Nov 1, 2022
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A Simple Guide to Starting an Ecommerce Business
In the era of the Internet, starting an ecommerce business has never been so appealing. A solid understanding of the situation you are getting yourself into is a perfect place to start. Follow these steps and you will learn how to start your own ecommerce business.
Many years ago starting a business on the tiniest budget and working from home felt like a dream but launching your own business doesn’t have to be costly in 2022. A few hundred dollars would be more than enough to open your eCommerce business. You just need to have a great idea and a strong desire to succeed. Whether you want to be your own boss or earn some extra money, an eCommerce business is a safe bet because it doesn’t need a warehouse or physical store. The costs will be reduced as there’s no rent to pay. You don’t need to buy goods upfront to bind yourself to suppliers. What’s more, you might not need to hire employees and pay them salaries. A combination of freedom and flexibility makes this business model simply irresistible. But just like with any business, starting one isn’t easy but it is totally doable.
Since a lot of people want to know how to do it right, we’ll outline the most important steps.
What are the steps you need to make before starting an e-commerce business?
Step 1. Research the ecommerce market and find your niche.
Step 2. Pick a brand name for your ecommerce business and choose the right legal structure
Step 3. Apply for the necessary business licenses and permits
Step 4. Choose your ecommerce platform and build your website
Step 5. Market your ecommerce business
How to Start an Ecommerce Business?
There’s no better time to start selling online as ecommerce offers a great reach without requiring significant recently funded startups, making it a perfect method to launch your own company. The future looks bright for eCommerce entrepreneurs. Before starting an online business, learning about the benefits of eCommerce can inspire you to be your own boss.
So, without further ado, let’s get down to business!
Here’s how to get started:
Step 1. Research the Ecommerce Market and Find Your Niche
The first step you need to make is to research the market and find your niche. Market research is important to every company. It’s something you need to pay attention to when starting out. The competition is high, and by conducting thorough research on the eCommerce market, you will always have a competitive edge. You will learn the best way to sell and whom to sell to.
You need to collect information about your consumers because the foundation of market research is understanding your target audience. You need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. You need to think like your customer. You must be aware of the needs and interests of specific people to understand your target group overall. You must know for sure what your eCommerce company will provide. Will you be selling goods or services? Are the products you sell physical or digital? Before you start selling anything online make sure that there’s an available market for it. You don’t want to sell something that nobody wants to buy.
The beauty of eCommerce is that there are no geographical boundaries and that’s something you should keep in mind when doing research. You can reach a wider audience and collect information on consumers' behaviors and preferences. Selling internationally will help you build your brand awareness and increase sales.
Online retail has been steadily increasing across the globe and competitiveness is high in the eCommerce industry. To succeed you should perform an eCommerce competitor analysis. Understanding your competition has never been so important. Look for their strengths and weaknesses. Do some research on their history and find out what business model they are using. Market research can show you what to look at before starting an eCommerce business.
Choose a niche that has some level of competition because an absence of competition usually means that there are no people to buy your products. Find a niche where you believe you can succeed in building your brand and making sales of goods and services because if you do it right, you can differentiate yourself from your competitors. Set some particular criteria for your niche market depending on their demographics such as age, location, interests, and values.
When it comes to selling physical products you should be aware of your product sourcing. You can make your own products to sell, you can purchase products from a third party and have them shipped directly to your customer or you can find a manufacturer to make your product.
Step 2. Pick a Brand Name for Your Ecommerce Business and Choose the Right Legal Structure
Now that you have talked to your potential clients and have a business plan, it is time to choose the right name for your online store. Coming up with a good business name can be as difficult as starting your own business. A good catchy name plays a significant role in your company’s growth and perception. It’s the first thing your customers see and remember.
There are 3 reasons why a good brand name is vital for your company’s success:
- It improves your site’s visibility
- It makes your site easy to remember
- It gives your “soon-to-be” customers an idea of what your brand is all about
You might want to look at domain name generators such as Squad Help and BIZNAMEWIZ. They can help you find a unique name for your eCommerce business.
If you want to stand out amongst your competitors and make your website more visible on Google, then you need to choose an SEO-friendly name for your eCommerce business that has your target keywords. Use the right domain extensions. The most popular domain extensions are “.com”,“.org”, “io”, “.net”, etc. For example “.store” would be a perfect choice for your eCommerce store. It’s short, crisp, and self-explanatory.
The aforementioned domain names give you a good sense of what to expect from websites.
When it comes to domain names, the shorter, the better. Short domain names are easy to remember and pronounce.
Your potential customers won’t have any problem finding your eCommerce store. Avoid hyphens and numbers because you need to make sure that your domain name is easy to spell and pronounce.
As you can see a good brand name plays a major role in your business’ success.
Next, you need to choose the best business structure. For your eCommerce company, it will have significant legal and financial ramifications. There are several options to choose from:
- Sole proprietorship
- General partnership
- LLC (Limited Liability Company)
Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. To make a more informed decision, you might want to talk to your attorney.
Step 3. Apply For the Necessary Business Licenses and Permits
You may need to secure specific licenses and permits depending on the type of online business you’re doing. They vary depending on the location so you must meet the requirements of the local agency that issues the license.
The most common business licenses and permits are:
- Business License is a formal recognition that allows you to successfully run an eCommerce business within a specific jurisdiction. You can’t do business without one. Otherwise, you would be forced to cease operations.
- Sales and Use Tax Permit. If you are engaged in business you must obtain a sales tax permit. It is a tax on the sales of goods. You collect sales tax on purchases from your customers and submit them to the relevant authorities.
