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How To Start An Ecommerce Business

21.12.2021

Ecommerce businesses are becoming increasingly popular. This is because they allow anyone the chance to start their own online selling business and achieve colossal profit margins.

73% of millennials purchase from Ecommerce businesses, and the market is growing. This is an excellent opportunity to take advantage of industry growth to start your own successful ecommerce business.

So, how does one start their ecommerce business? Keep reading for a comprehensive step-by-step guide that will provide you with everything you need to know on how to start an ecommerce business.

start ecommerce business

What Is An Ecommerce Business?

An ecommerce business is an online selling business that uses a website or online marketplace to reach customers and sell products. Ecommerce sellers can either sell their own products or be third-party sellers supplying products made by a third party. The popularity of ecommerce businesses is down to the high-profit margins that you can achieve with the right business strategy.

That said, with online shopping trends skyrocketing, competition in ecommerce is ever-more fierce, too, leading to significant growth in the discount coupon industry. In 2020, a staggering 92% of online shoppers reportedly searched for discount coupons before completing their purchases.

How To Start An Ecommerce Business: A Step-By-Step Guide

This guide will talk you through the steps to starting and growing ecommerce business. Starting an online business checklist includes choosing the right product to sell, establishing your business and brand, and marketing your products to maximize sales.

Product Selection

The first step on how to start a successful ecommerce business is choosing the right product. You need to find a product that matters to you, and that you would be passionate about selling online. An ecommerce business is a lot of work, so choosing the right product will help you stay motivated and keep working on your business.

There are two main factors to successful product selection – high demand and low supply. To find a product with high demand and low supply, you must take the following steps:

  • Research the most popular item categories on popular selling platforms to determine which areas you might go into.
  • Use the search bar on selling platforms to determine which products are searched for the most. The most searched products will be suggested when you start typing in the search bar. Then, look at the results to see if there is a supply to meet the demand. If nobody is selling a viable product to meet this demand, this product will make a good choice for your business.

Once you have found a low supply and high demand product, this will be the basis from which you build your business plan.

Market Validation

If you are struggling to find a low-supply and high-demand product through your research or already have a product in mind, you can use market validation tools to determine whether there is a need for your product within your target market.

PreLaunch is a market validation tool that can provide invaluable information regarding your product selection. It can tell you what requirements your products must fit to satisfy customer expectations, and it can tell you what the most relevant demographics are for your product to improve your marketing.

This tool is immeasurably useful to ensure that your product will sell successfully, and will help you understand how to start an ecommerce business.

market validation

Create Your Business Plan

If you’re looking for investors to help you when setting up an ecommerce business, you will need a successful ecommerce business plan.

To create your business plan, you will first need to understand the logistics of your business and get an idea of your numbers. You will need to figure out the production costs by finding a supplier for your products, and then you will need to work out the costs of shipping and fulfillment. Once you have determined how your products will be sourced and shipped out to customers, you can start writing up a business plan that includes:

  • Market analysis
  • Your products and services
  • Your marketing plan
  • Your operations – where you will be selling your products, etc.
  • Your logistics and operations plan
  • Your financial plan – an analysis of your costs and profits

Once you have written this information down, the last step for how to start an ecommerce business plan should be writing an executive summary. This is a summary of all the information in your business plan, written persuasively and setting out your business goals.

Business plan

Create Your Business Name And Logo

Branding is an integral part of any business’s success. If you have a memorable business name and inviting logo, your customers will remember you and come back. You can develop your business name by using business name generating tools and using keywords you associate with your products.

You can enlist the help of a freelance graphic designer to help you create a logo using a freelance finding website, where you can outline exactly what kind of brand identity you are trying to establish, like a high-end and luxurious brand identity, or a fun and whimsical brand identity.

Obtain Permits And Licenses

This step cannot be skipped, as you must have the proper permits and licenses to start an ecommerce business and sell products online. This checklist shows you exactly which permits and licenses you need to start selling online:

  • Business operation license
  • Employer identification number
  • Doing Business As (DBA) license
  • Seller’s permit
  • Sales tax license
  • Home occupation permit
  • Occupational license

You can get all of these permits and any other advice on the legal side of steps to starting an online business on the US Small Business Association (SBA).

