The Ultimate Guide to eCommerce
People are now shifting to eCommerce – both businesses and consumers. For businesses, they now realize the importance of having a solid online presence to help grow their business through the extensive reach of the online market. For consumers, it provides them with utmost convenience and flexibility to shop what they want / need whenever and wherever they are.
We’ve all seen the growth of eCommerce around the world. More and more people are leaning towards eCommerce for their everyday needs. Whether you’re ordering pizza for dinner, booking your vacation for the holidays, shopping for gifts, or even getting cars can be booked through your fingertips. eCommerce made our lives so much easier by deleting the manual labor that we used to have. The result? We now have more time to do things that really matter and less time for the mundane tasks.
The great news is that the eCommerce market is not stopping anytime soon. In fact, even the pandemic did not stop its growth. It is forecasted that the US ecommerce revenue will reach $794.50 billion this year, up 32.4% year-over-year. That's a way bigger growth than the 18% predicted in emarketer’s Q2 forecast. This is mainly because consumers continue to avoid stores and opt for online shopping to practice social distancing.
Now, if you’re considering jumping into the eCommerce scene then good news, it’s not yet too late! Launching an eCommerce business comes with tons of benefits. However, while it’s not as difficult as that when launching a physical store, it also has its fair share of challenges and issues. In this blog, we’ll give you the ultimate guide on how to launch your eCommerce business, so you don’t need to do trial and error and you get to minimize your mistakes.
What is eCommerce?
eCommerce or electronic commerce is about buying and selling goods and services through the internet. It’s a kind of business model that does not require businesses and consumers to have physical contact wherein the consumer can simply order online and wait for the seller to deliver the items / service directly to him. It’s essentially a modern-day kind of shopping since you get to buy anything you need at your fingertips.
eCommerce has changed the way people live their daily lives, from having to go to the malls to buy some gifts for thanksgiving, now you can simply add a product to cart and have it delivered directly to the receiver of your gift. It gives you maximum control over your purchases without having to go through all the hassle of doing it yourself.
From owning a physical store, businesses are now shifting online to share a piece of the pie. Who wouldn’t want to? Every day, people are constantly on their phone. Just like you, from the time I wake up I check my phone to shut off the alarm and to check emails, it goes on and on even when I’m on the subway, while dining, and even while I’m at the beach. People are simply just glued to their mobile phones now more than ever. Hence, the skyrocket of eCommerce.
Why shift to eCommerce?
It’s obvious that the main reason why you should shift to eCommerce is the vast market that you can tap. In 2019 alone, around 1.92 billion people purchased goods or services online according to statista. In fact, it’s even projected that by 2021, the U.S. eCommerce market will increase to 230.5 million online shoppers, it’s essentially seen as one of the leading e-commerce markets based on online shopper penetration.
Aside from the huge market potential, eCommerce brings about tons of benefits for an entrepreneur including the following:
eCommerce allows you to still maintain your day job while doing your eCommerce side hustle at night. It is not demanding in terms of the time of day that you need to work on it. Once you launch your web store, it’s online 24/7. Plus, it’s location independent so you can easily manage your store front from anywhere through your eCommerce platform. However, your flexibility will be limited of course when you manage your own production and warehouse.
Low Investment Costs
With eCommerce, you can easily launch your business without investing much capital. The reason is because you don’t need to build a physical store and hire as many staff to man your store. You’ll only have to pay for the software that you’ll use to build your store, some of which are even offered for free. So, it doesn’t take much to start an eCommerce business, but – you’ll have to work on it from ground up. There is no shortcut in eCommerce like in many businesses.
Since you get lower overhead costs, you enjoy bigger margins. That is the greatest thing about eCommerce. Imagine running a store that’s open for 24 hours yet you’re not paying a store personnel to stay put and wait for your customers, likewise – you’re also not paying bills for rent and electricity. That’s exactly what’s lucrative about eCommerce – you can start with a minimal budget and grow it exponentially. Your growth is unlimited, you just have to make the right strategy and business decisions.
How to launch your eCommerce brand?
