An e-commerce business or online shop sells goods and services online. Starting it is just like starting a company; you will need startup capital, a business plan, a license, an e-commerce website builder, products to sell, and so on. The only difference is that you don’t need a walk-in shop to sell your products and services.
If you are a skilled entrepreneur and dream of starting your e-commerce online shop someday, this article will show you all the steps and processes you can follow to reach your desired goal.
Define Your Business Idea
The first step to starting an e-commerce business is to have everything planned out in your head before making any move. First, you must determine your business strategy, products, and services to sell, target audience, and create a business plan.
You should think of how you will get your products across to your customers, how much it will cost to start and run the business, what licenses and permits you need, etc. However, your business plan will help you answer these questions and put your ideas in order and in detailed writing.
Setting up Your E-commerce Business
Now that you have it all planned out, it is time to make the first move to starting your online shop. This includes the following steps.
Choose a Business Structure
There are different business structures you can consider for your online shop, each with its benefits and drawbacks, but it is best to thoroughly research which one best suits your e-commerce business. Also, at this stage of your business, it is best to talk to an attorney if you can’t handle these tasks on your own.
The business structures you can choose from include:
- Sole proprietorship.
- Limited liability company (LLC).
- S corporation.
Name Your Business
Depending on your location, you will need to register your business name, and you are not allowed to use a name that already belongs to another business. So decide on a unique, simple, and captivating name for your business and register it with the relevant authorities.
Apply for a Tax Identification Number (TIN)
All businesses are required to pay taxes, so this is the best time to apply for TIN. You have to ensure you are paying taxes once your business is in operation; failure to do so may lead to all sorts of legal issues and even the closure of your business.
Get the Necessary License and Permits
If your e-commerce business is service-based, you might need a license to function legally. Depending on your business type, you may also need an occupational license or permit to sell certain products. So check the guidelines and laws of your state to ensure your business is legal.
Source Your Products
If you plan on selling physical products, the first thing you should do is find a reliable manufacturer or supplier to buy products from, but if you wish to create your own products, this is the best time to gather your equipment and start making them.
You should also decide if you want to rely on drop-shipping or if you are going to order your products in bulk and manage inventory. In addition, if you are selling professional services, you should list your services, offers, and prices. Then get whatever you will need to provide the services ready.
Setup Your E-commerce Website
Your e-commerce website is where your customers will learn about your business and have easy access to your products. The easiest way to set up an online shop website is by using an e-commerce website builder. You will only need to specify the details of your business and how you want potential customers to see your business. The website builder will handle every other task and ensure you have a perfectly functional e-commerce website.
One of the things that will make your website stand out is your understanding of SEO; you need basic SEO knowledge to make every aspect of an e-commerce website searchable and easily ranked among similar websites. Then, ensure you choose a suitable theme and visually appealing designs because it takes just a few seconds for someone to make an impression of your online shop.
To create a pleasant user experience, make sure your website has the following:
- Good product images and shopping cart.
- Checkout and order confirmation.
- Contact page.
- About us page.
Make Plans for Order Fulfillment
So now that you have everything in place, surely you are already anticipating your first customers. Still, you can’t just start selling without efficient plans of getting your products across to your customers when a purchase is made.
It would be best to research the order fulfillment method that best suits your business needs; some online shops include shipping fees before checkout for each product, and the shipping cost will depend on the customer’s location.
You can also collaborate with a logistics company because e-commerce will connect you to different people worldwide, and you will have to deliver effectively. In addition, you will also need a reliable payment gateway to provide your customers with a seamless checkout experience and make it easier for you to receive payments.
Invest in Marketing
Of course, it’s no news that e-commerce has become a trend nowadays, so the competition keeps increasing daily. Therefore, developing a good marketing strategy to help you sell your products faster will be in your best interest.
Don’t just open an e-commerce online shop and wait for customers to locate you; invest in different types of marketing, from influencer marketing to social media marketing, affiliate marketing, etc.
You need to put your business out there and make it as big as it can be in a short time.
As the demand for online products and services continues to increase, e-commerce business has become one of the fastest ways to become an entrepreneur.
However, one of the things to keep in mind when starting your e-commerce business is to start simple; you can start with a free version of an e-commerce website builder, begin with a small amount of inventory, and don’t sell too many products.
This will help you ensure you don’t run at a loss and give you time to try out the business to determine if it is the right one for you.