Thinking of starting a new business? The best sphere to expand into could very well be the digital marketplace. In fact, starting an eCommerce business is now more popular than ever, both among seasoned entrepreneurs and first-time business owners who want to chase their own versions of the American dream.
Of course, starting an eCommerce business is easier said than done. Today, let’s look at how you can begin your eCommerce enterprise from scratch.
Simply put, because eCommerce is profitable. According to eMarketer, global eCommerce sales should increase 12.2% year-over-year, reaching $5.7 trillion in 2022. That’s quite a large financial pie you could get a piece of with the right idea and a good business plan.
Profitability has increased for many reasons, though primarily because online shopping is more comfortable for modern consumers. It’s easier than ever to order something online, so why bother visiting a retail store except for the most important items?
However, there’s another reason to consider starting an eCommerce business: accessibility. With an eCommerce enterprise, you don’t have to purchase a physical storefront, nor do you need to spend nearly as much money as you would if you started a business in the real world. With eCommerce, you can get started with an online shop in a matter of weeks, if not days.
Anyone can begin and run a successful eCommerce business, including you. With that said, let’s look at how to start an eCommerce business step-by-step.
Step 1 – Choose Your Business Model
First, you’ll need to pick your business model, which involves:
Determining what products your business will provide. For example, will you make custom jewelry? Dropship products from third-party manufacturers? Offer a service?
Figuring out if your business model is sustainable or profitable
Coming up with your pricing points and audience goals, etc.
Picking a business model requires a lot of market research and drawing up a business plan. Both of these stages will take some time, but they will be well worth it since you’ll be able to run your business more successfully as it starts growing.
Step 2 – Do Market Research
Good market research is key to success in any business industry, especially eCommerce. You need to know what your audience wants, how you can fulfill those needs, and who your audience members are in terms of their demographic attributes like age, gender, location, etc.
Be sure to do tons of market research before creating a single product or launching your store. Doing market research is important because:
You can take that information and advertise more effectively to your target customers.
You’ll know which types of advertisements are most likely to resonate with your target customers.
You can design your website or products to better suit your customers’ needs, thereby making them more likely to turn a profit for you.
Step 3 – Get Hosting and Your Online Space in Order
The next important step is to ensure your online business premises are ready to go; that is, the website for your online store and the server hosting it. There are several steps to this major phase of building your eCommerce store.
Choosing Web Hosting
First, pick a web hosting service that you believe will work well for your needs. Free web hosting is all right if you are just starting or testing different website designs. But in the long run, you’ll want to go with a paid web hosting service, which offers benefits like increased server resources, automatic backups of your website data, and server security. It’s also useful to pick a hosting provider that specializes in the type of site you’re running. For example, you should choose a WordPress hosting plan at NameHero if this open-source platform is your go-to ecosystem.
Picking a Website Name
You also need to pick a website name and register the domain name for your store. Do some research and try to come up with a name that is:
Related to your industry or niche
Easy to spell
A good domain name is like the address or title of your business. Make sure it’s memorable so people will have an easier time googling your company when they are ready to purchase what you offer.
Building a Website
Then comes building the actual website. To do this, use a free website builder like WordPress or consider hiring a web developer. You’ll get a more customized, higher-performing website if you hire a good web development agency or freelancer, but this will cost you a little more money.
If needed, take out a loan or purchase a professional website builder using a net-30 account, which will help your business build credit and get more loans for expansions or product purchases in the future. Or seek alternative means of funding, such as Mainvest.
Don't forget the security aspect of your website to protect your customers' information and the reputation of your business. It's essential to implement various cybersecurity measures for your online store. One solution to consider is a fully-fledged business VPN, which can provide secure remote access for your employees and encrypt sensitive data in transit. Additionally, you should also add firewalls and intrusion detection systems for your website to ensure that sensitive information exchanged online is protected from cyber threats such as data breaches. By taking these measures, you can provide a safe and secure online experience for your customers and build trust in your brand.
Step 4 – Fill Your Store With Products
Of course, no eCommerce store is complete without digital store shelves filled with products. Whether you sell digital or physical products, take good pictures and videos of those products so your prospective customers can see whether your offerings are worth their time and money.
Step 5 – Start Marketing
Good marketing is key to turning a profit in the online business sphere. There are lots of ways in which you can start marketing your new eCommerce business, such as:
Marketing on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram
Using PPC or pay-per-click ads on Google. This involves bidding for specific keywords related to your industry or niche.
Advertising on YouTube by making video ads and similar content
Publishing informative and educational blog posts on your company website
For best results, you should use many different types of marketing avenues. That way, you’ll reach as many people as possible and boost your brand awareness and authority while building an audience for your products.
Step 6 – Launch and Optimize
When your website is ready to launch, it’s time to start selling products and running your business. This, of course, is just the start of your journey as an entrepreneur.
In truth, you’ll always be optimizing, editing, and adjusting your online business to make it more effective and profitable. You’ll take data and analyze it, then adjust your prices, the products you offer, and your marketing materials accordingly.
Although it’s a lot of work, that’s actually a good thing! As a business owner, the last thing you want to be is stagnant. Keep an eye on your numbers, continue building and improving your business, and you’ll see success eventually.
As you can see, starting an eCommerce business can be done. No matter your experience or idea, you can run a thriving online store with the right plan and strategy. Keep these basic steps in mind and remember: you’ll learn a lot during your journey, so keep your mind open and check out other educational resources to make the most of your efforts. Good luck!
What can Mainvest do for your business?
Mainvest allows you to raise capital from your community, without giving up any ownership or control in the process. By running a Mainvest campaign, you can engage the community and get buy-in from local stakeholders. If you are ready to take the next step as an entrepreneur, reach out to us here.
This post was contributed by a guest author. Mainvest does not guarantee the accuracy of information in this post and does not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice.