Helping others to start an e-commerce business is something I have always enjoyed.
Years before I got my internet marketing MBA, I brought major business retail brands to the market. Marketing an established e-commerce brand versus starting a new one is another game. I have been helping online entrepreneurs since 2008 and discovered all the pitfalls that new businesses face.
Tired of watching small business owners struggling to get started, I have compiled this guide to guarantee you a smooth ride for your e-commerce company. It took me years to learn everything on this page. Use the information here to set up your e-commerce store, protect yourself legally, get your finances in order, put your product on the market and sell, and start building your store.
There is nothing more fun to start a business from scratch and see it grow. You build it up and nobody can take it away from you.
Online retail is a thriving business. But I have seen too many e-commerce companies struggling to get a grip. Running an online store can quickly become complicated, therefore I am a big fan of launching a product line with one brand + affiliate sites.
This e-commerce model is very different from the typical online stores that depend on product sales.
- Starts with a niche & persona, NOT product
- Highest profit margin
- One product to worry about shipping
- Use sales on affiliate marketing to reinvest
- Find out what else is for sale and launch new lines
- Natural growth projection
Building an e-commerce business requires more than choosing a brand name, writing product listings and starting selling products online. Even the best business ideas can flop if you don't get enough traffic to your site.
How to start an e-commerce company
Investigate the basic principles of e-commerce companies
Starting your research is the first critical step. Don't work from a feeling. Growing an online business is an investment. Treat it as such.
There is no company structure that works for everyone. Service-based companies, software, digital product salesand physical products are just the tip of the iceberg.
Before you can decide what to sell online, you must understand the different available business models.
It is not rocket science, but it does affect your company structure.
This is something that I will help you figure out in my E-commerce Natural Blueprint of course.
If you want to make a profit without touching your product or invest a lot in the beginning, drop shipping is a smart choice.
If you like the idea of having your own warehouse full of goodies, you invest more in advance and work with a wholesaler or warehousing model. Do you have a business idea for the perfect product idea or a favorite product that you would like to sell under your brand? Look at white labels and production.
And then there are subscriptions, where you carefully compile a set of products or a single product to deliver to your customers at regular intervals.
The e-commerce business model that attracts me the most is a single product category that you supplement with affiliate marketing. You can manage the content marketing and branding of a targeted product and focus the rest of your energy on driving sales by generating revenue with traffic.
E-commerce business models must read
Types of e-commerce: Ready to start your successful e-commerce business? Read more about the sales process of products and other types of online business models here.
Start e-commerce niche research
It hurts me when people email me their e-commerce site and it is full of hundreds of products, dozens of categories and no real focus.
Unless you have a huge budget, you cannot be the next Best Buy or Amazon. You have to make a niche to run a profitable e-commerce store.
Choosing your niche is the most important step in opening your online business. Start this process by identifying successful companies that already work in this space.
Make sure the area is competitive – a lack of competition usually also indicates that there is no market.
However, do not choose a too busy niche and skip everything that is dominated by major brands. If you have problems with this, continue with what you want to do: the more specific you are, the less competition you are likely to encounter.
Niche down also gives you the advantage that you have many & # 39; shoulder niches & # 39; related to what you do, but not identical. You can collaborate with business owners in those niches to do a cross-promotion, become (or become) an affiliate, and expand your customer base.
Choose a product category with at least 1000 keywords and focus on a niche that is doing well on social media, with publishers in the region affiliated with Amazon. If you can take advantage of some affiliate marketing opportunities, you don't have to worry about shipping so many products, but you can still make a profit.
Must read for niche selection:
Persona & # 39; s and product selection
Now that you have identified a niche and a business model, you can be tempted to look for products to sell.
Do not. Before you think about product ideas, you should consider personas. You cannot expect people to buy your product if you do not know to whom you are selling it.
Who are you? What does the store represent? Who are your ideal customers? You must project a consistent brand image (a journey that starts with your brand name). An organic seed company that would sell conventional fertilizers would not last long.
After you have identified the image you want to project and the customer you want to serve, it's time to come up with product ideas. I suggest starting with one – you'll invest less in the beginning, and if you want to bid more, you can test the waters with affiliate marketing.
In the example of an organic seed company, you can find popular organic products on Amazon and create content to send traffic to those affiliated products. If something catches fire, consider creating your own brand from that product. If you are not 100% sure what to sell, you can use affiliate marketing to validate your idea.
However, before you invest in the product, you must carefully evaluate it. Even if you choose a dropshipping model, you want to test it carefully and get an idea of the product so that you can identify potential problems and prepare customer scripts to answer frequently asked questions.
Product selection must read
Establish your brand and e-commerce company
If you want to start a successful business, you need a brand that matches your personality. Identifying your persona makes building an e-commerce brand easier. You could avoid girl colors and images if you sell products to business entrepreneurs who are interested in a sustainable life.
But before you set up your store and get started building a brand, there are some basic steps you need to take.
Step 1: Register your company.
Choose a company name and register your company. There are legal protection and tax benefits for inclusion, so don't skip them.
Step 2: Choose the name of your store
The name of your site and the legal name of your company do not have to be identical, but keeping them consistent has its advantages. Make sure that whatever you choose fits your niche – you don't want to choose a brand name at the last minute.
Step 3: Receive your business licenses
If you are not familiar with this process, the Small Business Association has many resources to get you started, including a mentor-protecting network and courses on basic principles of small businesses. Actively search for mentors – their advice can be prohibitive, even for small things such as acquire business licenses. One of the smartest decisions I ever made was to find someone who could show me the way.
