How to Start an Ecommerce Business in 2021 (Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners)

How to start an ecommerce business

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Ecommerce is evidently the future of all commerce in the digital age we live in. And for business entrepreneurs around the world who are looking to sell their product or service to customers, starting an ecommerce store is much more cost-effective and innovative than opening up a conventional storefront. However, like every business start-up, it’s going to take some time and effort to get your feet off the ground.

That being said, with the right guidance, you will be able to build and launch your ecommerce store in no time. If you are interested in how to start an ecommerce business, then you have come to the right place. Lucky for you, I’ve put together a comprehensive how-to guide that will help you through every step of the process so you can begin making money online in no time. Let’s get right into it.

What is an Ecommerce store?

Now, before we get into the details of how to start an ecommerce business, let’s define what an ecommerce store is, just to make sure we’re all on the same page here. Simply put, an ecommerce business, or electronic business, is a business model that operates solely on the internet. Just like a conventional company operates in the real world, ecommerce also works in the following market sectors of the economy:

  1. Business to business
  2. Business to consumer
  3. Consumer to consumer
  4. Consumer to business

Ecommerce businesses have the ability to operate on computers, smartphones, and tablets, anytime and anywhere in the world (as long as there’s Wi-Fi available). The convenient thing about having an ecommerce store is that you can virtually sell any product or service imaginable from the comfort of your own home without having to deal with the overhead cost of having an office location if you choose. Additionally, in some scenarios, you can even avoid having to purchase any stock for products if you decide to go down the dropshipping route –but we’ll talk about that a little bit later.

How to Start an Online Store

Now, let’s get into the details of how to start an online store, shall we?

1. Choose Your Product

The first step in starting an online business is choosing what products you are going to sell. You may have your own products that you’ve created yourself, such as candles, jewelry, clothing, or you can source products directly from a manufacturer that is not your product instead.

The underlying goal of choosing a product or product collection that you are going to sell is to first select what niche you are going to focus on. For example, you may choose to focus on selling products that are related to the tech industry or perhaps the beauty industry.

Once you have chosen your niche, you now need to select a product that you are thinking about selling. You may even have a product in mind already, and that’s a great start!

2. Evaluate Your Product Choice

Keeping this product in mind, you are then going to have to evaluate your product to see if it’s actually going to sell in your niche. But how do you do that? Here’s what you should do to evaluate whether or not your product is worth selling or not:

  • Search for competitors who are selling your product –market competition is a good sign.
  • See if there is a demand for your product choice – the best way to do this is to search your product name into Google Trends or Google Keyword Planner to see how many people in your specified region are searching for that product monthly.

Once you have evaluated those two essential components, you can then determine whether or not the product you chose is worth selling or not.

3. Figure Out How to Get Your Product

The next step in how to sell online is to figure out how you are going to get your product. There are generally four options that you can choose from when starting an online ecommerce store:

You make the product yourself

If you choose to make the product yourself, you are going to need to determine how many supplies you need, what the cost ratio is going to be when factoring in time spent, tools, etc. you are also going to have to invest money upfront if you want to create your own product to sell

You have a manufacturer make the products for you.

If you would rather have a manufacturing company make your products for you, then you need to determine which manufacturer you are going to use, enter a partnership with them, and negotiate terms and contracts. You will also need to put money up front to start your online business this way.

Wholesale

Perhaps selling your own product isn’t your forte –and that is totally okay because there is a solution if you are still looking for ways on how to start an online business. If you would prefer to sell pre-made products, you have the option of buying wholesale items from a manufacturing company that will allow you to buy in bulk.

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Dropshipping

This last method is by far the easiest method of how to start an online store. Dropping involves creating a website and selling products to customers by acting as the middle man. How this works is once you have chosen a product to sell, you are then going to list that product for way more than it is being sold for by the manufacturing company. Once customers come to your store and order a product, you will then input their information into the manufacturing website and have the item ship right to your customer without having to put in an initial investment.

This method also allows you to sell multiple items at once. Additionally, there are websites such as Oberlo that will enable you to directly import the product you want to sell from another website right onto your platform. This saves you the trouble of manually inputting any order details and still making a steady revenue without really doing anything at all.

If you’re looking for ways of how to start an online store without having to put any money down up front, then dropshipping is most likely your best bet. If you do have a product in mind, you can weigh the first three options to see which one best fits your starting budget and what you are looking to do long-term for your business.

4. Start Your Business plan

The next step in how to start an ecommerce business is to write out your business plan. This is going to help you set goals and organize your thoughts. You also need to prioritize tasks and figure out how you are going to get your product in front of the right consumers. Make sure not to rush when beginning to formulate your business plan. You don’t want to risk prematurely launching a business that isn’t ready to be.

Prematurely launching has the ability to ruin your business altogether to make sure to put in the time and effort to get things done right the first time, instead of making big mistakes right away. Trust me, you will thank me later! It’s nothing but tough love, I promise!

