How To Start An Ecommerce Business?

 28 Jun, 2021

Introduction

What is stopping you from launching your eCommerce business?

  • Is it fear of failure?
  • Lack of information about how to start an eCommerce business
  • Confused about the investment it will require?
  • Concerned about Cybersecurity, competition, and order fulfillment?
  • Concerned over how you will drive traffic to your website?
  • What product should you launch?

I know there are endless questions in your mind when starting an eCommerce business, because launching an eCommerce store is not an easy task. It requires a lot of hard work and planning. 

But, we are here to help you at every step. We bring to you a detailed blueprint for launching your eCommerce store. It will help you shape up your journey while going for research, launch, or profitability of your eCommerce store.

“Every second you spend thinking about what somebody else has is taking away from time that you could create something for yourself” - Gary Vee

Let's go step by step and take a look at launching your eCommerce store.

Step 1: What product should you sell?

“You should learn from your competitor, but never copy. Copy and you die” -  Jack Ma, EC Alibaba Group

This can be quite tricky when starting an eCommerce business, as finding the right product that will position you in the market is not easy. You may feel that every other product is already being sold, or there is immense competition in the market. 

Here are some strategies to find the product that sells:

  1. To start eCommerce business, understand consumer pain points and try to look for a product line that solves them. You can identify the pain points through qualitative research, where you talk to multiple people based on age, location, and figure out the issues and the solutions they are looking for. Let’s say they love a product but find it expensive. So, can you solve this with your product line? If yes you got the product to sell. Here’s an example:

  1. Another way is to go through social media platforms and customer comments, feedback on a product. You may figure out gaps and come up with a solution.
  2. Next is to consider looking into your personal passion. A product that is near to your hobby, passion, or something you love to learn about, has a lot of know-how, will always be easy to sell. Here’s a case study:

Eric Bandholz started Beardbrand as a blog discussing business and sales strategy. Slowly, his passion for beards crept into the blog. Over time, he turned his passion for the bearded lifestyle into a separate and successful eCommerce business selling beard-grooming products.

Step 2: Don’t forget to validate your idea

“Amazing things will happen when you listen to the consumer” -  Jonathan Midenhall, CMO for Airbnb

Now that you have finalized the product you want to sell to start an ecommerce business, product validation is important to check the existing demand for the product. 

How do you validate an idea?

1. Talk to your customers personally. 

Get into a local market, or participate in a craft show. See whether people like your product or not. Also, it will give you a fair view of the pricing and the future scope of the product.

2. Competition analysis is crucial. 

  • Find out if their product is selling in the market or not, if yes then what is the USP?
  • What price point are they playing at?
  • What segment of buyers loves their product?
  • Is there any demographic targeting, study well to understand customer persona?
  • What is the existing demand for the product? 
  • Use Google trends to check how buyers are searching for the product, and whether you are entering a growing or declining market. The below images show how you can compare products and measure the level of interest on Google Trends.

Step 3: Go for obtaining your product?

“Overall the web is pretty sloppy, but an online store can’t afford to be” -  Paul Graham, Co-Founder of Y Combinator

Obtaining your product is not an easy task when starting an eCommerce business, it requires proper research and planning. Some popular business models are:

Step 4: Prepare A Business Plan

“Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.”-  Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

A business plan is a roadmap to success. Preparing it will help you understand how ready you are to launch your store, what are the loopholes to be fixed, what areas need immediate attention, and how to start an eCommerce business. Before coming up with a full-proof business plan, it is necessary to understand the market sentiments, and how your competition is performing. 

Here are some tips to track your competition most effectively:

  • Research who are there target customers when starting an eCommerce business, by digging into social media. Check their Facebook page, read comments, study the followers well to understand buyer persona.
  • What they bring into the market, I mean what is that specialty that makes them much loved. Is it the pricing, product quality, delivery, customer care, engaging content, or what?
  • You need to know the price point the competition is playing at and what best you can offer to the customers. But be sure to find out whether the audience is looking for better pricing or enhanced product experience. Loyal customers don’t compromise over the pricing.
  • Today it’s all about customer experience, to convert website traffic into sales you need to offer them a seamless shopping experience. This is true everywhere, be it online or offline. Try to figure out how your competitors are managing customer experience. 
  • What is the USP, best feature of their website? Create your account and navigate like a buyer to understand what works best and what does not.
  • What kind of ad copies they publish and how frequently. I mean what is their content strategy? Do they come with more blogs, or emailers, videos, and what the audience is loving the most?
  • Which social media platform works best for them? Check out all relevant platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram and study well from where they are driving maximum eyeballs.
  • Don’t forget to read customer reviews on product pages. It will help you with a SWOT analysis of your product.

