How to Start an eCommerce Business

The concept of eСommerce business has proven to be an arduous task over the years. Starters find it hard to progress and sometimes quit midway. In light of this, we created a lasting solution for starters. This step-by-step guide is written specifically to serve as a guide when an individual decides to start an eСommerce business.

Start selling on Virto Commerce

Virto Commerce is a B2B ecommerce platform that allows you to sell your products and services online. The platform can seamlessly integrate with all critical internal and third-party systems to ensure consistency of data and smooth operations across channels. The Virto Commerce architecture is designed with all the essential tools for your business and contains all necessary ecommerce features out-of-the-box. Thanks to open source code and the platform's modular nature, you can assemble your own solution that will meet your specific business requirements and can extend or scale on demand.

Choose Your Product and Target Market

Adequate and informative research is one of the first major steps for any individual that wants to start an ecommerce business. It would be best if you mapped out your area of interest in order to find out which is the most suitable product for your corporation and what your target market will be. It will be easier to choose a product/service for your eСommerce enterprise with a clear understanding of your target market. In-depth knowledge of these two aspects will serve as the bedrock for any decision you want to implement in your online store. This will enable you to be clear on your goal, and your drive towards success will be well defined.

Recognize trends

At this point, the next step of action should be proper research. You will research a number of things ranging from important keywords to Google trends and even social media research. Some aggregators and ecommerce websites should be browsed too. Applications such as Google trends can also work efficiently for this market research, alongside keyword analysis. You can also engage in social monitoring. One of the ways to gain important information from social media is by tracking them. This act provides superb opportunities for you to stay up to date on trends and conversations pertaining to your business or product idea.

Finding a product to sell

Having a clear picture of what you intend to market online, maybe wholesales or direct to the customer is the first and most basic step of beginning an ecommerce business. Figuring out this step is most times the most tasking part of beginning an
ecommerce career. This section will pinpoint some useful strategies for finding the perfect product opportunities, help you figure out the best spots to search for suitable ideas, and lastly but also very important, help you pick which of the various trending products to consider.

Find your target market

To do this efficiently, the first thing to do will be to gain knowledge about your possible customers. It is mandatory to research the following questions; what is their age range? Where do they stay? What is their total income? What do they seem important? You will need to avoid any category that does not move forward or is regressing for the benefit of your ecommerce business. When you make proper research making use of unique keyword tools like Google keyword planner or Ubersuggest, you get a good chance to measure and understand what your customers are interested in and gain awareness on different products and sectors progress, if they are trending higher or lower and all other important information.

Evaluating your idea

To start an eсommerce business, you need to ensure that your firm is going to be extremely amazing before launch. As soon as you get a product idea, the first thing to consider is if the sales will be good? At this point, we will be looking at ways that successful business owners have validated their own thriving potential market and marketing ideas.

To successfully validate your product idea, there are numerous steps you can take. It most often does not require a huge starting investment; in fact, sometimes it can be as basic as creating a landing page aimed at gathering potential customers' contact information and estimating how interested they are in your product. Survey projects are usually very helpful in getting customers' reviews and spotting important consumer trends.

Another interesting way to go about validating your product idea is through organizing crowdfunding campaigns, and it is a well-known way of validating product ideas. However, crowdfunding campaigns are more helpful and effective if your product idea is based on marketing innovative and uncommon products or if it is involved in reselling products already available in the market.

Obtaining your product

After getting a strong insight into your product idea, your next line of action should be aimed towards how and where you will be obtaining your products. It is noteworthy to highlight the pros and cons of each method.

Choose eCommerce Business Models

Choosing ecommerce business models should be based on your desired niche and how you want your store to be. There are two business models; Private and White label. These two models are explained below.

Private label

A particular company (it could be a third-party manufacturer) is responsible for producing private label products to be sold under a different company's brand. There are a variety of private label products ranging from essential oils to cosmetics to even kitchen wares and accessories. If you believe your product ideas are on the innovative side, but you are short on funding, or you lack the means to man the manufacturing of the products, then this might be the best business model for you.

White label

For the white label products, the manufacturing process is handled by one company, while a completely different company handles the sales and rebranding. White label products are mostly fashion, beauty, electronics, and software solution appliances. Some generic products also fit this category.

Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a type of retail fulfillment model that gives companies opportunities to advertise and sell products on the online market without having a stock inventory. When orders are made, all details concerning the order, including shipment details, are passed on to a different retailer or wholesaler or, better yet, a manufacturer who will be in charge of the task of shipping the product to the waiting consume.

