The future of e-commerce is very bright. According to Statista, there are over 2 billion online shoppers worldwide. By 2040, it is estimated that 95% of all purchases will be made through e-commerce, and many retailers are shifting their brick-and-mortar stores online. But before you jump to selling, there are many decisions that need to come together at the right time. It’s not just a matter of setting up a website. Starting an ecommerce business can be very demanding, so, we developed a shortlist of agency tips that can give your online business a head start!
Here are the most important tasks you’ll face when researching, building, and growing a profitable ecommerce business…
Pick a Workable Product
Often, the most challenging part of starting an ecommerce business is to pick your product(s). What starts as a great idea can often end in frustration. You may realize, too late, that your product is competing with big brands with even bigger budgets. Or your product may be so new to the market that it requires a lot of explanation, which trust us, will be a tough sell, unless you can afford a large marketing budget. Whatever it is, be clear on what you’re selling, and choose something that will stand out against established products.
Map Out Your Marketplace
Once you have a product, how do you know if it will sell? You can test the waters through initial sales, a pop-up shop or participation in tradeshows. Perform your own surveys and gather feedback, to gauge consumer interest and potential price points, before it goes to market. Or do your own market research, to determine if there is enough market share for this to be a viable business. Google Trends can help you analyze the most common product searches.
Also, look at how easy and/or expensive it will be to ship your product. Studies show that 55% of consumers will abandon their shopping carts if they see “high” extra costs like shipping. Negotiate courier and post office discounts where possible.
Set Up a Store Name
Your company name is the first thing customers will see, and it’s going to be on everything, so it’s important to love it. Pick a business or brand name and then decide on a domain name. They don’t have to be identical, but consistency has its benefits. Make sure that whatever you choose fits your niche. If you can’t settle on a name, a branding agency like Original Ginger can help you think things through and may even pitch some new great branding ideas and strategies.
Write Your Brand’s Business Plan!
Once your competitive research is done, it’s time to write your business plan. It may sound like an extra step. However, a business plan can help you pull thoughts and ideas together and can be a valuable process for gaining new insights into your business. It allows you to prioritize tasks, estimate startup costs, and can help you map out an effective strategy to reach new customers.
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Cover Legal Aspects: Permits and Licenses
Even online stores need certain business licenses and permits. Before you start operating, check with your city and province regarding sales taxes or licensing requirements. If you’re not familiar with this process and you own a Canadian business, here’s a great resource to get you started.
Try to find a mentor who can take you through the process. Their advice can be priceless. At Original Ginger, we can offer invaluable expertise via virtual consulting services. If you’re considering incorporating, consult a legal beagle to better understand the legal and tax benefits.
Gather the Basics to Build Your Online Store
It’s almost time to build out your store! First, you’ll need to plan. That means understanding some basics of search engine optimization (SEO), so you can properly structure your site for Google and other search engines. We’ve got some great articles on this topic here. Or you can ask our agency for help with SEO building and strategies, so your website doesn’t get overlooked.
You’ll also need to gather the building blocks of your website, such as professional product photography, well-written product descriptions and an authentic brand logo – we suggest spending money on this one. A professional logo is worth every penny, and you’ll usually get a brand guide to go with it that contains your fonts, colours etc. – a useful tool for anyone working on your branding.
Starting an ecommerce business also means you’ll require an ecommerce solution or model that fits your needs. Consider which E-commerce platform works best for your business (see our blog, Is Shopify Good for Small Businesses?), what payment gateway you’ll want to use and which shipping methods, which could include curbside or in-store pickup. Here’s a primer on e-commerce that can speed things along. Check out our FREE download below and continue reading on.
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Essential Guide to E-commerce
This guide walks you through all of the elements you need to consider when choosing an “out of the box” e-commerce solution so you can strike a perfect balance between design, function, customer experience and user experience.
A Blueprint is Just the Beginning
Our hope is that our article provides you with a clearer roadmap of the entire development process on the road to starting an ecommerce business. As always, the best advice anyone can give is to just jump in and enjoy yourself along the way. If you want to make sure you didn’t miss anything, review this list, and run through our e-commerce launch checklist before you launch your website. Remember, once your site is live, there’s still more to do to make your online business successful…
After Starting an ECommerce Business, You Secure It
The next part involves marketing your products, which in the world of digital marketing, means driving targeted traffic to your website, then converting that interest into sales. For post-launch advice, we have many blogs about topics like content marketing, SEO, email marketing etc. and how you can use it to benefit your online business.