How to Start an E-commerce Business
So, you want to start your own e-commerce business, but do you know how? Contrary to common belief, e-commerce is not a simple walk in the park. How so? Read on and find out.
Online selling is slowly but surely taking root in the business industry. By looking at the net revenue growth of Amazon alone, we can say this is not a mere myth.
From 2004 to 2019, Amazon’s net revenue increased over $47 billion year-on-year. Seeing this potential, startups are starting to sail through the current of online business.
Since e-commerce is slowly taking over the industry, you should build your e-commerce business as early as now. But this question looms over, “how can I start an e-commerce business?”
How to Start an E-commerce Business?
What is an e-commerce business? Is this the easiest path to build a startup?
E-commerce or electronic commerce is buying and selling of products or services using the internet. Just like other startups, you need to go through a lot of processes to build an e-commerce business. Here is a quick road map that can guide you:
- Find your niche
- Make your business legal
- Choose a platform
- Decide on your payment policy
- Set up your online store
Step 1 Research
The first step is the hardest when you are starting a business. However, once you make the first move, the rest will follow. For e-commerce or even any other business, the first thing you need to do is research.
Make sure that you lay out the foundation of your business and know everything about its form. This data serves as the foundation, the basis of your objective, and your business’s overall goal.
You can start by answering these questions:
- What problem is my business solving?
- How does my product/service help the customers?
- Why do I want to build a business?
- What are we selling?
- Who are we selling to?
- Who are our competitors?
- What is our unique advantage against competitors?
- Where should I set up my business?
- How do we market our products/services?
These questions are merely the surface of what a business plan looks like. Each item bears sub-questions that can point to the direction of what your e-commerce business should be.
Step 2 Find your niche
You receive dozens of emails from e-commerce businesses. These emails contain product lists and dozens of various random categories with no particular focus. Then you start to wonder, “What is their business about? What is their niche?”
The situation is a result of a poor niche choice. Here is why.
In the first condition, various random products and categories would pertain to your e-commerce business do not have an apparent focus. It means you don’t have a niche and a target audience.
“But my target audience is everyone,” says the entrepreneur. No business targets everyone. You must have a clear audience, a specific niche. Without a clear focus, you can’t decide on a perfect marketing strategy. Furthermore, a particular niche helps build your brand.
Step 3 Make your business legal
The third is an essential step in starting an e-commerce business. That is making your business legal.
Register your business to legitimize everything. There will be legal protections and tax benefits for incorporating, so you should never skip this part.
Acquiring a business license varies from each state and business platforms. Don’t give up if you don’t know much about the legalities. Instead, you must ask for professional advice from those who know this best.
You can read materials online on how this works. Once you know the basics, you can consult your business mentor or a legal professional from your network. In no time, you can legally operate your e-commerce business.
Step 4 Choose your platform
Once your business is registered and fully legitimized, you can continue to the next step. Since you are starting an online store, there is no need to search for a location and prepare things for set up. The only thing you need is knowledge of website creation.
Your website will be your storefront. This will house everything: products, customer service, payment options, etc.
With that, make sure that you don’t take your website for granted. Treat it as you treat a physical store. Remember, it is what the customers will see; you would want to make an excellent first impression.
If you aren’t adept at writing codes, you can choose e-commerce website builders that offer templated designs. But if you want a unique look and feel, you can customize everything. However, you might need an expert developer that can help you with that.
Here are e-commerce platforms that you can choose from:
Step 5 Decide on your payment policy
The fifth step may just be just a small part of your online business, but it is critical.
Imagine a customer perusing through an online store. The customer starts clicking items and adding them to the cart, then proceeds to check out. Everything is going smoothly until it is time to process the payment.
Everything is so complicated and takes more time than the actual shopping. After a few minutes, the customer gives up and exits the store without a single purchase.
To avoid such situations, choose a payment policy that is convenient both for you and the customer. You will need a payment processor such as Square or Stripe to accept online payments.
You must also create a defined payment policy to avoid misunderstandings with customers. Furthermore, you should decide on a payment method that can help you prevent fraudulent acts.
It is okay to be wary in e-commerce, but not too cautious enough to scare off customers.
Step 6 Set up the online store
When the necessary steps are completed, it is time to launch your e-commerce business. Start marketing and selling your products.
Once you’re sailing through the current, always remember that the tides change without considering your situation. When that happens, always keep an open mind to change.
Things You Should Know Before You Start an E-commerce Business
Do you think it’s all a happy ending once you’ve launched your e-commerce business? Well, you can never be wrong.
Here are additional tips and advice before you even begin your journey. Treat this as a friendly reminder before you set off.
Set the right expectations
E-commerce is still a technically new strategy. This form is operating in the business industry for over forty years since its initial introduction. Today, e-commerce is still growing as much as 23% every year.
If you’ve been observing other e-commerce businesses and think their growth is too slow, then don’t be too hasty. E-commerce takes patience to grow, just like any other business.
Contrary to what other people believe, e-commerce is not an easy way of doing business. Just because you don’t need a physical store and other amenities, does not make it effortless and uncomplicated.
E-commerce is not a shortcut. Instead, it is another path toward business success.
Learn digital marketing
If you want to delve into e-commerce, you must also learn and master digital marketing. Why?
Think about it. E-commerce is doing business online. While, digital marketing is any form of marketing that exists, well, online.
Marketing strategies should depend on your business platform. If your business targets customers online, it is only logical for your marketing strategy to focus on an online audience.
There are a lot of paid training courses online on successful digital marketing. It also contains software that can help you kickstart your digital marketing strategies. On the other hand, there are also free reference materials on digital marketing.
What’s important is that you continuously learn the marketing trends and keep up with them.
Focus on branding
Branding is vital if you want your e-commerce business to live longer. Let’s say an online store sells durable hiking wear for men. After some time, it started to gather a loyal customer base. The store becomes well-known for creating long-lasting hiking wear. After three years, the store introduces a new product, hiking wear for women.
Since the store already made a name in hiking wear, customers will automatically associate the women’s hiking wear with being durable. The store has created its own brand identity.
Building a brand is not easy; it takes a lot of time to make a solid brand. However, this strategy is essential in the long run.
Be visible online
E-commerce is about doing business online. With that, you must be visible in the online community. How do you do this? Make sure that you are visible in networks where netizens are frequent. Take social media sites, for example.
Improvement never stops
Nothing is constant in e-commerce and be prepared for everything to change in just a snap. Online trends are never stagnant. What is hot now may not be a topic anymore a week after.
When Should You Start Your E-commerce Business?
Now you know the steps to starting an e-commerce business. You even learned what you need to keep in mind before you start one. So, when is the right time to build an online business?
If you have the perfect idea for an e-commerce business, then the ideal time is now. If you don’t have the right people yet, then you can seek help from those who know e-commerce best, like Full Scale.
Full Scale can help you in creating a good e-commerce business strategy, launching, and even growing your business.
We have experienced website developers to build custom-made e-commerce websites that suit your taste. We also have skilled and creative graphic designers and content writers to help develop a solid brand identity.
All you need to do is book a FREE consultation and tell us your excellent idea of a business.