Wholesaling

Wholesaling is a process whereby goods are sold in large quantities - bulk - to the public or other businesses. This model will require a massive investment to start an ecommerce store because a number of tasks that would require funds will need to be taken care of, like managing inventories, shipments, and customer orders. For the smooth running of the enterprise, warehouse space will also need to be acquired.

Subscription

This is a business model which enables companies to ensure the regular provision of products and services required by consumers and makes sure they get their regular payments with no hitch. Popular examples of subscription ecommerce include Freshly picked, Huel, and even Curateur.

Print-on-demand

This business model has a lot of similarities to dropshipping, like the fact that any product can only be printed after the customer has placed an order. The supplier is armed with the responsibility of handling all inventory and every post-sale process, including printing, billing, and even shipping.

Popular examples of this service are t-shirts, mugs, simple home accessories, and even stationery.

eCommerce business models

Research and Prepare

Competitive research creates a good ecommerce business plan. Make sure you identify your competitors in your potential niche and gather the following information about your desired niche.

  • How long have they been in space?
  • Are they selling just a single product or multiple products?
  • Who is their target audience?
  • What is their sales strategy, and which digital channels do they utilize?
  • Do they have a large social media following, and what is their level of engagement or interaction like?
  • What is their traffic and backlink profile like?

Do the research and find top competitors in your space on their history and model, extract and research product ideas. Look into what people are interested in and how you can provide or satisfy their interest in your niche.

Get to identify the barriers to accessing your field and how you can tackle them.

  • Will you need to invest in ads?
  • Will you need ecommerce software?
  • Pay for expensive photography equipment or design software?

If the answer is yes and you don’t necessarily have the money for it, what are the workarounds?

What can you do with what you’ve got? It's no issue when you start small and simple when setting up an ecommerce business.

Make an outstanding identification of any gaps in the market you think your products can fill in a way that nobody else can.

After you have successfully identified your position in the market and what value you'd bring to the customers, go ahead with a SWOT analysis- which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. With this, you're able to identify potential obstacles and plan ahead for your ecommerce business.

Strengths and weaknesses are basically things you can control, like; company culture, your reputation, partnership, your customer base, assets, intellectual property, and geography.

Opportunities and threats, on the other hand, are things you can’t control completely but that you can plan for, like; Regulation, the economy, market trends, your competitors, market size, gaps in financing, and what suppliers are in your market.

Research your competition

  • How long have they been in ecommerce business?
  • Are they selling single or multiple products?
  • Who is their target audience?
  • What is their sales strategy, and which digital channels do they utilize?
  • Do they have a large social media following, and what is their level of engagement or interaction like?
  • What is their traffic and backlink profile like?

Having done the basics, which are; products search and evaluation, availability of a supplier, and so on - then it is high time for you to establish yourself and move to the next stage, which will require you to know what you are up against and how you can make your own enterprise unique.

Writing a business plan

Finally, in this stage, you will need to write out a business plan to start an ecommerce. A business plan helps in:

  • Compiling your thoughts and ideas
  • Fishing out what to prioritize
  • Maneuvering common mishaps
  • Getting to link up with new customers.

With your business plan well compiled, just like a road map, your written goal will go thus far and achieve the interest of your customers to your satisfaction. One major characteristic of a plan is that it must be professionally and thoroughly done because of the time you may be needing to get a business loan from lenders and investors.

An overview of the way your plan should look like from beginning to end.

  • Company overview
  • Executive summary
  • Marketing plan
  • Market analysis
  • Products and services
  • Financial plan
  • Logistics and operations plan.

Other things that must be included in your business plan are:

  • The specifics of your online store
  • What you are really selling
  • How you will make a profit
  • A compiled list of employees and executive staff
  • Your source of finance
  • Your mode of operation

Do not forget to keep your audience in mind while you draw out your plan and make your investors know that you are serious. If the need is, get people hired and make it obvious to them to simply know your values and the way they'd get treated.

For more detailed tools to start an ecommerce, go online and get free business templates.

Note: identify your goals and when to write your plan. It will be different when you write a startup for funds from the business outline you did by yourself. Maintain a consistent tone throughout the document by allowing it to be written by one person. Lastly, keep your plan short and concise with a maximum of 15 to 20 pages, making it long enough to pass the relevant information without wasting anyone's time quickly.

