Getting into e-commerce is a great way to start your own business, especially if you don't have a lot of money to invest in startup costs. There are multiple ways to do business online, including selling your own products, creating an affiliate site that has a functional store, drop shipping for a merchant or starting an information publishing business. All of these methods have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, which is why it's crucial to determine your business goals before deciding on a model. When starting any business, the initial market research phase is one of the most important steps. After all, without a buying market you can't sell any products!
After creating a business plan to follow, the first step to an e-commerce startup business is choosing a domain name. The domain should reflect your business, be memorable, and it should preferably be your registered business name. Think very carefully about this part because once registered and printed on your business cards, it will be difficult to switch to a different domain name. The shorter the name is, the easier it will be for people to remember.
The next step is choosing a web hosting company to host your e-commerce site with. You will have the option of paying monthly or for the entire year in advance; most people choose to pay monthly until they are sure they want to continue with their business. It's very important to avoid free hosting providers, especially ones that will place their own advertising on your domain, because it does not look professional to customers.
Once you have redirected the domain name servers to your new hosting provider, it's time to get your website ready. This may include choosing a CMS, like Wordpress, Magento, or Shopify, and then modifying your chosen web theme to reflect the type of products that you sell. If you are not familiar with CSS, HTML or PHP markup, then you can always outsource the modification and setup of your website to an expert that does. You will also need to sign up for a merchant account at an online payment processor so that you can receive credit card payments for your customers.
In most cases, uploading products and writing search engine optimized product descriptions is the most time consuming part of setting up your e-commerce business. Ideally, they should all have unique descriptions that accurately describe the product and its uses. Adding a blog section to your e-commerce store is a personal option, however, doing so can increase your chances of ranking well in the major search engines. Things to post to your company blog include tutorials on how to use the products you sell, guides that explain how to choose the right product, and general posts about company news.
After all of your products are setup and the website runs smoothly, then it's time to market your new business where your customers are. This can include participating on forums, content marketing, networking with other store owners, guest posting on websites that are related to your niche, and paying for PPC advertising. With the exception of PPC, all of the other methods of marketing your business are free – they just cost time. Creating videos featuring tutorials on your products and uploading them to popular video sharing sites is also a great way to drive traffic to your business for free.
When starting an e-commerce business, it's very important to remember that you won't get rich overnight. Instead, to succeed you will need to have a solid business plan in place that you can refer to frequently. The key is consistency, and to be prepared for a slow start until you start gaining repeat customers and word of mouth referrals. Doing business online is no different from running a brick-and-mortar store front; it requires just as much work and dedication to see it off the ground.
Start your free 14 day trial!Create your store now
Create an online store in minutesTry Shopify Free