Ever thought you could earn money in the comfort of your home? Ever thought you could sell anything to any part of the world? Ever thought you could buy whatever you want with a single click from anywhere in the world? Ever thought you could make your passion for business do wonders not only in your locality but internationally?
Well, Welcome to the world of eCommerce business.
Here you can earn in the comfort of your home, working on your passion for business by learning how to start an eCommerce business. And the best part is that you can have your clients from all over the world. You can run your business not only locally but also internationally.
Yes, an online business makes all of these things possible. So, let’s see the ABCs of ‘How to start an eCommerce business.’
What Is An eCommerce Business?
Any transactions over the web through an electronic medium, like funds, money, or data, can also be referred to as eCommerce.
eCommerce business, also known as electronic commerce, sells or buys services and goods over an electronic medium-like internet. It is often referred to as internet commerce.
The best thing about an online business is anyone can start it. Learn through the basics in a detailed way of how to start an eCommerce business to get your feet wet in the eCommerce business.
Potential for an eCommerce business
When was the last time you paid your bills after standing for hours in the line? When was the last time you bought something spending half of your day shopping?
Not so recently, probably.
People depend on the internet for everything in their day.
Nearly more than 80% of people search on the internet before buying anything on the internet. Even if they buy locally, they search online to know more about it.
So, there is a big fat chance of you getting identified by the audience. Many people learned how to start an eCommerce business and got their business online.
If your business is online, there is a huge chance of getting a more target audience and expanding your business. So, now can be the best time to start an eCommerce business.
The eCommerce market rate is expected to increase to the US $188 by 2025. So, know how to start an eCommerce business as now is the best time to start an eCommerce business.
Types of eCommerce businesses
eCommerce business can be claimed to be manly four types;
- Business to business
- Business to customer
- Customer to customer
- Customer to business
1. Business to business type
B2B business is the transaction of services and products between two businesses, in other words, wholesale transactions through the internet.
2. Business to customer type
Most of the eCommerce business presently online is of B2C type. Here, the business sells its services/products directly to the customer through the internet. Customers browse their site and their photos, reviews. e.g., Amazon.
3. Customer to customer type
C2C type of business does not involve any business in them. No company is involved here. Here customers are directly in contact with each other. They sell their personal assets and goods. e.g., Quickr and OLX.
4. Customer to business type
Here in the C2B type, the customer provides his/her services and goods to the business. The freelancer selling his services to a company is a customer-to-business type.
Even though many know going digital is beneficial, many people don’t know how to start an eCommerce business in real. Here’s how to start an eCommerce business in 10 simple steps-
How to start an eCommerce business
Got a product to sell? Want to take your business online? Want to open an online store and show your inventory to the world? Like owning an online store and selling online? One should know the correct method of starting an eCommerce business.
After all, an online business offers great affordability, opportunity, and flexibility more than a brick-and-mortar business. Starting an eCommerce company takes a lot of time and effort. One must put effort into learning how to start an eCommerce business.
Don’t know where to start and how to start an e-commerce business?
Don’t worry. We got you covered. Start an eCommerce business from scratch. Work out the basics of how to start an eCommerce business and set your own eCommerce business.
Buckle up to a ride on how to start an eCommerce business simply. Don’t think it’s not for you just because you are not a techie. It’s simple, and even a non-specialist can handle it with little effort.
Of course, Learning how to start an eCommerce business can be a little overwhelming in the beginning as a newbie. But remember, it is hard to start an e-commerce business, but not impossible.
1. Select your niche
The most important thing one needs to do to start an eCommerce business is select his/her suitable niche. It is the basic thing one needs to decide before learning how to start an eCommerce business. You need to answer the following questions about your niche-
- Are you an expert in it?
- Does your niche has a profitable market?
- Is there market demand for your product?
- Do your current skills match your eCommerce business needs?
- What is the product/service you going to sell?
And most importantly, what do you know about your market? You need to research your target market and know the top dogs in the field. You need to have a brief idea about how an eCommerce business in your niche would be. When researching the competition, make sure to research how the top one is different from others.
