The world has gone digital. Start an eCommerce business in 2023 and join the wave of businesses that are thriving in this new economy. In this blog post, we will discuss the nine steps you need to take to start your own successful eCommerce business.
We’ll also cover some of the challenges you may face and how to overcome them. Are you ready to jump into the digital age? Let’s get started!
With Covid-19, we are experiencing accelerated eCommerce 5 Years Later.
The time to move your business online was yesterday!
In 2019 alone there has been a 14% increase in retail sales globally and Statista projects this number will reach 22%.
In this guide, we are going to go over how to launch a thriving e-commerce business.
Everything you need to start an e-commerce business including:
- How to do product research.
- Choosing an eCommerce business model.
- Product Idea validation.
- Registering Your Company.
- How to Source Own Products.
- How to create a business plan.
- Choosing an eCommerce platform.
- Launching your online store.
- Drive Traffic To Your Online Store.
- Generating sales and measuring results.
Owning your own e-commerce business online is one of the best investments you can make into a side hustle that can potentially become life-changing full-time.
Once your down with this article, you will know what it takes to start and run a profitable online store.
How To Start An E-Commerce Business Step by Step.
- 1 How To Start An E-Commerce Business Step by Step.
- 1.1 1. Research Products To Sell Online
- 1.2 2. Choose Your eCommerce business model
- 1.3 3. Validate Your Product Idea
- 1.4 4. Create Your Online Business Structure
- 1.5 5. How To Source & Manufacture Products For Your Online Store
- 1.6 6. Creating your E-commerce business plan.
- 1.7 7. Build your eCommerce store.
- 1.8 8. Driving Traffic To Your Online Store
- 1.9 9. Measuring E-commerce Business Growth
- 2 Wrapping Up
1. Research Products To Sell Online
To be successful with your e-commerce store you need to sell one of two types of products:
- A product in a growing niche that’s in high demand
- A high-quality commoditized product.
The majority of e-commerce sales are done with commoditized products because they make up the core market for many businesses.
Prices on these items frequently change as competition remains high and new players enter an already crowded space.
The shoe market is a classic example of how to create successful innovation.
The first company that created innovative footwear was Hush Puppies, which became popular and sparked rivalries between other brands looking for their own niche in the industry; this led them down an inevitable path towards commoditization as they were overtaken by companies such as Fujitsu who made better use or cheaper materials than those used by initial innovators like Nike.
The key to success in the e-commerce is not just having a good selection of products, but also making sure they’re niche enough for your customers and crowded with low-cost options.
Niche brands can often charge higher prices because their goods are sought after by fewer people which gives them more perceived value as well as an added incentive when purchasing!
Niche products allow you to focus your marketing efforts on a specific group of consumers, which in turn leads them towards wanting and buying one high-quality item.
This makes for profit margins that are usually too good not to take advantage of.
Niche products are one-of-a-kind or in small batches. For example, you could make your own crocheted shawls and handmade leather bags for the local boutique shop in town.
How To Choose A E-commerce Business Product
The essence of e-commerce is to offer your customers what they want at a price that will make it profitable for you.
In order to do this, start by considering how well-informed and knowledgeable about their needs as possible before deciding on an idea or product type; take into consideration any unique features offered through one’s products (which could make them more appealing) while also accounting for manufacturing costs associated with producing said items.
Keep this in mind when choosing your product ideas:
- The solution to your customer problems- Innovation usually starts by recreating already necessary products. Can you create a solution to solve a problem people encounter regularly?
- What’s your passion- Building an online business takes time so make sure you are passionate about what you are getting into.
- Is it Brandable? – Branding is absolutely necessary for eCommerce stores. How will you brand your product? What is your message? Who are your potential customers and how will you turn them into lifelong supporters?
- Get On the Trend Early – If you do notice and product trend catching on the earlier you get on board the more chance of fast niche market success you will have.
Hopefully, by the time you are finished brainstorming, you will have a small list of products in mind to start your store with. Remember the less crowded the field is and if there is a demand for a product then you have a potential hot target market to chase.
2. Choose Your eCommerce business model
Now that you know what you want to sell, now let’s figure out where to sell it.
There are four main business models in commerce:
- Business to consumer ( B2C )
- Business to Business ( B2B )
- Consumer to Business ( C2B )
- Consumer to Consumer ( C to C )
Let’s take a look at each one.
Business to Consumer ( B2C )
Traditional retail e-commerce is the most well-known form of B2C. This type sells products and services at regular prices to end customers.
Some B2c businesses sell actual physical products while others sell computer software products like apps and services on a recurring subscription.