Setting up Your Business

There are procedures you must follow when setting up your business in order to ensure a smooth run of your enterprise. The steps required are explained in the following sections.

Naming your business

Choosing a brand name or picking a domain name is as important as determining what to sell in an ecommerce enterprise. Ensure that your chosen brand name follows the HMRC's guidelines for sole traders. This is the name that should be used on all your official transactions and paperwork. Your business name must be unique and mustn't bear relevance to any existing brand name.

Creating a logo

After choosing a name for your brand and registering a corresponding domain, it's advisable to build a logo for your business. There are many resources on the internet where you can get an idea of how to set a logo for an ecommerce business.

Apply for your EIN, permits, and licenses

Employee Identification Number (EIN) is useful for classifying your personal and business finances. You can get your EIN free of charge if you apply to the IRS. It is also feasible to apply for an EIN through fax or mail. It is also advisable to apply for a license and permit related to your firm. Examples of permits that might be needed for an ecommerce business include Sales tax permits, Professional and trade licenses, Signage permits, Health, environmental, and safety permits. At times, you might need to pay a fee for some of these permits or licenses.

Understanding search engine optimization (SEO)

This is one of the crucial aspects of the ecommerce business. It is sensible to understand the basics of SEO before venturing into it. This will give you a clear picture of how to properly structure your pages and sites in order to be ranked by Google and other engines. You can research resources by searching the following keywords; How to rank a ecommerce New Site, ecommerce SEO, etc

Building your store

After you've gathered adequate knowledge on search engine optimization, you can proceed to build your ecommerce store. There are several important factors to consider when building your store in an ecommerce business. You can go through this list to know the element you can infuse in your content in order to build high-converting product pages. Shoot beautiful product photography, select an interesting ecommerce color palette, write captivating product descriptions ( Copywriting), and many more.

Choosing your sales channels

Choosing a sales channel is one of the next few things to do after you have garnered enough knowledge on how to start an ecommerce. This implies choosing a sales channel where your customer can shop. Selecting a sales channel mostly depends on target customers and your products. There are many options, and it's not hard to choose a suitable sales channel.

Setting eCommerce business

Manufacturing, Packaging, and Shipping Your Product

The sale of physical products will require a model for acquiring them and getting them across to your customers.

Manufacture Your Product

If you want to manufacture a product and you don't have the means or funds to do it yourself, then you could consider joining forces with a manufacturer. This is a sensible option for you if your product idea is going to be sold in big quantities as most manufacturers usually deal with bulk products. You must be prepared to cover the high cost of bulk products if you consider this route.

Package Your Product

Delivering a product no matter how great it requires nice packaging, but it doesn't necessarily have to be custom or extraordinary, especially with new upcoming ecommerce stores. Customers tend to judge your product by its package. An important thing to consider is, "Do I want my customers to enjoy their unboxing experience?" A satisfactory answer to this question will ensure your ecommerce stands out uniquely. One of the major issues that can be associated with packaging is that it requires extra funding. The only way to balance things is to make sure to find the perfect professional packaging with as low a cost as possible for your product.

To make your final packaging decision, you will need to study what people in your niche are doing. There are two possible ways to consider when doing this research:

- Buy and check out products from your competitors; this will help you have a good idea of what their packaging is like. This is a simpler method of checking out what other people dealing with your product are up to. You can do this via Google and Pinterest; all you need is to type your product type + packaging and see what they have for you.

- You can also consider getting your goods packaged by the same company that manufactures your products, although this is ill-advised. They always most often get another company to deal with the packaging, increasing your costs. To reduce costs, it's better to get rid of the middleman as a whole and get your own packaging company.

- Packaging is exhausting to speak about because it's never the same for any two products. To get the right one for your product, you have to consider the specific shape, size and manner of your product that is to be sold.

- To ensure a hitch free packaging experience, you will need to dabble into a lot of research. An example of where to start an ecommerce search for packaging suppliers is ThomasNet.

- The last thing to consider in packaging is the appearance of your product. For this, you can employ the use of graphic designers who helped you work out the perfect logo for your brand to help you implement some of the elements that were used in the initial branding of your product.

Ship Your Product

This will be the perfect option for you who is not willing to deal with inventory; dropshipping simply involves becoming partners with another company that would be in charge of shipping your products whenever a customer orders them.

