Starting an eCommerce business is not as difficult as one might think. Many resources are available online to help new entrepreneurs get started, and many successful ecommerce businesses were started with very little money.
If you want to start an eCommerce business, you should consider a few things. One of the first things you need to do is decide what kind of eCommerce business you want to start and your goals.
Fixing goals and planning to achieve this will help you evaluate your efforts and activities, which is a must for creating a successful eCommerce business.
However, if you are serious about starting an eCommerce business, follow the steps I discussed below. It will help to create a profitable eCommerce business.
Let’s together start an eCommerce business from scratch.
What Is an Ecommerce Business?
When you think about eCommerce businesses, what comes to mind? A website where you can buy and sell products online? Or a store where you can find everything from clothing to kitchen supplies?
An eCommerce business is a business that specializes in selling products, services or subscriptions online. It usually uses a website to provide a customer interface, where the customer can purchase the product and services and then receive it directly from the vendor. In cases of subscription, they can get access to watch movies, listen to songs etc., for a certain period.
This type of business is often more profitable than traditional offline businesses. Today, people love to buy products or services online to get the best quality at optimal prices. As a result, it is growing rapidly.
Statista states that global eCommerce sales amounted to $4.9 trillion worldwide in 2021. And it will increase by almost 50 per cent in the next four years. It means at the end of 2025; sales could be $7.4 trillion. How fastest it grows!
5 Steps to Start an Ecommerce Business
Research about ecommerce models
Ecommerce has become a complex and ever-changing industry. Many different models exist, and it can be hard to decide which one is right for your business. I’ll explore some of the most popular E-commerce models and how they work. Hopefully, this will help you make an informed decision about which one is best for your business.
- B2C [ Business to Consumer]: This business conducts direct sales to the consumer. Some big brands using this model are Amazon, Target, Walmart, Ali express etc.
- B2B [ Business to Business]: Business to business (B2B) businesses operate as companies that sell or provide products or services to other businesses. Typically, these companies are separate from their customers but may work together in certain cases—for example, Alibaba, Rakuten etc.
- C2B [ Consumer to Business]: In this model, a person can offer a product or service to companies. For example, freelancers. They can provide services to companies for growing their businesses using marketplaces like Fiverr, Upwork etc.
- C2C [ Consumer to Consumer]: A consumer-to-consumer business model is a business model where the customer is the founder and operator of the business. The customer is the one who creates, manufactures, sells, or offers products and services to others.
Do you want to run a B2C business or B2B business or want to help other companies as a person? Firstly, you need to decide about it.
5 Types of eCommerce Business Revenue Models
Dropshipping has been around for years and is growing in popularity due to its convenience. It is an eCommerce business model in which a small business sells products online through a third-party vendor, usually an eCommerce store. The business model involves selling products directly to consumers rather than through a retailer.
As a dropshipper, your task is to take orders from the consumers and send the details to the supplier. The supplier will send the product directly to your consumers. So, you don’t need to purchase the product in advance and for warehousing costs.
Most drop shippers use the Shopify platform to run their business, as Shopify has many marketing-friendly apps for promoting business efficiently.
- No warehouse, no advance purchase
- can operate from anywhere
- Able to sell products globally.
- Less control over the business
- It takes lots of time to deliver the product [ often 25-35 days]
- The return policy is complicated. In maximum cases, you may refund money without taking products from the customer.
- Fraud suppliers may ruin your business.
Wholesalers are businesses that sell items other than those they produce themselves. They typically act as middlemen between buyers and sellers, helping to reduce costs associated with buying and selling products. Some wholesalers specialize in a particular type of product or product category, while others work with a variety of buyers and sellers.
For doing this business, you may need lots of investment. Purchasing bulk amounts of products and storing them in your warehouses is the biggest challenge for running a wholesaling business.
To succeed in this business model, the wholesaler must have a strong marketing and sales presence and a good understanding of the Consumers’ needs and wants.
For example, Alibaba is one of the biggest wholesalers online. They connect manufacturers and other retailers offering various products. Some wholesalers produce products in their factories, but most wholesalers source products from manufacturers and store them in their warehouses.
- Bigger is always better
- Other people promote your business
- Control over sales
- Easy to convince retailers
- Need big investment
- Need to maintain warehouses, supply chain management
White label is another popular eCommerce delivery model which is growing rapidly. It is a process of selling products or services using the seller’s brand name, but the seller originally didn’t manufacture or provide it.
In this process, the seller uses third-party companies to manufacture the product. The manufacturer company will do everything, including packaging and labeling using the seller’s brand name.
