Starting your own online store is an exciting venture, especially if you’ve fantasised about the independence of being your own boss. If you are talented in crafts or have a passion for marketing, the entrepreneurial path may be a great fit for you.
Starting a business requires a significant amount of effort. You will need business sense, creativity, and discipline to take the necessary actions to market your concept. However, the journey itself may be extremely worthwhile and fruitful. According to the US Census Bureau, e-commerce will account for 14.3% of total sales in 2022, with global e-commerce sales exceeding $5.5 trillion [1,2]. E-commerce offers enormous financial opportunities.
How to launch an online store
Because everyone is using digital marketing for their business, you’ll need to think about how to stand out as e-commerce grows. Regardless of the competition, e-commerce entrepreneurs have a bright future. Here’s a place to start.
Step 1: Research e-commerce models and decide what to sell
Given the size and level of competition in today’s e-commerce market, planning your e-commerce company model is critical. There are four basic types:
Business-to-customer (B2C): A common business strategy in which a company sells goods to customers, such as spices or shoes. B2C companies, such as Amazon, Walmart, and Alibaba, can sell multiple brands under one roof.
Business-to-business (B2B):In business-to-business (B2B) models, businesses sell goods or services to other businesses. Repeat purchases are frequently included in orders. Examples include Rakuten, Alibaba, and Amazon Business.
Customer-to-customer (C2C) models:In C2C models, online marketplaces that connect consumers to trade and sell goods and services are commonly used. Online C2C marketplaces such as Craigslist, Etsy, and eBay are available.
Customer-to-business (C2B): People sell their goods and services to businesses in a C2B transaction. Upwork, which allows businesses to hire independent contractors, is a good example.
Step 2: Write a business plan
After laying the groundwork, you are ready to develop an e-commerce business plan. This written document outlines your objectives as well as a strategy for operations, finance, and marketing. It can help you organise yourself and attract potential investors.
Conduct some research to learn about the market environment and potential competitors for your product or service. Consider your target market and how you might sell to them. Plan the logistics for the coming months, such as when, where, and how you will proceed.
Step 3: Choose a business name and start building your brand
Following that, you’ll need a name and a distinct brand identity for your company. If you are starting a white label e-commerce business, your brand is critical to your company’s success.
You must design a logo for your brand, which will appear on all packaging, website designs, and marketing materials. Eventually, you may want to work with a designer who can translate your brand’s philosophy into stunning web visuals.
Step 4: Register your business
Before you begin offering, you must register your business by selecting a legitimate design, applying for a business ID number (EIN), and obtaining various permits and licences for your chosen plan of action.
When you’ve decided on a business name, check with your local secretary of state’s office and the United States Patent and Trademark Office to ensure it’s available. You must select your legal structure, a business element type that will determine the legal and financial rules of your online business — typically, you can select from an overall organisation, LLC, company, or sole ownership. Consult with a legal expert to ensure you make the best decision for your company.
Step 5: Create your e-commerce business website
To begin, you’ll need a space name that corresponds to your company name. Then, for creating and maintaining the online store, you’ll select an internet business stage that matches your transfer speed. The two most common types are comprehensive programming (like Shopify) and open-source stages (like Magento), on which you will lead business tasks like stock management, delivery requests, and so on.
Here are a few examples of the e-commerce systems available:
Shopify: Shopify is a well-known e-commerce platform that is easy to use and comprehensive, with numerous customization options. With this hosted software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, you can choose from a variety of subscription options based on your company’s needs.
Squarespace: Squarespace has e-commerce features in addition to being a platform for creating websites using cutting-edge templates. Despite its ease of use, Shopify provides more customizable e-commerce options.
WooCommerce: WooCommerce is an open-source plug-in that can be added to your WordPress website to allow you to sell products. It is appropriate for business owners with prior technological skills and provides a wide range of e-commerce solutions.
Magento: If you’re tech adept, you might want to use Magento, an open-source platform that enables you to personalise every aspect of your website (or pay a developer to do so).
After deciding on an e-commerce platform, you can start creating, customising, and launching your online business. A wireframe will be created, followed by a template design, your product inventory will be included, and business introduction descriptions will be written.
Step 6: Source and develop your products or services
Once you’ve created a website prototype, you can begin adding product names, descriptions, and images. You’ll also need to acquire your products, whether that means developing them in-house or sourcing them from a wholesaler.
If you’re a craftsperson, you should make enough inventory to last the first few months. This could entail producing 20 pottery pots in each colour and size, or one garment line in each colour and size. This figure will change depending on your labour capacity and marketing strategy, such as how much traffic you bring to the launch of your website.
Logistics such as branded packaging, warehousing, inventory control, and shipping will then need to be organised.
Step 7: Launch and market your business
Congrats! Once your company has been established, you can begin tracking metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) as it grows. Experiment with different digital marketing strategies to increase visitors to your brand.
Among inventory management, logistics, and marketing, you’ll want to ensure that your shipping and fulfilment operations run smoothly for every customer. Making backup plans in case something goes wrong is a good idea.
Tips for starting an e-commerce business
Building a successful online store requires motivation, strategy, enthusiasm, and a lucky break. Starting a business, like having a child, can be extremely rewarding but also difficult. For those who are just getting started, here are some pointers:
Start Small: You don’t have to make an initial investment on hundreds of items. Make an Instagram account and some basic branding if you’re a craftsperson to measure interest. If you’re sourcing things, set a deadline for getting them, make a straightforward website, and soft-launch using specialised Google or Facebook advertisements. Afterward, expand your company from there.
Keep Up with Trends: Along with delivery services, comprehending cryptocurrencies, and direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales, sustainability is one of the key developments in e-commerce for 2022 and should be taken into account . Instead of starting a fast-fashion company, it would probably be wiser to launch a subscription service for organic vegetables or vegan meals.
Experiment with Marketing: If you don’t advertise your company, nobody will know about it. Fortunately, there are several affordable options to conduct A/B testing before beginning a significant campaign on platforms like Google Ads.
Utilise alliances and multi-channel marketing techniques: Even though direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales are popular, showcasing your products on websites like Amazon and Etsy can increase brand recognition and sales. Public relations (features in specific magazines) and social media collaborations, such as affiliate marketing and influencer marketing, can also aid in your visibility and growth.