Since you did not provide any start-up cost for the product, you are only entitled to a 20 percent margin. All you have to do is list it on the site, and your dropshipping partner will handle the rest.

All you have to monitor is the manufacturing and packaging of your product, and all that will be left is shipping it out to your customers

How to go about that is what we need to consider.

When planning out the processes involved in shipping your products, the first thing you should assume is that you'll be shipping internationally. Since you are dealing on the internet, there's no limit to how many people you can sell or ship to—the more the merrier.

To be fully informed on the logistics of shipping your products, do research to find out if there's any unique restrictions or regulations binding your product. You should know if some countries have laws against transportation of your type of product or if there are any specific customs regulations on international shipping of the product. For example, shipping edible items will come with much more rules and restrictions than shipping items like plastic toys or accessories.

Handle Returns and Exchanges

Returns and exchange rates were very different, the most significant being the difference in profitability. When a customer requests a refund on a particular product, it usually causes the business to lose money on the customer's acquisition and the cost for the return shipping. The customer refund and all profits made will also need to be handled.

Preparing to Launch

As you prepare for the launch of your new career, you need to figure out how to start an ecommerce business. To start an ecommerce, there are several shipping and fulfillment elements you need to prepare for. In this section, we’ve curated a few comprehensive guides on how to determine your shipping strategy.

Buy a domain & hosting

Bluehost is a service provider for hosting sites. It gives people the opportunity to showcase their website and make it accessible online. This service provider is very popular and has numerous followers and loyal fans as a result of its fantastic customer support, overall security, and speed. Bluehost requires a fee of just 2.9 dollars a month in addition to a one year domain. Domain protection is also available for sale on this site as it's very important to keep your ecommerce domain information safe and secure from any fraudulence.

Some of the ecommerce websites contain a domain name available at the cost of the platform, and you can even buy your domain name through them. To purchase your own unique domain name, however, you will be expected to make a payment of within 1 dollars to 15 dollars per year with an average payment of 30 dollars per month for hosting.

Choose ecommerce solution

Your ecommerce business must have completed the paperwork that is needed to register and legally establish an enterprise. However, instead of scouring for a location or searching for a physical store like a brick and mortar business, you are only required to properly structure your online and website. To start an ecommerce, you will need a website that will serve as a representation of the enterprise, and your customers will be able to browse your product catalogue. Also, they can also make purchases for your products and services with the use of this online store. Virto Commerce and several other platforms are available for your consideration. You can choose the perfect solutions among the platforms to aid your ecommerce store.

Build your online store

Now that you are done with choosing your ecommerce solution, It's time to proceed with developing the platform you'd choose. It is best to choose an ecommerce platform that is stocked with different tools that enhance your business. Each ecommerce platform has quality features that will help your enterprise, but it's certain you have to make a personal decision on what's best for your platform. Creative assistant, marketing automation, and email marketing tool is one of the features you should look out for while selecting a platform. Email Marketing tool helps to build personalized messages that drive sales.

Set up customer service

One of the prerequisites for starting a well-functioning ecommerce business is organizing competent customer service as soon as you choose an online platform. Customer service is crucial for any business that wants to maintain a healthy customer relationship. It is more important for ecommerce organizations because people are wary of being a dupe of their resources these days. Make sure your customer service program builds helpful and timely assistance to customers that are in need of it.

Establish your social media presence

As an individual, It is advisable to start an ecommerce store with awareness. You can make use of your active social media handles before you launch your ecommerce business. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook can be used in developing solid social media followers. You can attract followers by different means. You can establish your presence by making good content, promotion, giving, and other exciting methods.

Launch ecommerce business

Post Launch

There are some requirements that must be fulfilled after you launch your ecommerce business. The next section explains the next line of actions after you launch your website.

Acquiring your first customer

One other important requirement to start an ecommerce business is marketing. The struggle of finding a proper marketing strategy begins right after your ecommerce launch. While some store owners might consider physically selling their products, the majority of digital marketing is dependent on one major thing, which is driving targeted traffic. We will be giving you a number of tactics to help you in proper marketing for the first few months of your launch.

Marketing your store

You must have completed the launching of your store, and it is natural for you to anticipate the selling of your products. However, this is no big deal if you can implement a marketing strategy that works well with your business. The simplest process is to research your target audience to grab the idea of how you will run your ads. Your target audience will determine the type of content that will be required for advertisement. You can make use of several channels in order to build your scope. Also, the use of numerous strategies is advisable, and you can also partner with affiliate marketers. The use of an email list can not be overemphasized. You can make use of any email app to build your brain email list. This is one of the ways to reach out to those interested in your service and also a medium to get honest feedback.

