Starting an eCommerce business can be a rewarding experience. It’s also complex and requires careful planning, research, and execution to ensure success. If you’ve been thinking about starting an eCommerce business, now is a great time to do so. Consumers spent $861.12 billion online in the US in 2020. It is the highest eCommerce growth in about 20 years. There are thousands of eCommerce businesses. Some are huge companies like Amazon and Etsy, but small businesses are attracting their fair share of audiences. Several processes go into building and selling products online, including product selection, payment processing, shipping logistics, and inventory management.
And if you’re not familiar with all of these phases, it can get overwhelming to start your store. As an online business owner, you must have a checklist of all the things you need to build an online store that generates results. This post will help you navigate through what it takes to get started with your eCommerce store.
Here Are the 8 Steps you Need to Follow to Start an eCommerce Business the Right Way
Right from developing a business plan to executing it on the ground, your online store demanded your time and energy at each stage. You need to implement some essential steps to start an eCommerce business and make the most of it from the beginning. Let’s get started with some advice that you can implement to launch your store right away!
1. Start an eCommerce Business – Find a Niche
The key to success for any eCommerce business is finding a niche that distinguishes it from competitors. A perfect niche lays the foundation of any eCommerce business. If you want to be successful, you need to find the right niche for your business and then explore that market thoroughly.
There are two main ways to find a niche:
Researching a specific demographic and what people buy the most
Comparing the data from different niches to identify patterns
The first step is finding out your potential customers. Understanding their values, beliefs, and needs will give you an idea of what kind of products or services might work well for them. You can start by building buyer personas (a fictional representation based on research) to clarify what they prefer.
The Most Popular eCommerce Niches
Need some inspiration? Let’s uncover some stats that might help you get an idea of the most popular eCommerce niches:
26% of US consumers spent more on home entertainment in 2020
In the past two years, grocery shopping in the US went from 3-4% to 10-15%
Meal delivery subscriptions are forecasted to increase multiple times by 2027. The industry is predicted to grow by nearly 20 billion USD
Vitamins and supplements increased by 40% in the past four years, and it is planned to grow even more
Home entertainment, food subscriptions, home and gardening tools, and vitamin supplements are a few of the most successful trending niches for the past few years. There are hundreds of niches you can go after. Always check Google trends to support your decision or find profitable industries you can choose. More importantly, choose a niche you’re most comfortable working with. The best idea is to choose a product range you have experience selling.
2. Research and Analyze Your Competition
It’s essential to research your competition and make sure their prices, products, and services correspond with what you want to offer. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel since there are many successful businesses with similar models out there already. Avoid the hustle of competing against well-established eCommerce sites such as Walmart or Amazon. Research about the stores operating at lower-to-middle levels for a start, and you can be one step ahead of their marketing efforts.
You’ll need to figure out what they offer and how their business works so that you can build a strategy for marketing and distribution.
Here are some ways to analyze your competitors:
Check out their website for information, prices, and the like.
Search their social media handles on Facebook or Instagram for information about their products or services and reviews.
Visit physical stores in person if possible and look at how they operate.
Knowing what you’re up against can give you a strategic blueprint of how you should build your business.
3. Validate Your Idea and Build a Business Plan
Now that you have completed the research on the competition, you can start working on the most crucial part while launching a business, that is, a business plan. A business plan is a series of steps and actions that determine what to prioritize and how to build your business strategies to acquire new customers.
You need to plan out products, the marketing strategies, determine how your business will earn money, how will you get financed, the operation model, how the products will be delivered, the suppliers, and other crucial details.
Сomponents of eCommerce Business Plan
An efficient eCommerce business plan must include:
A company description: This includes information about the business owners, personnel needed, and the type of business model you want to start (partnership, LLC, and other related aspects)
Products: The main product line, what the store sells, and the catalog. It also includes suppliers and costs.
Operations: This could comprise shipping providers, shipping costs, and warehouses.
Market analysis: Analyze the buyer persona, what do they like, and the demographic.
Market strategy: The strategy can include social media marketing, email marketing strategy, promotion, advertisement, and a well-defined target audience.
Financial planning: Determine the operational costs, tools, assets, cost per customer acquisition, and scalability.
Figure out the milestones: Establish targets like the first ten clients or 1000 visitors to the store. These milestones can help you to streamline the progress.
4. Start an eCommerce Business – Choose an eCommerce platform
There are many eCommerce platforms available in the market. The question is, what should you look for in an eCommerce platform? And more importantly, what are the most critical features and services of an eCommerce platform you’ll need to grow and expand your business? When you start selling on Amazon, Etsy, or any famous marketplaces, you realize how important an eCommerce platform is for your business’s online growth.
Things to Consider While Choosing an eCommerce Platform
Here are the answers to some things you must consider while looking for an eCommerce platform for your business:
Easy to set up and easy to design: Every platform will require a learning curve. But, one that is user-friendly and easy to work with would be the best choice to proceed in the right way and set up your shop.
Easy to navigate: You need to find an eCommerce platform that is understood easily by your customers. Check if the platform offers an easy way to select products, add to cart, and check out.
Security: Does the platform offer a secure check-out and have an SSL certificate?
Integrations: Is the platform flexible to integrate with third-party apps and services? You may need to integrate email marketing or social media. Other integrations might be live chat software, CRM software, or user activity monitoring software.
