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How To Start An E-Commerce Business From Scratch: A Complete Guide

by Anne Carton Tweet - in Starting A Business

E-Commerce Business

Last updated on January 31st, 2024

E-commerce is the norm of the day, with people buying a wide range of products online from the comfort of their homes and at competitive prices. So, with the ever-rising demand for online products or services, it’s absolutely no surprise that you’re planning to start an e-commerce business. Go ahead! Don’t be intimidated by your small budget, as you can start an online business from scratch and turn it into a trustworthy brand in a short period only.

You might be thinking of an online site to sell something in demand. It could be a business-to-consumer site to sell directly to your target customers. Or you can start a platform for business-to-business selling. Alternatively, you can create a website that connects consumers to business or connect them to consumers.

Whichever type of online business you start, your chances of building an e-commerce brand of your own are higher since it is an ever-growing sector. The online business is snowballing everywhere. Some reports have projected the online global market for products or services to hit $5.1 trillion by 2026.

Why Should You Start An E-Commerce Business?

Before we go any further, we should first consider why you should start an e-commerce business.

Here Are Some Of The Primary Reasons:

  • Cost-effective to run. You won’t have to worry about expensive overheads such as rent, utilities, etc. Usually, web hosting and buying your website’s domain name are the only significant expenses. This is particularly important when you want to form an LLC, considering your financial limitations.
  • Simple to set up. Creating a business can often be complicated, but launching an online sales platform is often substantially easier. It is an entrepreneurial option without the hassle.
  • Opportunity in every sector! Thanks to modern delivery systems, online businesses can now run in almost every industry. This helps ensure plenty of options for new companies to get started online quickly.

These are just a few of the main reasons many people wish to run an online site for business. However, to get the most from your new business, launch it after paying attention to its different aspects. You’ll need to ensure it’s started right.

How To Start An E-Commerce Business

Here Are The Key Steps To Take When Starting Your Online Platform To Sell Products or Services

01. Come Up With Your Niche Idea

First, find out which products or services you should be focusing more to sell from your online store. Next, you need to do extensive market research to know consumer trends. Find which products are in demand today, and start storing and selling them.

But if you still have no idea of the trending products, the platform that hosts your online store can throw up some valuable ideas. For instance, Shopify gives over 20 trending business ideas, including women’s fashion, art supplies, camping equipment, and makeup & cosmetics. Know that once you come up with a profitable niche, you can then find out which is the best eCommerce platform for small business.

Finding Your USP

Having a USP (Unique Selling Point) for your business is vital to your business success. However, many people start an e-commerce business with just two simple USPs – and these may not necessarily be a good choice for your firm.

The first – and perhaps the most obvious – USP that people consider is price. It’s easy to undercut other sellers online, and this may seem like a great way to attract new customers. And don’t get us wrong; if you can get your prices right, it’ll help!

However, as far as a USP goes, it’s somewhat weak – since it only takes another entrepreneur to have the same idea and make an even lower margin than you, and you’ve lost your USP. For instance, some of your customers will have the advantage of a lower shipping cost. So, at that point, why would customers choose your brand?

Quality is another point that many people focus on as their USP. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad USP, and it’s generally stronger than price alone. However, quality is still easy for competing suppliers to overcome, especially if you are selling drop shipped products. If your only USP is quality, it may be better to focus on an overall quality experience rather than your services’ quality.

What If It’s Been Done Before?

Don’t be disheartened if your dream concept has already been done before! While a USP is vital for your business’s success, if there’s not much competition (or if you know you can provide something better, such as faster or free shipping), you can still have great success.

However, if the market is already saturated with similar competitors, we recommend being cautious to avoid accidentally starting a business that will struggle to compete. After all, no one wants to face an uphill battle!

02. Buying Your Domain Name

Once you’ve come up with your business idea and have worked out a name for the business, buy your domain name ASAP! In fact, you should buy your domain name even before creating your website or company logo design. This is because the URL you choose plays a prominent role in your website’s search engine rankings.

Furthermore, you can directly influence your customers’ trust in the brand with an effective URL. Customers are more likely to trust a website with a .com domain than a .xyz domain. However, anyone can buy a domain name, so don’t risk someone else snatching up your ideal domain (and charging a higher price for it after).

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03. Website Design and Branding

After you have purchased and secured your website’s domain name, it’s time to get into its design and branding.

Why is this so important for your e-commerce business? Well, there are several critical reasons why website design and branding are both essential features for an online business.

But The Most Influential Include The Following Points:

  • Grab The Attention: Your brand is the first thing your potential customers see about your online store. As such, your branding has a big job to fulfill. It should immediately give your customers an understanding of what your business offers and its USP. Without this, you may fail to capture their attention, leaving them to turn to other such stores instead. Also, ensure that you use a cookie scanner that allows you to track users’ consent for your cookies and its many other aspects related to safety and security of your website.
  • Excellent User Experience: Customers want a simple and hassle-free experience when using your website. However, it’s easy to overlook this in many cases, leaving your website clunky and challenging to navigate. With this in mind, it’s essential to have a great web page design to ensure that your visitors can easily navigate your site. After all, it only takes a slight hassle to leave genuine customers giving up on your site. So, the significance of an effective website design cannot be overstated.

But pay attention to the loading speed of the website as well. Visitors may leave a site that takes time to open. The loading speed may also impact the search rankings. To drive sales, you ideally need to appear on the first page of the search results. Hence, this is also a vital consideration.

Also, while building your website, make sure that you put your cookie policy in place to win your visitors’ confidence. Take the services of some cookie tracker specialists who will make your website safe and secure.

