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How to Start and Scale an eCommerce Business in 10 Steps

You’ve thought long and hard about your business plans, and always dreamed of becoming your own boss.

But now it’s time to stop messing around, start making your online business ideas a reality, and start adding more zeros to your bank balance.

If you want to know how to start an online business then it’s time to create an online store and follow these 10 steps. 

1. Find the right product

You can have the most attractive website in the world and the most compelling marketing messaging. 

Yet, if your product doesn’t appeal to your core demographic, your online business is going to go nowhere –fast.

Although every online business will arrive at its product range in its own way, there are some universal considerations you can take into account as part of your planning process:

  • Know what consumers are searching for. Conducting keyword research is an essential business strategy and will help you find out a lot about your target market.
  • Solve a problem. Remember, you don’t need to invent a whole new product to solve an existing problem, you just need to translate your business idea to your target market.
  • Fill a niche. Find the space between ensuring your business idea has a big enough audience to make it profitable, and standing out against other competing businesses. 
  • Be realistic about your limitations. There might be a huge target audience for your product idea, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right product for you to sell online.
  • Plan ahead. When selecting your products, make sure you have a plan for how those products fit into your broader business ideas and business structure. 
Zyro templates in dashboard

2. Identify your target market

You’ve got the what, now you need the who.

Central to the success of your online business is the ability to identify a demographic that is willing and able to purchase your goods.

Finding the right audience for your product will help you create projections for sales and revenue, as well as informing your branding decisions.

Your target market will also inform you which marketing channels to use and how to use them effectively. In order to discover your ideal target market, follow these steps:

  • Objectively assess your company by breaking down key features and benefits.
  • Conduct market research to identify potential market segments.
  • Create consumer profiles using demographic info and socioeconomic indicators.
  • Narrow down your market – try to be as specific as possible.
  • Conduct competitor research and see who similar companies are targeting. 
  • Get feedback and be open to constructive criticism.

3. Choose an eCommerce platform

Zyro editor GIF

If you’re planning to start an online business soon, you’re probably aware of how many options you have when it comes to eCommerce platforms.

Since you’re reading this on the Zyro blog, it’ll come as no surprise that we think you should give Zyro’s website builder and eCommerce platform a try. 

All biases aside, though, here are the 5 of the most compelling reasons you should choose Zyro:

  • Single management dashboard. 
  • Omnichannel selling capabilities. 
  • Speed – create your store in hours, not days. 
  • Ease of use and accessibility.
  • Price – Zyro’s eCommerce tools offer the best value for money on the market. 

4. Establish your brand

A brand is what you look like, what you say, how you say it, who you say it to, how you think, what people think of you, and a million other things that add up to a whole.

Brand building should be undertaken deliberately, with the aim of creating a compelling narrative around your company and products that strikes a chord with your target audience.

Before you’re thinking about creating marketing materials, your branding should consist of:

  • A value proposition.
  • A company, brand, and product name. 
  • A visual language. 
  • A voice and a tone.
  • Consistency. 

5. Create a captivating online store

Design basics mockup

A blank page staring at you can be an intimidating place to start when it comes to creating your first website. This is why we advise using a website builder over other options.

A website builder will provide you with template options, customization functions, and tools to help you build a great online store. 

The success of online businesses hinges on their ability to convert traffic into paying customers, and the most important tool at your disposal is your website.Make sure it:

  • Has an appearance in keeping with your brand aesthetic throughout. 
  • Is easy to navigate, making it quick and simple to find desired pages and info. 
  • Contains strategically placed calls to action, encouraging visitors to make a purchase. 
  • Displays products or service listings in the most attractive way possible. 
  • Is designed for conversions and search engine optimization.

6. Start marketing and developing traffic

When deciding how to start an online business, one of the most daunting steps is sharing your product or service with the world for the first time. 

The best way to avoid this kind of anxiety is to approach your initial marketing efforts with a solid plan which clearly lays out:

  • Your aims for the campaign(s). 
  • Your target audience. 
  • The marketing channels you’ll use. 
  • The messaging you’ll communicate. 
  • Your plan for converting traffic into paying customers. 
  • How you’ll capture user data, and what insights you want. 
  • The means by which you’ll retain customers. 

7. Capture and use analytics data

If you’re not capturing user data and using analytics to give you actionable insights, you’re basically going to keep stumbling around in the dark.

Collecting rich analytics data allows you to:

  • Monitor results in real-time.
  • Get a solid overview of your business. 
  • See what’s working and what isn’t. 
  • Improve your marketing and user experience. 
  • Create compelling justifications for funding. 

8. Optimize your messaging and website

By this point your website is live, your store is active, and you’ve begun making your first sales. It’s now time to take those data insights you’ve been collecting, and turn them into action.

Even if you’re hoping to make passive income, you’ll need to put in some hours making improvements when you first get started.

It’s worth noting right that, unless your initial launch has been completely disastrous, any changes you make to your marketing approach or website should be incremental.

Testing and optimizing (especially if you’re A/B testing) will help you:

  • Hone in on your ‘real’ audience.
  • Discover which marketing channels you should be focusing on.
  • Identify which messaging resonates best with your target audience.
  • Remove steps and hurdles that are preventing customers from making purchases.

When running A/B tests, you’re trying out two ideas to see which one performs the best. 

In practice, this means that you’ll be creating two versions of a website page. Then, 50% of visitors see version A, and 50% of visitors see version B.

The versions don’t have to be radically different; by making one change to one element on version B, you can measure your changes’ effectiveness.

9. Online businesses nurture return customers

It’s always cheaper to convert existing customers than it is to find new ones. Repeat custom should always be your goal.

There’s no single way in which every online business should approach customer retention, but some effective methods you might try include:

  • Capturing contact information.
  • Keeping customers engaged.
  • Releasing new products regularly. 
  • Upselling secondary products. 
  • Selling subscriptions. 

10. Scale sustainably for a successful online business

Up until now, we’ve covered how to start an online business from the ground up. Once your business is up, running, and making sales, though, you’ll want to start growing.

If you’ve followed the advice in this guide to this point, you’ll be in a position where a lot of your growth develops naturally, thanks to data insights and incremental optimization. 

However, if you want to speed up the growth of your online small business, you might consider:

  • Expanding your product line. 
  • Selling on new platforms.
  • Increase your marketing spend. 
  • Getting further investment. 

Written by

Author avatar

Olivia

Olivia is a writer for Zyro and an eCommerce know-it-all. Having spent many years as a retail buyer, she loves writing about trend forecasting, brand building, and teaching others how to optimize online stores for success. She lives in London and spends a lot of time exploring the city’s parks with her whippet.

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