The first 8 things you should do when starting an e-commerce business
As the internet continues to change our lives on a daily basis, the way we choose to shop is no exception. The number of goods and services being bought online has sky-rocketed over the last decade, particularly as a result of the recent pandemic.
In fact, it is expected that by 2040, as much as 95% of all purchases will be via an e-commerce site.
For this reason, starting an e-commerce business can be a very lucrative career move this year.
That being said, it’s worth knowing that up to 90% of all e-commerce businesses will fail within the first three months. This is for a number of reasons but can largely be down to poor planning, lack of marketing and running out of funds.
Keeping this in mind, it is vital that you get your e-commerce business off to the right start if you want to succeed.
If you’re not sure what that start might look like, this guide is for you. Below, we’re going to take a look at eight things you need to do when launching an e-commerce business.
1. Decide what you’re going to sell
First and foremost, you need to decide what it is you’re going to sell and to who.
Are you selling to other businesses (B2B), or will you be selling to consumers (B2C)? You also need to determine if you’re selling goods like clothes or beauty products or if you’re selling a service like 3D printing or copywriting.
It’s important that you know what you want your business to be about and that you’re genuinely passionate about this. Otherwise, you could quickly become bored or disinterested, and your business will suffer as a result.
2. Do your research
Next up, you need to start doing your research to ensure your idea is viable and that the market isn’t already far too saturated. That’s not to say you can’t operate in a popular niche, but it will make selling much harder, and you may have to rely more on your unique selling points (USP).
The internet is going to be your best resource for researching, and you need to make sure you do this thoroughly and don’t rush.
Look for any similar products or services that are out there already and what’s in your area specifically. It’s a good idea to start compiling your research, usually in some sort of spreadsheet or document, to refer back to later.
3. Write up a business plan
Now you need to start pooling your ideas and putting these into a coherent business plan. This should be broken down into sections, and there are lots of free templates you can download online if you’re not feeling confident in your own abilities. Typically, a business plan will include the following:
- An executive summary of what your business is
- A breakdown of your goods or services
- Your target audience – including market research
- Market analysis – what does the industry look like, and what is your USP
- A marketing plan
- A sales plan
- Any legal notes or considerations, including any licensing or qualifications you might need to obtain first
Creating a detailed plan early on will help you define your target audience, set sales goals, give you a rough idea of initial costs and generally increase the chances of your business being a success. So the more detail you can include at this stage, the better.
4. Determine where you’ll get goods from
If you’re going to be selling goods or if you require certain materials to provide your services, you now need to determine where you’re going to get these from.
There are several things you must consider at this point, you want to find the most practical solution for the best price, but you also don’t want to sacrifice the quality of your goods or materials. Therefore, you need to get the balance between these important aspects just right.
This will require some more research. You might wish to look at dropshipping options or local suppliers and determine whether you’re going to need to store and send the goods yourself. If that’s the case, you’ll have to think about where you’ll store these and what you’ll use to send them.
5. Decide on your shipping strategy
This leads us nicely to the next step, thinking about your shipping strategy. How will you be sending goods or finished products to customers?
When you’re starting up and fulfilling a small number of orders, it might be simple and cost-effective enough to use the local post office. However, as operations grow, you might want to look for a courier partner, particularly if you plan to ship outside your own country.
Again, do some research and begin to look at the different services available and how much these cost. At this stage, you can also think about the shipping options you want to offer customers; for example, will you offer next-day delivery?
6. Come up with name and logo
Now you can start getting to the fun stuff. You need to come up with a good name for your business and check that it’s not already taken. You can then design your logo or employ a professional to do this for you.
7. Set up a website and other important profiles
You’re almost there! Now it’s time to build your website and start uploading details and images of your goods or services.
There are lots of e-commerce tools out there that make creating a website easy. Sites like Wix, WordPress or Squarespace make creating a website easier and more accessible. That being said, if you’re worried about creating this yourself, you can always employ the services of a professional web designer to help you.
You can now start setting up any relevant social media profiles for your business too. In most cases, you might wish to create an Instagram account or Facebook page to start getting your name out there and connecting with your audience, but whatever platforms are most relevant are fine.
Be sure to include your logo and brand name on the site and any social profiles, as well as some engaging and informative copy about who you are and what you do. Again, you can employ a professional copywriter to do this for you if you don’t have a way with words.
8. Officially launch your business
Finally, it’s officially time to launch! This means pushing your website live and starting to make connections on social media. You might wish to run an advertising campaign or even an in-person launch event where you invite others from the industry to get the ball rolling. You could also attend existing trade events to get your name out there.
You should also start to put your marketing and sales strategies into play, and soon, you will see the sales rolling in.