B2c eCommerce typically has shorter sales cycles than B2B because the value is not as high. Most purchases involve one consumer rather than a whole executive board of employees.
B2C also has lower average order values than B2b.
Business to Business ( B2B )
B2B e-commerce businesses sell products goods and services to other businesses. More so the business buyer is also the end user.
Typically, B2B e-commerce has longer sales cycles. Although it takes time to get through large established companies’ gatekeepers, the rewards are much more high value and on a recurring basis.
Consumer to Consumer (C2C)
C2C businesses are the go-to for anyone looking to make money off their friends, family members, and neighbors.
They charge subscriber fees when people sell products or services within a community of like-minded folks; listing fees which can include things like display advertising on site if they have an inventory worth showing off (like eBay), transaction charges after each sale made through these platforms – but only ones where both parties involved get something out it!
Some examples: Craigslist is just one communications platform among many others but offers e-commerce capabilities. It doesn’t actually handle any exchanges itself but still allows users whose listings reside here.
Direct To Consumer (D2C)
With a direct-to-consumer brand, you are the manufacturer!
You can sell your products without any middlemen involved. Some brands manufacture their items while others create an outsourcing supply chain and just Finally package them up for sale at retailers like Walmart or Amazon.
The reason why these types of companies work so well? They refuse to deal primarily by wholesale – meaning they maximize profit margins when selling directly instead of putting all effort into marketing what’s inside.
Since communicating and selling directly to consumers, an online business that uses this business model typically retains a lot of control of the customer experience. As a result, you can grow an audience faster.
Dropshipping is a highly popular eCommerce business model. How it works is you sell a selection of products to your target audience on your eCommerce site as a retailer while your supplier manages the shipping and order fulfillment process when a customer purchases.
Using this business model will allow small e-commerce business owners to test out their ideas without spending money on inventory, as well as cut down shipping costs because all that’s needed are samples for customers who want them!
Wholesalers are in the business of selling large quantities at lower-than-retail prices.
They do this to other businesses by reselling or creating end products with it themselves and then delivering these services on top! wholesale companies need different strategies depending if they want their customers to be mostly small shops/businesses.
More importantly large ones too; because big players can really make things happen when everyone else is uncertain about what will work best for them individually.
White / Private Label
White labeling and private labeling are both methods of manufacturing that allow companies to put their own logo on generic goods sold by distributors.
The main difference between the two is that in a white-label business model, you apply for your company name or trademark without any involvement from them – this means less cost for production since they’re already made up; however it does mean having someone else design what goes into each item.
With FBA, companies can start selling their products on Amazon without having to invest time or money into setting up an entire web storefront. There are some fees involved but it’s worth the savings in potential future costs if something goes wrong with shipping during fulfillment!
A huge pro is that you don’t need your own eCommerce store for this business model.
Using Amazon FBA is one of the easiest ways to get started in the e-commerce business world.
3. Validate Your Product Idea
When choosing a product at this stage, it has to be worth your time and money and shows potential for profitable results. You will need to create a buyer persona that will help you hone in on your target market.
If you think market research is something only pros can do.
Luckily, it’s not! You just need the right tools and some creativity to find out what your audience wants in order for them to buy from their own wallets or websites.
All you really need is the right strategy and the right tools. Here is how you can find out more about your target audience.
Utilize Consumer Surveys
The quickest way to build a list is by harvesting information from consumers using good old-fashioned questions.
One of the most popular methods, social media can be used for this purpose with just one page set up in your new business and incentives offered such as 10% off future purchases or entry into prize draws that will encourage people who take it upon themselves answering some quick bits about themselves so you know what they want!
Paid advertising through sites like Facebook Ads may also work well if targeted correctly at an interested audience
Tools like Survey Monkey makes survey generation easy. Before collecting surveys ask yourself what type of information you need from your potential consumers and ask your questions strategically.
Some topics on demographics you can include:
- Number of children
- Country of residence
- Martial Status.
Typically you want to ask direct questions relating to your business idea and what changes to your product or service could be made to better benefit them.
Interview Potential Consumers
When you’re interviewing participants, make sure to ask them question-specific and personalized inquiries.
It’s better than just giving feedback on the whole survey without any input from certain people who might have valuable insights into how your business can improve!
Buyer Personas Creation
After you’ve collected enough information via interviews and surveys not is time to compile your data into buyer personas.
Creating this will help you better understand your potential customer base and increase your chances of having a successful e-commerce business.
For example consumers:
- Give each profile a nickname
- Could you attach a photo to make them relatable?
