The digital space has so much potential for anyone who knows how to utilize it well. 2020 has been a year where businesses have had to reinvent themselves.Many brick-and-mortar stores are moving to online platforms to stay open. E-commerce business is no longer something that is for convenience or another arm of the company. For some, it is the only avenue available.
While there are many conveniences to operating on the online platform, it is crucial to get the foundation right. You will find some excellent tips on platforms such as MarketingCourses.com.
We will show you how to start an e-commerce business from scratch in our article below. So let’s dive into it.
Do Your Research
Think about setting up your online business, much like you would when setting up a brick-and-mortar store. Conduct market research to understand precisely what you’re getting into. Take a moment to understand the landscape by conducting a SWOT analysis.
Competitor analysis is also critical and helps you avoid some mistakes that could potentially ruin your business.
Decide On the Business You Want To Run
The beauty of e-commerce is the tons of possibilities available. Even without inventory, you could run a successful business. Dropshipping has become very popular because you become the middleman between the suppliers and the customer. You don’t have to worry about handling stock nor spending any money on warehousing or transporting.
Other options available include selling digital products, dealing with physical goods, selling memberships, and subscriptions, to name a few.
Industry estimates show that by 2020, the number of digital buyers could be in excess of 2.05 billion. But, always remember that there is a lot of competition in the digital space.
It is a platform that does not have the limitations of physical boundaries like you would have if you have a physical store. Your competition could be from someone who is thousands of miles away from you, or even in another geographical location.
Focus On Niche Areas
One of the things to consider is entering into a niche business area. A niche area increases the chances of making a profit. While it does not mean that there is no competition, the number of businesses operating in it may be fewer.
Do your research properly to know what kind of players have already established themselves in it? There is no point in fighting for space if there are other major players already on board.
You may be thinking about making a foray into areas where there is no competition at all. While it may sound very tempting because you have the opportunity to get into an untapped market, you could burn. You must also invest a lot of time and money in marketing your product well. It should be one that responds to a need you have already identified.
Most importantly, it should be something that people will want to buy. You could end up spending so much money only to discover that your product is not suitable for the particular audiences you were trying to target.
Develop a Customer Profile
When operating an online business, you have the chance to reach so many people. Yet, the messaging must have a target; otherwise, you will just be making noise. Do you have a good idea of exactly who you are targeting? If not, it is time to develop a customer profile.
A customer profile is an in-depth look at the person you want to target with the products. You will look at factors such as:-
- consider demographics like age, gender, income levels, religion, marital status, economic activities, number of children, etc.
- Purchasing behavior
- How they interact with products
- The customer journey map
When you truly understand your customers, your marketing activities will bear fruit. The customers will also engage with you better, resulting in higher conversion rates for your business.
Come Up With a Sound Business Plan
You have your market research and have a good idea about the products you want to sell. Put it all down on paper by writing a business plan. The business plan is the blueprint of how you plan to operate. The main areas in a business plan include:-
- An executive summary of the business summarizing your goals, mission statement, product, and service description and details on your company.
- The company description, which gives a more in-depth explanation of your business, customers, and goals.
- A market analysis will highlight the results of the research you did around the e-commerce business.
- Competitor analysis showing how your business stacks up against the competition.
- Product and service description
- Your sales and marketing strategy showing how you intend to reach the target consumers
- Management and operations that gives you a chance to show how unique your company is
- Timelines and financial projections
Writing a good business plan is not without its challenges. You may want to engage the services of an expert to walk you through the process if you’re not able to do it independently.
Register Your Business
Customers want to transact with legitimate businesses. Registering your business will give you the credibility you need. You will also need to comply with specific regulatory requirements, such as taxation and other legal issues.
Picking the right business name is important. Take note of the following:-
- It should align with your business objectives.
- It must communicate professionalism, so avoid anything that may raise eyebrows.
- It is better to keep it short to avoid confusion amongst the target audiences.
- Avoid names that are very close to your competitors. You may end up losing traffic to them, especially if they have a presence already.
- SEO has become the name of the game with regards to e-commerce. Your business name should be relevant and incorporate keywords to increase the chances of appearing on search engines.
Fortunately, there are some fantastic online tools you can use to generate a business name. It saves you the trouble of brainstorming or spending hours thinking about the right name. You must then develop the relevant collateral, including a logo, business cards, amongst others.
PickYour Ecommerce Platform
Think about your e-commerce platform, much like you would the physical building if you were operating a brick-and-mortar store. The platform is where you will operate from, so be careful about your choice. There are very many options available, all with advantages and disadvantages.
Check out e-commerce platforms such as Woocommerce, Shopify, Magento, Bigcommerce, Wix, among others. While researching, pay attention to what other users have to say about the different platforms. At the minimum, look out for the following:-
- How much will it ult[mately cost you to be on the platform?
- Does it allow for Search Engine Optimization?
- Is it customizable depending on your business needs?
- Is it mobile friendly?
- What functionalities do you get; plugins, for example, increase efficiency and functionality. However, they may make it more expensive for you to be on the platform due to their monthly costs. What about integration with other third-party applications?
- How is the customer service?
- What security measures have they put in place?
- Does it allow for scalability?
- Which payment options does it offer?
You want efficiency when picking your e-commerce platform. You must also put yourself in the customer’s shoes to know what kind of experience they will have, using your online platform. It is very easy to lose audiences or potential customers if your site is unresponsive or hard to navigate.
Once you set up your e-commerce platform, the real task is now beginning. How will you get people to take note of your business? That is why, in the business plan, you must have a sales and marketing strategy in place.
When starting, you may not have a lot of money for marketing purposes. You can take advantage of some of the free marketing platforms available to start you off. Such include:-
- Search engine optimization (SEO) to increase your visibility on the search engines
- Register your business on free platforms like Google My Business and other local listings
- Use social media and YouTube to promote your business.
- Have an active presence on different forms such as those you find a LinkedIn, Facebook, and Quora
- Actively network and share your business card as much as you can
- Use Public relations taking advantage of free resources to publish. The media is also always looking for stories.
- Content marketing using your blog has relevant content.
We have touched on the tons of opportunities available for startups.
You may need to spend some money, so take advantage of cost effective platforms such as Facebook ads to promote your business.
We have gone into an in-depth look at how to start an E-commerce business from scratch. The one thing we cannot emphasize enough is the need to do proper research into the e-commerce world.
See what other companies in your chosen area are doing and how you can improve upon it. It is a competitive world, and as a startup, you will need to establish yourself well to start making money.
All the best as you make a foray into the digital space.