There are a few awesome products to start a white labeling business like cosmetics, phone accessories, water bottles, saas products, credit card processing, mugs etc. I gave you just an example of white-label products. You will find many product ideas suitable for running white-label eCommerce if you search online.
- Easy to run business
- low upfront investment.
- More focus on brand building
- fast scaling opportunities.
- Largely dependence on manufacturer
- High competition
- less customizable opportunities
The concept is almost similar to white-label eCommerce. The only difference between them is more customization abilities.
A white-label product is a more generic product in its nature. A manufacturer can slightly change it while producing a brand logo and name. Here customization is limited.
On the contrary, manufacturers can change many things for private labels for resellers—for example, product sizes, packaging systems, and everything suitable for sellers. It’s not a generic product, so the seller can easily build a strong brand name.
- More control on product customization
- More control on product pricing, production
- Easy for brand building
- It needs big investment than the white label
- Face difficulties in building brand loyalty.
Subscription-based eCommerce allows customers to purchase products and services regularly. The rise of subscription-based eCommerce has resulted in a growing trend among online shoppers.
With services like Netflix, Spotify, and Birchbox, customers are used to paying monthly fees for access to a wide range of services.
Customers who don’t want to buy albums but want to hear their favorite singer’s song from any place can subscribe to Spotify. It saves their money but gives full entertainment.
- Consistent revenue and better customer retention
- Long-term relationship with customers
- Easy to start
- upselling opportunities
- Increasing company value rapidly
- Needs investment
- Needs time and solid marketing strategies
Do you want to sell a product or service? Which types of product or service do you prefer to sell?
If you are thinking about selling service, consider your service skill. Is it standard and ready to compete with the skilled person?
You may need to compete with the high skilled person. So, try to be an expert person in your service areas. Otherwise, the chances are enormous of becoming a failure.
On the contrary, if you’re thinking about selling the product, it will be better to start with niche-based. You will face lots of trouble in the future if you start with multi-niches in the beginning.
So, I can tell you that you must find answers to the questions below at this stage.
- What skills do you have?
- What do you love to do, or in which do you have much interest?
- What do you hate to do, or in which do you feel irritating?
- How can your skills be transformed into a business idea?
- Are there enough sourcing places in your selected niche?
- Are your ideas compatible with running a home-based business?
Note down each question’s answer in a notepad. If you find a proper solution to these questions, your next step will be below.
Market Research For Your Niche or Service
If you’re starting an eCommerce business, there’s greatly important to do market research. You’ll be hard-pressed to succeed without knowing what products and services your customers are interested in.
It will help you gather all necessary information like your opportunities, barriers, etc. You may build a proper business plan with accurate data, competition knowledge and competitors’ data. And if you’re not doing market research, you’re likely making serious mistakes that could cost your business.
So how do you go about doing market research?
The best way to start market research is by placing yourself as a customer. I use this strategy, and it works for me. Conducting a survey can be a great solution, but positioning yourself as a customer for a specific product will help you more. Try to find some answers to the following questions
- Why do you need this product?
- Which problem of yours can solve the product or service?
- Do you need it seasonally or all over the year?
- Is this product expensive for you?
- Is it worth spending money?
If you can find the answers to the questions, it will be easier to conduct the rest of the research.
You also need to do extra work while researching the market, like discovering more products, analyzing the industry and its competitors and understanding the consumer behavior, profitability.
Remember, market research is a continuous process. You must do it for every new product or service you want to launch. Again, you need to monitor competitors and their marketing strategies regularly.
Write a Proper Business Plan.
Business plans are critical for any business that is starting up. Without a business plan, it can be difficult to estimate the expenses and determine the right way to create a successful online store. A well-written business plan can make your online store more affordable and profitable and help you get on the right track.
A well-planned business model will ensure your store is profitable and minimize your risks while taking your first steps as you already have outlined the steps of the business, including who, what and when. It provides a clear picture of what you do, why and when you will do it.
So, at this step, you must write a proper business plan for your store, including your vision, goals, and strategy for achieving this. Most people make big mistakes at this stage. Instead of writing the plan, they start their business by memorizing it.
Don’t do this. You must write a business plan and keep it in the document so you may check it regularly. If you make any mistake, it will help you to turn back on the right track immediately.
In addition, it will help you operate your business in an organized way, which is vital for running a successful eCommerce business.