Those are the top reasons why eCommerce is a good choice for aspiring entrepreneurs who still cannot decide on whether to take the jump or not. Now, if you’re already decided, check out our guide on how you can start and successfully launch your eCommerce brand:
- Pick a Good Niche – Choose the products that you want your store to focus on. Is it apparel? Home essentials? Hobbies and toys? Whatever it is, the key here is to select a unique niche so that you are distinctive among the competition. Plus, pick the right niche that fits your requirements and capabilities. You don’t want to be diving into the electronics niche if you’re not tech savvy at all.
- Check the Competition – Once you’ve chosen your niche, check the competition and see if they are monopolizing the market. From there, you’ll have an idea if you stand a chance to penetrate this market.
- Adopt a Business Model – Here, you want to pick the right business model that fits your requirements and schedule. If you’re planning to sell your own products, can you be consistent with production? If you’re reselling, make sure that you have high-quality products – those things need to be considered since they will determine the path of your business.
- Name and Business Registration – Once you define the right niche, scouted the competition and planned your business strategy, the next step is to formalize your business. Register a unique name that’s easy to remember and not difficult to comprehend so that customers can easily remember.
- Design your Branding Elements & Setting up your Store – This is the exciting part of the process. This is where you decide the design of your logo, color, fonts, and the entire aesthetics of your brand from your website to your packaging. Consider investing in custom box packaging to ensure your designs are rendered accurately and give your products a unique appeal. What you will create here will be the visual personality of your brand.
- Create / Source out your Product – Once you’re all set, start looking for suppliers to fill up your store. Be careful and make sure to only deal with legitimate suppliers so you will have a solid foundation.
- Plan your Customer Order Process – After setting up your store, you now need to define your order process. Your sales funnel must be easy to follow and not complicated so that customers can easily check out. Remember that the more difficult the ordering process is, the more rampant cart abandonment will be.
- Solidify your Brand Policies – Aside from establishing the order process. You also need to solidify your store policies on how you handle refunds, returns, etc. This shall be communicated to your customers at all times to avoid misunderstanding and trust me, it will save you from future headaches.
- Create a Marketing Plan – Prior to launching your online store, you need to have a detailed marketing strategy with detailed goals and metrics along the way. It’s important to set this up properly the first time so you can easily track and optimize those campaigns that work for you.
- Create Social Media Profiles – This is the irrevocable part of eCommerce. When you have an online business, it’s important that you also have social media profiles. Many of the hottest brands today are output of the success of their social media marketing. For starters, these brands include MVMT and kylie Cosmetics which both rose to fame because of stellar social media marketing.
- Launch your Online Store – Just wait for your customers and start selling!
Tools You Need To Get Started
Since eCommerce entails technicalities, it’s important that you have a good understanding on how each of these software works so you can ensure a seamless customer journey and efficient business process. While these tools can be overwhelming for starters, it’s not extremely difficult to understand and there are guides to make your life easier. Here are some of the basics that you need to know prior to launching your eCommerce store.
Once you have a business name, the next step is to check the availability of the domain. A domain name is your official address on the internet. It’s what your customers will type in their browsers to get to your website. To select your domain name, you may check the Best Domain Registrars for eCommerce to get you started.
Afterwards, you’ll need to secure your web hosting, which will serve as the back end of your website. Web hosting works as your online storage, it’s the cloud storage where you keep all the information on your website including the images, products, accounts, and all other information on your website. A lousy web hosting causes many stores to lose potential sales since their websites are either not loading or are always encountering errors. So, for quick reference, here’s a list on the Best Web Hosting for eCommerce.
These are the two essential building blocks of all websites. Now, you can move forward towards building your web store. In creating an online store, you need to make sure that you have all the functionalities to enable your website to take orders including check outs, inventory page, etc. However, if you don’t like to take the step by step approach of securing a domain and a separate web hosting, you can simply sign up for an eCommerce platform with everything you need. There are eCommerce platforms that come with domain registration and web hosting already like Shopify, BigCommerce, and many others. If you easily get overwhelmed by the technicalities of eCommerce, then I recommend that you go with this all-in-one option. Here’s our list on the Best Platform for eCommerce.
Examples of Successful eCommerce companies
If you’re not keen on selling tangible products, then that’s totally fine. eCommerce is not all about retail. You can sell services, digital goods, and digital services that are subscription based.
