Starting a successful eCommerce business is hard work and requires many steps and decisions that need to come together at the right time. For a successful startups you require eCommerce business ideas and eCommerce business plan.
In this article, we’ve put together a comprehensive blueprint to start a successful eCommerce business from scratch . These blog posts and guides have been organized based on the most important tasks you’ll face when researching, starting, and growing an eCommerce business from scratch.
There’s nothing more rewarding starting a successful eCommerce business from nothing and watching it grow. You build it up and no one can take it away from you.
Building an eCommerce business from scratch takes more than choosing a brand name, writing product listings, and starting to sell products online. Even the best eCommerce business ideas can flop if you aren’t driving enough traffic to your site.
What is eCommerce?
eCommerce refers to the purchase and sale of goods and/or services via electronic channels such as the internet. eCommerce was first introduced in the 1960s via an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) on Value-Added Networks (VANs). Like any digital technology or consumer-based purchasing market, eCommerce has evolved over the years.
what is an eCommerce business?
You already learned what is eCommerce? Now question may arise in your mind, what is eCommerce business? eCommerce is a term for any type of business, or commercial transaction, that involves the transfer of information across the Internet.
Now that you have sufficient background about eCommerce, it’s time to look at some real world examples of eCommerce business.
Amazon, eBay, Etsy, AliExpress, Alibaba are some great eCommerce business examples.
Types of eCommerce Business Models
While the idea of the concept is right, there are more specific factors involved that categorize eCommerce business into six major types. Each of these business types has different features and attributes.
Typically, eCommerce business can be divided into six major types, such as:
- Business-to-Business (B2B)
- Business-to-Consumer (B2C)
- Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C)
- Consumer-to-Business (C2B)
- Business-to-Administration (B2A)
- Consumer-to-Administration (C2A)
B2B eCommerce business model
A B2B eCommerce business model focuses on providing products from one business to another. While many eCommerce businesses in this niche are service providers, you’ll find software companies, office furniture and supply companies, document hosting companies, and numerous other eCommerce business models under this category.
Examples of B2B eCommerce business model are: ExxonMobil Corporation, Chevron Corporation, Boeing, and Archer Daniel Midlands.
B2C eCommerce business model
The B2C model is what most people think of when they imagine an eCommerce business. This is the deepest eCommerce market, and many of the names you’ll see here are known quantities, too. B2C sales are the traditional retail business model, where a business sells to individuals, but business is conducted online as opposed to in a physical store.
Examples of B2C businesses are Newegg.com, Overstock.com, Wish, ModCloth, Staples, Wal-Mart, Target, REI, and Gap.
C2C eCommerce business model
B2B and B2C are fairly intuitive concepts for most of us, but the idea of C2C eCommerce business is different.
Created by the rise of the eCommerce business and growing consumer confidence in online sales, these sites allow customers to trade, buy, and sell items in exchange for a small commission paid to the site.
Examples of C2C businesses are eBay and Craigslist.
C2B eCommerce business model
C2B is another business model most people don’t immediately think of, but that is growing in prevalence. This type of online eCommerce business is when the consumer sells goods or services to businesses, and is roughly equivalent to a sole proprietorship serving a larger business.
B2A eCommerce business model
Business to Administration (B2A) also called B2G, for businesses whose sole clients are governments or type of public administration. Example of B2A eCommerce is Synergetics Inc. in Ft. Collins, Colorado, which provides contractors and services for government agencies.
C2A eCommerce business model
Consumer to Administration (C2A) or Consumer to Government (C2G) eCommerce model helps consumers to request information or post various feedback regarding public sectors directly to the government authorities or administration.
Benefits of eCommerce business
eCommerce is the buying and selling of products and services, or the transmitting of funds or data, over an electronic network, primarily the internet. These business transactions occur either as business-to-business (b2b), business-to-consumer (b2c), consumer-to-consumer (c2c) or consumer-to-business (c2b).
- Sell Internationally: First on the list of eCommerce benefits is that a new brand can sell to customers around the world easily. You have the ability to discover your audience whether they’re in the U.K., South America, or any other countries. This allows you to price and ship your products competitively to a worldwide customers.