You can use a cookie consent tool for effective tracking and blocking of cookies. The tool will also ascertain cookie consent management to meet the compliance requirements.

04. Partner With Professional Graphic Designers For Your Website and Branding

Since your website design and branding are integral to the success of your e-commerce, partnering with professionals could be a great option.

Fortunately, numerous experts can provide professional graphic design services.  This can help ensure you’ve got the ideal startup e-commerce logo for your business site.

Also, note that the logo does not have to be a great design in its initial stage. You can start with a simple design. Then, after your brand grows, you can redesign it to give it a professional look.

So, when your budget is small, you can use an online logo creator to design the emblem on your own. The DIY tool automatically creates the design based on your brief.

Now that you have sorted the startup logo, it’s time to consider your website design. You could consider a few options in this regard, such as hiring a professional, making your design from scratch, or using a ready-made website design template.

Whichever option you choose, always be meticulous when analyzing your site. This simple change helps ensure your site’s final website design delivers the best user experience for your potential customers.

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05. Selecting Your Products

Your website is mainly ready to go – but you’ll need to select the products you want to sell through your B2B eCommerce portal. You will most likely have a pretty good idea of the type of products you’d like to sell by now. It needs to be clarified during the planning stage. However, this is the time to begin listing your products.

When listing your products, we recommend spending around half an hour to an hour (or so) per product to ensure the listing goes successfully. Take high-quality and clear pictures of your products to ensure that potential customers can easily see what they’re buying.

You should also take some time to add a product description carefully. This should be simple yet informative, and ideally, the descriptions should also be as per SEO best practices.

If you’re unsure where to get started, though, don’t worry! Professional SEO copywriters can help with this.

Selling high-quality products is also important. That’s why you should take the time to find reliable wholesale suppliers for your ecommerce business. You can do this by searching on Google or using a directory. Local trade shows are also a great way to find suppliers. Make sure you choose a company that has good reviews and many years of experience.

06. Implement Payment Options

Most modern consumers appreciate having multiple payment options available when shopping online. Therefore, while creating the website, we highly recommend that you spend a little time considering the different payment methods you can accept.

Luckily, accepting payment is relatively straightforward. Platforms such as PayPal are often popular tools; meanwhile, tools such as Stripe can help your business accept card payments directly, adding a certain level of professionalism to your e-commerce brand. Some of these brands are now even accepting Bitcoin or cryptocurrency payments.

However, we recommend doing plenty of research into these before accepting cryptocurrency payments. They can be incredibly volatile in value and may not necessarily be a safe or secure payment method to accept.

Here, make sure that you make your website safe and secure for your customers. So, ensure that your cooky policy is in place and no one attacks your site with cookies. You should hire the services of cookie tracker specialists who will keep your payment features and entire site safe and secure for your visitors and customers.

07. Make Transactions Safe and Secure

Your e-commerce site will collect a lot of different data from the users. They will only trust your site when their personal information is safe and secure from any possible online theft. You will incorporate various forms for the users on your e-commerce site. Such forms include registration forms, order forms, application forms, feedback forms, and others.

To make these forms secure for the users, use a no-coding form builder with multiple layers of security and compliance. This free online form builder can also easily integrate with your digital tools. You can connect the form builder with Wix, Shopify, Dropbox, Google Drive, Marketo, HubSpot, and many more.

08. Arranging Shipping

Since you’re operating an e-commerce business, you need to arrange shipping settings and terms to ensure your products get to your customers as intended. Luckily, this is pretty straightforward, usually.

Most online businesses will choose a standard courier service or postal service to ship their items. When working out your shipping fee (if applicable), check the shipping cost for different weights and sizes of products to help inform your final pricing structure.

Remember, offering free shipping can be an excellent way to tempt customers in, but if it’s going to cost you $5 to ship a product and you’re only making a $6 margin on the product itself, that leaves a minimal profit left over for your business.

09. Register Your Business

Your online business site is all ready to go! But before you can begin accepting transactions and orders from customers, you will need to register your business with the relevant authorities. The exact method for this depends on whether you plan to operate as a sole trader, partnership, private limited company, or public company. Do your research first to see which works best for you.

However, most small websites will be either sole traders or LLCs. You can register your LLC yourself with the help of affordable registered agent services such as ZenBusiness or Northwest Registered Agent, which can guide you through the process while ensuring your compliance with state regulations.

10. Market Your Store!

At this point, most of the hard work is done. So all that you’ve got left to do is market your online store and bring in your first customers.

However, as a brand new business, potential customers may likely be uncertain about whether or not to trust your brand. Starting with a promotional freebie is often an excellent way to foster trust and get early reviews.

Other marketing options such as SEO, search engine advertising, and even social media ads can be highly effective for growing the reach and appeal of your e-commerce brand.

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Final Thoughts

If you have been looking to start an e-commerce business, you must have the right strategies. We hope you found this post insightful. Creating an online business platform is often surprisingly easy. And while it’s not always necessarily possible to complete the process in just a couple of days, it doesn’t have to be a significant drain. With time, thought, and care, you can ensure that your business site is the best. After all, while every business is different, one fact remains integral — good branding is crucial for the success of every business (even offline ones).

Create Your Own Ecommerce Business Logo

Anne Carton is a small business consultant, designer and an enthusiast blogger working with Designhill, one of the fastest-growing custom design marketplace. She has authored several blogs, articles and editorials on various topics related to interactive content, concerning design, social media strategies, growth hack strategies, digital marketing and e-commerce. Facebook | Twitter

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