Start an Ecommerce Business

Start an Ecommerce Business

How to Start Your Own Ecommerce Business

The ecommerce business industry is exploding. Brick and mortar stores that temporarily closed may never open again.

Shopping online used to be a convenience and a luxury, now – it’s a necessity. The ecommerce businesses that I work with can’t keep enough products stocked. Ecommerce has been growing for a while. 

I’ve been in retail since 2015, I’ve launched profitable websites and I’ve marketed small and large brands online. The amount of interest in ecommerce right now is unprecedented.

A lot of folks want to know how to start an ecommerce business. If your goal is to make a quick buck – that’s all you’ll do, the goal should be a scalable, profitable business that lasts. You have to have a long-term vision for building an asset that brings true value to the market.

 

Step-by-Step Ecommerce Guide

Step 1: Research Ecommerce Business Models

Step 2: Start Ecommerce Niche Research

Step 3: Validate Target Market and Product Ideas

Step 4: Register Your Ecommerce Business & Brand Name

Step 5: Finalize Your Ecommerce Business Plan

Step 6: Create Your Online Store

Step 7: Attracting Customers to Your Ecommerce Store

 

Online retail is a booming business. But I’ve seen too many ecommerce businesses struggle to get traction. It’s taken me years to learn everything included in this page. Use the information here to set up your ecommerce store, protect yourself legally, get your finances in order, market and sell your product, and start building your store. Building an ecommerce business takes more than choosing a brand name, writing product listings, and starting to sell products online. Even the best business ideas can flop if you aren’t driving enough traffic to your site.

There’s nothing more rewarding starting a business from nothing and watching it grow. You build it up and no one can take it from you.

 

Step 1: Research Ecommerce Business Models

Beginning your research is the first critical step. Don’t operate off of a hunch. Growing any online business is an investment. Treat it as such.

There isn’t a single business structure that works for everyone. Service-based business, software, digital product sales, and physical products are just the tip of the iceberg. Before you can decide on what to sell online, you need to understand the different business models available. It’s not rocket science, but it does impact your business structure. This is something I’ll help you figure out in my Ecommerce Business Blueprint course.

If you want to turn a profit without touching your product or investing heavily at the start, drop shipping or print on demand is a smart choice.

If you like the idea of having your own warehouse full of goodies, you’re investing more up front and working with a wholesaling or warehousing (retail) model. Have a business idea for the perfect product idea or a favorite product you wish you could sell under your brand? Look into white labeling and manufacturing. And then there are subscriptions, where you carefully curate a set of products or a single product to be delivered at regular intervals to your customers.

I highly recommend that you take your time and learn the different business models and compare them mentally. Then decide which one best lines up with your resources and marketing strengths. Also, think about where do you want to sell. Do you want to start your online store on JOY- Marketplace? 

Step 2: Start Ecommerce Niche Research

You have to niche down to run a profitable ecommerce store.

Choosing your niche is the most important step in opening your online business. Start this process by identifying successful companies already working in this space.

Make sure that the area is competitive an absence of competition usually indicates that there’s no market, either.

Don’t pick an overly crowded niche, however, and skip anything dominated by major brands. If you’re having trouble with this, drill down further on what you want to do the more specific you are, the less competition you are likely to face.

Niche-ing down also gives you the benefit of having a lot of “shoulder” niches, related to what you do, but not identical. You can work together with business owners in those niches to cross-promote, become (or acquire) an affiliate, and grow your customer base.

Pick a product category with a minimum of 1000 keywords and focus on a niche that does well in social media, where publishers in the area are affiliates. If you can nab a few affiliate marketing opportunities, you won’t have to worry about delivering as much product, but you can still make a profit.

Step 3: Validate Target Market and Product Ideas

Now that you’ve identified a niche and business model, you might be tempted to start hunting for products to sell. Don’t. Before you think about product ideas, think about personas. You can’t expect people to buy your product if you don’t know who you’re selling to.

