According to eMarketer, global online retail sales are estimated to grow roughly at $27.72 trillion in 2020. This shows that more consumers turn to ecommerce stores to purchase products than from a physical store.
As online sales continue to rise at an exponential rate, now would be the best time to get started with launching your own ecommerce store.
Starting an ecommerce business might sound like an uphill battle to some, but it’s not actually as hard as they make it to be. In this article, we’ll show you the steps when launching an ecommerce site that you’ve always been dreaming of.
Just like in any profitable venture, you need a great dose of hard work, commitment and willingness to learn to be successful in this type of business.
1. Choose a Niche.
When promoting and selling products, it’s important to choose something that you’re knowledgeable and passionate about. It would be difficult to penetrate an industry where you have no knowledge of so stick somewhere where your expertise will shine.
So, make a list of all your hobbies, side projects, and things you like to buy. As an example, if you’re into mobile gadgets, then you might want to center your ecommerce store around this niche. You can sell smartphones, laptops, tablets, portable WIFI, power banks, phone accessories and more.
Another great idea for a niche is creating solutions to problems experienced by your friends or other customers. If you often hear people complaining about something, then perhaps it could be your lightbulb moment to provide a product or service that answers their problem.
Do a research and ask the right people these questions:
- What are your biggest challenges when performing activities at home, school, work, when commuting or anywhere?
- What product or service are you willing to buy in order to ease your situation?
- What are the things that your current brand is not offering?
- Are there any challenges when buying your products online?
Their answers will shed some light on what most people’s major pain points are and what they’re willing to buy in order to solve those problems.
To find out where people are sharing their complaints, these popular sites are a goldmine of ideas:
- Social Media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Google+
- Forum site: Reddit
- Online communities: Quora, LinkedIn groups, Google+ communities
- Current events: both print and online media
Your objective is to drill down the common problems people face in your chosen niche so that you know which products to target on your ecommerce site.
2. Find out if your niche is profitable
If you have identified a potential product to sell, check out whether there is a strong demand for it in the long term. You don’t want to sell products that there isn’t a huge market for. To check for any viable market opportunity, here are some tools you can use:
- Keyword Planner – Using this tool, filter your search with your product keywords. When there’s a high volume of searches, it means that there’s a huge market for that product. You’re on the right track if you have thousands of average month searches for your specific search term.
- Google Trends – enter your search term and it will show you the average search volume. This is a good way to find out if there’s a strong interest in your niche over time.
- Google Shopping – it’s similar to the basic Google search engine except it focuses on online products. It also shows who your suppliers and competitors are. It’s easier to scope out your competition with this tool.
3. Understand who your target customers are.
It’s impossible to sell to everyone. You might be offering the best product or service but not everyone will be interested enough to buy them. Instead, target the right people who will have a real need for your product or service.
To do this, you need to create buyer personas for your target customers. Buyer persona is a made-up representation of your ideal customer based on market research and other customer data. It helps you to simplify a general niche and target only specific customers who will want to buy your product.
Here are possible questions when creating your buyer personas:
- What’s your target demographic? (Define their gender, age, location, etc.)
- What are their greatest motivations and goals in life?
- What are the biggest challenges they face in your specific niche?
- What are their behavior patterns in the environment they are in?
Hubspot shares what great buyer personas look like: What Does a Great Buyer Persona Look Like? Dissecting 3 Real-Life Examples.
4. Create a structure for your business.
When creating a structure for ecommerce business, these are different routes you can take:
With sole proprietorship, a single person owns, controls and manages the business. It’s ideal for entrepreneurs with limited capital since it’s very simple and inexpensive to set up.
The drawback is, you and your business are considered legally as one, so your company’s liabilities are your personal obligations which open up to greater risks.
Halfway between sole proprietorship and corporation is a partnership. It’s a type of business structure where two or more people can combine their capital, skills, time and other resources to share in profits or losses of their business venture.
A corporation is a legal entity that is separate from its owners. It enjoys rights and obligations that individuals possess such as enter contracts, borrow funds, hire employees, pay taxes and buy and sell assets.
Make sure to fill out the paperwork for the right business structure with your respective government or you can hire an accountant to assist you on this.
5. Process other business requirements.
Check with your city for all sorts of business permits or licenses you need before you can operate your business and make it official.
6. Build your ecommerce website
Now for the fun part. For you to start an online business, you will need to build your own ecommerce website. Here’s what you need:
A domain name is a unique name for your website. Generally, it will be your business name. But if it’s not available, this article will give you some tips on how to create a domain name that best represents your brand. Check out from our Webvisions domain tool if your domain name is available.
Keep in mind, that a domain name is the first thing that visitors will notice from your site so make sure that your domain name is well-thought out in order to stand above the competition.
Web hosting service allows you to store all website files on your web host’s servers and publish your website on the Internet.
For ecommerce websites, we recommend you choose Dedicated Hosting or Virtual Private Server Hosting because they offer more storage, bandwidth and other robust features than a shared hosting.
Ecommerce Platform (Content Management System)
You need a publishing platform designed for online retail businesses. It should have a shopping cart features that allow buyers to view, select and save all their chosen products in a virtual “shopping basket” before checkout.
Most of the ecommerce solutions are easy to set up even without any coding background. Examples of these ecommerce software are: Shopify, osCommerce, Magento, and Prestashop. If you need something beyond the basic features, you need to hire a web developer to customize it for you.
Secure Socket Layer Certificate (SSL)
People won’t likely trust you with their money if they have reasons to believe your website is hosted on an insecure network. To give them peace of mind that their payments are safe, you need to install an SSL.
SSL works by encrypting the connection whenever a customer enters their personal information such as credit card number and password. This is to ensure no hackers can snoop and steal their information, keeping their transactions safe and private. To know more about SSL certificate, you can check out more about this here.
Having a visually-appealing web design can extend a company’s branding and improve the browsing experience for the customer. You have the option to do it yourself with pre-made themes and templates or hire a professional web designer.
If you want to lower your start-up cost, you might want to buy website themes from providers like ThemeForest. Most of their themes are clean, elegantly-designed and work with most eCommerce platforms. You can also get your logo design made on the cheap from crowdsourcing sites like 99Designs.
If you’ve already signed for an all-in ecommerce solution, then it will most likely include a payment gateway. If not, then you need to get one separately from payment solutions provider like PayPal.
A payment gateway works by connecting to the merchant’s bank to validate the payment. The bank will process the payment and transfer the funds to the merchant’s bank account.
Banks rely on third-party payment solutions providers because banks offer limited access to their servers for security reasons. Payment gateways are trusted and approved by merchant banks when communicating and processing transactions between their servers.
7. Launch a Marketing Campaign
After setting up the nuts and bolts of your new eCommerce site, it’s time to promote it to your target customers. It’s a great idea to set up have your website’s social media channels ready and create an SEO and PPC (pay-per-click) campaign to boost your website traffic.
What Happens Next?
These steps are only good when you put it into practice and take action. As you can see, creating an Ecommerce website is not only sidelined for the experts. Anyone with a dream, grit, and passion can start one.
To summarize this article, here are the steps to remember:
- Find a profitable niche that you love
- Know your target customers
- Create a business structure
- Process Business requirements
- Build your website
- Launch a marketing campaign
Are you currently starting your own ecommerce website? We hope this guide will help get started today.
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