- Is it their marketing strategy?
- Is it their quality in the product?
- How are they reaching the target audience?
Read and research a lot on your business plan. Think and work to make your business model different and interesting from others. Stand apart from the rest.
2. Research other successful online business
‘Learn from your mistakes’– probably a great quote.
But you don’t have time for that. So, ‘Learn from others’ mistakes.’ Failure and success stories are important as success stories teach us what really worked. They teach us how to start an eCommerce business successfully.
Study if there are any loopholes in your competitors’ business plan. Research if you can do something about it. Understand if there are any obstructions for you, and plan how you are going to deal with them.
Market research is the most essential and required step while setting up an e-commerce business. Study your competitors’ business strategy thoroughly. Understand the different marketing tactics of different successful e-commerce businesses in your market, and learn how to start an eCommerce business profitably in your niche.
Also, looking around in your surroundings and listening to what people are complaining about is as important as market research.
Even from the existing one, create something new—research what people need in your niche market.
3. Select your product and Target market
No doubt you have a great business idea with you, but do you have great product ideas? Selecting a product for selling online is the hardest part of setting up an eCommerce business. Even if you know everything about how to start an eCommerce business, it’s useless if you don’t select a profitable product.
The question is not ‘what products can I sell to generate revenue?’ But the actual question is ‘On what products do people need to spend their money for?’
Researching your niche market may give you a product idea about the different product ideas. How saturated your niche might be, a small creative change can make your product unique and useful from others. A good product will make you stand out in your online business.
Research online niche forums and reviews on different products in your niche to know what the products are lacking, what can be added or removed to make the product more user-friendly and useful. Research on social media channels, Google trends to know what’s trending in your niche. In case if you are planning on selling a well-known product, add value or emotions to it.
Don’t go after getting rich quick business idea fads, which have a momentary sudden peak because of their uniqueness. Your business will crumble once the fad fades away.
4. Find your target market
You have your product decided now, that’s great!
Now, who are you selling it to? If your product is useful and unique, there’s no doubt you will have a market. But it’s very difficult to sell your product to everyone.
If you think that everyone will be your customer for your online business, then you need to start with your eCommerce business basics again because a product can never be for everyone.
If you set up a brick-and-mortar store, your location determines it may not have the same audience flow after years. But it is entirely different for an eCommerce store.
So, who will be your potential customers? know more about your target customers by asking-
- What does your customer need?
- How much can he spend to buy your product?
- What is the gender and age of your audience?
- Where are most of your customers from?
- How much money do they earn?
The collected information will help you in selling products after you set up your own eCommerce business.
5. How will you get your products?
Is your product digital or physical?
Digital products include blog posts, videos, online courses- anything that people can download is a digital product. They could be services like writing, any design, software, therapy, etc. If you are planning to sell digital eCommerce products on an online store, create your product to be more user-friendly and easily downloadable.
If you plan to sell physical products, you can either:
- Make them
- Manufacture them from a third party
- Can drop ship them
Generally, small business owners sell their own products. You can sell your own products if you have easy availability of ingredients and if you plan to sell in smaller amounts. You can start a small eCommerce business as a side hustle too.
You can let others manufacture your product if you plan to sell products in large amounts and if you have no idea how to make it.
You can dropship if you don’t want to invest in making products. You can involve yourself only in marketing.
6. Writing a Business plan
Now that you have got all the basics done write a business plan for your eCommerce business to set up goals for your new business. You need a business plan to know briefly about starting and running an eCommerce business. You need to maintain both your personal and business finances without mixing them.
You need to have a perfect business model to get investments/loans from investors and banks and make sure your business plan tells your objectives and future goals. Your employees need to know about the values and principles of your commerce business from your business plan.
An eCommerce business plan should tell about your product, legal structure, and the objectives of your eCommerce brand.
7. Business name and structure
People identify your products with a business name. So having a simple yet eye-catching business name and, most importantly, that describes your brand is a must for your online store is essential. Your brand name should tell what you sell and represent your eCommerce brand’s uniqueness. Choose something easy to recall and hard to forget.
