Over the last five years, online shopping grew exponentially. Its popularity skyrocketed across the entire world. In the first three quarters of 2020, the eCommerce business reached a staggering $612.86 billion. By the end of this year, global eCommerce sales are expected to reach $4.921 trillion.
This number is expected to continue growing over the next few years, proving that eCommerce is becoming an increasingly lucrative business option.
But while starting an eCommerce business in the New Year may sound like a smart (and very profitable) move, similar to any other business, it’s not so simple. To help you out, we’ve put together this concise guide. This should help you start your eCommerce business and build your brand.
Five Steps for Successfully Building Your Online eCommerce Business
1. Choose your niche and research the market.
In order to start a successful eCommerce business, you first need to find the niche that is right for you.
Think about what your area of expertise is. Decide whether you have any knowledge and skills that could fit in the market. In addition, think about what type of products you actually want to sell.
To get an idea of what kind of business you will be running, start by researching the eCommerce market. Look at competitor businesses to see what their business model is and how they are reaching their customers.
Finally, take time to answer questions related to logistics.
- Is your product digital or physical?
- How are you going to source it?
- Will you need help with production?
- Will you base your business around a subscription model or orders?
Bear in mind that the competition will be fierce. It’s worth doing some thinking and having as many ideas as possible in order to make your business stand out before starting.
2. Choose your products and identify your target audience.
The next step is to decide what you will offer and to whom. Start by giving answers to some basic questions that will help you form a brand image from the very beginning, such as:
- What is your online shop all about?
- What is your target audience?
- Who is your ideal customer?
This is where creating customer personas can be very useful.
Customer personas are fictionalized versions of your ideal customers that allow you to predict how they will behave and figure out how to appeal to them. You should also determine where your target audience is likely to be online and what messages they are likely to respond to.
When choosing products, think about your personal experience. Have you worked in a certain industry that gives you insight that others don’t have? Are you good at spotting trends that could inform your decision?
3. Write a business plan for your brand.
Once you have decided on all the basics, creating a business plan will help you establish objectives. You’ll then determine what you’re going to need in order to reach customers and make your business successful. Additionally, investors and lenders will require to see a business plan if they want to get a loan.
Your business plan should say what your business is, what you are selling, and how you will earn money. It should also describe your operational modes, where you are getting financing, and contain a list of employees.
It’s best to keep your plan short and to the point. If you need help, consider working with a business plan consultant.
A business plan consultant is someone who will help refine your ideas, do lots of independent analysis and research, fill any gaps in your thinking, and help formulate business models and strategies. The consultant will assist you in identifying your target market, crystalizing your competitive differentiation, and planning for business scalability, and then help you express all of this in a compelling business plan.
4. Choose your legal structure and brand name.
The legal structure you choose will affect you financially and legally down the road. Be sure to take some time and figure out which one is the best for your business.
You can choose from an LLC, sole proprietorship, corporation, and general partnership. Each of these structures has its own benefits and drawbacks so, if possible, consider consulting a legal expert.
When it comes to choosing a name for your store, it’s one of the most challenging aspects of starting a business. You will have to come up with a name that is simple, memorable, original, describes your brand, and is not already taken. Use a business name generator to search for creative ideas.
Once you find the perfect name, be sure to register it as an online domain. You will use this domain to build your online brand and store. This makes it easy for shoppers to find you online.
5. Create your eCommerce business store.
Once all technicalities are done and you are ready to launch, the next step is to build your store.
There are plenty of things you are going to have to do, from creating product pages and descriptions to choosing the fonts and color palette. However, the first thing will be to pick the eCommerce platform that best fits your needs.
Create a website that’s easy to access and reflects your brand but also doesn’t forget about SEO.
Understanding the basics of SEO will not only help you promote your eCommerce store and have it rank high in search engines, but will also help you in structuring your website more effectively, keeping your pages easy to reach, and targeting your audience much better.
Learning how to run an eCommerce business is both exciting and challenging. We hope following this guide will at least provide you with a clearer roadmap and help you start a successful business in the New Year.