How to Start an Ecommerce Business: 5 Essential Steps

The impact of COVID-19 on retail has led to an increase in eCommerce traffic. So if you’re considering launching an eCommerce business, experts say now could be a great time.

First, make sure you get the lay of the land. Start by immersing yourself in startup blogs and industry publications. Then you’ll need to research SEO best practices and read up on classic first-timer mistakes, like slow load times, which could unnecessarily lose you, customers. 

Start with these five essential steps, and soon you’ll be on your way to launching a successful eCommerce business. Good luck!

Step 1 -Do You Have Real Passion for the Product?

Number one, make sure you have passion. There will definitely be bumps along the road to success. If you choose an industry you love, it’s much easier to stay the course. Plus, customers can smell a phony. If you love what you do, it will translate to sales. However, remember that passion is not enough to set you apart from your competitors. Make sure your product solves a real problem before launching your eCommerce business. 

Step 2 – Have You Gotten Insight from Real Users?

Number two, ensure product-market fit. Don’t launch your business before you have complete confidence in your product. Start by identifying your beachhead customer segment. Make sure you create customer personas. Prototype and test your product over and over again. Speak to real users before making any big decisions. Move fast and break things. 

The worst possible mistake you can make is building something based solely on the idea in your own mind. It’s much smarter to discover problems early on before blowing your budget on expensive marketing campaigns and ordering stock.

Step 3 – What Does Your Platform Need to Do? 

Select the best ecommerce shopping cart that makes sense for your needs. Think ahead down the line to any integrations you may need in the future. With a little forethought, you can avoid painless transitions between platforms. That being said, don’t be distracted by the fanciest offerings. Most companies don’t need and can’t take advantage of every single feature offered by eCommerce platforms. Pick what’s right for you and learn as you go.

Today’s customers (and tomorrow’s) demand seamless user experiences across devices. Some platforms do this better than others. Before you get invested in one, explore how much customer support is offered by each platform. Is it easy to integrate apps? Are there developers who specialize in this platform? You should choose a platform on which you can grow. When you’re first launching your eCommerce business, everything will feel new and challenging. So seek expert advice about platforms before you commit. Better yet, see what your competitors are doing and you just might uncover opportunities to poach their customers by improving on their process. 

Check more tips on ecommerce marketing to get the best results

Step 4 – Are You Prepared to Offer Transparent Pricing?

It’s a huge turnoff to customers when they can’t understand your pricing model. Develop a fee structure that protects your bottom line while also offering options to your customers. You might think you can get away with hiding something in the small print, but studies show that this technique often leads to failure. It might net you some extra cash, but it leads to customers feeling duped. This is bad for engagement and bad for your brand. 

It’s hard to recover from a misstep like that, and in most industries, it’s much more costly to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. So don’t try to fool your customers. Transparency builds trust and can ultimately lead to stronger brand loyalty.

Step 5 – Can You Play Small At First? 

In the early stages of your eCommerce business, it can be tempting to oversell your service. Don’t undercut yourself, of course. But you must not make any promises to your customers that you can’t fulfill. Be honest. You’re starting a new business, so things will probably be rocky in the beginning. However, if you communicate openly with your customers, they’ll forgive a lot. Play small now and give yourself the opportunity to over-deliver later.

By limiting your sales pitch to the minimum viable offering, you leave yourself room to impress them with better service in the future. Plus, it’s important to make sure you’re delivering on your MVP before you introduce other features. In the end, your customers just want you to solve their main problem. Bells and whistles are nice, but they should come after nailing the delivery of your MVP.

Finally, don’t try to go it alone. There’s no reason to build a business in isolation. The internet is full of encouraging entrepreneurs and startup nerds who love to chat. Find community. Go to forums, contact your local Chamber of Commerce, and post about your new business on your personal social media channels. 

Identify yourself as a business owner, and they’ll treat you like one. Be generous and be humble. You never know when or where the perfect ally for growing your new business will materialize.

David Tile is the Founder and Director of Nimble Media, a portfolio of digital marketing companies including Article Writing Company and Powerful Outreach.

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