How to Start an Ecommerce Business: An Easy Guide

Thinking about starting an ecommerce business and need advice on how set up an ecommerce website? Ecommerce is growing at an unprecedented rate all over the globe and is one of the most valuable industries now. Here are some interesting statistics.

  • The global retail ecommerce sales are expected to reach $4.5 trillion in 2021.
  • Currently, ecommerce represents about 10% of retail sales in the US and this number is growing by nearly 15% each year.
  • 4 in 10 purchases are made through online search and purchase channels without offline interactions.
  • 54% of online purchases are made by millennials.
  • 94% of Americans have bought products online and they typically spend about 36% of the shopping budget online.
  • Half of the Americans prefer online transactions to visiting retail stores.

Wondering why ecommerce is enjoying such an impressive growth in today’s technology-driven world? That’s simple.

  • People like the idea of purchasing products from the comfort of their homes instead of visiting brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Besides, the internet gives shoppers a great chance to weigh different options and get the best deals.
  • New technologies allow online businesses to fulfill customer demand instantaneously through immediate delivery.
  • The number of smartphone users is expected to reach 5 billion by 2019 and ecommerce developments are expected to expand the convenience and reach of online shopping.

As you see, it’s a great time for you to transform your life and start an ecommerce business to reach new customers regardless of where they are. But starting an ecommerce store from scratch and building an ecommerce website is a time-consuming process. You may feel overwhelmed with so many ecommerce solutions, choices, and tons of information out there. To help you get started, we have prepared a quick guide on how to start an ecommerce business. We’ll walk you through the essential steps of creating an ecommerce website and give you some advice on how to choose the right platform for your ecommerce store. Keep reading.

6 Things to Consider When Starting an Ecommerce Business

When it comes to starting a successful ecommerce business, there are several things to consider and it’s important to get them right. Follow these 6 easy steps.

1. Identify the right product

The first and most important decision that you have to make is what you are going to sell. You have to do a keyword research, find out what products are popular on other marketplaces, and brainstorm product ideas that people really need and are ready to pay money for them. You should choose a product that has low production costs but a high perceived value. Find gaps in the current market and think about your unique value proposition. Think about how you are going to obtain your products and find suppliers.

2. Choose the business model

Ecommerce businesses can use different business models:

  • Manufacturing – you can make your own products and sell them
  • Warehousing – it’s a wholesale option that allows buying products from manufacturers at a low bulk price
  • Dropshipping – doesn’t require big investment upfront and you can make a profit without even touching the product.

When choosing your business model, you should consider the type of product and think of what will work best for what you do.

3. Make a business plan

Research your competition, identify your objectives and revenue goals, set your prices, think about fulfillment and order processing, shipping options and their costs, create a marketing plan and a financial plan.

4. Name your business

Choose a simple name for your business that will stick to people’s minds. Simple business names are memorable, easily marketable, and strong. Choose a domain name – think about something that is related to your business. Brainstorm phrases that will tell people about the products you are going to sell. Make sure your domain name is easy to spell.

5. Build your ecommerce website

Purchase your domain name, choose an ecommerce platform, and build your website. You need to create product pages with beautiful photos of your products and catchy product descriptions. Your site should also include a home page where you show sales items and weekly deals, an about page where you tell your customers what you do, a blog where you can post, useful articles, news, and updates, a contact page with contact information to help customers reach you.

Choose your payment gateway and connect with accounting and shipment software. Integrate plugins and Google Analytics.

6. Launch your store

Start selling and think about promotions. You should use content marketing, social media channels, and paid advertising to attract customers, drive traffic to your ecommerce website, and increase conversions.

Starting your ecommerce store requires a lot of planning and strategy and running it takes work. But if you follow these steps, you will be able to launch a new business relatively quickly.

How to Build an Ecommerce Website

Now that you know basic steps of starting an ecommerce business, let’s discuss in detail how to build an ecommerce website. If you want to start a small retail business, there is no need to build an ecommerce website from scratch step by step. These days, you can save time and money by joining an army of sellers on eBay or Amazon or you can use specialized platforms that help business owners build an ecommerce website. You will need to spend some time comparing different options available to you in order to decide which ecommerce platform will power your store.

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Choose the Right Platform

An ecommerce platform is a technology that allows you to build your online store. When it comes to ecommerce solutions, you can choose from 2 main categories: hosted and self-hosted.

Hosted website platforms, like Bigcommerce or Shopify, are ready-made solutions that take care of hosting and server maintenance for you. If you don’t have technical skills but want to build your store yourself, you can choose these solutions because they are user-friendly and many of them have drag and drop capabilities. There are different templates and popular hosted ecommerce platforms come with a lot of built-in features to help you manage your store. The features include inventory management, sales processing, basic marketing and reporting features. You can also customize your store using different apps.

