How To Start An eCommerce Business
If you are interested in starting an eCommerce business, you are a smart businessperson. Around 8 in 10 people shop online — and that number keeps growing.
Not knowing where to begin sometimes stops brilliant eCommerce entrepreneur wannabes from starting their business. But there is no need to fret. You can learn how to start an eCommerce business of your own with confidence.
To start your ecommerce store, here are 7 don’t-miss-them steps to be aware of.
1. Think Of A Problem Your Product/Products Can Solve
You may be able to create new products all day long. But if nobody needs them, nobody is going to buy them.
As Entrepreneur magazine shared, “As long as consumers have problems, they will always search for solutions. People will always look for better, faster and smarter ways to accomplish everyday tasks.
Your eCommerce business needs to sell a product/products that solve a problem for the customer. And sometimes, the most successful businesses find a solution-based product that is also a passion of the entrepreneur… you!
Work through these brainstorming ideas:
· Think about something that would make your own life or your friends lives easier
· Pay attention to online forums and see what people are complaining about
· See if you can improve upon another product not meeting its potential
2. Be Clear On Your Target Market
Your target market is the specific type of people who need the solution you are offering. For example, a stroller gadget is more likely geared toward young moms than 60-year-old retirees.
Here are a few ideas for figuring out your ideal customer:
· Analyze your product and its price point to see who may need it
· Create an online survey about your product and see who responds
· Compare your product to the competition and notice who they market to
· Get specific, Ex.: women in their 30s who run small businesses under $100,000 while staying home to take care of kids, or retired fly-fishermen who live off of a small pension
When you know exactly who your customer is, the more chances you have of your marketing arrow hitting the bull’s-eye.
3. Create A Plan… And A Budget
Your eCommerce business plan will be your guiding light through the process of starting your business. This business plan should include:
· A summary and description of your business
· Your strategies
· An analysis of the competition
· A plan for design, development, operations, and management
· All financial information
If you are still not sure where to start, check out this sample business plan from Shopify.
Remember this golden piece of advice: Have a Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work. After all, you have invested time and money into this project. You need a fail safe in case it does not pan out the way you hoped.
4. Build A Website
You will have to decide if you will build your site or if you should hire a professional. Consider the pros and cons:
· Choosing to build your own: This is an inexpensive option for those who understand web building or coding. Utilizing building tools from platforms like Shopify or Magento can be helpful. Unless you are a pro, this could be time consuming.
· Choosing to hire it out: Hiring an eCommerce consultant to build your website can often be the easiest and most effective choice, but keep in mind you may have to pay thousands of dollars.
No matter what: make sure your eCommerce website is mobile friendly. Around 30% of eCommerce sales come from a mobile device.
5. Make It A Legal Business
Before you sell anything from your new eCommerce store, you need to make sure you are legal. Here are a few important steps you will need to take:
· Naming your business
· Choosing Your Business Type (ex: Limited Liability Corp., Sole Proprietor, etc.)
· Registering your business
· Getting an employer identification number
· Acquiring all permits and licenses (ex: business license, sales tax license, etc.)
In the United States, your best resource to understanding how to create a working and legal business is the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). You can find general guidelines and local requirements.
6. Brainstorm And Implement Different Marketing Ideas
When it comes to eCommerce marketing, social media will undoubtedly be your new best friend. In fact, 38% of eCommerce sales in 2015 came from Facebook referrals. Ask yourself these questions:
· Which social networking websites will you use?
· Which sites does your target market use?(Pew Research has social media demographics for 2016. You can see the age, sex, education, income, and living lifestyles of the people using different social media options)
· Will you be paying for Facebook ads, Instagram ads, etc. or will you be growing your social media presence organically (the free option)?
There are plenty of other ways to market your eCommerce store too. Some questions to ask yourself here are:
· Will you hire experts?
· Should you attend networking events with people in your target market?
· Will you hire a blogger to create content that draws people to your store?
· Will you need to hire an SEO expert or can you optimize your own website?
· Which email marketing platform should you use?
7. Stick To The Plan
Now all that is left is to implement what you’ve planned… then stick to it. Sure, you may need to make a few changes or even move along to Plan B. But remember to push through the early stages and give your business plan time to flourish.
Note everything down, pay attention as you go, and provide great customer service. Before you know it, you will have started a thriving eCommerce business of your own.