- Add a set of demographics
- Enrich each persona
By generating things more data about a consumer about their life, where they live, and what they do, you can better match up to see if your product or product idea is a good fit.
4. Create Your Online Business Structure
The next step is to register your new business. Choosing your business structure depends on what you will be doing. If you are a freelancer using your own name, you can register as a sole proprietor. But if you are registering your own eCommerce business you would likely register under an LLC or S Corp.
Graphic designers, writers, and other freelancers should consider registering their business as an LLC to take advantage of the tax benefits.
The process is straightforward in most parts of our country- it’s best for people who want or need flexibility when they start working on projects without knowing how long they will last!
There are five states where you don’t have to pay any sales taxes: Oregon., Alaska (although there is a temporary freeze), Montana Delaware, and New Hampshire. In all other regions, it’s important to stay updated about taxes designated in their home state.
If you’re thinking about starting your own business, sole proprietorship status might be the right choice for now.
However, there are drawbacks that make this an imperfect path to success, such as your assets aren’t protected if something goes wrong with company bankruptcy or self-employment tax rates will increase as earnings go up
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
The small cost to get started is worth the protection it provides. When you register an LLC, your personal assets are separated from business ones so that any lawsuit or legal action can be limited in scope and won’t risk compromising other important things like family life because there’s no way opponents’ lawyers could take advantage.
You can register an LLC in just a few minutes and limit your personal liability by separating what’s belonging to you, as well as the business’s assets.
You’ll need to appoint someone like yourself or any other person to act on behalf of this new entity; file articles with the state registration office where it resides (a fee will apply but not more than $300).
A few things to keep in mind about this business structure are that the LLC pays taxes and you are responsible for self-employment tax on all of its profits.
To avoid paying too much taxes, many businesses choose S corporations for their employees.
If your company gets big enough and you start earning more money then it’s time to opt out of being an LLC or sole proprietor because at that point the salary allocated can be reasonable enough without risking any additional profits over what has already been taxed before!
Creating an S Corp is a way to make your company more focused on its business and less focused on tax issues.
When starting out, it’s important that you create both C Corporation status, as well as IRS recognition of this form for future considerations such, as paying yourself a salary from earnings within the firm or even converting back if needed at some point down the road so there won’t be any penalties involved in doing so.
Obtain Business License
To start a business in the United States, you need to secure various licenses from your state.
The type and number of these requirements depend on what kind of company — sole trader? LLC or LLP? corporation — as well as where it’s headquartered within America’s borders: California might have wildly different rules than New York City!
For example, an individual who wants to establish himself professionally under his own name will be required by law (depending upon location) to hold both DBA status alongside sales tax registration if they’re operating remotely over Skype rather than having employees locally.
Register, incorporate, create legal agreements, manage employees, and more—all in one place.
Branding Your E-commerce Business
Logos are an essential part in the branding process. They need to be memorable, versatile, and cohesive across all channels for maximum impact on sales, and that’s where you come in!
You can design your own logo or go with someone who has done yeoman’s work before like Freelance Designer (their service fees will vary depending upon complexity).
When branding your eCommerce business consider the following:
- Simplicity – Don’t get too complex with your logo it needs to be simple like the Nike checkmark and rememberable.
- Uniqueness– Your logo has to be unique so that your customers will remember it.
- Relevance – your logo should be made with love and purpose. It should instantly tell customers about your brand.
The best logo’s in the world are easily recognizable even when you are looking from far. Think of big companies when thinking of a logo for your online business.
Your logo is going to set the tone for your eCommerce store site design and color layout, as well as packaging materials and ads.
5. How To Source & Manufacture Products For Your Online Store
The three main ways to source products in the eCommerce business industry are DIY production, wholesaler or manufacturing, and dropshipping.
Many online business retailers combine methods in order to achieve a balanced income stream that allows them the flexibility of focusing more on their customer service while still generating revenue from sales.
The internet is a new frontier for entrepreneurs who want to sell their handmade products.
With startup costs being low, you can quickly jump into production and design without spending too much money upfront, which means more time spent perfecting your designs instead of waiting on siloes between departments within an organization.
When you’re scaling your business, it’s not always easy to find partners who can match the quality and efficiency of what you offer.
Manufacturing companies often have strict budgets for new projects but thankfully they also know how important branding is!
When choosing the DIY route Consider:
- To arrange a reliable supply chain source materials
- Determine how you will mail your products in advance.
- Take time to figure out how long it will take you to produce each product.
- Think about product storage.
Wholesalers are a great way to get your products into the hands of many people at once.
They offer bulk discounts on all sorts of goods, including brand name items and white-labeled own products alike!