- Employer Identification number. (EIN) If your online business employs workers you must obtain an EIN from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). To put it simply, it is the equivalent of the Social Security Number for a business. This nine-digit number identifies your business for tax purposes.
Step 4. Choose your Ecommerce Platform and Build your Website
Now that you’ve completed the paperwork required to register and legally start your business the next logical step would be to find the perfect eCommerce platform. There are so many eCommerce platforms available on the market today that choosing one can be a bit difficult. Let’s take a look at the most popular platforms:
Shopify is one of the most popular,feature-reach e-commerce platforms for online stores of all sizes including large enterprises like Tesla. It is a great online selling solution and it offers a clean user-friendly interface. It’s a coding and hassle-free platform so you don’t have to be a technician to know how to use it. What’s more, it has a large collection of third-party apps in the app store.
You might want to integrate Growave to improve your site’s functionality in marketing. Our app is built specifically for Shopify. It has all the features that you would expect to have from 5 apps. It has important features like Loyalty & Rewards, Wishlist, Reviews, Instagram UGC, and Social Login. It runs off site and doesn’t install any code.
BigCommerce might be a perfect fit for those who look for an easy setup. This eCommerce platform is suitable for businesses of all sizes. Most retailers using BigCommerce do not have expansion plans, instead, they want to start selling right away.
Any WordPress website can become an online store with a working WordPress plugin. This eCommerce platform is perfect for those who have some technical knowledge to take advantage of its open-source nature.
Squarespace is another widely known e-commerce platform. It is totally user-friendly and it is built for entrepreneurs of all technical skill levels. However, it doesn’t offer as many features, and tools as the aforementioned platforms.
There’s no shortage of e-commerce platforms for you to choose from. All you have to do is choose the right platform that suits your needs. Before you choose the right platform for your e-commerce business, you should consider the features, the usability, the price, and your needs.
After you’ve decided which solution works best, it’s time to customize your website. You should consider how you want your online store to be set up and how you want your store’s design to look. It’s crucial to keep your online store’s design simple and fresh. Using too many colors is not good for your website. Put a straightforward, user-friendly navigation bar at the top of your page. Don’t overcomplicate things. Try to make your homepage as simple as possible because it tells your potential customers what to do next. Don’t cram all the information in one place because it will result in a disorganized mess and poor user experience. Always think about your customers. Make sure your e-commerce store’s page speed is fast enough. To test and monitor your website, you can use free tools such as Google’s Page Speed Insights, WebPageTest, and GTMetrix. Compress images on your website pages. Try TinyJPG. This free online image compressor can help you do just that. So, add your images, product names and descriptions, and payment details. And if you’ve got some extra money you can hire a professional designer or web developer to help you with your small business website. He or she can help you create a custom design for your e-commerce business.
Step 5. Market your Ecommerce Business
Now that you have products to sell, and your e-commerce store is finally online, it’s time to tell the world who you are and what your business is all about. Even if your ecommerce website is user-friendly people still need to find it to purchase products from you. That’s why marketing is so important. Since there are many marketing strategies and you need to focus on the most important ones.
- Grow your social media presence
- Promote your eCommerce website with content marketing
- Optimize your site for SEO
Grow your Social Media Presence
Social media marketing is no longer an option it is a necessity. Most of your potential customers are there. We simply can’t live without social media. We use it to connect with one another and share thoughts, news, and ideas. We use social media to discover new products and services. You can reach your customers, gain valuable insights and connect with them on a more personal level. You can advertise your products and services, and keep your customers informed. With the help of Social Media, you can increase your brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, generate leads, boost sales, partner with social media influencers, humanize your brand, etc. Social media plays a major role in your company’s success.
Promote your eCommerce website with content marketing
Content marketing is one of the most important free marketing strategies to date that can help you drive organic traffic to your online store. It’s a long-term strategy that focuses on creating engaging content to attract visitors and you can always transform your online store’s visitors into paying customers. Content marketing includes articles, infographics, audio, videos and etc.
You really need to add a blog to your website. It is an awesome opportunity for you to show up on search engines. With blogs and social media, you can make your site trustworthy.
“Content is king”
Bill Gates is totally right on this one as content is a fundamental part of your marketing campaign. The content you produce helps your customers understand your products better, and get people talking about you and your business. It is not about selling only. This strategy helps you humanize your brand. Content marketing, social media marketing, and SEO work together perfectly.
Optimize your Site for SEO
When your content is optimized for search engines it gives you an opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition. It’s one of the important things you can do as an online store owner. If you do it right you can significantly increase your web traffic and improve your website ranking. By optimizing your website you can ensure that your target audience can find and access your content with ease. It can be achieved through a variety of methods including optimizing the content, metadata, on-page elements, and links. You need to know how to do keyword research for SEO and with the help of tools like Ahrefs you can manage many parts of SEO. You can discover the best opportunities in terms of backlinks and keywords. You can even analyze your competition. You need to find low-competition keywords with high volume because it will be easier for you to rank higher for a particular keyword or keyword phrase on the search engines like Google. With SEO you will reach a wider audience.
As time goes on, you will be able to change your marketing plan according to your business needs. As you can see, marketing is a vital part of every eCommerce website. Being new to the online business world you should plan your marketing strategy carefully. Even if you don’t have enough money, free marketing strategies are still available.
Do you want to know how to make sales on Shopify? Then you should watch the following course:
The E-commerce industry is popular now, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite its growth and increasing online competition, starting an online retail business is totally worth it. You just need to know what steps to take to become successful and this article gives you all the necessary information to start your e-commerce business. Follow the steps outlined above and you will launch a successful online store. Good luck!
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