Effective tools to analyze your competitors

How to start an eCommerce business? Now that you know the market, what is trending, how the future looks like, what is the buyer persona, and many other such things? Consider adding all these points in your business plan:

Draft your business plan

  • What is your business about?
  • What do you want to achieve by starting an ecommerce business?
  • What are you going to sell and how?
  • Who is your target audience when starting an ecommerce business?
  • Which is your financial situation and accordingly your marketing plan?
  • What will be the team size, and how will find the best resources?
  • What does your market analysis say about industry trends?
  • What price point is the competition playing at?
  • To start ecommerce business plan logistics
  • Who are the suppliers to start an ecommerce business?
  • How will you manage shipment and inventory?
  • Who will be the investors if required?
  • Inventors exit strategy
  • Financial projection

Step 5: Set up your dream!!

“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” -  Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter

Yes, it’s time to set up your business, How?

Name your business 

Choose an appropriate domain name. Remember to choose a name that is easy for people to relate to.  The best way is to brainstorm with experts like hiring an agency that can take care of the complete lifecycle of your eCommerce launch.

Here are some tools you can use to generate your business name to start ecommerce business 

  • Squadhelp.com
  • Shopify.com
  • Businessnamegenerator.com
  • Nemelix.com
  • Oberlo.in

Whatever is your business name abide by these rules:

  • Keep it short and simple, people don’t like fussy names
  • No copy-paste, do your research and try to come up with something unique that lasts an impression 
  • Check popular eCommerce site for name availability 
  • Tell a story, it means the business name should speak about your product n services
  • Verify that the .com domain name and social media handles are available. 
  • Register your business name to start eCommerce business

Create a logo

Interestingly, 36% of respondents agree that the logo itself usually helps them remember the brand in question, not the other way around. The right logo is critical as it represents your brand and creates positioning in the mind of users.

Here are some tools to create a logo to start ecommerce business

  • Canva
  • Vyond.com
  • Logomaker.com
  • Ucraft

Some tips to create a great logo when starting an ecommerce business 

  • Define your brand in 3 words and take inspiration
  • Identify the core for which your brand stands for
  • Get people involved when brainstorming your logo
  • Don't forget to check out the competition
  • What style you want the logo to be - modern, vintage, quirky, classic.
  • Pay attention to color, learn how color makes a difference and why top social media websites use the blue color in their logo 

Step 6: Work on building your store, get crucial elements in place

With all elements in place, it’s time to build your store. Here are the key aspects you need to focus upon:

Develop Highly engaging product pages when starting an ecommerce business 

Many times it happens that despite getting traffic on your website, products are not being added to the cart, sales numbers are not achieved, the conversion rate is not up to the mark. Ever thought about the reason behind this? We have a team of experts in the area who recommended focusing upon highly converting product pages.

What makes a product page great?

The product page is the stage for information that your users seek before mankind a buying decision. If not well-drafted you may experience a high bounce rate. A good product page comprises awesome products, a catchy product description, enhance user experience while navigating the page, detailed images or videos.

Take note of the following factors while designing your product page

  • You can’t miss upon Call-To-Action (CTA) 

Your main motive is customers adding products to the cart, and finally buying them. This won’t happen if you don’t have a crystal clear CTA button. It has to be visible and should be appealing enough for the buyer to hit the button.

  • Will you buy a product without seeing it?

Yes, you heard me, no one will buy a product without seeing it. With an online store, users cannot feel the product and so you need to invest in great images, and videos that make the user see the product from every angle. Product photography is extremely important.

  • Give clarity over the pricing to start ecommerce business

Give complete detail about product pricing. When you have competitors and your price is also on the higher side your product description should showcase the USP of the product explaining to customers why the price tag is so stated. 