5. Setting Your Business Up

Now that you figure out the logistics of how to start an online store, it’s time to build your business. Follow these steps to get started:

Name Your Business

When naming your business, you want to make sure that it embodies something related to your plan on selling. Remember to keep it simple and memorable. If you are having trouble brainstorming ideas, tons of free online business name generators can help you get your creative juices flowing.

Create Your Logo

Here comes the fun part, creating your logo! Creating a logo is an essential part of any business as it is a necessary part of your brand identity. It is going to be the logo people remember even when your business name isn’t present. Therefore, the goal is to make it as eye-catching and memorable as possible! Now, don’t worry; we don’t expect everyone to be graphic design geniuses.

If you are looking for someone to design your logo, try looking on freelancing websites such as Fiverr or Upwork. You can hire a freelance graphic designer for as little as $5 to create your logo for you!

6. Bring Your Ecommerce Store to Life

Build Your Website

Once you’ve got your logo down and your business name ready to go, the next step of how to start an online ecommerce business is to begin building your website. Again, if you don’t feel comfortable building your own website, you can use sites such as Shopify or WordPress, both of which come with thousands of free website layouts that you can use to customize a website that fits the vibe of your business.

Alternatively, if you really don’t trust yourself to make an aesthetically pleasing website that is also functional, head over to a freelancing site and have someone do it for you –trust me, it will be worth it!

Put Content on Your Website

Besides developing your website and making it look good, you are then going to need to put content on your website to bring it all together. You’re going to need an about page, product descriptions, home page, contact us, shipping and returns policy, terms and conditions, privacy policy, disclaimer, and perhaps a frequently asked questions page if you want.

You already know what I am about to say next. If you don’t trust in your abilities to write the content yourself, use a freelancer! Seriously, there is nothing wrong with outsourcing talent to get the job done right! You can also rest assured knowing that your content is going to come out looking professional. Which is going to help your business with its credibility in the market right off the bat!

7. Prepare For Your Launch Date

Whether you’ve chosen to sell your own products or have gone the dropshipping route, you must prepare for your launch date regardless! The key here is to get the word out about your products and services as much as possible. Here are some methods that you can use to announce the opening of your store:

  • Spread the word on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter
  • Send out a press release to news outlets online and in your area.
  • Purchase pay-per-click advertising
  • Facebook and Google Ads

8. Post Launch Essentials

You’ve made it! You’ve officially launched your ecommerce business –now what? Now that you’ve launched and began to spread the word of your launch, it’s now time to get your first customers! I suggest continuing to use advertising methods and utilizing your social media to your advantage to spread the word to others as much as possible. You can even reach out to social media influencers and see if they will promote your product for you to generate more buzz.

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Influencer marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach larger audiences –especially when you are a small business. The reason why influencer marketing works so well is because of the influence they hold with their followers. Their followers trust their opinion like it was their own, which is part of the reason they follow them in the first place. It is also likely that the influencer you choose is interested in the product you are selling, which means that their followers will most likely be interested in your products naturally!

Once You Begin Getting Customers

Once you begin getting customers and driving traffic to your website, that is when the real work begins. It is one thing to launch a business; it’s another to keep your business running long term. Besides continuing to market your business online and through press releases to the media, the most important thing to keep your business growing is to make sure your customer service operations are on point.

Why is customer service so important?

One of the most essential concepts to stress is that consumerism has drastically changed from what it used to be due to the digital age that we live in. Now more than ever, modern consumers have the power to make or break your business at the touch of their fingertips. Positive reviews are essential in keeping your business alive. Therefore, you must go above and beyond to ensure that every customer you have leaves with their expectations exceeded every time.

This will not only help to turn them into loyal customers, but it’s also going to enhance your chances that they post about your online store to their social media followers. As you may have already guessed, which is going to increase the traffic you have coming into your website.

Think about adding blogging to your business

Once you have launched, it’s important to keep generating traffic to your website, as we know. And one of the best ways to do this organically is to begin blogging about your niche topics. By continuously blogging a couple of times a month and making sure that your blog posts are search engine optimized (SEO), you will increase your chances of having more people come across your page that is already interested in your niche. Thus they are more likely to end up purchasing one of your products from you!

How to start an online business

As you can see, there is a lot more that goes into starting an online business than you may have thought. However, if you are willing to put in the work and do the research, there is no reason why you can’t be successful. Remember to take your time in the initial planning stages to make sure that you don’t launch a premature business in nature. If you choose to source your products from a manufacturing company or go the dropshipping route, make sure you choose reputable products from trustworthy manufacturers so you don’t risk any problems arising later on.

Once reading through this how to start selling an online guide, you should be more than equipped to launch successfully. Just remember to keep in mind that these things don’t happen overnight. If you want to have a successful pre-launch, you are going to have to put in the work to market your business and create a lasting impression on the customers you do end up generating to your page. 

And there you have it! If you have any questions about any of the steps that I’ve listed here for you today, don’t be afraid to leave a comment down below! You can even comment on more tips and tricks you have in terms of starting an online business! Don’t be shy, I’d love to hear from you!

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