Thinking of starting an online business? Wondering where to start? Here’s a simple guide to getting started in e-commerce.
The Basic Steps to Getting Started with an Online Business
Starting a business venture is hard. An online business may not need as many resources and as much investment as a conventional offline venture but you still need to be clear about how to begin. You need to find a niche, learn the basics, and acquire the resources to launch your business.
Before You Launch an Online Store
First, you need to do the groundwork.
Find Your Interests
First, think about your areas of interest that may have business potential. If you like fashion, that could be your starting point. If you love to cook, you could think of starting a business selling cookware and cooking equipment. Like traveling? You could start a business selling travel paraphernalia. It’s better to start a venture related to what you know and have an interest in rather than starting with something completely foreign. Also, keep in mind that you may want to sell your eCommerce store sometime in the future so choose products that are easy to source.
Research the Market
Now that you have an idea of the niche you want to focus on, start searching for opportunities that have potential. Find out what people search for in that niche and what products are most popular among them. Also, try to find a need that’s underserved so you can bridge that gap with your product. This might be a good category to focus on by serving a need that has the potential for growth and is not yet saturated.
Research the Competition
You’ve selected a specific niche to focus on, now find out about the competition and market condition of that niche. Study the target market, find the USP of your competitors, how they stock their products, price points, their sales strategies, and market shares. Study their website design, the content they create to attract traffic, their marketing strategies – know them in and out! Find out if that niche still has room for more competition and look for ways you can differentiate yourself from the others in that niche.
Before setting up shop:
Write a Business Plan
Draw up a business plan that will serve as a clear road map for your venture. Use this as a guide for your business, from starting it to retaining customers and everything in between.
The Name and Logo
Create a name and logo for your business. This will become part of your branding and identity, so think of names that relate to the business niche you’re targeting. It’ll also be the domain name for your website. It’s best to come up with a few apt names because you may find that the one you want most is already taken. There are numerous free apps that can help you quickly create nifty logos. Create a simple logo that clearly conveys an idea and choose good colors for the logo. You might want to use these as the base theme colors for your website.
Learn About Search Engine Optimization
Understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the first step to get people to discover your website when they do searches for related terms. This is an important aspect you need to focus on right from the design of your website. It’s best to learn the SEO basics before you set up shop.
Launching the Online Store
Now, you’re ready to set-up shop.
Choose a Platform for Your Shop
You no longer need to worry about buying hosting or have a team of programmers to code and build your shop from scratch. Instead, you can just choose a cloud-based ecommerce platform to build your site on. These solution providers have all the resources on the cloud and take care of all the backend resources and management. You just subscribe to a plan to use these resources and quickly design and set up your online store using the easy website builder tools they provide. Shopify is a great ecommerce platform for beginners and also for those with experience in ecommerce. Choose from a range of plans to suit every need and set-up shop on the popular Shopify platform.
Find a Source for Your Products
Dropshipping is a great way to test the waters in ecommerce. It may have low-profit margins, but you’re relieved of the worries of inventory maintenance, packing, and delivery. The Oberlo app provides you access to a marketplace with a vast array of drop shipped products. Choose the products you want to sell and add them to your store.
An ecommerce venture may require fewer resources than a brick & mortar shop but it has its own unique needs and challenges. Get the basics right before and while launching your online store to give a good start to your new business.