But hosted solutions have their own disadvantages and may pose challenges to businesses as they grow and want to build their repeat clientele.

  • You will depend on the solution provider if you need any updates to scale your store and will have to wait for new feature releases.
  • Your store may lack flexibility because the capabilities of your website will be dictated by its specific theme.
  • You may also face problems with integrations. Many hosted ecommerce platforms have preferred add-on providers and your choices of third-party solutions may be limited.

In case if plan to scale your ecommerce store and be able to handle lots of customers without crashing, you’d better contact professional developers like Quandary CG from the start to help you build your ecommerce store on one of the self-hosted open-source ecommerce platforms.

If you want more flexibility and better customization, self-hosted solutions make a better choice because you will have more power over the look, feel, and functionalities of your ecommerce website. Of course, you will need to host, implement, and maintain your store yourself. There is no need to worry if you don’t have a technical understanding of web hosting and ecommerce. Professional developers from Quandary CG can help you choose the right scalable open-source platform to fit your specific business needs and establish your online store.

Advantages of open-source platforms include:

  • They are mostly free and you only need costs for development and maintenance
  • They are flexible and scalable
  • You will be able to implement advanced features, capabilities, and customized designs
  • You will be able to integrate CRM and accounting software, additional plugins, and numerous payment gateways.

Design Your Store

When you have chosen the platform, you need to design your store. With popular open-sourced platforms, you can choose from a wide variety of highly customizable themes. You should choose a beautifully designed theme that will represent your brand and will allow you to showcase your products in the best possible way. Developers will install your theme and customize it to ensure that your store will look professional.

Build the structure of your site. It may vary but make sure it includes some fundamental pages as an about page and a contact page to help potential customers get in touch with you, pages that provide details about privacy, terms of service, payment options, shipping, a home page to showcase your products, and product pages with SEO-optimized product descriptions and beautiful images of your products.

Set up Payments

To accept payments from your customers, you’ll need to integrate secure payment gateways. With integrated payments, your customers won’t have to leave your store to enter their payment information and will be able to complete their purchases on your site. By making your customers’ checkout experience smoother, you will decrease shopping cart abandonment.

The good news is that the majority of payment gateways can easily integrate with different ecommerce platforms. But first, you will have to set up a secure checkout process at your website and purchase an SSL certificate to encrypt your customers’ credit card information, create a Return Policy and Privacy Policy, decide what shipping and delivery methods you will use and provide all this information on your website. A lot of payment gateways support credit cards but if you are planning to accept cryptocurrencies, you may need to conduct an additional research to ensure that your payment gateway supports them.

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Set up the Checkout process

Shopping cart abandonment is a big problem for ecommerce in general. Just imagine that an average online store can lose over 75% of its sales. You can avoid it by taking measure to improve your checkout process.

  • Make sure that your site, especially your checkout works well on smartphones and tablet.
  • Enable your customers to buy multiple items at once.
  • Offer multiple popular payment options.
  • Send cart abandonment emails to everyone who leaves your website without completing a purchase.

Integrate with Analytics Solutions

To track and measure the performance of your store, you will need to integrate analytic tools. You will be able to gather data on your website’s visitors and their activity and get actionable insights for planning of your marketing campaigns. They will help you improve your site and product pages, and order process to offer your customers pleasant customer experience and increase sales.

Building an Ecommerce Website: The Best Platforms to Consider

Choosing the best open source ecommerce platform for your store is not easy because they all have their strengths and weaknesses. We recommend that you should pay attention to Magento and Drupal that stand out from the rest in terms of functionality and popularity.

Magento is the most popular ecommerce software that empowers 25% of online stores. Its open source version has tons of great features. The open source version gives you all the basic tools you need. Besides, there are a lot of plugins and extensions that make the platform extremely flexible and scalable.

WordPress is one of the most comprehensive open source CMS platforms that easily integrates with numerous third-party extensions and apps, including e-commerce plugin called WooCommerce. WordPress CMS is flexible and SEO-friendly. It allows handling the most complex payment models. WordPress is a perfect solution if you plan to start with reasonable investments or with your own efforts.

Now you know how to develop an ecommerce website. As you see, you will need to take care of a lot of things and the process can be complicated, especially if you are not tech-savvy. If your business requires complex solutions and you are planning to scale, you’d better hire external consultants from Quandary CG. Our developers are experts when it comes to complex ecommerce projects. We can help you build a store based on popular open-source ecommerce platforms and ensure that your website has capabilities for your specific needs. If you need help starting an ecommerce business, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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