How to Start an eCommerce Business: Step by Step Guide

The same as with every business, starting an eCommerce business isn’t an easy process that requires some learning. Yet, more and more merchants opt for the eCommerce market because it offers great flexibility, affordability, and more opportunities. Besides, more and more people shop online. In 2021, 2.14 billion people shopped online, and the number continues to grow.

In this article, we’ve listed down all the most important steps of building an eCommerce store. From researching your idea to launching the online store, let’s find out how to start an eCommerce business.

6 key steps to launch your eCommerce store

The eCommerce market is booming. In 2021, revenue from retail eCommerce was estimated roughly at 768 billion dollars in the US. And that number is expected to reach 1.3 trillion dollars by 2025. There won’t be a better time to start an eCommerce business than now.

Let’s review the key steps you will endure if you start an eCommerce business from scratch. And we will get into more details below.

  1. Research your idea
  2. Validate your idea
  3. Source the products
  4. Choose an online selling platform
  5. Set up your Magento store
  6. Launch and run your online business.

Research your idea

The first step you need to take is to do proper research on your business plan. The more you learn about the market and audience, the better are your business choices. Different sellers approach the decision-making process differently. Here are a few thoughts on what to do first when starting your eCommerce business.

Find a pain point or a challenge worth solving

Many great business ideas never made it after the starting point because business owners didn’t address the right audience and their problems. Your business shouldn’t exist in a vacuum; you need to clearly understand what problems or challenges your products and services will solve.

  • What problems or challenges do you want to solve with your products and services?
  • Who experiences inconveniences and pain from those problems?
  • Who will benefit from your business the most?

Answer these questions before moving on to the next steps of your research.

Be observant to find great product ideas

You don’t need to reinvent a bicycle when thinking about a business idea. Instead, think about problems and challenges that you face in daily life or with your friends and relatives. Often, great product ideas lie on the surface.

For instance, do you lead a healthy lifestyle, exercise, and work out a lot? With the right strategy, you can start selling products to other fitness enthusiasts out there. The key is to find out the angel that wasn’t covered by the competitors yet. Let’s look at Peloton, one of the first companies to start selling fitness equipment to people who wanted to have gym experience at home.

Or did you spend hours and hours renovating your house, carefully choosing each piece of furniture, whether in the vintage store or second-hand market? If you know all the ins and outs of the furniture industry, then it’s time to monetize that knowledge. And our team can help you build the perfect store tailored to the needs of your furniture business.

Questions to ask yourself when looking for product ideas

If you don’t know where to start with the research of your business idea, start with your surroundings. You don’t have to conduct interviews with thousands of people or study dozens of articles and the latest statistics; instead, find out what bothers people around you. What are their goals and challenges, and what products or services can benefit them? Being observant will help you come up with ideas you can later develop or reject after researching them online.

  • What pain points or challenges do you want to solve?
  • What problems do you have with the products and services that you currently use?
  • What are today’s trends that you can use?
  • What feedback do you hear from friends and family about the products and services they use?
  • What activities or hobbies do they have?
  • What products or services would help to enhance their experience?

Use keyword research tools to spot trends and opportunities

When it comes to the eCommerce world, your passion won’t count if the audience isn’t interested in your product. You need to learn what the customers are looking for these days and what are the latest trends out there. Such online tools, like Google Trends, will help you when looking up trending products. Try to think about the product from the customer side, what questions they may have and what words they Google. After that, look up the current solution and whether you know how to improve them.

Validate your idea

Once you are through and through with your research, it’s time to work on validating your idea. The more time and effort you put into the validation process, the higher are chances of succeeding. By validating your idea, we mean finding out how similar products and services perform and what the target audience is looking for.

Write down goals and assumptions

The first thing that you need to do is to write down your goals. While writing, you’ll highlight any assumptions you have about the business, which will help articulate the end goal.

  • What’s the value of my business?
  • Who’s the target audience, and what do I think about them?
  • What makes my product unique or better than competitors?
  • What hypothesis do I have about my product, pricing, and business model?

Answer those questions to understand what makes your business unique and different from others.

Assess market size and share

Before moving on with the development of your business, estimate the size of your market and the share you can potentially capture. This way, you can estimate the potential of your idea and launch of the business.

In your research, focus on the differentiating factors of your product. When looking at competitors, pay attention to the sales data, the number and share of today’s manufacturers, and how much of the total market your segment holds. After that, determine where your business will fit into the market.

Conduct customer validation interviews

This is the perfect opportunity for you to learn what the actual target audience thinks about your product. Start locally, and ask your friends, family, and acquaintances to sit down with you for a cup of coffee. Use this time to talk about the challenge or problem you are trying to solve with your product and how they are dealing with it. Ask whether they would be willing to pay to solve this problem and how much. Answers to these questions will help to narrow down your target audience.

Source your products

Now that you’ve decided what goods you’ll sell and who are your potential customers, it’s time to decide how you will source your products.

High-quality products are pivotal for leading a successful business. And the key is not only to choose the right product but also the right source of the product. You can go about sourcing your products in three ways, so let’s discuss each.

Resell products

Reselling is a popular choice among those on a tight budget who want to start selling quickly. It doesn’t require lots of effort and allows gaining profit in the short term. You can find the product suppliers through online directories and listings.

After that, you’ll contact the vendors and order the products for your business or storage. And you’ll further ship to the customers. Finding reliable suppliers can lead to more affordable prices in the long run and a steady supply chain.

