10 Steps for Starting an ECommerce Business

As increasing numbers of customers turn to online shopping over brick and mortar stores, there has never been a better time to start an eCommerce business. However, starting an online business isn’t as simple as merely setting up a website and listing products for sale. These 10 steps can help you get your eCommerce business off the ground.

1. Raise Some Money

Every aspect of starting a new business requires financial resources. Even if you plan to run your business out of your home, you will need to set up a home office, purchase a domain name and web hosting, purchase software to design your site with, or pay someone to do it for you, research and develop products and services, market your business and more. All of these activities require financial investment. There are a lot of different ways you can finance your new business, from taking money out of your own savings to getting a small business loan. If your credit history is making obtaining financing difficult, consider applying for bad credit business loans.

2. Figure Out What To Sell

Once you have some money to work with, the next step is deciding what you are going to sell and how you plan to sell it. Options include selling to other businesses and selling directly to consumers. You don’t have to come up with a product that nobody else is selling, but you do need to come up with a reason customers should buy that product from you, instead of someone else. You will also need to figure out how you are going to obtain your products. Will you make them yourself? Do you plan to purchase them wholesale and then resell them? Are you going to work with a drop shipper?

3. Scope Out the Competition

Now that you have figured out what you want to sell, you need to learn as much as you can about the other companies who are already selling it. Start by conducting a competitive analysis. A competitive analysis is a process of figuring out what your competition’s strengths and weaknesses are and how they compare to your business. This will help you figure out what you can do to gain an edge on the competition.

4. Create a Business Plan

Your business plan should outline all of the details of your business. It should cover the products or services you plan to offer, how your business will make money, and your operations model. Also include your financing plans, goals and a timeframe for achieving them. Your business plan will help you organize your ideas and solidify your startup plans. It will also be a useful tool for obtaining financing, recruiting staff and attracting partners or investors.

5. Choose a Name

The business name you choose is the identity your business will be known by. It will play a key role in marketing your brand. The name should be catchy, memorable, unique, simple and creative. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, there are online tools that can help you get started. When choosing your name, make sure someone else hasn’t already registered it. Check to see if the domain name is available.

6. Create a Logo

Once you have a name, you need to come up with a logo. Adding a visual component to your brand name is important for making it memorable and attracting customers. If you don’t have the skills to create your own logo from scratch, consider hiring a professional artist. Or, if you need to keep costs down, you can try using an online tool to create a simple logo.

7. Learn How To Optimize Your Site

Your eCommerce business will not succeed if customers can not find your site. Your marketing strategies will play a role in directing customers to your domain, but you also need for people to be able to find your site on Google. For your site to get noticed on Google, it needs to turn up on the first page of results. Educating yourself about search engine optimization and applying what you have learned to your site and your marketing strategies will help you improve your Google rankings.

8. Build Your Store

Keeping your knowledge of SEO in mind, start building your store. Your design should be focused on getting your page to rank well in Google searches, converting visits to sales, including engaging and useful product descriptions and being visually appealing to customers. You also need to make sure your customers can easily navigate your site and that it is professional looking and secure. If customers can’t find their way around or they feel like they can’t trust your site, they are going to leave without buying.

9. Select Your Sales Channels

One way to jumpstart an eCommerce business is to sell your products through established channels where customers are already shopping. Your options include Etsy, Shopify, eBay, Amazon and more. All of these platforms come with pluses and minuses. Start the process by determining if the customers you want to target are likely to be shopping on these sites and comparing the costs and benefits associated with selling on each one.

10. Get Ready To Launch

Before you officially launch your store, make sure you are fully prepared. Be ready and able to fill and ship your orders. Have a secure payment processing system in place. Make sure you are providing adequate customer service resources and have a plan in place for handling refunds and returns. Test your site to make sure it can handle the amount of traffic you expect to receive and that all of your images are optimized. Decide how you are going to measure performance and install analytics tools. Have your marketing plan ready to go.

Starting a new ecommerce business is a challenging project. However, breaking the project into these ten steps will make it easier to accomplish. Be prepared for things to not go exactly as expected and make adjustments as needed.