How To Start E-commerce Business In 2021 – For Beginners

Easy steps to get started your e-commerce store in 2021!

 

It’s no doubt, the idea of starting an e-commerce business appears more and more attractive. E-commerce continues to expand every year. And with more and more buyers joining the world of online shopping, it has undoubtedly a bright future. Starting your own business is not easy, whether it is an online store or a brick-and-mortar venture. However, the following steps, in my opinion, are essential when it comes to starting an e-commerce business.

Table Of Contents

Choose a niche

The e-commerce market is highly competitive, and it gets harder and harder to break into. That’s why having the right approach is a crucial thing. What are your business goals? Do you want to focus solely on the new and trendy products? Or maybe you aim your business to last a lifetime? Are you going to sell to other businesses or to consumers directly? These are the questions to answer at first.

Your business idea can be based on your passions and interests or special knowledge that you’ve gained. Being an expert in the chosen niche can give a great advantage. Firstly, it will be easier to understand your audience. Secondly, with all your skills and knowledge, it won’t take much time to establish credibility for your e-commerce business. In case if you don’t have a concrete business idea, start with conducting market research. 

Stand out from your competition

Differentiating yourself from the competition is the next step after you’ve chosen your niche. Of course, if your business is something totally new and innovative, the competition won’t be so big. But in most cases, it will be something that others have already been doing. And starting your e-commerce business by simply copying will never make it successful. 

Doing research on your competitors will help you find out what they are doing and aren’t doing to analyze it and come up with a better strategy. You can focus on providing high-quality customer service or a more comprehensive range of affordable products. It can even be the uniques approach to the entire niche itself. 

Next, you need to prepare your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). This statement should communicate to customers the uniqueness of your business and what is the philosophy behind it. You should also make this statement in a way to attract your target audience.

In order to ensure that you’re going to be consistent and reliable to your customers, your business, and everything that it does should reflect all that is stated in your UVP.

Build a brand

The name, logo, product photography, branding your business is an important step. Even if your product is different from other businesses ’ inventories, don’t miss out on an effective branding strategy. This is something you should focus on if you want your customers to recognize your future business.

Business name and logo are essential things when it comes to branding. How to come up with a great business name? You can use mainstream or trendy words or “obvious approach” outlining what your business does, for example. If you feel totally stuck at this stage, try to use business name generators, there are plenty of them on the Internet. 

To design your business logo and overall aesthetic, the best way to start is by establishing your brand message. Remember to consider your target audience and your business goals while doing that. Then you need to determine your visual identity. Make all images and graphics in a way that will create an emotional impression on your potential customers. Once you’re done with the concept of all the visual parts, collect and use feedback before finalizing this process. 

Register your business 

One of the most critical steps when you think about how to start your e-commerce business is the formal and legal establishment of your business. Writing a business plan that includes all details of your future business such as competition, products, marketing strategy, financial plans is necessary before registration of your business. Besides giving you a clear plan of action, the business plan can be a good “reality check” for your business idea. 

Once you finished the business plan, you need to incorporate your business. Are you the one who is in charge of the company? Maybe you’re starting it with your best friend or a close family member? Decide between different entities, including sole proprietorship, LLC, a general partnership. Although I listed not all of them, these are reasonably popular with business owners nowadays. Registration of your business name with the proper local and federal governments is the last but not least thing to do. Depending on your industry and location, obtain all the necessary licenses and permits. And remember to do everything to ensure that your business is earning profits, reporting income, and paying taxes legally.

Sourcing Your Products

Soon that you have all of the fancy print finished and your business concept settled, you’ll need to work on sourcing your products. This can depend on numerous circumstances, such as the product niche you’ve chosen, your capital for a start, and sure, the time you got available. Let’s go through three common ways to get the products for e-commerce:

Hand-crafted Products

Are you a creator that creates unique things? Then your primary product source will be coming right from your skillful hands and brains. With this method, you’ll need to ascertain how you will obtain the raw materials necessary to create your products and how much they will cost. Think about purchasing raw materials in bulk, planning the hours of labor needed, defining the amount of product you’ll need before you can open the shop.