You can use a business name generator while brainstorming for a powerful brand name. Once you have selected your brand name for your eCommerce store, you need to register it as a domain. You will use your domain name to open an online store in an eCommerce platform. The same business name should be used to register your business.
Your business will be recognized with your brand name. However, consult a legal expert before registering your business in your state to avoid any risks.
8. Apply for your business licenses and permits
Apply for business licenses and business permits to set up a brand store in your state. Search your local state website to know what type of business permits and licenses you need. Different governments set different requirements, so check thoroughly.
Also, the professional and trade licenses and permits are not the same for brick and mortar stores and eCommerce stores. Before applying for permits and licenses, they are different for an online business.
9. Open your online store
Now that you have all set up to start your e-commerce business, you need a platform to open your online store. There are many platforms on the internet, and you need to choose the best eCommerce platform to open your online store.
An eCommerce platform can give your online store the identity and exposure to a vast audience, like a shopping district helping a retail store in building its customer base.
You can also start your own website and create product pages describing your products and posting varieties. Search engine optimization, SEM, email marketing, social media marketing, affiliate marketing can be used in promoting your business to run a profitable online store.
Search engine optimization, online advertising, social media marketing, can help you to drive traffic, but you need an already established platform to get more traffic which has an already inbuild process of buying and selling.
An eCommerce platform will expose you to the world of customers where you can set up your online store to sell online.
There are many eCommerce platforms like Amazon, eBay, Alibaba.com, Shopify, and so on are few eCommerce platforms where online stores are exposed. However, Amazon is the best eCommerce platform so far.
Many eCommerce websites actually have their own guide on how to start an eCommerce business.
10. Marketing your new business
Tell the world about your eCommerce business and start selling products online. Mastering different marketing strategies is the most important part of learning how to start an eCommerce business.
Market your products on different platforms. Post content relevant to your product niche on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Building trust is the key factor for the success of any online business. People give reviews and even promote for you for an online business if they trust your online business enough to recommend it for others for free. Sadly, if they are not satisfied with your product, they might even call for boycotting your eCommerce store.
Try different marketing tactics to promote your products. Drive traffic by posting relevant content on your site. Make people trust your brand, show them your reviews, your quality products, etc. To run a profitable online store, you need to respond to people’s queries and negative feedbacks.
Also, make sure your online store is customized and user-friendly. Make sure the copy and product description on your page are optimized. Use a marketing tool that is suitable for your business and niche.
There are more marketing tools to promote your online business than ever. Follow up with people through emails, SMS, and other marketing methods to reach your customer base. You can also try Instagram marketing, affiliate marketing, and various marketing strategies.
Online business owners need to select the tools that are useful in many ways for them. If not all, at least the basics should be covered. You need to focus on these areas-email marketing, SEO, social media, analytics, customer service, and automation.
The best marketing tools include-
- Mailchimp( email marketing)
- Ahrefs( SEO)
- Zendesk( customer service)
- SEMrush( overall marketing tool)
- Canva( graphics)
- Trello( project management)
- Google analytics(analytics)
- Leadpages( landing page creation)
Sites to build your own eCommerce business
If you don’t want to invest money in any eCommerce platforms, and if you want to set your own e-commerce business, then the following sites may help you to start your own eCommerce store
- WordPress (best for beginners)
- Wix (best for template options)
- Yola (good user experience )
- Weebly (free website builder)
- GoDaddy (for registering domains)
Starting an eCommerce site is not easy, not hard either. Learn how to start an eCommerce business in a detailed way before you get your feet wet. New eCommerce businesses find the initial steps frustrating and hard, but once you master them and start selling, it’s easy.
Even if you learn how to start an eCommerce business, you need to get your feet wet to know its depth.
Not everyone can do all things. So if you find this whole how to start an eCommerce business overwhelming, you can hire a freelancer or mentor to do the how to start an eCommerce business for you.