In this era, where everything is evolving and changing. More and more people are looking to start their own ventures. With the help of the internet, this goal has become accessible more than ever, and eCommerce is one compelling avenue for success.
Although, it can be challenging to understand how to start an eCommerce business that will do well enough to yield revenue. With too much information flowing over the internet, we have compiled 9 proven ways to set up an eCommerce business.
But before you start, creating a plan of action is required to prioritize your resources as you grow your eCommerce business plan.
How to Start An Ecommerce Business
1. Look for a problem.
We know that the best products solve problems that people face every day. For instance, the demand for stainless steel water bottles is high because you can reuse them (unlike plastic), and they last longer. Don’t know how to find these sorts of opportunities? Here are several ways to locate a problem worth solving:
- Keep on reading comments on the social media posts of brands you admire.
- Communicate with your friends and family about products they bought in the past year that they didn’t like.
- Consider ongoing trends, such as conscious consumerism and going vegan, and look for possibilities therein.
- Think about products in your home that annoy you, seem obsolete, are unappealing, or don’t live up to the hype.
Once you’ve found issues you want to crack, it’s time to move on to researching solutions.
2. Research and Experiment with your first product
Now you have a problem; it’s time to know how you should solve it? It’s time to see what products (if any) are currently solving this problem. Consider researching available products, their price points, if they present free shipping , and more.
Remember all these factors while researching products:
- The competitive landscape – The best way to pull up a lot of competitors at once is to search the product type, such as “eco-friendly pads.” Then look at listicles, such as 13 different brands from Cosmopolitan. Take a look at what makes the pads unique, the branding, and the companies’ related products. Try to find a scope for differentiation. But make sure you offer an identical product with different branding and still have success.
- Seasonality – You probably want steady revenue, not big spikes and dips. So remember that the products you’re researching aren’t highly seasonable (or at least be aware of if they are). You could tap into a niche that purchases the item year-round for seasonal ideas. But for the most part, a seasonal idea won’t be a right fit for most first-time entrepreneurs.
- Potential for recurring business – See if the product could be bought again, like eco-friendly pads, or if you can sell related accessories, like bags. Build a company that also sells related products and can be purchased monthly.
- Potential sales price – To begin with an e-commerce business quickly, don’t offer something very cheap or costly. Try to offer products that range in between $20 to $60 each. You can consider going to the $200 threshold, but remember that you’ll require more premium branding, which is more difficult for a first-time e-commerce entrepreneur.
- The estimated cost of shipping – Next, consider shipping cost. Cumbersome, large, or oddly shaped items are costly to ship. Most e-commerce stores experience a growth in sales when they offer free shipping under $50. It’ll be difficult to offer free shipping to customers if it’s costly for you. Avoid weighty, large items to use free shipping to your advantage—not to your disadvantage. If you’re unsure what something would cost to ship, you could purchase something similar and send it to a friend.
Make sure that you consider all the tactics mentioned above until you’ve got a product that you feel confident in. You’ll never know how prosperous it will be until you try. But, you should at least have a product with a healthy level of competition, minimal seasonality, a potential for repeat or related purchases, a moderate sales price, and low shipping costs.
3. Get clear on the mission of your brand.
Your brand mission and vision should be clear in your head before you start sourcing the product. It will guide you in every decision you make. Your brand is how your customers perceive your company and differentiate your products from others. It’s your company’s character, spirit, look, and feel. What do you want to be known for? What do you want to let customers achieve?
To create your brand strategy, get clear on:
- Your mission
- Your tagline
- Your brand personality and voice
- Your brand values
If you want to stand out amongst your competitors who sell similar products, you need to check out brands that sell to your target audience and take inspiration from their brand.
4. Design your logo and choose your theme
Now next step in this guide on how to start an eCommerce business is to create your logo and decide on your brand’s fonts and colors. It will make sure that the products you’ll be sourcing go with your vision. Experiment with Google Fonts and type your brand name and product names to see what suits your vision best. And for color inspiration, try checking out apps that post a new color scheme and sort previous posts by collection and color family. You can also consider using a site like Tailor Brands or Canva to easily create a logo
5. Find a source for your products
The best way to learn how to start an e-commerce business is to source products from suppliers. You don’t need to produce anything from scratch or open up a factory.
These are the most common product-sourcing methods for starting an e-commerce business:
- Dropshipping – With dropshipping, you don’t need or store inventory. Instead, you buy it from a supplier only after a customer buys it, and the supplier ships it to them for you. You’re in charge of keeping your store and marketing. Automizely Dropshipping makes it effortless to find products and deliver them to your customers in days.