Email marketing essentials

It is advisable to collect emails as soon as you launch your ecommerce business. You can get emails by the use of attractive offers and unique content. Other incentives like discounts, special offers will also encourage email signup. Almost all the big-internet based companies possess a functioning email list. A good email marketing strategy will ensure that you stay on top of your game and your ecommerce business maintains a good supplier-customer chain.

Driving traffic from social

You can create more demand for your product by making use of social media traffic. Customer reviews of your products on social media can go a long way in getting more sales for your product. A good copy, attractive pictures, and the use of popular influencers will surely have a huge impact on your business. Regardless of the promotion, the best way of driving traffic remains customers' reviews.

Driving traffic and conversions from paid ads

Keyword optimization and PPC campaigns can also be used to redirect paid traffic to your ecommerce business. A PPC ( pay-per-click) campaign can help you show at the top of search words without the need to rank for them. If you are confused about the keywords to rank, it is advisable to choose upfront keywords. You can also drive traffic by using the following digital medium:

  • Use your keyword research and launch a PPC campaign
  • Use Facebook and Instagram ads
  • Use influencer marketing
  • Use Promoted Pins on Pinterest

Optimizing for higher conversions

eCommerce optimization is an ideal way of enhancing your website and a medium that helps to convert your visitors to customers easily. Starting from design, content, and product description, your website should be designed in a way that makes users purchase your goods and services.

Using analytics to uncover insights

eCommerce analytics is the method of collecting data from all sectors that affect your eсommerce store and utilizing this information to comprehend the directions and the fluctuation in consumers' behavior to make data-driven decisions that will drive more online sales.

Conclusion

With this step-by-step guide, you can start a successful ecommerce business without any hitch. You can easily create an online store where customers can purchase your goods and services. Ready-made You can simplify the process by making use of the Virto Commerce designed platform for ecommerce Business. The platform is equipped with ready made tools that will efficiently smoothen your journey as ecommerce site owners.

FAQs

How do I start an ecommerce business?

Do a thorough investigation on the type of product you'd like to sell or can prefer to sell, pick a unique business name, do well to make sure you already got a license and permits, figure out an ecommerce platform and put it to use, by using it to create your website, you can now proceed to launch your products onto the site after you must have loaded it and finally go-ahead to start marketing your business.
 

Is ecommerce profitable?

Yes! The ecommerce industry is a profitable one, and one thing you should bear in mind once you have successfully started it is that; ecommerce company is a marathon and not a sprint. The period of time it will take for your business to finally sky-rocket is usually between 18-24 months, and it is wrong if you are thinking of measuring the success of your firm by the profit you earned during the first year.
 

Is it hard to start your own ecommerce business?

No! Because there are platforms that are tailored to help you on how to start an ecommerce store. Examples include; Shopify- which allows brands to go online just within a few days. You need to put in a lot of effort and do consistent research if you really want to improve your business. Hence, we advise you to go through our guides on "how to start an ecommerce business before you set up a store."

What are the different types of ecommerce?


There are four (4) different types of ecommerce businesses and they include: B2C (Business-to-Consumer), B2B (Business-to-Business), C2B (Consumer-to-Business), C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer). You may also come across the term D2C (Direct-to-Consumer), and it is similar to B2C. At the same time, the firm takes the products straight to the consumer.

How much does it cost to start an ecommerce business?

An ecommerce business can be started for as little as $100, which is spent on a subscription and purchasing a theme for your store. New ecommerce business owners can expect costs to rise to $40,000 in the first year, which is paid back to the owner through profit margins.

What is the best ecommerce platform for a small business?

The best, fastest, and most secure ecommerce platform with online store customization is called "Shopify ''. It provides easy inventory management, offers the fastest checkout experience through the shop, and has a unique integration with Facebook and Google in order to give easy online marketing and selling.

How do I start an ecommerce store for beginners?

The tools you need to start an online business are more accessible than ever—and so are the people who could purchase your product. Data shows that, by 2023, ecommerce revenue is expected to reach $740 billion in the U.S. alone. That’s some serious potential to start your ecommerce store and carve out its niche in the marketplace.
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Mary Gabrielyan
Mary Gabrielyan
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