How to Start an eCommerce Business
- Any aspiring entrepreneur has the capability to start an eCommerce business.
- You don’t need a large budget or operation to get into eCommerce.
- eCommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce provide the ability to build and launch an eCommerce site without development capabilities.
- eCommerce is a growing vertical that bodes well for digitally savvy and entrepreneurial minded people.
eCommerce sales in 2019 accounted for less than 20 percent of overall retail sales [source]. But its share of the retail market will only increase now due to COVID-19. In fact, traditional retailers all over the globe are relying more heavily on it.
The beauty with eCommerce is anyone can start this type of business. You don’t have to have massive funding, hold a certain degree or be a web developer. Whether you’re a college student wanting to sell baseball cards or an inventor of a new beauty product, eCommerce is the gateway to get your product into the hands of consumers.
If you have ambition, strong organization and leadership skills, eCommerce can be a great vertical to get into. By starting this kind of company, you can gain invaluable entrepreneurial experience while running your own business.
Below are five ways to get started on building your own eCommerce business.
How’d I come up with this list?
Our agency, The Media Captain, has helped sell more than $50 million in products for our eCommerce clients [learn more]. My family owns and operates one of the largest dermatologist-backed skincare sites in the U.S., DermWarehouse.
I know what it takes to succeed with an eCom store, and I also understand why many fail. To succeed, it all starts at the top of the organization with the important characteristics. Even if you are the sole operator of an eCommerce business, you’ll be dealing with many others and leadership characteristics start at the top and trickle down.
- Ability to relay goals and objectives to your associates and vendors so all parties are aligned
- Strong Communication
- eCommerce is fast paced. The ability to communicate quickly and efficiently is imperative.
- Forgetting About Mistakes
- In the eCommerce space, ad campaigns fail, social posts don’t work, and wrong inventory amounts will be placed. You need to move on quickly while not fretting about past mistakes. Live and learn.
- Determine what you want to sell
If you fail here, you’re swimming upstream.What makes your product unique? Do you have the best price point? Does it solve a problem for the consumer?Don’t rely on whether your parents or friends like your product. Do your due diligence to make sure there is consumer demand and that you have a differentiating factor that sets you apart from the competition.
- Determine your eCommerce platform
Once you’ve solidified what you want to sell, it’s time to set up a website. In order to do so, you’ll need to pick an eCommerce platform.The two most popular platforms are Shopify and WooCommerce.If you’re on a shoestring budget, Shopify and WooCommerce are great solutions where you can try and build the site yourself based on their wide variety of themes.Your eCommerce platform will allow shoppers to purchase products from your online store.
- Manufacturing and Logistics
There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes of an eCommerce operation.
- Who is manufacturing your products?
- Are you making your own products or are you ordering your products from a manufacturer? Alternatively, you could be reselling products from a brand. Understand where your products come from and the price point to produce in order to calculate your margins.
- Inventory and warehousing
- Make sure you have enough space to store all of your inventory.
- Shopify has their own shipping suite that gives merchants access to calculated rates through USPS, UPS and DHL. WooCommerce can sync with ShipStation. Determine the best shipping solution for your business based on size, weight and dimensions of product.
- Payment Gateway
- When a purchase takes place, the money needs a place to go. Popular payment gateways include PayPal/Braintree, Stripe and Square. Think of the gateway as the metaphorical cash register in an electronic transaction.
- Who is manufacturing your products?
You can write the best book in the world, but if you have no distribution — it’s all for naught.Make sure you have a budget allocated toward advertising. Our agency typically finds a top-performing channel between Google Shopping, Google PPC, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube Advertising.Once you find the right piece of creative that’s targeted to the right audience on the right channel, you can start to scale.
- Customer Service
[Editor’s note: How can you be a leader in customer service?]
The backbone of a successful eCommerce store is customer service. If you can answer questions from customers in real time, get products shipped out quickly and have a solid return policy, you’ll stand out among your competitors.Many think you need to have extensive development background or years of marketing experience to start an eCommerce business. This couldn’t be further from the truth.Ambition, a hard work ethic along with strong leadership and communication are the pillars to a successful eCom shop.
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