Consider Start-Up Costing
After writing your business plan, your next step should be considering start-up costs before running a business. Money plays a very crucial factor in succeeding or destroying any business idea. So, be careful about it. To make it more accurate, you can segment your expenditure.
Domain name Registration Cost:
It is your business name, also. Choose your domain name perfectly; otherwise, you may regret this later. Once your business establishes, it will be difficult for you to change the name.
You may take some time to decide about your business name, but not more than 1 or 2 days. If you feel confused about deciding, take help from business name generator tools. They will help you to pick a perfect business name for your store.
Okay, finally, you got your business name.
It is time to register the business name. It is mandatory for online presence. Namecheap is one of the best domain name registration companies from where you can easily register a .com domain at $10 or less.
After purchasing the domain, your next task will be to connect the domain with a hosting server. It is very important to run a website. They allow you to put your site on a server in another country and access it from anywhere in the world. This allows you to reach a wider audience and makes it easier for people to find your site.
There are lots of well-reputed hosting service providers online. If you’re going to start with woo commerce, you can start with Bluehost, a $4.95 monthly shared hosting package.
If you want to use Shopify, their starting price is $19 per month. You can start with this basic plan at the beginning level. However, Shopify isn’t available for all countries. So, check whether it is available in your country or not.
Online Store Creating Cost:
The online store is where you will showcase your product or services. It allows customers to purchase products and services from a single source.
If you have web design and development skills, you can do it yourself. However, outsourcing could be your best solution if you lack web design and development knowledge.
You will find a very skilled web designer on Fiverr, Upwork and other marketplaces. You will find everything, whether it is WordPress, Shopify, Magento or some other programming website. Depending on your requirements, it may cost you from $100 to $1000 or even more.
Business Licenses Cost:
Though you run an online business, you must operate it legally like an offline business. You should take all necessary documents like business EIN and taxation documents.
EIN stands for Entity Identification Number, a unique code that businesses need to operate on the internet. With EINs, businesses can start selling products and services online without worrying about compliance. Additionally, you need to receive licenses from the government to sell products or services through online channels.
However, it is not mandatory for all countries; still, you should keep all your business documents in your hand to avoid any hassles in the future.
In some cases, you may need to create LLC-based company registrations for more smooth business operation. Especially when you want to receive payment from other nations, you need a global payment gateway. In such cases, creating an LLC company is the solution for your business.
The cost varies from country to country and even state to state from a country. For example, LLC costs for New York are higher than in Delaware. You may need to contact local agencies to create an LLC company. The pricing may vary from agency to agency. You can pick an agency suitable for your budget.
When starting an eCommerce business, it is important to have a clear product sourcing plan. This plan will help you determine which products to buy and when.
You can save money and time by knowing which products are necessary for your business and when they can be sourced.
In addition, you need to consider a few other things depending on your store type. For example, if you want to sell small eCommerce in your region, you may source it from your local suppliers.
But, if your plan is starting a drop shipping business, your sourcing plan includes aliexpress or something like this. Your aim should be to find a very good supplier.
However, sourcing costs may vary depending on eCommerce natures. It may cost $0 to over $1000, especially when you need to buy and store it in your warehouses.
As eCommerce businesses increasingly rely on digital marketing to reach their target audience, it’s important to consider the costs associated with this type of marketing.
One of the most common expenses associated with digital marketing is promoting products and services online. This can include creating targeted ads, conducting market research, launching paid campaigns in social media and search engines, email marketing, search engine optimization etc.
The most crucial part is deciding on promotional channels. If you use more than one promotional channel at a time, your marketing cost will double. You can generate sales from each marketing channel if you correctly use it.
The marketing cost depends on your ability. You can spend $0 to $10000 or even more for a single month to promote your business. The more you spend, the more sales will generate for your business which means more profit.
These are very basic start-up costing ideas. You must maintain these start-up costs, whether a big or very small eCommerce business. So, before starting a business, you should calculate each area of cost. It will help you run your business smoothly as you know how much you will spend in the future.
Setup Shipping Policy and Payment Methods
Shipping policy and payment methods are important because they affect the product’s quality and customer service. By setting up a shipping policy, customers can be sure that their orders will be delivered on time and on time. Payment methods help to ensure that customers are paid for their orders promptly and fairly.
By setting up these policies, businesses can ensure that they are complying with regulations and avoiding potential violations. So, you should clear your shipping policies and payment methods on your website.
We know that dropshipping products may take a long to reach the customer. If you tend to start a dropshipping business, make clear your shipping time, policies, and refund policies. It will help to run your business for a long time.
