How To Start An eCommerce Business
Are you ready to start your eCommerce empire?
Starting a business sounds like a dream to anyone looking to get out of their boring and repetitive office job. Imagine being able to fully control your time and work at your own pace without the worry of having a bad day in the office or pissing off your boss. That kind of liberty is something that most of us aspire to have.
In the recent years, more and more people are building their own brands in the hope of solidifying their name in their chosen industry. Many of them left their corporate jobs to go after their passion. There are also those courageous people who run their businesses at night after their day jobs. Having a goal in mind is important before diving into entrepreneurship, whether you’re in it to secure your future or to build an empire, that drive will serve as your north star in this industry.
There are several kinds of businesses that you can choose from including brick and mortar stores, service centers, and online shops among others. Since you’re here, we bet you’re interested in the latter. But first, before you jump into the eCommerce world, we’ll give you an ultimate guide on how to start and what to expect in building your eCommerce brand.
What is eCommerce?
eCommerce is a modern-day kind of business aimed towards the modern-day customer. It makes an ordinary person’s entrepreneurial dreams within reach with its low-investment, low-risk, and low-maintenance business setup. It’s also widely known for changing the status quo from shopping in brick and mortar stores to online shopping, with no personal and physical interaction between the store and consumers.
Why shift to eCommerce?
From the perspective of consumers, it’s highly convenient and easy since they can shop at any time of the day. Plus, it allows them to be better informed due to easy product comparisons, and most importantly, they enjoy a personalized experience.
On the other hand, the benefits of eCommerce from the end of the seller includes lower overhead costs since you’re not managing a physical store and in-house staff. You’re also able to run a store that operates 24/7 because you’re not limited within the traditional store hours. The best thing is that you’re not limited to selling only within your vicinity, eCommerce allows you to sell nationwide, or even better – worldwide! You can also have better communication with your customers, which makes it easier for you to launch personalized campaigns aimed towards brand loyalty. Essentially, with eCommerce, you get lower costs, maximum reach, and higher conversions.
While all these seems too easy, still, many people get overwhelmed and intimidated about the technicalities that go with online stores. Yes, starting your eCommerce brand comes with tons of technicalities but it’s not entirely difficult for a layman to follow and learn along the way. One doesn’t need to be an IT expert prior to launching your own web store. It’s all about working smart. In fact, nowadays, there are already tons of software, apps, and services that make it easier for one to build and launch an online store.
How to start an eCommerce business?
Here are the steps to follow in building an eCommerce store:
- Identify a Good Niche – This should be something that has constant customer demand.
- Research the Competition – Look for the other players and see if they are dominating the market. From there, you should be able to get an idea if the niche is worth diving into.
- Pick a Realistic Business Model – Adopt a business model that fits well with your requirements and lifestyle, something that you won’t be able to neglect in due time. You might be overburdened after sometime only to realize that you went with the wrong business model.
- Name and Business Registration – Finalize your name and legalize your business accordingly.
- Create your Branding Elements – This will serve as the personality of your brand, which will be visible across your brand communication content.
- Create / Source out your Product – This is where you start building / sourcing out your store items.
- Design your Customer Order Process – This is the most important part. You have to make it easy as much as possible so you get the most out of your customer’s interest.
- Solidify your Brand Policies – Many businesses fail to make a standard protocol in terms of refunds, returns, and customer complaints. Having a protocol which can be readily examined by your customers will save you from headaches.
- Set up your Webstore – This is the exciting part of your eCommerce journey, the actual building of your online store. If you need help in setting up, check out the quick technical guide below.
- Design a Marketing Strategy – Once your store has been fully set up the next part is getting it out to the market. Your plan must be lucrative enough to entice your target customers, you can learn from your competitors for starters.
- Create Social Media Profiles – Many of the newest brands resulted from the success of their social media marketing. Take MVMT and kylie Cosmetics for example, these are just startup brands that rose to fame because of stellar social media marketing.
- Launch your Online Store – And start selling!
Quick Technical Guides for Starters
Besides the business setup, you also need to learn about all the technical details in running an eCommerce store. This includes understanding the know-hows of domain registration, hosting, third-party app integrations, etc. All of these can be challenging to understand but the good news is there are guides to help you.
If you already have a business name in mind, the next step is to check if the domain is available. Your domain name will serve as your official address online. You may check the Best Domain Registrars for eCommerce to get you started.
Then, you’d want to start setting up the back end of your website, which is your web hosting. Web hosting is your official online storage, it’s where you keep all the information on your website including the images, text, accounts, and more. For quick reference, here’s a list on the Best Web Hosting for eCommerce.