Wholesale Goods

This method is the most popular form of product search and can be found in most regular stores. Your products will come from bulk inventory purchased from wholesale suppliers, which you will then sell individually at a higher price to make a profit. Using this method, you will need to think about how many stocks you need to get started and how much seed capital you will need to invest initially to start selling.

Dropshipping

Do you want to start your own business with low risk and low capital? With dropshipping, you don’t have to worry about purchasing your own inventory and shipping your own products. You simply select a supplier, import your chosen products from their stocks into your online store, and sell the products directly to consumers. From there, orders go directly to your supplier, who fulfills and dispatches them to you. While this method does not generate the maximum profit, it is the easiest way to start an e-commerce business.

The choice of sales channel

Once you have established product sources, your next step is to choose how you want to sell online. This decision usually boils down to selling on online marketplaces (Amazon, Etsy, eBay) or your own online store. Each method has its pros and cons. Let’s take a look at them:

The Marketplace VS Your Own Online Shop

Marketplace

  • Pros: Huge established audience of high search intent clients.
  • Pros: Fast and easy startup with no upfront costs.
  • Cons: No control over your storefront.
  • Cons: Commissions and market restrictions can lead to a loss of profits.

Your Own Online Shop

  • Plus: complete freedom and control over all your branded purchases.
  • Plus: No growth restrictions or fees to limit your bottom line.
  • Cons: Longer setup times and some up-front costs.
  • Cons: More marketing is needed to get the word out about your business.

Creating Your Website

Even if you decide to get started in the online marketplace, it is still essential to have your website for marketing and growth expectations. How you build your e-commerce website will ultimately depend on the e-commerce platform you choose to use, which can vary significantly in quality and features included. The two main types of e-commerce platforms are self-hosted software and SaaS, which means everything’s in the “cloud.” Let’s dive into what they mean.

Self-Hosted Website

Self-hosted e-commerce software is often free and/or open-source because it needs to be downloaded, installed, updated, and hosted manually by store owners. Usually, the main benefits of self-hosted e-commerce software come down to their customizability and affordable cost. But, where you save money with an open-source platform, you’ll end up spending development time, web hosting, technical troubleshooting, updates, and security risks. Some of the most popular open-source e-commerce platforms are:

magento
Magento

prestashop
PrestaShop

opencart
OpenCart

woocommerce
WooCommerce

Cloud SaaS Website

Rather than handle every aspect of your online store separately and alone, a Software as a Service (SaaS) e-commerce platform includes everything a business owner needs in one package. No downloads or installations are required, and hosting is done for you – the platform is hosted on the provider’s servers, and updates perform automatically. Tech support is always readily available, security is always a priority, and accessing the platform is as easy as logging into a modern browser. Here are a few of the most popular SaaS e-commerce platforms:

Shopify
Shopify

BigCommerce
BigCommerce

Did you know that there’s another way of selling things online? Have you ever heard about sales-funnels?

Marketing your business

Your online store is finally open! But your work is not finished yet – now you need to tell about yourself and tell the Internet that you exist. Marketing your e-commerce business can be incredibly multifaceted and take many forms, but you need to focus your efforts on the following key strategies:

Media Marketing

Create social media profiles for your business on every platform you think your target audience regularly visits. Work on creating unique content to share that your audience would like to see. Grab the attention you want with a personalized, organic-branded multimedia experience.

Search Engine Optimization

Dominate search engine result pages with keyword research and effective SEO strategies. Identify the keywords that potential customers use to find your products and optimize your website to reach the first place organically.

Content Marketing

Make your brand an authority in your industry with fresh content. Write compelling and relevant blog posts to answer the questions your customers are asking. Use photography and video content to inform and delight customers who want to know more about your brand.

Entering other markets

After you’ve found success with your e-commerce business, you might want to consider expanding. Do you want to open your store for international sales and overseas customer service? Are you interested in selling your products in online markets alongside your e-commerce website in order to expand your customer base? Take advantage of multi-channel integration and international shipping features to take your business beyond what you thought it could do. With the right e-commerce platform, you won’t give up on growing your business.

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