The eCommerce industry is vast and it encompasses almost everything that you can buy online. This of course includes your Uber, Spotify, and Netflix account. Even Facebook has launched its Facebook Marketplace to mediate between buyers and sellers. The eCommerce market is just so big that all businesses want to get a share of the market. Here are some samples of successful eCommerce brands.
Amazon is the world’s biggest eCommerce company making Jeff Bezos the richest man on Earth. As of writing, Amazon earned $280 billion in revenue in 2019 alone.
eBay is one of the firsts in the eCommerce space, so it follows that it’s also reaping what it has been sowing since the 90s. To date, its estimated revenue amounts to $10.8 billion.
MVMT was established by two millennial college dropouts who aimed to cater to their generation by selling affordable yet sleek watches. Today, the company is generating about $90 million in revenue and is one of the most sought after eCommerce brands worldwide.
Wayfair is a home furniture eCommerce brand. They have a whopping 20 million active users, giving the company $9 billion revenue in 2019 alone.
Zappos is a popular web store for shoes. They are well-known for providing quality customer service. In 2018 alone, this brand was able to generate $537 million revenue, making it one of the biggest eCommerce lifestyle brands today.
Which eCommerce Model should you pick?
If you follow our step by step guidelines above, you should already be well-guided in launching your ecommerce business. However, you must choose your eCommerce business model wisely. Meaning, you need to understand the options and their differences first.
The main kinds of eCommerce includes B2B and B2C business. Aside from basic retailing, there are also other classifications for eCommerce including the following:
Dropshipping – This is the simplest form of eCommerce. Here, you only need to build a storefront. All orders that you receive is forwarded directly to the suppliers who in turn make the delivery directly to your customers. You earn by getting margins from the base price.
Subscription – This is one of the most popular eCommerce business models today. Here, customers subscribe to brands so they get regular product replenishment. One good example for this is the Dollar Shave Club.
Wholesaling – This eCommerce business model requires quite an investment. Here, you will need to manage inventory and stocks while keeping track of your customers’ orders. Plus, you’ll also need a warehouse. One good example for this business model is DollarDays.
White Labeling – This model allows you to sell any product that is already manufactured by a third party but offers white label options to give your customers the impression that you manufactured it yourself, or if you just want a solid branding strategy.
Private Labeling – This eCommerce model is one where a retailer gets a third-party to manufacture its products but sells under its own brand name. The retailer has full control on the products including the specs of the product, how it's packaged, and everything else.
Take note that your decision here will highly depend on your capability and requirements. It’s also important to consider your personal circumstances in
Introducing: eCommerce Dropshipping Business Model
As earlier mentioned, Drop shipping is the simplest form of eCommerce. That is exactly because you won’t have to setup your own warehouse and you also don’t need to manage inventory. These aspects are taken care of by your supplier directly. Thus, you only focus on selling.
In essence, Dropshipping is certainly the most convenient among the eCommerce business types because you can sell products without keeping stock of inventory. With dropshipping, when a customer sends an order to your store, the only thing that you need to do is forward it to your supplier and ensure its delivery, in turn, your supplier will take over and deliver the orders. Basically, you function as the middle-man between the actual manufacturer / supplier and the end-consumer.
If you want to engage in retail eCommerce without all the logistics that go behind it, then dropshipping is the best choice. Here, you simply take out the merchandising and inventory management aspects of a retail business. This is perfect if you’re a sales or marketing expert since you can focus more on selling and increasing conversions. Plus, you can even way bigger than that of a traditional retail store since you have minimal overhead costs. For better understanding, here’s all you need to know about dropshipping.
What’s in it for you?
With everything that we’ve discussed, you should already have a good vision on how much potential the eCommerce industry has. If you have a brilliant business idea in mind, then you should certainly give it a try. Launching an eCommerce business is simple, however, you should also remember that it takes hard work, persistence, and the right strategy to make your business sustainable in the long run.
If you’re a beginner and ready to dive into the eCommerce world, I recommend that you start with the dropshipping business model. It’s the easiest and most sustainable form of eCommerce business.
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