By ordering in the bulk you can provide an affordable solution for any business looking forward to or simply wanting more exposure in retail channels.
Manufacturing is a complex process, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating.
Production companies will work with you every step of the way – from design consultation all the way through mass production and distribution channels set up so that your own products can reach potential customers in their niche or otherwise unfulfilled space.
When working with both of these business structures keep in mind to:
- Examine all contracts carefully
- Go over all shipping cost
- Go over order quantities.
- As for time estimates.
- Check the better business bureau and other company reviews.
Dropshipping is a great option for e-commerce businesses that don’t have their own product idea and would rather work with manufacturers or retailers.
This way, you can order large quantities of products in bulk that will be shipped directly to your doorstep!
Dropshipping can be an easy and profitable way to start your own online business to sell online, but it’s important not just look at the profit margin.
If you want success with this eCommerce business model there are some things that will have a greater impact on how much money comes in over time such as shipping costs or dealing directly through suppliers instead of using wholesalers.
The main thing about drop shipping is making sure all aspects including marketing are considered before deciding which product would work best for whatever market size.
6. Creating your E-commerce business plan.
The next step is to take some time and think about the future of your online business. Nearly 50% or more of small business owners’ new online businesses fail within 5 years because they don’t plan ahead.
Creating a map and writing a business plan will give you a better understanding of your unique offering and help you:
- Spot opportunities within the marketplace.
- Help you zone in on your target audience.
- Figure out where to get the resources you need to run your business.
successful business plans typically have seven sections when creating them. You can follow this outline below to get started on yours.
In the first part, the executive summary puts your business idea into a short few paragraphs telling your potential future investors and partners:
- What your company will do
- Your company mission
- Products and services you will be selling
- Your target market.
- Sales channels you will be using
- How you will monetize.
It’s good practice to write your executive summary at the end. This part of the business plan begins with your business name before going into things like legal structure.
Doing this last will give you a chance to outline every section of your business before providing a full recap at the beginning.
Here’s where you provide readers with a really thorough company overview.
This section begins by introducing everyone in the knows about your business, including its name and structure (LLC or S-corp).
You’ll then move on to explaining what makes it unique from other businesses similar to yours.
After this extensive write-up on all aspects of who YOU are as an entrepreneur; let us know how successful YOUR venture will be by listing out some major competitors right now that are also selling products that are similar.
Competitive analyses help you understand your competitors so that it’s easier for you to gain ground in the marketplace.
These reports provide valuable information about what sets one company apart from another, which can be used as a tool when building up marketing strategies or crafting sales messages targeted at specific consumer bases.
Gaining an edge on competition happens through learning all there is known about how they operate, both good and bad habits learned over time will come into play during this process; knowing these tidbits beforehand gives us insight into where our own business might shine above others’ products/services offered.
An easy way to start this is by listing each of your competitors:
- The domain name and website traffic.
- Business model and product features.
- Product pricing strategy.
- Vision and mission statements.
In this section, you should also provide information about how you are going to become an industry leader in your space.
Products & Services
The more we learn about our customer’s needs and wants, the easier it is for them to find what they need.
You can make or break your business by telling people what it is they want.
Take time to go into detail about the products and services you offer and why they should choose yours over your competitors.
A good way to get awareness for your eCommerce business is by showing off video testimonials of your happiest current customers.
You’ll tell readers about your marketing strategies in this section. The beginning showcases how much money you’re willing to invest and which channels will be used for advertisement.
Typically marketing channels fall into two main categories:
- Organic Marketing Channel – This includes search engine optimization, content marketing, social media channels, and any other search engines and channels that can bring organic traffic to your business website over time.
- Paid Marketing Channels – This includes every social media and search engines ad network. PPC or paid ads get results fast but all come with a cost.
Logistics & Operations Plan
create a plan that will allow your company operates at maximum efficiency. Some things you may need are the office space, technological needs for your company’s operations (logistics), and personnel needed in order to run the show smoothly.
Some details to include :
- Your supply chain & Production plan.
- Production plan.
- Shipping & fulfillment.
- Inventory Storage.
This part of the business plan helps investors get a visual picture of your e-commerce business’s expenses.
You can get your eCommerce business off the ground with a little capital. If you don’t have any startup capital, then investors or loans from banks will be necessary for starting up trading and making money!
You need convincing potential backers that not only do they want in on this action but also lenders because without them there isn’t much hope unless you plan on raising money yourself.
Your financial plan should include:
- A Balance Sheet: A list of all your assets and liabilities with shareholder equity.
