Do you think starting an eCommerce business is difficult? Think again. Of course, there’s research, market positioning, and the actual implementation that can be time-consuming, which plays out differently for different niches. However, there aren’t any gatekeepers keeping you away from starting your eCommerce business.
Over 2.14 billion people worldwide are projected to buy goods and/or services online in 2021, a whopping increase from 1.66 billion people in 2016.
Now even though there are so many eCommerce businesses out there, there are people who are lured into the world of eCommerce and are really curious to understand how to start an eCommerce business.
Here’s How to Start an eCommerce Business
I’m going to divide the entire process into 3 simple steps so that you understand how easy it is to start an eCommerce business through determination and discipline.
Find Your Niche
There are people who know what they’ve always wanted to pursue, and others who haven’t thought about their interests or ideas that they could capitalize on. If you resonate with the second one, you are definitely not alone. Here are 5 steps to find your niche:-
Identify your interests
It doesn’t matter whether it’s something from your childhood that really feels like your calling or something you just stumbled upon, write it down.
In fact, write 10 interests and things you’re passionate about. In pursuing those interests, you would never feel like you’re working.
Identify problems you can solve
After you’ve identified your interests, you can think about problems you can solve by offering your service.
Even if you haven’t found any interests that you can pursue, you can always find gaps that you would be interested to fill with your business for a particular market.
The market you’ll be stepping into, will have others that you’ll be up against. You can conduct a market research analysis using tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, Spyfu, etc.
These are tools using which you can find and analyze the reach of your competitors, and can even find those gaps that you can fill.
Find the profitability of your niche
The profitability of your niche will depend on the forces of demand and supply. If you’re one of a kind, which you probably won’t, you can keep a high-profit margin and can target a larger market at once.
On the flip side, the more oversaturated your niche is, the more you’ll be forced to target a small market and will have to offer competitive prices. But hey, that’s a start.
Test your idea
Did you want to learn how to start an eCommerce business? This is it. Time to put your product in front of your target audience.
You can use Google and Facebook ads to target your specific market, do split testing, see what works, and keep executing until you find the right market. Make sure there’s a way to get feedback so that you can improve your product simultaneously.
Make your business official
Now, this is something that was personally holding me back when I wanted to start my eCommerce business, and it may seem like a hassle, but is a prerequisite nonetheless before you think you can start any business.
Based on which country or region you’re living in, you may have to do a bit of research on how you can start your specific type of business there. For example, in the US, you have to follow the following steps to start your business:
Ascertain the Legal Status of your business
If you’re a sole proprietor, you need not worry about registering your business with the state, but if you’re someone moving from a sole proprietorship to a partnership, a corporation, a Limited Liability Company, or starting out a Non-Profit Organization, you’ll have to get your business registered with your state government.
Register your business name
You will need to have a business name, that can be either your own full name or have to file for a “fictitious name”. The name registration process happens through a government agency.
Acquire your Federal Tax ID
Whether you’re a sole proprietor or have a partnership or a corporation, you need to acquire an Employer Identification Number. This number is also called an Employer Tax ID or Form SS-4.
Other registration requirements
Apart from the above requirements, you have to register with your state revenue agency, obtain a sales tax permit, general business license, etc.
Depending on your business, you may also be required to get yourself registered at the federal, all of which you may read about here.
Register your domain
After all the legal registrations, you need to acquire a domain name that should ideally be a match to your business name.
Pick an eCommerce Platform
If you research, you’re going to find tons of eCommerce platforms online, that help you set up your online store without having to build your website from scratch. Most popularly, you’re going to find Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and Wix to be the platforms for setting up your eCommerce business.
Let’s compare 2 of the most different eCommerce platforms – WooCommerce and Shopify. Now choosing an eCommerce platform mainly comes down to the following factors:-
Obviously, you’d want to choose a cost-efficient option, which means you don’t just go with the cheapest option, but compare what features are uncompromisable for you, listing them down and comparing the price afterward.
For example, with WooCommerce, you can get hosting from Bluehost, where you’ll get a free domain name and SSL certificate, and discounted web hosting starting at $ 6.95/month. With Shopify, you’ll get a basic plan at $ 29.
Ease of Use
If you aren’t tech-savvy, you might want to choose a platform that’s easy to use compared to where you’ll have to manually change a lot of aspects of your website.
For example, since WooCommerce is not a hosted platform, you’ll have to install it, manage its updates, and keep backups, to make sure that it’s secure. With Shopify, you get everything from the get-go. Just set up your account and create your store.
There are tons of features available with both Shopify and WooCommerce, some that you might like more than that of the others and vice versa. You have to choose which ones best suit your needs.
For example, with Shopify, you get easy scalability by just upgrading the plan which you don’t get in WooCommerce. On the flip side, WooCommerce is highly customizable, has more than 55,000 free WordPress plugins that you can use, and you have more degree of control.
This was all that you broadly need to understand how to start an eCommerce business. After setting up your eCommerce website, you should create your eCommerce selling policies, set up your merchant account, even integrate payment service providers like Paypal and Razorpay (ideally).
I understand that you’re probably new to this, which is why you can always hire an eCommerce developer who can set up your eCommerce website. You can pick one theme among several template options, add inventory, and price your products.
You may even want to hire a Digital Marketing team in the long run who will take care of your organic reach. To take care of your Advertisements, SEO, and Social Media presence, you can get a team of Designers, Writers, and SEO and Adwords experts.