  • Provide enough detail for your customers

Your product copy should feature every detail about the product. Take into account both existing and new users when writing product copy. It should have information for every set of audiences. While writing content, be a storyteller and tell users how your product is going to make their lifestyle much better. 

Step 7: Where will you sell your products, choose sales channels

“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.”- Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.com

One of the easiest ways to start selling and get connected to your audience is by partnering with a sales channel. 

There are multiple benefits to it:

  • You save up a lot of time and energy in the initial marketing setup
  • The easiest way to find new customers 
  • Is Cost-effective
  • You are not alone in the journey. An amazing support system to help you sail through
  • Platform to connect with industry

Step 8: Time to launch your eCommerce store

“I don’t create companies for the sake of creating companies, but to get things done.” - Elon Musk, CEO & CTO of SpaceX, Investor in PayPal

Now everything is in place, and you have to start ecommerce business, so go ahead with preparing your shipping, and fulfillment. 

Here are some tips for shipping, fulfillment, and return policies

  • Decide upon pricing strategy for your shipping:
  • Offer free shipping to reduce shopping cart abandonment.
  • Offer local delivery to localized customers, this is cost-effective and fetches you, regular customers.

Sum up the shipping cost

  • Shipping cost depends upon package weight, package size, origin, and destination of service.
  • You may also connect with a third-party logistics partner when shipping a substantial number of packages.
  • Another way of reducing the cost of shipping is working with a fulfillment warehouse. They take care of picking, packing, and shipping orders as they reach the shopping cart. This is cheap and saves a lot of time. Try reaching out to the fulfillment center located in the vicinity.

Return policy 

Keep a user-friendly return policy. If your return policy is not flexible you may lose customers. Also, ensure to publish every detail related to return. 

Let me share some tips to keep your profits in check:

  • In place of return try for exchange, to maintain your revenue, and retain your user.
  • Upsell or cross-sell when the exchange is initiated, show multiple and better product options.

Step 9: Market your store

Communication is at the heart of eCommerce and community” -  Meg Whitman Hewlett-Packard CEO

Here are the top-performing marketing tactics for your e-commerce store:

  1. Email marketing is amazing 

Works wonder to acquire new customers and also to regularly connect with your existing customers thereby strengthening the customer relationships. 

  • The first step is choosing an email provider, looking into the kind of database they possess, email templates, pricing, etc.
  • Create your email list by digging out emails from the customer account
  • place sign-up forms at a  prominent position on the website to collect email IDs, promote to sign up for newsletters.
  • Create a launch page and collect mail id

Various kind of emailers that help to start an eCommerce business

  • Product promotion
  • Discount or special offer
  • Shipping emails
  • The product return or exchange mail
  • Thank you for shopping email also promote other products as per customer preference
  • Newsletters
  • Welcome emailers

       2. Get traffic from social media

Set up your goal 

First, define your goal, what result you want and how will you measure the same. 

  • It can be brand awareness
  • Product launch
  • Product promotion
  • Special offer
  • Network with partners
  • Participate in contest
  • Come up as a thought-leader in the market

The research profile of your target audience to understand the buyer persona

Understand what segment of buyers will love your product. and create a buyer person taking into account the following: age, finance, profession, marital status, location, buying concern, etc. Similarly, you can get a better sense of what is trending, what conversations are the prospective target audience indulging in by studying platforms like Reddit. Another way is to go through blog comments, you get a clear sense of what are the user want list and pain points

What kind of content will you post on social media?

Develop a content architecture regarding what kind of content you will post and how frequently. Create an editorial calendar to keep a track of the content. You can come up with different kinds of content for social media platform like:

  • News
  • Educational content 
  • Inspirational content
  • Product promotion Community events
  • Content by influencers
  • Contest and giveaways
  • Get customers to contribute content
  • Events

Decide upon the channel you will promote the content at:

  • Facebook is an incredibly strong platform for brand positioning, and can’t be missed when starting an ecommerce business. You can connect with the ideal set of customers by using paid adv options, and deliver very targeted ads.