- Low Financial Cost: One of the eCommerce benefits is that it has a lower startup cost. Physical retail stores have to pay up to thousands to rent one of their store locations. Also, they have several upfront costs such as store signs, store design, buying inventory, sales equipment, and more.
- Easy Showcase to Bestsellers: eCommerce benefits like being able to easily display best-sellers makes it easier to show off products to customers.it’s easier for a customer to find the best-sellers in an online store. The reason why you want customers to buy your best-sellers is that they’re proven. Other customers have already bought them and are happy with their purchase.
- Personalized Online Experience: Website personalization, one of the online business advantages, can enhance the online shopping experience. Or segment email lists based on purchases made, location or even how much money a customer spent. You can also re-target a customer who visited your store showing them an ad for a product they added to their cart and forgot about.
- Support service: It provides 24×7 support. Customers can inquire about a product or service and place orders anytime, anywhere from any location.
Research The Basics to Start eCommerce Business
Beginning your basic research on eCommerce is the first critical step of how to start a successful eCommerce business.
There isn’t a single business structure that suits everyone. Service-based business, software, digital product sales, and physical products are just the tip of eCommerce success.
Before you can decide on what to sell online, you need to understand the different business models available that we discussed earlier.
If you want to turn a profit without touching your products or investing heavily at the start, dropshipping is a perfect choice.
Start eCommerce Niche Research
When selecting a niche for a new eCommerce online store you should look for a set of products that meet certain criteria.
Here are the tips to choose profitable niches and how it can actually be easy.
Tip #1: The Importance of Pricing
There are three tips for choosing a profitable niche that will actually make money. Now, here are a few pieces of criteria that we look for. The first thing is always the price of products.
The average products price should be $200 or more. What does that mean in best practice? Well, if you sold something like a water bottle, that’s not at all expense $200. So that is not going to be a niche products.
Tip #2: Your eCommerce Niche Target Market
Say you will sell products online that appeal to the wealthy, products that appeal to the middle class, and products that appeal to lower income households. It is best to appeal to the upper-middle class, meaning online shoppers who have a household income of $100,000 or more. It’s sad to say but if you sell products that appeal to low-income households you will have to do a lot more work.
Once you make sure that your price is above $200, you look towards your target market. You’ve to familiar with with demographics to select your target market. It makes it a lot more profitable if you choose niches that fall into that target demographic.
Tip #3: eCommerce Brand Loyalty
The final tip is just as important as the first two regarding your target demographic and pricing. Now, we will talk about eCommerce brand loyalty. For instance, while cell phones fall into the price range criteria, they don’t meet one of my other criteria and that is because of the brand loyalty.
When someone is going to buy a cell phone, in general, they are going to buy an iPhone or they are going to buy another Android smart phone, they pretty much already have a brand in their head of what product they want.
So, the third thing that you are going to look for when trying to choose a profitable niche is to pick an industry that has no eCommerce brand loyalty. It’s going to make a big difference.
That’s because if you try to sell in a niche product where people already know what company they want to buy from, it’s going to make it that much harder for you to get dropship suppliers.
Establish Your eCommerce Business
If you want to start a successful eCommerce business, you need a brand that connects with your persona. Identifying your persona makes creating an eCommerce brand easier.
But before you set up your store and building a brand – there are some basic steps you’ll need to take.
Step 1: Pick Your Business Name
Choose a business name and register your company. You can conduct a corporate name search to make sure it’s not already in use. Make sure whatever you choose fits your niche – you don’t want to pick a store’s name at the last minute.
Step 2: Secure Your Domain Name and Website
Usually, you’ll get your business name as your domain name, but if it’s not available, choose a URL that’s easy to say and spell, and relates to your eCommerce business. So if your business is handicrafts and handicrafts.com isn’t available, try something similar like handicrafts.com.
The design of your eCommerce website may be the biggest business expense you have. But you have to ensure that it’s not only visually appealing, but also functional.
