, the next step is creating a website. There are plenty of options and tools available to get you on your feet, but thereâ€™s a lot more to it than simply picking a tool and getting started. If you want your website to achieve the results you hope for, youâ€™ll need to organize your content with on-page SEO in mind.
Building your store
Every brand needs a website that serves as a portal for current and potential customers. For e-commerce businesses, that website is typically the entire business. Thatâ€™s why itâ€™s so important to get it right. But before you build that e-commerce platform and start trying to sell online, itâ€™s important to ponder what exactly you want your website to do. How can it best serve users?
When youâ€™re trying to grow your e-commerce business, there are lots of questions that run rampant in your head day and night. â€œWill consumers notice me?â€ â€œHow can I acquire new customers?â€ â€œHow do I stand out from the crowd?â€ These are very important concerns. However, as with any business, itâ€™s important to remember that all these things start at homeâ€”your home! This is why we recommend to have an understanding of your own product first.
Choosing your sales channels
Beside the store, there are other lifelines such as advertising and networking. Based on your products and target audience you have to choose the right mix of channels. Sell everywhere your customers prefer to shop, be it other online stores or in person.
You can sell in your own store, Amazon or in eBay. No matter how many sales channels you decide to use, there are a few simple steps to getting started with each one.
New ways of reaching customers have exploded in recent years. This is great news, and itâ€™s a major part of why e-commerce has been growing at such an incredible pace. But how do you know which channels you should use to reach new customers?
04. Preparing to Launch
This guide will help you through one of the most important (and sometimes most stressful) logistics: shipping and fulfillment. Determine your plan for fulfilling online orders and get a basic understanding of what to expect from working with shipping carriers.
Shipping is often more challenging than product development itself. Itâ€™s a major reason why most companies fail to transition from local to global.
05. Post Launch
Acquiring your first customer
If youâ€™ve launched your store, the hard work of marketing in person and using paid ads begins. While many new store owners should consider selling their physical products in person, the rest of digital marketing rests on doing one thing well: driving targeted traffic.
Marketing your store
Youâ€™re well on your way and now likely have a few sales under your belt. Itâ€™s time to get serious and focused. The following posts will help you zero in on your top-performing marketing tactics for driving traffic and converting that traffic to sales.
When youâ€™re marketing, youâ€™ll want to keep in mind each of the different stages of your target audienceâ€™s purchasing journey. Youâ€™ll want to hit them at appropriate times, with the right messages.
Email marketing essentials
Email marketing is essential for the success of any online store. Studies indicate that e-commerce companies that send regular newsletters and promotional offers see a consistent increase in conversions from email recipients. In other words, effective email marketing drives customers to your store, and can be a cost-effective way to build engagement and sales.
Driving traffic from social
There are different ways to drive traffic from social media. One of the more surprising is to use a store which offers buying & selling products online through social media depending on the product popularity. This has some distinct advantages over other approaches:
Optimizing for higher conversions
The best way to generate higher conversion rates is to get more traffic. But what if there’s no organic traffic coming? Then you have to optimize your landing pages and checkout process.
A blueprint is just the beginning
Ultimately, opening a business is a gamble. You have to weigh the pros and consâ€”the potential of your idea, the price tag associated with the venture, and the amount of risk youâ€™re willing to accept. So we put together this guide to help you through that process by outlining some crucial steps for starting your own business.