The biggest question we get from our readers is: How to Break into the eCommerce Industry? If you are planning on starting a new business or maybe diversifying or expanding your current one, you may be wondering if an e-commerce model would be a better choice for you. e-Commerce business is one that involves the transmission of goods, services, and money across the internet. While there are some differences between starting an online and on-ground business, there are also some similarities.
After all, you don’t want yours turning into one of those one-hit-wonder brands.
So, the question is, is building an eCommerce business a good idea?
Read on to find out why this would be the best decision you have made yet and how to start an eCommerce business successfully.
3 Reasons Why Building an e-Commerce Business is a Good Decision and How to start an e-Commerce business
1. Creates a Passive Income Stream for You
Imagine making money as you sleep.
Interesting, right? Well, that is what e-commerce will offer you.
Thanks to the internet, the world has become a global village. Geographical boundaries no longer restrict trade. If someone needs to purchase something in the USA today, Amazon, for example, will make it happen regardless of time and location.
The need for that kind of convenience has over time downplayed the need for physical shops giving eCommerce its passive aspect.
2. Ease of Starting an e-Commerce Business
Once you get the product right, the rest is easy.
That is because e-Commerce tools are getting better by the day. It is now easy to reach potential customers and market your products and services without breaking the bank.
Today, building an e-Commerce business is as easy as setting up an account with eBay or Amazon. The main challenge lies in the decision making process and what our marketing strategy will look like.
3. Online Shopping is no longer an Alien Concept.
Whether a potential customer is looking for reviews or a potential seller, 87% of them will start their search online.
The e-Commerce model has been around for a while, and people have gotten over the fear of online transactions. As a retailer, this makes it easier for you to build personal relationships and trust with your existing and prospective clients.
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Start Your e-Commerce Business
Hoping that you are convinced about adopting an e-Commerce model for your business, how do you get started?
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to start your e-Commerce business.
1. Find Your Niche
While e-Commerce will provide you with a platform where you can sell anything, it’s not a direct staircase to success.
You need to think about the product you want to sell, what gap you want to fill, and who you will be targeting your customers before you kick-start your e-Commerce journey.
Invest in good research to establish needs in your target market before making a decision.
2. Determine Your Market Viability
Now that you have the perfect product, is the market ready for it?
Confirm issues like SKUs, product fragility, product lifespan, and shipping weight, which could curtail your business’s success.
Your product idea should be practical, and you should be able to identify any future challenges. Determine also whether the product will require any support to ensure maximum customer satisfaction.
An e-Commerce website has challenges similar to any brick and mortar retail store. Costumers expect high-levels of service and inventory. One of the challenges is to avoid thinking about an e-shop as a low-cost endeavor. Time and money will be required to have a great website.
3. Carry Out a Market Research
Market research will provide you with information about your target market, your consumers, your competition, and the whole industry.
Such information will help you make more informed decisions by taking away the guesswork.
4. Do an Analysis of Your Competition
Competitor analysis is basically about spying on your competitor to gain more insights about your industry and hence come up with optimal business strategies.
Continuously study your competitor’s website analyze the following:
- Traffic volume
- Social presence
5. Select a Platform
There are so many platforms in the market to choose from today. What factors do you consider to get the best e-Commerce platform for your business?
Factors you should consider include features, speed, cost, and compatibility with different payment options. Don’t forget ease of use if you are not tech-savvy. Your website is the site/home of your business. It is the first thing your customers see and can determine whether they’ll be back or not. It would help if you took note that your domain name should be closely related to your business’s name.
Some of the great platforms to choose from include:
6. Design Your Website
Once you have chosen a platform for your e-Commerce website, designing it should be easy.
It is at this stage that you get to decide on your brand image. The cost here will depend on the complexity of the design you want is.
7. Decide on Which Payment Solution to Adopt
Selling online means you must have a plan on how to collect payment from your customers.
To ensure maximum customer data security, the payment method you choose must be PCI compliant.
8. Choose a fulfillment method
You can choose to fulfill your customers’ orders yourself or have a third party do it. It is advisable to start doing it yourself and outsource later when your business grows.
9. Optimize Your Website Conversion
Now that you have a well-designed website ready to serve your customers, you will not have any customers if you sit pretty and wait for them. You need to go out there and get them.
How do you do that in e-Commerce?
You will get more customers by optimizing your site to reach more people and encouraging them to transact.
10. Decide on Best Way to Handle Returns
Returns, if not well handled, may become your downfall. Ensure you build trust by having a return policy in place that is accessible to all your customers.
A seamless return experience will have 95% of your customers coming back.
11. Ensure Your Business is Compatible with Your e-Commerce Website
Apart from selling online, you are probably also selling on other channels like brick and mortar.
Link both systems to ensure seamless business flow. For example, inventory should be accessible from both channels.
Like any other venture, starting an e-Commerce business is not a walk in the park, but having appropriate information can make the process easier and more efficient. Today, however, selling online is no longer a choice but a necessity.
Some additional tips on How to Start an E-Commerce Business
Do adequate research on e-Commerce to decipher your niche.
Like any business, thorough research is the first step. Finding your specific area of interest and making wise business decisions is crucial when starting a business, online or otherwise.
For instance, you will need to decide what your e-commerce business will offer – goods and services? If so, what kind of goods and services?
There are also questions about how you intend to broaden your market and reach customers, the startup cost for the business you have in mind, as well as legal regulations. Good research is necessary to answer these questions.
Choose a business name and legal structure.
The name of a business is significant in determining the company’s brand. You will want to pick a unique name that also clearly describes what the business is about.
You may also need to check the local secretary of state’s website and the Patent and Trademark office of your country to ensure that the name you’re choosing is still available.
It may also be necessary to check that your potential website domain name is still available as it may affect the choice of your company name. After name selection comes choosing your business’s legal structure.
Whatever you choose will have implications on the financial and legal aspects of your e-commerce business. You can choose to be a sole proprietorship, LLC, general partnership, or corporation. For this, it may be necessary to seek legal counsel on the best option for your business.
Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
The next step is to apply for an EIN. While some businesses are not required to have an EIN, it can help you keep your personal and business finances separate. Also, you can easily apply for an EIN from the IRS, free of charge online.
Obtaining a business license and permit.
The next step is to obtain permits and or licenses that will allow your business’s operation within your locality.
Suppose your business is a sole-proprietorship or general partnership. In that case, it is unnecessary to register it with the state unless you intend to file a DBA, which allows you to operate legally under a specific business name.
Since most e-Commerce businesses are home-based, they do not need many business licenses/permits like on-ground businesses. Nevertheless, it is essential to find out the specific requirements in your area. This information can be found online on the state/local government website.
Get, develop, and list out your product list.
You will need to describe your services and products on your website. It is also necessary to list out an inventory on your online store.
Advertise your business
Now that you have listed your products and services on your website, the next step is to market/advertise your business and build a customer base.
Starting an e-commerce business is like beginning an on-ground one, but different in the sense that it offers a kind of flexibility and reach that brick-and-mortar businesses do not. However, there are still specific requirements you must meet if you want to operate an e-Commerce business.
The tips as mentioned above highlight the steps you need to take when starting an e-Commerce business.