  • When looking to build followers, especially millennials, Instagram goes right. The best part is you don’t have to pay for promoting yourself. Keeping your posts, videos consistent is the key to catch the attention of the users.
  • More than just connecting with the buyers, if you want to connect to influencers in the industry, shake hands with media people, or network with brands Twitter is a great platform.
  • If you want to grab the attention of the majority of the female audiences, Pinterest is the one. With almost 70% of its users being platform you can add it to your marketing mix when selling handicrafts, cosmetics, etc.
  • Want to establish yourself as a thought leader, Linkedin is the platform that sets the stage for you.

Step 10: Set up your KPI

“Your most unhappy customers are your most important source of learning” - Bill Gates, Microsoft Founder

How will you measure your success without setting up the key performance indicators? Here the essential ones:

Sales KPI

  • Sales - Monitors sales performance may be monthly, quarterly, or on the daily basis
  • Figure out the average order size
  • Shopping cart abandonment rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Cost of customer acquisition
  • Number of transactions
  • Market share
  • Customer lifetime value

Marketing KPI

  • Site traffic
  • Bounce rate
  • Average session duration
  • Email subscribers
  • Social media followers
  • Blog traffic
  • PPC traffic

Step 11: Optimize your conversion rate

You can’t just open a website and expect people to flood in. If you really want to succeed you have to create traffic.”- Joel Anderson, Walmart CEO

Conversion rate optimization is about optimizing your landing pages, product pages, overalls website for a higher conversion rate. The more visitors on the site adding products to the cart, the higher will be the conversion. 

Some key areas to focus upon:

  • Clean and clear product pages
  • Compelling PPC adv copies
  • A/B test your landing page design
  • Right keyword research 
  • Eye-catching Call-to-action(CTA)
  • Attractive website design

Step 12: Use analytics to measure results

“Data Data Data! I can’t make bricks without clay” -  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Physician and Writer

These eCommerce metrics will keep you on track:

Sales conversion rate is critical - This is the number of people purchasing the total number of visitors. If the sales numbers are not on track you cannot decide the future course of action. When starting an ecommerce business you need to understand these parameters. 

People opting for emails/newsletters - Emailers are a very powerful tool as it’s a pool of databases of prospective buyers. People subscribing to your newsletters are loyal customers who love your product and want to be updated about what is next in the kitty for them. 

Customer lifetime value - This metric shows the total you earn for a customer throughout their life. This is a measurement of your customer retention rate.  

Cost of acquiring a customer - This is calculated by the total marketing spend against the customers acquired. It reflects whether your marketing efforts are going in the right direction or not.

Shopping cart abandonment rate - This shows the number of people adding products to the cart but leaving from there. This simply means you have to work upon your remarketing strategy, send regular emails for the buyer to make a purchase, and make the check-out process simple.

There is a lot to do….

Starting an eCommerce business is a challenging task, but you can't imagine the kind of fame and success it will fetch for you. Thorough market research, optimization of your product pages, a solid business plan, business metrics in check and construct innovation will land you as a winner. These are the key answers to “how to start an eCommerce business”

Hope this article will help. 

Don’t forget to share your thoughts, as we put in a lot of effort to get the right information just for you.

“Ecommerce isn’t the cherry on the cake, it’s the new cake” - Jean Paul Ago CEO L’Oreal

8
Leave a Reply

avatar
8 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
SamFinley EdwardsAtticus JamesPhoenix RobinsonAndre Reed Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

O

Omar Moore

After going through this post I am feeling confident about my knowledge of creating an eCommerce store.

J

Jorge Hall

Must-read posts for those who are planning to start an eCommerce store.

N

Nash Martin

As I am not technically sound and very new to this digital world but after reading this blog I am feeling that I can start an eCommerce business easily. What a nice blog.

A

Andre Reed

I am thinking of starting my ecommerce business but don’t know where to start? Please help!

P

Phoenix Robinson

I am new to the ecommerce business. I want to hire a team of professionals. Can your team help?

A

Atticus James

What is this A/B test mentioned in the post for landing page design?

F

Finley Edwards

The tips mentioned above are really helpful. Thankyou for the article!

S

Sam

What are steps that I can follow to start my business with a bang?