There is no doubt that the e-commerce industry is booming. So, if you have been thinking about launching your own project, this is definitely a great time to do it. And if you are still a bit in the dark and don’t really know what to do… Hey, just sit tight and keep reading. Here is how to start your e-commerce business on the right foot. Ready?
Research is not everything, but a big part of the job
E-commerce business models
Sorry to disappoint you. If you were thinking about immediately putting together a functioning shop and have your project up and running in basically no time, let me tell you that it will take a bit longer for your e-commerce business to be up and running.
First things first. Your product could be amazing. Your idea??? Awesome! But let me remind you that the competition is always going to be huge. So there is nothing more important than making the right decisions from the very beginning. That requires for you to gather and analyze a lot of information and reply to the following question: what’s going to be your e-commerce business model? No matter what you want to sell, this will determine your business structure. Think about the difference between having your own warehouse and working on a drop shipping model, for instance. Also, is it going to be B2B? Or maybe B2C?
When choosing your niche, it is key that you identify companies that are already successfully working in this environment. One of the most difficult things here is to pick a niche that is competitive, but not overcrowded. The more specific you go, the better. Why? Because this is just a good way to eliminate part of your competition. Also, because by doing so, you will realize that there are many other related sub-niches that you could potentially explore.
Validation is important
Despite having defined your niche and e-commerce business model, you are not ready to sell your products yet. Why? Because you still need to define something else. Who is going to buy your products? Who are your potential customers? Exactly, you’ve guessed it. You need to work on your buyer persona now.
Thinking about your ideal customers will also help you understand the way you should present yourself to them. This means that this is also a key step to work on your image and then, on your marketing strategy.
What I mean is… don’t skip this!!!! Would your ideal customers buy your products? Do you picture them purchasing them online? You really need to know your target in order to validate market and product.
Start working on your brand
Since you know what your ideal customers are looking for, you can deliver it. You can start working on a brand that connects with them. From your business’ name to the look&feel of your online store, you will need to align every single detail of what you are offering and projecting with that, what your audience is looking for.
Don’t forget about business licenses and bureaucracy
Oh yes, the nitty gritty! Business license, Employer Identification Number (EIN), sales tax licenses, home business licenses… It’s a lot of stuff, right? My recommendation is that you check with your city, county and state to get your licenses approved before you start operating.
Also, regarding your business license, if you have any questions or need some extra help, you can check the many SBA‘s resources. They are extremely helpful.
Select your vendors
The best way to outperform your competitors is by offering better quality products. Also, keep in mind that people usually choose those products with the best value for money.
If you are looking for the right vendors, there is nothing better than “testing” a few. Shop around. See who could be a good fit for a long-term business partnership. Ask yourself if you would buy their products. Also, analyze their conditions and what they are offering.
Create your e-commerce business plan
Sure, it’s almost done. You have an idea of your budget, costs, etc. But it’s time to work on the details. Make sure that your business plan reflects all the expenses and that your revenue projections are realistic. Otherwise, your business plan will be useless.
Put your store together and start working on your marketing strategy
Yes! Time to start building your shop! Your business is registered, you have a pretty good idea of how your brand is going to look, you have your domain and the design of your store and now… Time to choose your platform!
There are many, many options, so choosing the right e-commerce platform is not really an easy thing to do. Dedicate some time to analyze the most popular options (there is a reason why they are so popular!), compare their features, think about your budget… Is your design compatible with the platform you’ve chosen? Is it scalable? SEO-friendly???
And once your store is up and running… let your potential customers know that you exist!
If you need help with your marketing strategy, don’t forget to check out our articles on that topic.