- Wholesaling– Wholesaling is when you buy products and sell them in your marketplace. For instance, if a salon owner buys products from multiple brands to sell in their salon. You can do the same thing with your e-commerce store, and if you desire, you could carry wholesale products from other brands and your own. ASOS has hundreds of brands and sells its clothing line.
- Private labelling – When you use private labelling, you hide that you bought products from someone else. Maybe you buy shampoo in 5-gallon jugs and put that in your own smaller containers to sell. Or maybe you ask a supplier who already makes bamboo plates to add your logo to the bottom of the plates so you can sell it as your own.
- Supplier platforms – Consider using supplier platforms like Alibaba and Maker’s Row to ask suppliers to support you in creating custom products. You can also look for wholesaling and private labelling opportunities on these platforms. Some suppliers will let you buy one product as a sample, while others demand a minimum order quantity (MOQ). You can easily see MOQ information on product and supplier listings.
Now, you have to decide which method is right for starting an e-commerce business? If you desire to sell online without making your products from scratch, you can dropship, wholesale, or private label. If you want to produce a big brand with the potential to be carried in Target or Home Depot, or Sephora someday, dropshipping or wholesaling won’t be the good choice for you because you won’t have something extraordinary to offer these stores. Instead, you’ll have to work with suppliers, design your product, and get samples.
6. Add your inventory and prices to your store.
Now, it’s time to set up your site. Shopify is one of the most popular platforms. In the Inventory section of Shopify, add details about your products, such as the product name, description, and the number of inventory. The process is also easy with BigCommerce, another popular platform for starting an e-commerce business.
Use competitive analysis to price your products. Price yourself towards the middle. You’ll have a harder time bootstrapping a successful business if you aggressively undercut prices or attempt to create a luxury brand if it’s your first time starting an e-commerce store.
7. Build out your landing pages
When it comes to learning how to start an eCommerce business, it’s crucial to have dedicated landing pages to sell your products to customers. You should have an individual page for every product you sell. Plus, it’s good to have a homepage that links to your product pages. If you create your e-commerce business with one product, you can build a one-page website.
With automotive Page Builder, you can design beautiful, modern product landing pages with templates and drag-and-drop designing. No coding is required to build them.
8. Plan out your shipping and return policies
Now comes another crucial step, and that is packing and shipping. Remember, you do not need to waste time shipping orders or products every day when you get started. Instead, plan so that this works two days a week (Wednesday and Saturday).
Make sure you precisely explain your shipping and return policies on your website. For your shipping policy, demonstrate how quickly orders will be dispatched. For example, “Standard orders are shipped within 4-7 days.” If you later choose to offer expedited shipping, make sure you charge fairly for the inconvenience and state how fast those orders will be shipped.
You need to determine if you want to accept returns as it will depend on the product type. Costly products, or those that need to be tried on, should generally come with return policies. You can allow unused returns up to 30 days after the order date.
9. Follow a simple marketing plan.
This is the last step in our guide on how to start an eCommerce business. Our conventional methods such as email marketing and SEO take time, while paid ads are challenging and risky. To start with, consider social media as you can reach your audience immediately on social media and it’s for free.
Start with TikTok and Instagram, the most powerful social channels for creating an e-commerce business successfully. Post memes, tutorials, tips, and founder stories. And, of course, display your products in tutorial-style posts and styled product shots.
When you’ve made some sales from social media, it’s time to branch out, so you don’t rise dependent on one thing. All in all, these are the most popular marketing techniques for expanding an eCommerce business.
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Social media ads
- Search and display ads
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
As you increase your social media presence, you can drive more traffic to your website. You can grab that website traffic and extend your email list by delivering coupons in website popups and bars. Then, keep in touch with your email list, and let them know about new product drops and sales.
Determine marketing software that will scale with your business. InviteReferrals works directly with Shopify. As you develop and add more marketing strategies, you don’t have to complicate your tech setup with better tools. You’ll have everything you need in one place.
If you’re ever uncertain what marketing tactic to test, turn to competitor research. Search for media coverage, including articles, interviews, and podcasts. Your contenders might be sharing their exact recipe for revenue in their interviews. If you can’t see competitor interviews, look for guidance online from e-commerce brands that serve a similar target audience. Search for your favorite e-commerce brands’ names in Google News, read their coverage, swipe their strategies, and realize from their mistakes.
Initiating an e-commerce business is an exciting adventure. Select a product that will be successful by making sure it solves a problem, isn’t seasonal, and doesn’t cost too much to ship. We’ve talked about these things in detail on our blog, but this post synthesizes all the things you need to start an eCommerce business and make it successful. We hope you find this guide on how to start an eCommerce business in 2022 helpful