Create or build products

Building your products gives you complete control over the quality and design. If you make jewelry and want to expand your client base or create handmade kitchen utensils, setting up an online store is a perfect way to boost your business.

The only problem with this method is that it could be hard to scale up your business. Some merchants opt for creating small batches of products to keep the business manageable. At the same time, you can set higher prices for products because handmade goods are of higher quality.

Work with manufacturers

Working with manufacturers is the most profitable and the most complicated way to go at the same time. It will take a lot of time and research to find the right manufacturer with the skills, experience, and materials to make your products. After that, you’ll spend lots of time working out the prototype, testing samples, etc. However, once you’ve figured out all the logistics, you’ll have a reliable partner who can provide you with a steady supply of products.

Choose an online selling platform

These days, you have lots of options when it comes to selling online. You can build your own website from scratch, use a website builder, or sell on the marketplace; the choice is yours. Let’s review some of the most popular choices by eCommerce merchants.

Setting up your own domain and ecommerce website from scratch

Setting up your own domain and eCommerce website from scratch is the option that offers the most freedom. You are in full control of the design and development processes and aren’t limited in choices when it comes to customizing your store. At the same time, unless you have exceptional coding skills, you’ll need to hire a developer to do this job. And for starting businesses, it’s usually quite pricey.

Selling on an existing ecommerce marketplace

When choosing to sell on the existing eCommerce marketplace, the main benefit is that they already have a lot of regular customers, so it’ll be easier to reach customer audiences. Before opting for one or another marketplace, study their platforms. See what kind of goods and services are sold there, what your competitors are, and what kind of reviews are left there. In this way, you’ll be able to determine which platform has a more suitable audience.

On the other hand, those marketplace offers limited scalability and customization when it comes to setting up your store. You won’t be able to create a unique store tailored to your needs and requirements.

Using eCommerce platforms to build an online store

Finally, you can use one of the eCommerce platforms to build your online presence. eCommerce platforms have pre-made templates and themes, are often open-source, SEO-friendly, and have a large community of users. Using an eCommerce platform, you have a lot of work already done for you and, at the same time, enough room for customization to make your store unique.

Setting up your Magento store

You can choose any mentioned ways to set up your online presence. We will describe developing and setting up your store on Magento technology. Why? Because Magento is SEO-friendly, highly customizable, feature-rich, and a powerful platform. No wonder more than 100,000 eCommerce stores were built on Magento. Now let’s talk about the main aspects of setting up the store on Magento:

  • Choosing your Magento theme. If you choose the right theme, it’ll make the further development of the store much easier. You need a theme that reflects not only the main characteristics of your business but also the one with features and functionality that you need.
  • Including a search bar. Allow your customers to go straight to the product page they are looking for. Some merchants don’t include this feature because it means customers won’t browse through the pages, but including a search bar makes the customer journey easier and more convenient.
  • Incorporating CTAs. Imagine walking into a huge mall looking for a specific store, but there aren’t any signs or consultants to ask for directions. That’s how customers feel when an online store doesn’t have clear navigation and CTAs.

Find the right development partner

Design and development of your online store get much easier if you delegate this task to the right team of developers. Working with a freelancer may take longer to complete the project. Besides, you’ll need to take care of many other tasks yourself, such as performing SEO optimization or organizing your product catalogs. With the right development agency, you’ll get all those services in one go. Additionally, you’ll work with a team of professionals, including frontend and backend developers, project managers, graphic designers, etc.

Launch and run your online business

Now, your store is all ready to go live. You may think that marks the end of your online store’s development and setting up. However, on the contrary, it’s only the beginning. Yes, you’ve read that right. Now, when your store is up and running, you need to see how it works. Start gathering data and analytics to see how the customers interact with your content and the problem spots. Besides, you need to constantly update the content of the store so the search engines wouldn’t treat your page as a dead one.

Perform SEO optimization

Think about your online store as a breathing, living creature on the Internet. If you don’t update your content regularly, search engines start ranking your page lower and lower, and we all know that customers rarely look beyond the first few search page results. In fact, 90% of customers say they are most likely to click on the first set of results.

As such, SEO optimization became a must for all eCommerce businesses. This is a set of actions that help your website to be noticed by search engines and rank higher. SEO includes keyword strategy, content strategy, on-page, and off-page optimization, etc. If performed successfully, it leads to increased organic traffic and conversion rates. You can learn more about SEO optimization here.

Conduct social media marketing

77% of marketers said that social media marketing was effective for their companies in 2021. These days, more than ever, people use social media not only to share their special moments but also to communicate with others, learn about brands and companies, and interact with them. If your target audience is active users of Instagram or Twitter, use it to your advantage, and conduct marketing campaigns on those platforms, linking them back to your website.

Final thoughts

And that’s it. Now you are all set up to start your own eCommerce business. Leading an eCommerce business has many advantages in comparison with brick and mortar. It requires less money to start with, and you can sell to your customers 24/7, shipping products worldwide.

However, you need to ensure that you invest enough time and money into the building of your store. The business’s success depends on how well the store is built, how much organic traffic you get, and how easy it is for customers to access your products.

Finding a reliable eCommerce development partner is a bulletproof way to ensure everything is made right from the start. If you have more questions about eCommerce business development, don’t hesitate to write to us; our team will get back to you shortly.

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