The first two are the basic building blocks of all websites. The next step is building your web store. This is where all the functions an eCommerce store comes in including check outs, inventory page, etc. If you don’t want to go through the step by step process of buying the domain and web hosting first, the good news is that there are eCommerce platforms that come with domain registration and web hosting already including Shopify, BigCommerce, and many others. If you’re not tech savvy, then I recommend that you go with this option. Here’s our list on the Best Platform for eCommerce.
Examples of Successful eCommerce companies
If you’re wondering if eCommerce is all about retail, you’re mistaken. The eCommerce business is wide and encompasses almost everything that you can buy online. Yes, your Netflix account is included. In fact even Facebook has eCommerce aspects to it, furthered by the Facebook marketplace. The eCommerce market is so vast that all companies want to get a piece of the pie. Just think of Amazon, which made Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world – all because he built the first ever eCommerce giant. So, here are some samples of successful eCommerce brands.
As earlier mentioned, Amazon is the leader of the pack when it comes to eCommerce. It’s probably one of the first things that come to mind when the word eCommerce pops out. Amazon is the leading eCommerce giant as of writing, earning $280 billion in revenue in 2019 alone.
Like Amazon, eBay is one of the firsts in the eCommerce space. One of the unique features of eBay is that it allows customers to bid on a certain product, allowing the customers to get the best value. The company earns by getting a certain percentage out of its merchants. To date, its estimated revenue amounts to $10.8 billion.
If you’re a homeowner, you’ve probably heard of this brand. Wayfair is an eCommerce brand that sells furniture and other home fixtures. The brand has a whopping 20 million active users, giving this brand a huge eCommerce success. As of 2019, the company reported $9 billion revenue.
Are you a shoe addict? If yes, then you’ve probably heard of this brand a couple of times already. Zappos is a popular web store for shoes, with its roots tracing back to 1995. What sets it apart from the competition is that they are known to provide only the best customer assistance and support. In terms of revenue, Zappos incurred net sales of approximately $537 million in 2018 alone, making it one of the biggest eCommerce lifestyle brands today.
This popular and trendy brand has a good back story to it. MVMT was born out of the idea of two millennial college dropouts who wanted to introduce a sleek yet affordable timepiece to their generation. 5 years later, the brand went uphill with a revenue of $90 million and a brand known worldwide.
From timeless innovators to millennial dropouts, you can be sure that eCommerce success can be achieved by anyone. So, if you think that the eCommerce industry is already saturated and cannot accommodate new players anymore, you’re totally wrong. With the right goal, strategy, and decisions, you can be building the next eCommerce empire.
Selecting your eCommerce Model
It’s important to note that before building your eCommerce store, you already have a solid business strategy, which will become your handbook as you make decisions along the way. In line with crafting your business strategy, another key ingredient here is knowing the kind of eCommerce business that you want to run.
There’s the traditional retail setup where you purchase your items in bulk from another supplier prior to selling them. In this form of eCommerce, you take care of the logistics including packaging, inventory management, shipping, and all that. The problem here is that you will need storage and sorting space for your products. Thus, it’s not advisable if you have a small home, unless of course you’ll have an office space (which tremendously adds to your costs).
Introducing: eCommerce Dropshipping Business Model
Now, if you’re wondering if there’s such a business model that allows you to sell items without physically storing them, then lucky for you, there is. That is exactly what dropshipping is. Dropshipping is probably the most convenient among these three business types since you can sell products without keeping stock of the items you’re selling. In dropshipping, what happens is when a customer sends an order to your store, you’ll just have to forward it to your supplier, in turn, your supplier will take over and deliver the orders. Essentially, you are the connector between the actual manufacturer / supplier and the end-consumer.
It’s technically taking out the merchandising and inventory management aspects of a retail business. This is great because you get to focus more on selling and you still earn as much or even better than that of a traditional retail store since you have low overhead costs for not maintaining the actual items. To give you a better understanding on dropshipping, here’s all you need to know about dropshipping.
The Future of eCommerce
So, with all these in mind, you can already see how much potential the eCommerce industry has. The good news here is that if you want to take a piece of the pie, it’s not yet too late. The eCommerce sales is projected to reach a new high in 2021 with an estimated 265% growth rate, from $1.3 trillion in 2014 to $4.9 trillion in 2021. In fact, by 2021, it will account for 17.5% of the total global retail sales. (source: beeketing.com)
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eCommerce Paradise was created by Trevor Fenner of Seattle, Washington in 2015 to help you, the entrepreneur, to start and scale your own eCommerce business. Trevor owns multiple 7-figure eCommerce stores and is a digital nomad, traveling the world while working remotely with the help of his team of virtual assistants from around the world. Trevor is currently located in Bali, Indonesia, and is a passionate skateboarder, surfer, scuba diver, photographer, environmentalist, outdoorsman, fitness and tattoo enthusiast.
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