SEO friendly: Can you choose your domain name, add a blog, and collect customer reviews?
Inventory management: Does the platform integrate with inventory management software to help you keep your inventory needs to be streamlined? Some eCommerce platforms offer software to manage inventory that enables you to increase profits by making sure you have enough stock items, making operations efficient at the same time.
Mobile optimization: Today, most traffic comes from mobile users, and 65% of retail site visits come from mobile users, says a report by Statista. Optimizing your online store’s website or application to fit mobile can help you gain more customers, which is only possible when your platform is flexible.
Analytics: It is essential to analyze where your traffic is coming from and implement strategies to get more traffic. The platform must support tools like Google Analytics that let you see all your store insights.
Tech support and customer service: Bugs can occur, the shop can go down, or other problems can arise. If the eCommerce platform doesn’t provide support or customer service, you may lose a lot of money and traffic.
Payment options: What are the payment options supported? Are they the most popular? You want your customers to be able to have multiple choices.
Price: Depending on your budget, decide what you can afford and which platform offers the best price/service ratio. Some venues provide monthly plans. Others charge based on transactions or have costly add on that you need to buy.
WooCommerce and Shopify hold the biggest share of eCommerce platforms in the US, followed by Shopify alternatives, Wix and Squarespace. Another alternative is to use a website builder to start an online store. Website builders provide an easy drag and drop interface to create a shop, and they are very beginner-friendly.
For example, you can use MotoCMS. It is a powerful website builder that allows you to create an online store. It comes with compelling templates and is easy to customize with a drag and drop interface. Each template is easy to manage and doesn’t require any technical skills. It has an admin panel that makes it very easy to customize and change the design as needed. MotoCMS provides analytics, financial translation metrics, and customer support at reasonable prices.
MotoCMS is one of the best website builders for small businesses, beginners, and professionals. Choose this or any eCommerce platform of your choice, and you are ready for the next step, which is to start listing products.
5. Start an eCommerce Business – Create Your Product Listings
Adding the product listings to your online store is one of the most crucial and possibly time-consuming tasks. The first thing you have to decide on is the product title. The title is the first thing a visitor will see even before entering your store. It appears on search engines first. The title needs to be attractive and as short as possible.
The price should be visible and prominent to prevent people from leaving your site to search for a clear alternative. Make sure the price is clear and visible. If you want to incentivize people to buy, offer discounts, coupons, or additional services, and do not hesitate to make the price tag visually compelling.
You can include pictures in your product listing. There is nothing more boring than a list of products. People want to see what they are buying. Use good quality pictures and try to show the product from different angles. Based on a survey, 83% of people say that photos are very influential in their purchase decision.
After you have inserted the photo, it is time to add a description. The description needs to be informative and should convince the customer to buy. You can display reviews and customer testimonials near the product description. Customers are used to searching for reviews and testimonials to see if the product they are buying is good. Not showing reviews prompts people to go online and find other people’s testimonials.
Here are some suggestions to boost conversions through your product listings:
Add social triggers to the images: Those are sentences that create urgency or scarcity. For example, “almost out of stock,” “only two left,” or similar other triggers.
Add call-to-action buttons.
Show products in action when applicable.
Show product ratings.
6. Set up Payment Processing and Shipping Options
Part of the setup of your eCommerce store is to connect and test your payment gateways. A reliable payment gateway platform makes sure the payments are fast and secure while providing multiple payment options to the user. Once a customer provides the card information, the payment gateway connects to the bank associated with the credit card. When the bank confirms the information, the payment is processed. The payment is then sent to the merchant, and you will be able to access the funds. Typically, a fee needs to be paid to the merchant for each transaction.
Third-party payment providers allow you to handle refunds, orders, and many other things. Each payment gateway can accept different payment methods. Typically, the most popular payment gateways have many options to choose from. Some of the most used payment gateways include:
Each of them comes with a specific per transaction or monthly fee, make sure to compare your options and choose the one that provides a perfect combination of affordability and reliability.
7. Promote Your Products through Social Media & Email Marketing
Based on a Global Web Index study, consumers on average use social media for 2 hours and 22 minutes per day. Social media platforms are a huge market, and most of the population uses at least one platform. Specifically for eCommerce, there are a few advantages to promote products on social media. Customers are likely to recommend a brand through a social media platform. With a planned social media marketing strategy, being active on social media can drive traffic back to your eCommerce store.
Once you have your shop set up online, you can start building your social media presence and post regularly to drive traffic. You can either go with organic social media content creation or use paid advertising to capture eyeballs. Additionally, you can use content marketing, SEO, and email outreach to boost your online store’s reach further. You can use platforms like MailChimp and MailChimp alternatives to execute your email campaigns.
Building loyal customers and followers start with collecting and monitoring feedback. Start with measuring satisfaction rates throughout the entire customer journey. It is possible to know what your customers think about your business and products and act timely to keep the satisfaction rate high.
Start an eCommerce Business – Takeaway
Starting an online store the right way means following a few critical steps. Those steps include finding a niche, analyzing the competition, making a business plan, choosing an eCommerce platform, listing products correctly, and promoting on social media. Each step requires work and careful planning, but if you take the time and care to do it properly, you can start an eCommerce business the right way.