An industry with sales of $2.8T (yep, that’s a T for trillion) in 2018, ecommerce is definitely a thing to consider when starting your online business.
This guide is aimed for an ecommerce business model that sells physical products, as I’ve personally only sold physical products throughout my ecommerce journey.
In this over saturated market, finding a good product can be a tricky task.
Unless you’re an inventor and you have an outstanding and revolutionary product that will sell itself, you should start by researching your niche.
My main rule is this: only sell a product that you will buy! Yes, that’s right.
If you wouldn’t buy the product you’re selling, then why your customers would?
This way you will enjoy researching your product, promoting and selling it. And this will directly reflect into your sales.
You have to believe in your product and the value that it will bring to your customers.
Finding a good supplier is like finding a good employee that you can hire until retirement.
It can be hard sometimes to find a reliable supplier, but if you look for established companies that have been trading for a few years, you will find yourself a long-term partner that you can trust.
If you are manufacturing your product overseas, always ask for a sample before proceeding with the manufacturing.
Inspect your sample carefuly, make sure it meets your quality standards, as this will reflect in your profit.
Another important aspect of dealing with overseas suppliers is to keep in mind of all import taxes and VAT that you may have to pay.
If your supplier is based in China, you are most likely to pay import charges, so always add them to your product’s price.
3. Business name
Now that you know what you will sell and where you are sourcing it from, find a good name for your business.
Keep in mind that in the online world, a name like ‘Harrogate Running Shoes Shop’ might be hard to remember.
Your business name can be something like your product’s name e.g. Casper. It can also be something weird or abstract, but make sure is pronounceable and short. e.g. Currys (PC World).
Next step is to secure your business’ name as soon as possible. Register your domain name and setup social media pages with that name.
4. Brand identity
For me, as a graphic designer, branding has always been and still is very important.
Branding isn’t just the logo mark you choose to represent your brand. It is your website’s design, your packaging or it can be you.
Invest wisely in your business’ identity, and focus on providing a pleasant experience for your customers.
5. Online store
Your online store is like your market stall. The nicer, the better.
Choose your desired platform and create your website. Make sure you keep it as clean as possible, and easy to use.
Keep in mind that your customers may not be very technical, therefore the checkout process must be straight to the point.
Depending on your product variety, you can choose a platform like:
- Magento – Self-hosted
- WordPress WooCommerce – Self-hosted
- Bigcommerce – Paid monthly
- Shopify – Paid monthly
- Prestashop – Paid monthly or self-hosted
We’ve reached the last and most important step of an ecommerce business.
- Social media content
- Email marketing
- Paid advertising and PPC (pay per click)
Even if you’re not up and running, you should start marketing your product early. Start by creating related content on your blog. This will help you gain organic traffic one search engines index your website.
6.2 Social media content
Setup your social media profiles and start creating awareness. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest can bring plenty of organic traffic to your website.
6.3 Email marketing
Email still works! Use tools like Hubspot to gather contacts to your newletter list and promote your products to bring potential customers.
6.4 Paid advertising and PPC (pay per click)
If your budget allows you to pay for advertising, you should definitely do it. You can buy advertising on social media platforms and search engines like Google.
These are the 6 steps you have to follow in order to start your online business.
Spend as much time as you need to understand your customers, and be prepared to fail. If it doesn’t work the first time, keep trying. With every failure you will learn something new, and eventually you will succeed.