- Income Statement: Breakdown of all sources of revenue and all expenses over time.
- Cashflow Statement: Real-time income/expenses statement of where your money is going.
7. Build your eCommerce store.
You have your product idea, have done your market research and have a marketing strategy, and built a solid business plan.
Now it is time to start your online store.
You can go about this in two ways:
- Use WordPress: WordPress is a widely used platform that is great for eCommerce businesses. It does have a little learning curve associated but you can get started with minimal investment and build your own e-commerce business on the same day.
- Use a Website Builder: Website builders are helpful for both online retailers and wholesalers because they offer simple website-building tools. SaaS (Sales As A Service) platforms give you the ability to create an optimized site quickly with eCommerce capabilities, which makes selling easier!
If you don’t want to learn how to use WordPress.
You can use one of the website builders that are hot on the market today.
8. Driving Traffic To Your Online Store
Whether you’re just starting out or looking for new ways to boost your site traffic, we have digital marketing tactics and resources that will help.
We will cover both paid and free strategies so there’s something perfect no matter what stage of development eCommerce sites fall into!
Paid Marketing Channels
Marketing through paid channels is a popular choice for those looking to quickly gain exposure and generate revenue, but the ROI can be lower than other options. These include tactics like Facebook Ads or Google Adwords that produce quick wins with a strong return on investment (ROI).
A good example would include affiliate marketing – this channel has an extremely high success rate as well as being completely free!
Here are some top paid channels for eCommerce businesses:
- Influencer Marketing: Social Media Influencer Marketing (SMMF) allows companies like yours access an entirely new marketing channel with tremendous reach – without breaking your budget or having any staff time commitment at all; it’s really quite simple when done right.
- PPC Advertising: You can use paid per-click ads with google and generate traffic to your online store. This can also include google shopping ads that sync to your products catalog.
- Social Media Ads: Paid social media ads on Facebook can target new prospects and retarget previous website visitors. One of the best strategies for a company looking to advertise their products online is through DPA advertisements which appear when users visit your product pages as well as highlight those same items you showcased in an earlier stage – this way there’s no need to remind anyone about what they saw before! You could also sell directly from within Facebook by posting seller listings allowing buyers & sellers easy access at any given time.
- Affiliate Marketing: Join an affiliate program for bloggers and influencers with popular websites to get paid commission on any sales they help you generate.
Using a combination of all these channels can help you capture customers and generate crazy conversions.
Organic Marketing Channel
The best marketing your eCommerce business can get is Organic.
If you want to make sure your marketing channels are successful, it’s important that they’re used in the right way.
Organic tactics have been proven time after again as being some of the best for generating traction and creating long-term ROI (return on investment). However – there is more than one type out there!
Some examples include:
- Search engine optimization: Use relevant descriptions, keywords, and other content to boost website ranking.
- Social Media: Active Social media pages across all platforms to engage end to encourage online store views.
- Content Marketing: Using the blog on your online store to generate a content marketing strategy to drive traffic.
- Link Building: High-quality links directed back to your online store.
- Email Marketing: A top marketing channel for eCommerce businesses to drive more traffic from potential customers and current customers. Create email, abandoned cart messages, and more with email marketing software.
9. Measuring E-commerce Business Growth
Google Analytics is the best way to understand how your visitors interact with and convert to your online store.
Understanding these conversions will provide insight into what’s working well, as well as a guide for improvement areas that may need some work
The power of your marketing efforts is more than just what you put out there. They’re also about how well it’s worded, which can make all the difference when trying to attract customers or keep them engaged with content that lasts.
It is important for businesses large and small alike to understand their audience so they don’t alienate anyone by accident.
Be sure to keep track of key performance indications of your online store:
- Email CTR: How many recipients open your emails and click on the links?
- Social Media Engagement: how many likes, shares, follows, retweets, etc are you gaining across all platforms?
- Average Order Value: What is your online selling average order size?
- Sessions: How many times do people see your e-commerce store?
- Cart Abandonment: how many times are people leaving your e-commerce store during checkout?
A few of these KPIs it is good to look at to really measure the total growth of your online store.
So, what are you waiting for?
The digital age is upon us and eCommerce is thriving.
Follow these nine simple steps to start your own successful online store today. And if you need any help along the way, our team of experts at Agassi Group is more than happy to assist you in getting your business off the ground.
Or check out our digital resources.
Ready, set, go!
My name is Soren Agassi Yuhaschek and I’ve built AgassiGroup | Modern Digital Solutions to help teach online entrepreneurs how to start, scale, and grow their business, brand, or side hustle.
You can check out all of my work here at Soren Ventures.