Step 3: Select The Best Business Structure and Register Your Business
You’ve several options when it comes to your business structure:
- Sole Proprietor
- Partnership (if you have a business partner)
- LLC and
If you don’t choose a business structure like LLC or a corporation, you’ll automatically be considered a sole proprietor or partnership by the IRS. However, when you will run your business as a sole proprietor, your personal assets are at risk. If your company is ever sued, the court can seize your personal assets if your business doesn’t have enough to cover its due. Both the LLC and corporation separate you and your assets from the business, and provide other tax benefits.
You can register your own by filling out the appropriate business structure paperwork from the IRS by yourself, or you can hire a business filing company to do it for you. A lawyer is another option, but that’s often overkill for the small business owner’s needs.
Step 4: Get Your Employer Identification Number
You’ll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to open a business bank account and file your business taxes till next April. Your EIN is similar like your business’ social security number: it’s a unique number that identifies your business and helps you file important paperwork.
Step 5: Apply For Business Licenses And Permits
Operating an eCommerce online store does not exclude you from needing certain business licenses and permits. Check with your city, county, and state to see what sorts of sales tax licenses or home business licenses you need, and get those approved before you start the business operation.
Step 6: Find The Right Vendors
You’ll have to face a lot of competition selling products online. So, it’s in your best interest to find the best quality and best prices for the products you sell or even the materials you use to create your products. Shop around until you find a proper vendor you want to do business with long-term including your eCommerce software.
Step 7: Logo Creation
Don’t fret over it to someone. While creation of logo, make sure that it is not in use by another company in your niche. Logo design doesn’t have to be terribly original.
Step 8: Get Visual
Consider the colors of your brand, the imagery you’ll use, and the fonts you’ll employ carefully. If you’ve got the budget, you might want to hire a marketing firm to create a attractive design brief for your company. If not possible, you can create your own. Just keep it consistent.
Step 9: Start Marketing Early
Even if you’re not up and running, it’s a good idea to set up social media profiles and writing content for your blog now so that you’re not starting from Day 1. You can set up your own website with a “coming soon” page where interested people can sign up to get updates, using a tool like LaunchRock.
Step 10: Get More Productive with the Right Software
Technology can make your daily work so much easier, so before you start your eCommerce business, play around with customer relationship management, accounting, project management, and email marketing software that you can integrate into once you launch.
Create Your eCommerce Online Store
Once you establish your eCommerce business you can create your own eCommerce online store.
There are literally hundreds of eCommerce open source platforms. Choosing the right eCommerce platform is not easy. You need to carefully evaluate things like loading speed, features, compatibility with different payment gateways, compatibility with your business structure, your web developer skills, SEO-friendly features, and more.
Once you decide on your eCommerce platforms, don’t hire a “CRO Expert” or expensive development company. Just use a theme. You might need to pay a small fee of around $150 to get a good template, depending on the platform you choose and what they offer.
Theres lots of themes for Shopify, WooCommerce and Dokan.
If you don’t need to worry about taking credit card payments, you can sell products online on a marketplace like Amazon.
By using Dokan you will get all the eCommerce business opportunities.
Here is the installation guide in a video.
You will get all the options to get the traffic, like email marketing for driving conversion, set up coupons for attract visitors and 24/7 customer support.
Attracting Customers To Your eCommerce Store
You’ve built your eCommerce store, filled it with merchandise, and held your “Grand Opening”. Now you have to keep a steady stream of shoppers walking through your doors and making purchases.
We’ve highlighted some of the most common, and most fruitful online eCommerce business opportunities for you to think about. Depending on your target audience, budget and other particulars of your eCommerce business, you can choose which make the most sense for you:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the process of getting your website to the high of search engines for particular targeted keywords. It’s a common wire of most long-term eCommerce marketing plans. Achieving the desired results can give a steady stream of very cost-effective and highly targeted traffic to your website.
Search Engines look at a wide variety of factors when ranking websites. By taking positive actions like posting unique, high quality content on your website, meeting other technical requirements like a fast loading speed, and earning natural links from other websites to yours (in essence, recommending your site), your rankings will slowly but surely rise to the top.