Choose An Ecommerce Platform And Create Your Website

Some Ecommerce sellers simply use an online marketplace like Amazon and do not create their own website, but since seller platforms can come with certain risks, for example, having your account suspended, it is recommended that you create your own website for insurance.

When considering how to create an ecommerce website, it is important to be aware of all your options. Some great platforms to use for your ecommerce website include:

  • Shopify – Shopify is one of the most popular online ecommerce platforms that offer an additional service called Shopify Plus, for businesses that are bringing in millions in revenue per year. To know which is a better suit for you, Shopify or Shopify Plus, you need to understand your requirements regarding your shop. Shopify Lite is another version of Shopify designed to suit the needs of small online businesses.
  • Magento – If you are planning for a large-scale ecommerce business, this platform is great for accommodating complex ecommerce sites with hired IT experts.
  • Wix – Wix is a great platform that assists beginners in creating their own ecommerce website. It is also well-suited for creative brands and small businesses.
  • WooCommerce – if you have knowledge of coding, WooCommerce can be paired with your WordPress website to give it the functions of an ecommerce site.
  • BigCartel – this platform is the best ecommerce platform for startups who are operating as solo entrepreneurs. They are focused on offering complete customer support available 24/7.
  • BigCommerce – this platform is excellent for offering you a highly secure website on a tight budget.

Once you have learned how to build an ecommerce website and have chosen your platform, it is essential to set up an account with any online marketplaces you wish to use in tandem with your website to increase sales so that your launch has the maximum potential for success.

Launch Your Ecommerce Store

Once you have set up your website, you will also need a social media presence before your launch to give customers a way to interact with your brand and receive information about new products and offers.

It is worth researching how long does it take to start a business within your niche before putting together a launch plan. Before launching your ecommerce store, you should have established:

  • Your logistics – by now, you should have a plan in place for how your products will be shipped, packed, and sent to customers.
  • The metrics you should follow, including traffic to your sites, sales figures, average order values, and conversion rates (how often the traffic to your site creates a customer).
  • A way for your customers to contact you.
  • Your billing information for orders.
  • How you will be making your tax payments.

Once you have taken these steps and your business is ready for operation, you can go live and wait for your very first sale!

Promote Your Ecommerce Store

How you promote your ecommerce store is directly linked to how many sales you will make. You can take many routes when advertising and marketing your ecommerce store. Still, you will need to ensure you have covered the basic marketing requirements, including your product photography, establishing your branding style, and setting up your social media.

Once you have covered these basics, you can take the following steps to promote your products and online store:

  • Using PPC (pay-per-click) ads – PPC ads help you promote your products on websites and online platforms like social media. These promotional advertisements create a good ROI as you only pay when they are successful and generate traffic to your store. Google offers a PPC advertising service to increase the breadth of your brand’s reach.
  • SEO – search engine optimization uses keywords in the literature associated with your brand and product descriptions to ensure you get a high ranking on search engines. You can use tools to help you find these keywords more easily, such as Semrush or MOZ.
  • SMM – social media marketing is a great way to reach new customers. You can use social media campaigns such as giveaways to promote your products. You can also reach out to social media influencers and ask them if they would be interested in attaching your ad to their posts or posting a written ad. You can even send them free products and offer them a sponsorship to post pictures or videos promoting your products.

Is Ecommerce Worth It?

shopify payment

Ecommerce businesses have a success rate of 10% and usually fail in the first 120 days. However, you could make over $63,000 in monthly revenue within the first three months of establishing your online sales with the right business plan and products.

Whether ecommerce is right for you depends on how much effort you are willing to put into crafting the perfect product and paying attention to your analytics. Now you know how to start an ecommerce business, it’s time to start considering whether it is something you can realistically commit to.

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to start an ecommerce business, you can evaluate if you can face the challenges and commit to the process. Starting your ecommerce business is a long and arduous process, but once you have established your online store, things will get more accessible, and your profits will provide extra motivation. Once you have set up your business, you can automate your accounting and logistics processes to ease your workload while you reap the rewards for your hard work.

TCF team

TCF team

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