What’s the last thing you bought? More importantly, where did you buy it?
We bet that you made that purchase online. And there is little surprise, because eCommerce has been growing and growing over the past 5 years, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
If you’ve always been intrigued by eCommerce and have wondered how you could sell goods and services online, you’ve come to the right place.
Go from zero to online store hero with this guide that we put together. We’ll be here, holding your hand along the way.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
You want your eCommerce store to sell something other eCommerce businesses haven’t thought about, something that makes your shop truly stand out.
A niche, in simple terms, describes your specialty or particular focus.
Let’s say you want to have a fitness-themed eCommerce business. Instead of selling all things related to fitness, your niche could be sports nutrition, sports clothing, or sports equipment.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to choosing your niche, so it’s important to really think things through.
Choose an eCommerce niche that:
Deciding on your niche is also closely related to thinking about the types of products or services you want to be selling.
Let’s say you’ve picked sailboats as your eCommerce niche. Good choice, ahoy!
Now, it would make sense to sell products and services related to sailboats in particular, not to any old fishing boat, right?
Maybe you can create collections of different types of sails, winches, and other accessories related to sailboats.
Rather than having a shop that sells all things related to boats, by narrowing down your niche, you can have a more focused approach to your eCommerce store.
A focused-in approach will undoubtedly be more commercially successful too.
Once you have decided on your niche and have an idea of the types of products or services you want to have on your eCommerce store, it’s time to decide on your eCommerce business model.
There are a couple of main ways you can go about deciding on the day-to-day of your eCommerce venture:
Dropshipping has become popular in the world of eCommerce since it helps startups reduce the production and storage costs.
In other words, having a factory and a big warehouse are no longer the prerequisites for having an online shop.
If you’ve mapped out where you want to be heading with your eCommerce business, it’s time to register yourself as a business owner.
The exact process of opening a business differs from country to country, but usually, you will be required to:
Again, while it varies from country to country, the general business registration process might take from a few days to a couple of weeks.
While you’re waiting for official confirmation, you can go ahead and focus on your branding and the eCommerce infrastructure itself.
Next, you want to think about branding.
This is something that’s important to take the time for and get right in the very beginning. Otherwise, you’ll be looking at an expensive rebrand further down the line – both in terms of money and time.
You should ask yourself these questions when building your brand:
Once you have an idea of what your brand stands for, you can start thinking about how you can show it.
What we’re getting at is your visual branding, of course. For some, this is the most exciting part of branding, whereas others dread it.
In reality, it’s not that hard. Here is what you should think about:
And last but not least, make sure you build guidelines for your brand and make every person working for or with your brand aware of them.
You want to look and sound the same across all forms of communication.
Make sure you have an idea of who you’re trying to get to visit your eCommerce store, as well as of the overall competition in your niche.
The more you know about your target market, the easier it will be to understand your customers.
And the better you understand your customers, the better you can serve them and solve their problems with what you have in stock at your eCommerce store.
Learn about your target audience:
You should also know where you stand when compared to your competitors. Consider what they do well, and where they might be missing out on an opportunity.
Here are some good ways to analyze your competition:
There is no shame in ‘borrowing’ ideas. You simply have to take the ideas and put a unique spin on them.
Execute them even better than your competitors and you will drum up some business in no time.
In order to get your store up and running, there are a few technical things you need to take a look at first.
First, you need to decide on a good domain name for your eCommerce store. A domain, simply put, is your web address, or the bit after the ‘www.’
A good domain:
Once you’ve found the perfect domain, you need to think about web hosting.
It sounds scarier than it actually is: web hosting is the online equivalent of your retail space, but in cyberspace.
When choosing a web hosting provider, you want to make sure that they have a guarantee for up-time (this means that your online store will be online all or most of the time) and fast servers.
Don’t risk losing visitors because your site takes too long to load.
Once you have your domain and hosting sorted, it’s when the fun starts.
Roll up your sleeves and get started with the nitty-gritty of eCommerce – online store building.
There are many features to look for in an eCommerce platform when you want to launch your online business.
Some platforms offer flashy gimmicks that seem useful, but might just confuse your customers and yourself.
Ideally, you want to look after your customers and provide them with the ultimate online shopping experience, while also automating most of the processes for yourself.
Everyone’s a winner with a service like that, right?
Customer retention is much easier and cheaper than acquisition. So, get visitors to your online store and keep them happy.
When people visitor your website, they should see:
In order to run your eCommerce business smoothly, you’ll need to seek out a platform that does a lot of the busy work for you.
Believe it or not, but it will save you so much time working with a platform that does the catalog, tax, shipping, delivery, and many other processes automatically.
You need your eCommerce website provider to offer the following:
There are other features that are important too, but those will depend on your niche.
Have a think about what would be the most important to you and chances are you will find them in today’s saturated eCommerce market.
Your eCommerce business is ready to go live – you just need your first paying customers.
The easiest way to do this is to get some traffic to your eCommerce store.
While there are plenty of ways to get the word out about your business, some avenues work better for an eCommerce business than others.
Focus on mastering the ways of online marketing, and you can make a serious difference in the traffic that you’re generating.
Here are a few ways to get started.
The power of social media has been proven time and time again. Get up to speed and try these tips:
If you want to invest a little bit of money, paying for advertising space is a fantastic way to get your eCommerce business seen by more people.
Consider trying out:
For those who want to keep the purse strings tight, you will be pleased to hear that not all traffic has to cost something.
Indeed, with some clever search engine marketing and optimization (usually shortened to SEM and SEO) you can get visitors organically and not pay a single penny.
Everyone loves a discount or a sale, and you can use promotions as a reason to run a marketing campaign or two.
One great and easy way to pamper your customers is to offer them discount codes. Easy to set up and manage on most eCommerce platforms, you could offer your loyal customers a discount on their next shopping, or even free shipping.
Make sure that you can use the Social Share function on your eCommerce store. There is nothing worse than missing out on a great sale, so that friend who tweets about it can be really helpful.
Running a shop of any kind requires a good amount of work. In a brick-and-mortar shop, stocking up shelves and arranging window displays can take surprisingly long too.
Meanwhile online, it’s all pixels and lines of code in the background, and if you’re not careful, you might end up with a lot of manual work.
To keep your eCommerce experience fun, simple, and easy, you want to work with a platform that lets you automate.
The more you can automate and the easier the setup is, the easier the running of your business will be.
Eliminating human error and automating as much as possible is the new gold standard online.
Rather than wasting hours manually entering data from one system into another, set your store up so that it integrates with the tools that you use daily.
If you want to focus on advertising on Facebook, for example, you probably want to use Facebook Messenger for when your clients have a question about your products or services.
So rather than copy-pasting the conversation, you want it to sync automatically.
On the other hand, if Google works better for your niche, you probably use Google’s Analytics tools already. There’s a lot of data there, and you don’t want to export a file and upload it to your store, only to realize you forgot to add a field.
The more you can integrate your systems with each other, the easier it will be to run your business in general.
You have better things to worry about, like looking after your customers or planning great marketing campaigns.
As you see, setting up your very first eCommerce shop isn’t as complicated as you may think.
With the right tools, you should be able to run your eCommerce business on autopilot. The setup process doesn’t have to take years of your life, either.
Keep in mind that you’ll always remember your very first sale. And – spoiler alert – it’s the most liberating feeling in the world.