Entrepreneurism is now accessible at everyone’s fingertips. With eCommerce on the rise—accounting for 14.1% of all retail sales worldwide—it’s obvious that this eCommerce business model is here to stay. And what’s more: Statista forecasts that these figures will continue to grow, reaching 22% by 2023.
Savvy retailers now, more than ever, need an online presence. If you currently don’t have an online storefront, your business is missing out on a huge slice of pie that your competition is enjoying without you.
So, let’s change that!
Your next thought process is probably…
I have an eCommerce business idea: how do I start from scratch?
Ideating and launching a small business website has plenty of moving parts, especially if you don’t have one already. It’s common to start an eCommerce business without knowing what product or service you want to sell.
While some spend days or weeks brainstorming product ideas that they themselves love, others turn to travel. Howard Schultz, for example, came up with a coffee shop idea on a trip to Italy and later named it Starbucks. Like Howard, you too can come up with these ideas on the fly. However, traveling to spark creativity (alone) just won’t cut it.
After all, there is a systematic approach to starting any business, including an eCommerce one.
Interested in how you can start your eCommerce journey? Below is a 5-step approach to starting an eCommerce business from scratch:
1. Start with research
Never start an eCommerce business based off of a hunch. Software, digital product sales, service-based businesses, and physical products are all only the tip of the iceberg.
You’ll want to dig deeper.
Instead of selling general products, do your research on a specific niche that peaks your interest. An eCommerce website with no clear focus will do the opposite of increase traffic to a site. The first impression of a visitor to your website matters.
A surefire way to start this process is by conducting keyword research. Google Keyword Planner helps you visualize how many people from all over the world are searching for your product or business idea during any given time period.
Remember, if no one is looking for what you’re trying to sell, then that’s not a good sign.
2. Verify target market and product ideas
Now that you’ve identified your niche and business model, consider customer personas. Who are you, and what does your store represent? Your online store persona should match the expectations of customers and the products you sell.
This is the step where you begin to brainstorm a laundry-list of product ideas to filter through. A good strategy is to only start with one main idea in the beginning, so that you’re strategically spending efforts and budget on less at the start.
For example, if you’ve chosen an organic plant food product, you’ll want to find the type of products on Amazon (for example) to create content that sends traffic to affiliate products. And let’s say it’s a big hit, you then might want to consider creating your own brand of that product.
Everyone has different goals, expectations, or capital to begin with. Whatever route or investment you choose to verify your target market and product ideas, just know that choosing something that you truly like or enjoy will be a much more sustainable eCommerce business.
Google Keyword Planner is also a great tool for researching target markets and verifying product ideas. An added bonus is that it offers a variety of related keywords to help generate word and keyphrases to use for your eCommerce business idea. This unique information can help you dial down words to use in descriptions, product names, blog posts, and your website.
3. Register your business and its brand name
Once research and planning stages are out of the way, next up is choosing a brand that connects with your customer personas.
Register your business, pick a store name, get your business license, and get your employer identification number. During this process you’ll want to find the right vendor(s), create a logo, and get your visuals and marketing strategy in place.
Often, brainstorming a company name is just half the battle. You need to make sure that the brand name is available to use. If it’s legally taken by a different company, you’re out of luck and back at square one. If you’re based in Canada, a quick online search can bring you to free business name generators and a directory of Canadian companies to check.
By searching national name databases and social media platforms early, you can avoid wasting time and money down the road (i.e. with unnecessary marketing spend).
4. Finalize eCommerce business plan
Putting together a bookkeeping business plan is one of the most crucial steps for any business, including eCommerce ones. After all, determining your startup budget, monthly expenses, and overall plan to manage financials is key to a successful, sustainable business.
Having a plan in place can help you attract investors, get you up-to-speed on cash flow, and sets you up for better success for your marketing strategy, including understanding your market, target customers, demographics, growth prospects, and trends and sales potential. Often for entrepreneurs, a full picture understanding of business financials is key—you never know when you need to make decisions on-the-fly. Not knowing your financials can easily allow you to miss out on important opportunities—whether that’s in partnerships, new prospects, or new investors.
5. Create your online store
Now that your business is legally registered, it’s time to register your domain name and any URLs that might be relevant. There are hundreds of eCommerce shopping cart platforms available. Shopify is an increasingly popular tool to use to create your eCommerce business’ online storefront.
The best part? You don’t have to worry about design—especially if you don’t have an eye for design. Take note of things like loading speed, features, compatibility with different payment gateways, your own web developer skills, and SEO-friendly features when taking your pick.
Need help managing your financials in the planning stage of your business? Sign up for Kashoo’s free webinars (like accounting 101) or try our free 14-day trial to set your eCommerce business up for success from the get-go.