What Setting Up An E-commerce Business Actually Entails
Like any new venture, starting an E-commerce business will need some planning. But setting up, launching and maintaining sites where entrepreneurs, designers, and creators of all sorts can sell their products or services, is more attainable now than ever before! E-commerce businesses are trades that transmit goods, services, and funds over the internet. Online retail is just one of the many sectors that have seen extensive growth over recent years.
Dependent on your goals, it might make sense to start an E-commerce business. After all, without the necessity for a brick-and-mortar location, an E-commerce business can offer greater flexibility, affordability, and opportunity for many new or seasoned entrepreneurs. So how exactly do you start an online business?
How to start an E-commerce business
Although there are notable differences in starting an E-commerce business compared with that of a more conventional business, there are also a number of similarities. Much of the planning and legal considerations you'll need to take will follow the same process like any other business. However, once it's time to start your operation, you'll see how different starting an E-commerce business can be.
Research the marketspace and find your niche
The first step in learning how to start an E-commerce business is performing the necessary research. Just as if you were starting a restaurant and looking into different locations, food options, and themes, you'll want to investigate the E-commerce area you're interested in and make some decisions with regard to your specific business.
For example, you'll want to consider what exactly your E-commerce business is going to offer. Will you be selling products or services? If you're selling products, are they physical or digital? Where will you source your products? You'll also want to think about the type of business model you want to employ — will you offer single products, packages, subscriptions, or something else?
Additionally, you'll want to think on a broader scale during this process as well: How will you get your products or services to your customers? What will your start-up costs look like? Are there legal or other regulations on your product or service that you need to keep in mind?
These lines of questioning, among others, will be integral to the beginning of your business and will help you start to create and write your business plan. This process will give you a better sense of your specific goals and how you're going to reach them. Particularly in the E-commerce space, an important part of this step is finding your niche.
Although the growth of the E-commerce industry is a great benefit for those looking to learn how to start an E-commerce business, it also means more competition. You'll want to perform competitor research and find a space where you think you can establish your brand and find success in selling products and services.
Select your business name
Once you've completed the plan, the next step is to choose a name. Like any other business, you'll want to choose a name that's unique, but also that clearly indicates what your business does. Although you won't want to invest too much time on a website quite yet, it will be worthwhile to check to see if your potential business domain name is available. If your domain name is currently being used, you may consider a different business name, or a different structure.
Choose your business structure
The business entity type you pick will have important legal and financial implications for your E-commerce operation. Generally, you'll choose to create a sole proprietorship, general partnership, LLP, or Limited company. There are benefits and drawbacks to each of these entity types, so you should always consult with a qualified accountant for specific advice on the best option for your business.
Choose an E-commerce platform and create your website
Instead of searching for a location and preparing to set up your physical store, you'll start creating your website and online store.
Like a physical storefront, this website will be the face of your business — it's what your customers will see first and what they'll use to browse and purchases your products or services. Creating your website will be one of the most important parts of starting your E-commerce business.
Your most significant decision will be choosing an E-commerce platform. Whether an all-in-one software, like Shopify or an open-source platform, like Adobe E-commerce, your E-commerce platform will be the base you use to build and develop your online store. Most E-commerce platforms not only allow you to create and launch your online store, but also customise your design, add your domain (or purchase one), manage inventory, take and ship orders, receive payment, and more.
Source or develop products
After you've chosen your E-commerce platform and started your website, you've almost reached the end of the process. At this point, you'll need to actually source the products you're going to sell. You should have already thought about how you're going to go about this process when you performed your research. You may manufacture your own products, source them from distributors, or if you're selling your own services, like as a consultant, for example, you may simply have to describe and list these services on your business website.
If you're selling products, this step will be more complex, as you'll need to consider the inventory you want to start out, as well as what these start-up costs will look like. You'll also want to make sure that you take the time to list your inventory on your online store, thinking about the customer experience, SEO, and the way the process will work from when a customer purchases a product to when they actually receive that product.
Market your E-commerce business
Now that you have your products or services prepared and listed on your online store, your website is up and running, you're ready to start, and of course, you'll need to properly market your E-commerce business.
There are a variety of marketing strategies you might decide to utilise, Google ads, social media ads, word of mouth, and much more. At the most basic level, you'll want to optimise your business website for SEO and take advantage of any online marketing tools that are included within your E-commerce platform.
As your E-commerce business is up and running and you start to receive orders, you'll want to keep track of which marketing tactics are working and re-strategize if required.