Promote Your Business on Various Marketing Channels
Now, you’re in the final steps. After completing all previous steps perfectly, it is time to promote your business. Promotion plays a vital role in succeeding eCommerce business. Thousands of new eCommerce businesses are launching every day, so how will people find your products or services?
The only answer is to promote the business. There are a variety of marketing channels that businesses can use to promote their business. Some popular marketing channels include online, social media, and print advertising.
Online advertising is a great way to reach a large audience without spending too much money. Social media is an incredibly powerful platform for marketing your business. Search engine optimization is great for getting traffic continuously. With email marketing, you can introduce your products to your audiences directly.
Paid promotion will give you instant results if you can do it correctly. In the case of organic promotion, you may need time to see the result. Both are works well for generating sales and making a profit for the business.
Which promotion channel you will use, it depends on you. Every channel has its advantages and disadvantages. But, this is the time to promote business and make some profit from the business. It will motivate you to do the work regularly.
5 Tips for Starting eCommerce Business
Start with very small
Starting a small online business at the beginning is important because it allows you to learn and grow your business while keeping your expenses low. You don’t need much money upfront to start, and you can use your time and energy to grow your business.
The possibility is very high of making a mistake at the beginning level. Even experienced people often make mistakes while starting a new business. It would be best if you spent time learning and keeping experiments. When you feel more confident and make some profit, you can scale it.
Another big reason for starting simple is avoiding frustrations. If you lose all capital for your business, it may frustrate you. Finally, you may leave the business becoming hopeless. And this is the real cause of failure in most e-commerce businesses.
Try to sell in-demand product
Sales are the lifeblood of any eCommerce business. They determine a company’s profitability and whether it can keep up with its competition. Without sales, your eCommerce business would be in trouble.
Selling in-demand products is a key part of any eCommerce business. This is because customers are more likely to buy something when it is in demand, and they are less likely to wait for an outdated product. You can increase your sales by selling in-demand products and making more money.
If you want to grow your business quickly, you must consider selling in-demand products. How can you find an in-demand product? Well, there is no shortcut way. You must spend time researching to find this type of product.
Don’t be hurry ; prepare yourself for making mistake
It is important to forget profitability and focus on growth for at least one year. Successful businesses focus on long-term success, while unsuccessful ones focus on short-term profits. By forgetting profitability and focusing on growth, a business can achieve its goal of being profitable in the long term.
Making mistakes at the beginning level is very common. That’s the reason you need time to make profitable stores. If you are profitable initially, try to reinvest the money. It will help to create a long-term sustainable business.
Do some experiment with marketing
In order to be successful, it is important to experiment with different marketing methods and see which ones work best for you. By doing so, you can improve your business by leaps and bounds. Some common eCommerce marketing strategies involve the following things.
- Social media organic marketing
- Social media paid advertisement
- Paid search engine advertisements
- Organic search
- Affiliate marketing
- Email marketing
- SMS marketing
- Content marketing
- Upsells and cross-sells etc.
It is hard to know which strategy will bring profit to your business without testing. Remember that data is the main weapon for succeeding in online business.
Your aim should be to collect data about customers like their age, demographics, interest level, behaviour, purchasing capacities etc. and use the data to create an effective campaign. Finally, optimizing the campaign will help to generate more profit for the store.
And without experiments, it is almost impossible to complete the selling process and do a profitable online business.
Be master of one marketing channel
Marketing is a complex and ever-changing field, where many different channels are important for success. Effective marketing requires understanding the different channels and their abilities to reach your target market.
Becoming a master of one marketing channel can help you succeed in any market. It is important, especially for small entrepreneurs with very limited marketing budgets.
Every marketing channels need to spend time and money to find target audiences. If you have a limited budget, it will be impossible for you to experiment with each marketing channel; rather than you should focus on only one marketing channel at the starting point.
In each marketing channel, your target audience prevails. You need a solid strategy to find out the audience and reach them. While I am telling one marketing channel, it means only one. For example, Facebook is one marketing channel among a large list of social media channels.
It will help to generate profit without spending much money. You can scale it in another channel after having success in one channel.
In conclusion, it is important to have a clear idea of what you want your eCommerce business to do and how much you can afford to spend to achieve it. Additionally, it is also beneficial to research different eCommerce models and understand their profitability before starting anything.
Moreover, be sure to create a proper business plan to know exactly where your money is going and how you can achieve your goals. Finally, apply your marketing plan to promote a business regularly. If you can do it, you will be able to run a successful eCommerce business.
Let me know your thinking about it.