The e-commerce industry has been going through an unprecedented boom right now. While we have a global epidemic to thank for that (as it forced all businesses to go online), the truth is, e-commerce has never slowed down since the day it was first introduced.
If the current growth of the industry has been exciting for you and motivated the entrepreneurial bug in you, we understand. Therefore, we are here to share our knowledge and expertise with you so your e-commerce business idea can become a resounding success.
This post is especially useful for readers who already have a business idea and need to know the technical and business details to get it off the ground.
So, let’s get going.
Step 1: Register Your E-commerce Business
Most sole proprietorships do not need to register with government authorities to run their businesses. However, registering your e-commerce business has immense advantages.
- It helps customers trust the business more.
- Allows you to file your relevant taxes easily.
- Enables you to raise funds whenever there’s a need.
- You ensure that your brand name is unique. Registering your business means you own your business and brand name. No other entity can do business under that name.
To register your business with relevant authorities, get in touch with your local government or do a quick search online to find out what do you need to register online. A valid personal identification number, a bank account, and a physical address are usually the most common documents that are required to register a business anywhere in the world.
For more information that’s specific to where you live or want to operate the business, you’ll need to go to the source.
Step 2: Get the Necessary Licenses
Each country has its unique sets of licenses needed to run a business. For an e-commerce business, though, these requirements are not too stringent, unless you are providing a service/product with serious health/financial impacts. For example an online tax consultancy firm.
Mostly, you’ll need a tax number to get things going. Ask around to find out which business licenses you need to apply for depending on your geographical location.
For entrepreneurs in the USA, here is a handy link to help you shortlist which licenses and permits you require to set up your e-commerce store. The good news is, your online store does not need a host of different licenses to start its operations; and the licenses that are required are quite easy and inexpensive to get.
Step 3: Choose the Right Sales Channel
Where do you want your e-commerce website to live?
Tons of online businesses are live on social media and are never operated through websites. While it does make things easy in terms of setup and ease, a Facebook business page (or any other social media page) just doesn’t cut it when it comes to a fully functional website.
- An online business with no website lacks the credibility that is attributed to an e-commerce web store.
- You limit your payment methods, marketing options, and business analytics when you don’t have a website.
- Your business depends on Facebook’s decisions. Any changes in its algorithm will affect your presence, traffic, marketing, and even sales. If Facebook shuts down your page, you’ll have to restart from scratch.
With an operational e-commerce website, you enjoy complete autonomy. You can manage your inventory, organize your website in the most optimum way, and track your user behavior to provide your consumers with a tailor-made experience.
So, who should build your website?
- You can hire a freelance developer. It’s quick, easy, and you won’t have to lift a finger during the entire process. But it’s expensive and you may not have a lot of say in how the website works. If you are not tech-savvy, you can even have trouble understanding what exact kind of website you are looking for, so you may be forced to trust your developer more than you want to.
Even if all goes well, you are now tied to that developer for every change or update you want to make to your site.
- You can use an online e-commerce web builder. These builders are designed to help those with little to no technical knowledge to create a website from scratch. WordPress is a famous online web building platform. These platforms allow you to use premade templates and build your website upon them by tweaking the design according to your needs.
Which is it going to be?
We suggest using a website-building platform to create and set up your online store. You won’t have to worry about coding, setting up analytics, or even SEO. Tons of online plug-ins are available that allow you to embed your e-commerce website with as many additional functionalities as you want.
As you grow and learn more, you can definitely invest in a website made from scratch, but for now, stick to this easy option and focus your energy more on running the business.
Step 4: Create a Design-Friendly Online Store
When people visit your website for the first time, you only have a second or two to make a great first impression. That first impression will decide everything for a potential consumer – how credible you are, the quality of your products/services, the intelligence of your team, and so much more.
The majority of online consumers make their purchase decisions based on their perceptions of a site’s design. The more they like the design, the longer they’ll engage with you, and the more your chances of a sale will grow.
However, it is important to note that good design doesn’t just make the site beautiful, but also adds features and functions that improve the usability of the site. Few basics you need to cover to create a well-designed website:
- Create a brand logo for your e-commerce business that helps you gain a distinct visual identity that’s appealing as well as representative of your brand.
- Choose a minimal color palette similar to your logo design and make sure the colors remain consistent throughout the website and even extend to your social media.
- Choose high-quality graphics and original pictures so your website looks professional, appealing, and credible to customers.
- Simplify the layout. Make sure that each page or product or service is accessible to users within 3 clicks and no more. A simple navigation system will make browsing your website a delight.
- Always optimize your images and other media so your website is quick loading.
- Keep your site updated with the latest information at all times.
While accomplishing the perfect design for your website is a process (it’ll take time to get it right) and not just a task on your to-do list, covering these basics will give you a solid footing to build on.
Step 5: Market Your E-Commerce Business
Till now all the work we’ve done has been in the background, it’s time to bring it to light. Marketing is a business is a daunting task and will give you great results only if you do it with grit and consistency. As you’ll soon find out, it’s more than simply running an ad campaign on Instagram. Digital marketing of an e-commerce store requires that you get multiple marketing areas right. We will talk about a few of them here.
To get your content marketing right, make sure you bank on the right keywords. Research, research, and research some more to compile a list of keywords that businesses like you are targeting. Figure out how you can use these words and phrases to create unique content that people will find fresh and informative.
- Blogs allow you to use content marketing by writing informational and fun articles centered on those keywords.
- Blogs are great to lend you an authority status in the digital world.
- A blog can serve as a way for you to connect to your consumers by offering free advice, tips, updates, and facilitating conversations.
- Video marketing is a form of content marketing that has quickly gained ground. Marketers know that modern purchase decisions and brand engagements are being facilitated by video tutorials and ads, etc.
- As an e-commerce store, you can create videos to promote your prime products, give tutorials about your services, and live stream with your audience to share important news, celebrate milestones, and get in touch.
Facebook is the largest social media platform. To really get to the largest pool of your potential traffic, make sure that you have set up your store’s business page on Facebook. It’s free and takes only minutes.
- Facebook Business Page allows you to showcase your inventory, set up your communication channels, maintain a post scheduling calendar, run ad campaigns, access page analytics to make actionable changes.
- Facebook Live is a quick and easy way to live stream from wherever you are. Small businesses use this feature to showcase their new products and just hang out with their online customers.
- Facebook ads allow you to run specifically targeted ad campaigns. You can control ad times, durations, niche markets, customer attributes, and so on.
The biggest attraction of Instagram marketing is its focus on aesthetics and influencer marketing. Unlike Facebook, Instagram is not for long discussions and lengthy conversations. This platform is super fast-paced and image-centric. If your e-commerce business has anything to do with fashion, clothing, interior design, or anything else with a large visual component, Instagram is a great place to include in your marketing fold.
Instagram is also the most active platform when it comes to influencers. As a new e-commerce setup, take your time before you enter into any partnerships with influencers. Look for ones that speak your brand language and have a circle of followers who are genuine fans. Micro-influencers, for this reason, have more to offer in terms of conversions and sales than big names of the market.
If you are feeling overwhelmed at this stage, it’s normal. Launching a new business is no easy feat. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to get great ideas off the ground. We hope that with the information available here, things have become a bit demystified for you. Just keep your eye on the prize as you continue working towards your goal and success will come.
Wishing you the best.