Who are you? What does the store represent? Who are your ideal customers? You need to project a consistent brand image (a journey that starts with your brand name). An organic seed company that started selling conventional fertilizer wouldn’t last very long.

Fortunately, Facebook makes it relatively easy for us to find your target audience online. Specifically, know exactly how many people you can target. You can drill down to get very focused numbers and detailed demographics. I call it a “targetable target audience” – its a bit of a funny term, but you’d be surprised to know that most entrepreneurs have no idea how many people are in their target audience online. If you want a brand targeting hardcore triathletes that also enjoy mountain biking, you may have to go a little broader. You can’t build a business if your target audience is only 100K people. 

Once you’ve identified the image you want to project and the customer you are catering to, it’s time to come up with product ideas. I suggest starting with one  you’ll invest less at the start. 

Before you invest in the product, evaluate it carefully. Even if you choose a dropshipping model, you want to test it carefully and get a feel for the product yourself so you can identify any potential problems and prepare customer service scripts to answer common questions.

Step 4: Register Your Ecommerce Business & Brand Name

If you want to start a successful business, you need a brand that connects with your persona. Identifying your persona makes building an ecommerce brand easier.  You might avoid girlie colors and images if you are selling products to corporate business women interested in living a sustainable life.
But before you set up your store and get into the nitty gritty of building a brand – there are some basic steps you’ll need to take.

Register Your Business.

Choose a business name and register your company. There are legal protections and tax benefits for incorporating, so don’t skip it.

Pick Your Store’s Name

The name of your site and the legal name of your business don’t need to be identical, but keeping them consistent has its benefits. Make sure whatever you choose fits your niche you don’t want to pick a brand name at the last minute.

Find the Right Vendors

You’ll have a lot of competition selling products online, so it’s in your best interest to find the best quality and best prices for the products you sell or materials you use to create your products. Shop around until you find a vendor you want to do business with long-term – this includes your ecommerce software (your “shopping cart”). Think scalable from the start.

Logo Creation

Don’t fret over it too much, but do make sure that it is not in use by another company in your niche.

Get Visual

Consider the colors of your brand, the imagery you’ll use, and the typeface or fonts you’ll employ carefully. If you’ve got the budget, you might want to hire a marketing firm to create a design brief for your company. If not, you can create your own. Just keep it consistent and read marketing tips designed to help boost your brand.

Step 5: Finalize Your Ecommerce Business Plan

By now you should have a great idea of what your business will look like. You have your target market, your product niche and your brand name.

Now is a good time to step back and put your business plan on paper and determine your startup budget, loan needs and monthly expenses. 

Financial Management

The most important aspect of a business is the financial one. Figure out your break-even point, both in unit sales and duration (in months). Any real business is an investment of resources. In fact that was one of the first things I learned. A CEO’s role is to take resources and turn it into a return.

Yet, I am sad to see that many entrepreneurs don’t take the time to project their revenue and expenses. If you can’t figure out your profit margin, you will fail.

The business planning phase is also when you want to iron out details like your staff, product sourcing, logistics and marketing budget.  Make sure you understand all the available financial resources available to you.

Inventory Management

Many entrepreneurs steer away from selling physical products online. You don’t need to store products in your garage to sell online. You can utilize fulfillment centers to handle the inventory for you.

Companies like B&N fulfillment center will store your inventory for you while they utilize their warehouse space to deliver products. They will help keep your business organized, especially if you are dealing with a large inventory of items. But I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners. Keep it simple when you start off. Order products from the manufacture and have it stored at your home. Make sure you iron out logistics before building your store. Even if you are dropshipping, you will need to know where your inventory is coming from. And no ecommerce business can succeed without a solid strategy, so be sure to have that outlined as well.

Step 6: Create Your Online Store

Once you’re officially an ecommerce business owner, you need to register as a seller on JOY- Marketplace to start your business venture. 

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