Step 4: Ask for your employer identification number
You need an employer identification number (EIN) to open a business bank account and file your business taxes in April, even if you are not planning employees. Your EIN is a bit like the social security number of your company: it is a unique number that identifies your company and helps you to submit important paperwork.
Step 5: Apply for business permits and permits
Operating an online store does not exclude that you need certain business licenses and permits. Contact your city, province, and province to see what kind of sales tax permits or home business permits you need and get them approved before you start work.
Step 6: Find the right suppliers
You will have a lot of competition to sell products online, so it is in your interest to find the best quality and prices for the products that you sell or materials that you use to make your products. Look around until you find a supplier with whom you want to do business in the long term – this includes your e-commerce software (your "shopping cart"). Think scalable from the start.
Step 7: Create logo
Step 8: Become visual
Keep in mind the colors of your brand, the images you use and the font or fonts that you use with care. If you have the budget, you might want to hire a marketing company to create a design assignment for your company. If not, you can create one yourself. Keep it consistent and read marketing tips designed to boost your brand.
E-commerce company must read
Create your online store
After you have legally registered your company and started to think about design, you must register your domain name and any redirect URLs that may be relevant. You need the design information that you have now determined in the final step, when you finally build your store.
Whatever design you choose, it must also be compatible with your e-commerce software.
There are literally hundreds of e-commerce shopping cart platforms. Choosing the right e-commerce software is not easy. You need to carefully evaluate things like loading speed, functions, compatibility with different payment gateways, compatibility with your business structure, skills for web developers, SEO-friendly functions and more. I compile assessments and comparisons to help you choose the right one.
Once you have chosen your e-commerce solution, you do not need a & # 39; CRO expert & # 39; or expensive development company. Just use a theme. You may have to pay a small fee of $ 100 or so to get a good template, depending on the shopping cart you choose and what they offer.
There are many themes for BigCommerce, Shopify and WooCommerce.
If you don't want to worry about credit card payments, you can sell products online at a marketplace like Amazon.
Do you love the idea of your own digital real estate? Ensure that your e-commerce platform can scale with you and can be integrated with popular e-commerce marketplaces to increase your visibility.
Setting up your online store is much more than adding your products and content. You also need to set up your email marketing and automation.
This is important to set BEFORE you get traffic. Email marketing is essential for generating conversions. Make sure you set up coupons, thank you emails and upsells so that you can turn visitors into shoppers. You also need to think about customer support.
E-commerce website must read
Here are some resources to get you started:
Attract customers for your e-commerce store
Apologies to everyone Field of dreams fans, but if you build it, there is no guarantee that they will come. You have to market your store.
When you chose your shopping cart, I told you to think about search engine friendly features. They are NOT all the same.
The keyword-stuffing days of the early 2000s are long gone, but SEO is alive and kicking. You must keep keywords and search terms in mind on every page of your site, in your URLs and in your advertising campaigns. You should also think about generating traffic to your site.
The best e-commerce sites invest heavily in online marketing. If you don't have the money, you better use the elbow grease. Subscribe to marketing newsletters or listen to digital marketing podcasts to monitor the digital marketing industry and receive marketing tips.
Are you going to use sponsored content, social media, pay-per-click ads or a combination of strategies? How can you monitor which campaigns generate traffic to your store? If marketing your site seems overwhelming, can you hire help?
E-commerce marketing must read
Marketing your products online
Your site is not the only thing you need to direct traffic to. The products you choose must also be included in your marketing budget.
Your mission is to sell products, not to generate traffic. To sell products, you have to think further than your site and look for expansion areas.
No matter what and how you decide to sell, the first step is to create an email list. Place an opt-in freebie on your website, start a social media campaign to win subscribers, or organize a giveaway where the registration fee is the email address of your customer.
Running a giveaway is my marketing strategy to get fast traffic and subscribers. Giveaways have the added advantage of increasing your brand presence and product visibility. Compiling an email list gives you a group of warm leads to work with, making the sales process much easier.
By offering coupons and content to consumers via email, you can keep your brand in mind, boost sales, and establish credibility. Keep your e-mails interesting – often ask for your customers' input, including reviews. Respond quickly to customer service and product quality issues and work on building relationships. No sales interaction is about the first sale; always focus on the next.
Check on your site how and where traffic flows. Are your product pages focused on your persona? Are you losing potential customers in the same place? If you generate traffic to your store but sell nothing, you can resolve the leaks in your sales funnel by carefully optimizing each page and reviewing your product listings. Use analysis to help you with this task. There are tools with which you can follow and optimize every step of the sales process. Use it.
Research partner and affiliate marketing to increase your brand presence by offering affiliate marketing options and working with retailers in your shoulder niches. If you are nervous about approaching other retailers, look at options such as JVZoo (www.jvzoo.com), ClickBank (www.clickbank.com) and Amazon Associates.
You can also offer bloggers in your niche a free sample of your product in exchange for reviews. If you sell products on Amazon, an easy way to gain consumer respect and trust (and reviews) is to ask for feedback. Add a card to each product that requires an honest review and contains contact information for your company (e-mail is sufficient unless you have special customer service) telephone line).
Product marketing must read
How to create a non-sketchy Amazon store to launch a private brand
Read these articles for more information about marketing your product (s):
Ready to start your online business?
Has this message answered your questions about starting an e-commerce store? If so, give it a share. I have helped entrepreneurs like you for years. Running a successful e-commerce website does not have to be a struggle or pricey.
If you have the elbow fat and the time, you can launch a profitable online store for a few hundred dollars a month.
Your success is important to me. If you take the time to read the above sources, you save hundreds of hours of work and you know where you are likely to get more value for money in e-commerce. I really hope you enjoyed the insights I shared starting an e-commerce company. If I have missed something that you would like to see treated, let me know in the comments.