When you consider the possibilities that exist for launching an ecommerce company, it can be somewhat daunting. Which products should you offer? How much will you charge? What’s your website going to look like? How long will it take to start making money?
We’re here to answer all of those questions and more! We’ll show you how to start a successful ecommerce business from the ground up, and we’ll do it in four steps.
Step 1: Find a product or niche that you can add value to.
When you’re starting an ecommerce business from scratch, one of your primary goals will be to differentiate yourself from other ecommerce businesses in order to maximize your chances of success. One way to do so is by selling a product or service that isn’t available anywhere else online. For example, if you can find an interesting niche product, launch the only website in the world selling it and turn it into an eCommerce business.
Step 2: Investigate similar products & niches before you jump in.
One of the best things you can do to determine the success of a product or niche is to investigate similar products and niches. You’ll want to look for patterns and clues that signal there’s demand for it online. Here are some questions we recommend asking:
How many other ecommerce businesses currently exist selling this product? How large are they? How many competitors do you have selling the same product? What’s the average price range for similar products currently on the market? Are there any companies already selling this product at a higher price point than yours is going to be set at? Can you find any websites or blogs discussing this product or niche online? If so, how many comments do they have? What are users saying about it?
Step 3: Pick a name for your e-commerce business
Pick a name for your ecommerce business that matches the demands of the product or niche. Once you’ve found a product or niche to sell, pick a name for your ecommerce business that signals its value and makes it stand apart from the competition. For example, something like “the first and only website to ever sell the _____” could be an effective name for your online store.
Step 4: Build your eCommerce business’ brand strategy
An ecommerce business is like a living, breathing entity that can lose or gain customers depending on how it presents itself to the world. Your brand strategy will involve three things:
Your “About Us” page, which should be an honest representation of your company, including your story and what you do (and don’t) stand for. Your “FAQ”, which should include questions like “Why did you start this ecommerce business?”, “What’s the history behind it?” and “How does our service or product work?” Your “Contact Us” page, which should include your contact information and other important details.
Your brand strategy will differ depending on the product or niche you’re selling. Crafting a deliberate brand strategy can mean the difference between gaining one-time customers versus lifelong, loyal supporters.
How to find what to sell
Now that you know what to do once you’ve identified a product or niche, let’s look at how to find one in the first place.
Step 1: See what your friends are doing
This is a good starting point because you likely share interests with your friends. Ask them what they’re buying lately, including both physical goods and digital downloads. You might be surprised by what they’re into! If your friends aren’t trendsetters, move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Look on marketplaces such as Amazon
See if there are any products you could add value to by selling them online. Take Amazon, it’s a huge ecommerce website for a reason – it’s been successful at meeting the demand of its customers for over 20 years!
Step 3: Think laterally
Your current interests might not be trends, but they can lead you to discover new ones. For example, if you’re a huge fan of the band The Beatles and you sell personalized pet urns as an e-commerce business, your niche isn’t “Beatles fans” – it’s “pet lovers”.
Let’s talk about what it takes to make a successful ecom business:
Step 1: Create an ecommerce business website
This is where design chops come in. You’ll need to build a website that will showcase your product or niche. If you don’t have the necessary skills to create one yourself, look for a company that can build one for you, or look for templates that might suit your needs.
Step 2: Find a good hosting service
There are many different ways you can host your ecommerce business’ website, including using your own computer, one of Google’s free hosting services or a company like HostGator. If you’re selling digital goods through an eCommerce business, you can host your website for free on WordPress or Tumblr too.
Step 3: Acquire the product or niche itself
What good is it to start an ecommerce business if there isn’t anything to sell? There are many different ways you can acquire a product to sell; here are just a few:
You already own the product and simply want to move it online. You find a supplier that will directly ship the item(s) for you. You approach a company that makes or sells the products you’re interested in and ask to partner with them. You create the product yourself and sell it.
Step 4: Get your e-commerce business’ name out there!
There are many places online where you can advertise your newly-launched ecommerce business, including SEO, Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, Bing Ads or even Reddit. You can also promote your website through social media, including Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
Step 5: Analyze your business data
In order to see what works and what doesn’t when it comes to your ecommerce business, you’ll need to analyze your website’s traffic with tools like Google Analytics. You can also use a tool like Yandex Metrica in order to understand what users are doing on your website. If you discover that customers are signing up for your product or service, but not actually making purchases, you might have to revise your funnel.