Pay Per Click Marketing (PPC)
Google has consistently earned the bulk amount of their revenue from paid advertising. PPC campaigns work with Ad publishers like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and AdRoll to use ads to drive visitors to your website. In most cases, you only pay when a visitor clicks an ad and is sent to your website. While you should certainly plan to run ads long enough to collect data and optimize your ads campaigns, you don’t need to make a long-term commitment. In a way, you could equate it to renting traffic sources. When you stop paying, your ads will stop to display.
If you’re making sales cost effectively and the ads campaign is profitable, you’ll keep running it. If the sales aren’t impressive enough, you can pause or stop campaign at any time; but, if you want PPC traffic, you must keep paying for it.
PPC Marketing platforms, like Google Adwords, offer diverse ways to attract visitors. This includes search ads that appear in search results, display ads that show banners on other websites like blogs and news sites. It also includes re-marketing ads which can specifically follow customers who left your website without making a purchase.
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
Social Media Marketing encompasses both natural grassroots marketing efforts through social networks, and running a paid ads to boost your marketing efforts and reach more consumers. It is best known for its ability to target visitors by their interests and demographics. A strong social media presence can have important benefits, reflecting your brand, and providing an additional avenue for engaging customers.
Your eCommerce business website can provide more than just product information. It can be a resource to help clients research a purchase, providing them with much needed information with answers and converting them into customers.
YouTube is the 2nd most searched website in the United States. Furthermore, search engines like Google take a liking to mixing videos with YouTube into standard search results when possible. By creating and optimizing compelling videos, you can help engage with a unique segment of visitors. In many ways, Video Marketing can be looked at as an offshoot of Content Marketing strategy. Videos can focus on topics that are likely to generate sales, such as demonstrating products, comparing products, or describing important things to consider during purchasing a particular type of product.
Many marketing eCommerce campaigns focus on driving new visitors to your storefront. Email marketing focuses on engaging consumers who have already provided you with their e-mail address. Using data from a tracking system will allow you to send highly targeted e-mails to groups of customers, and set e-mails to be automatically sent at different trigger points. It can even be used to send e-mail who added products to their shopping cart and left your website without checking out.
Your eCommerce website is a digital depository of all of your all products data. You can leverage that data to generate sales on other platforms. For instance, with many eCommerce platforms, you can feed your product data into marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, and feed sales data back to your eCommerce website.
This allows you to generate sales in other venues. You can also feed your product data into comparison shopping engines like Nextag, Shopzilla, and PriceGrabber. Over time, these feeds can be optimized to generate more sales.
Affiliate marketing is the process by which you can make partnership with more established eCommerce entrepreneur in your niche and asking them to promote your products to his or her audience. In return, you pay a piece of the profit from each sale they make.
In other ways, affiliate marketing connects a eCommerce business that has a product to sell with a marketer who can sell it. It can be a great channel for first time eCommerce entrepreneurs. It’s one of the only marketing channels where you can get a 100% return on investment each and every time. All sales are tracked via affiliate links from one website to another.
The tracking of affiliate links is handled automatically by the retailer’s affiliate platform. Any time a visitor clicks on a link, a tracking cookie is stored on the visitor’s web browser that informs the retailer which publisher sent the visitor to their site.
Those cookies are valid for a set period of time(maximum 365 days or minimum 1 hour). That means the publisher only gets payment if the visitor makes the purchase within that time period,
Besides affiliate links, publishers can get access to tracking reports, additional promotional materials like banners, copy, email templates inside the retailer’s affiliate platform. These platforms also handle commission payments so publishers can expect to get payment around the same time each month, usually by PayPal or direct deposit.
Ready To Start a Successful eCommerce Business?
Creating your own eCommerce business is as exciting as it is challenging. At a rapid pace you’ll learn a lot about choosing a product, evaluating its viability etc. The process can feel like you’re solving a puzzle, but it’s rewarding all the same.
We hope the resources above helps to provide you with a clearer road-map. As always, the best advice is to just get started, and to enjoy yourself along the way.