The online business industry is exploding. Brick and mortar stores that temporarily closing due to COVID-19 outbreak and that they may never open again.
Shopping online used to be a convenience and a luxury, now – it’s a necessity. Ecommerce stores and online businesses has been growing like anything.
In India the business is still in nascent phase and there is plenty of room to start the E-commerce stores or convert your existing offline business into a online e-commerce business. the proper guidance and support is still unavailable in India for e-commerce so I thought of sharing our learnings and experiences for people like us to start their own digital journey.
A lot of people around us want to know how to start an online business. If your goal is to make a quick money – then online business is not for you, the goal should be a scalable, profitable business that lasts for generation in short You should have to have a long-term vision for building an asset that brings true value to the market as well as for yourself.
Following are the some steps to be followed while starting online journey. this is not check list but some important things to keep in mind during the startup.
How To Start Online Business (Step-By-Step)
Online retail is a booming business. But I’ve seen too many ecommerce businesses struggle to get traction. It’s will take years to learn everything about e-commerce business. here I will guide you to set up your ecommerce store, protect yourself legally, get your finances in order, market and sell your product and start building your store like our fashion ecommerce store Bombay Clothing Company.
There’s nothing more rewarding than starting a business from nothing and watching it grow. You build it up and no one can take it from you.
Building an ecommerce business takes more than choosing a brand name, writing product listings, and starting to sell products online. Even the best business ideas can flop if you aren’t driving enough traffic to your site. Prefer following a step-by-step guide for setting up e-commerce business in India in 2021.
Step 1: Research Ecommerce Business Models
Beginning your research is the first critical step. Don’t operate off of a hunch. Growing any online business is an investment. Treat it as such.
There isn’t a single business structure that works for everyone. Service-based business, software, digital product sales, and physical products are just the tip of the iceberg.
Before you can decide on what to sell online, you need to understand the different Ecommerce business models available.
It’s not rocket science, but it does impact your business structure, your investments and revenue model.
lets consider the example If you want to turn a profit without touching your product or without investing heavily at the start, drop shipping or print on demand is a smart choice.
If you like the idea of having your own warehouse full of products, you can invest much more initially and working with a wholesaling or warehousing (retail) model. Have a business idea for the perfect product idea or a favorite product you wish you could sell under your brand? Look into white labeling and manufacturing.
Also there is another model, subscriptions, where you carefully curate a set of products or a single product to be delivered at regular intervals to your customers.
The ecommerce business model that attracts me the most is a single product category that you supplement with affiliate marketing. You can control the content marketing and branding on a focused product and focus the rest of your energy on driving sales by monetizing traffic.
Resources On Ecommerce Business Models
I highly recommend that you take your time and learn the different business models and compare them mentally. Then decide which one best lines up with your resources and marketing strengths. Also, think about where do you want to sell. Do you want to start your own online store on Shopify/WordPress or do you want to sell on Amazon/Flipkart? Of course, you can do both types, but marketing will be different.
Step 2: Start Ecommerce Niche Research
It’s no right ecommerce site and filled with hundreds of products, dozens of categories, and no real focus.
Unless you have a massive budget, you can’t be the next Flipkart or Amazon. You have to niche down to run a profitable ecommerce store.
Choosing your niche is the most important step in opening your online business. Start this process by identifying successful companies already working in this space.
Make sure that the area is competitive – an absence of competition usually indicates that there’s no market, either.
Don’t pick an overly crowded niche, however, and skip anything dominated by major brands. If you’re having trouble with this, drill down further on what you want to do – the more specific you are, the less competition you are likely to face.
Niche-ing down also gives you the benefit of having a lot of “shoulder” niches, related to what you do, but not identical. You can work together with business owners in those niches to cross-promote, become (or acquire) an affiliate, and grow your customer base.
Pick a product category with a minimum of 1000 keywords and focus on a niche that does well in social media, where publishers in the area are affiliates on Amazon/Flipkart. If you can nab a few affiliate marketing opportunities, you won’t have to worry about shipping as much product, but you can still make a profit.
Step 3: Validate Target Market And Product Ideas
Now that you’ve identified a niche and business model, you might be tempted to start hunting for products to sell.
Don’t. Before you think about product ideas, think about personas. You can’t expect people to buy your product if you don’t know who you’re selling to.
Who are you? What does the store represent? Who are your ideal customers? You need to project a consistent brand image (a journey that starts with your brand name). An organic seed company that started selling conventional fertilizer wouldn’t last very long.
Once you’ve identified the image you want to project and the customer you are catering to, it’s time to come up with product ideas. I suggest starting with one – you’ll invest less at the start, and if you want to offer more you can test the waters with affiliate marketing.
In the example of an organic seed company, you could find popular organic products on Amazon and create content to send traffic to those affiliate products. If something catches fire, you can consider making your own brand of that product. If you’re not 100% sure what to sell, you can use affiliate marketing to validate your idea.
Before you invest in the product, though, evaluate it carefully. Even if you choose a dropshipping model, you want to test it carefully and get a feel for the product yourself so you can identify any potential problems and prepare customer service scripts to answer common questions.
Part of validating your idea is to determine the viability of it. Can you suppliers that meet your pricing? What happens if your supplier falls through is there a backup option?
Step 4: Register Your Ecommerce Business & Brand Name
If you want to start a successful business, you need a brand that connects with your persona. Identifying your persona makes building an ecommerce brand easier. You might avoid girlie colors and images if you are selling products to corporate businesswomen interested in living a sustainable life.
But before you set up your store and get into the nitty gritty of building a brand – there are some basic steps you’ll need to take.
Register Your Business.
Choose a business name and register your company. There are legal protections and tax benefits for incorporating, so don’t skip it.
Pick Your Store’s Name
The name of your site and the legal name of your business don’t need to be identical, but keeping them consistent has its benefits. Make sure whatever you choose fits your niche – you don’t want to pick a brand name at the last minute.
Get Your Business Licenses
If you’re not familiar with this process, search on internet there are plenty of resources to help you get started, Look for any mentor – their advice can be priceless, even for little things like acquiring business licenses. it is always a smartest decision to find the mentor who can show us right path.
Get Your GST Number
You’ll need GST no. and PAN card to open a business bank account and file your business taxes , even if you don’t plan on having any employees. Your GST is a bit like your business’ identity no : it’s a unique number that identifies your business and helps you file important paperwork.
Find The Right Vendors
You’ll have 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 materials you use to create your products. Shop around until you find a vendor you want to do business with long-term – this includes your ecommerce software (your “shopping cart”). Think scalable from the start.
Don’t fret over it too much, but do make sure that it is not in use by another company in your niche. Logo design doesn’t have to be terribly original you can modify and make your own logo from existing logos.
Consider the colors of your brand, the imagery you’ll use, and the typeface or fonts you’ll employ carefully. If you’ve got the budget, you might want to hire a marketing firm to create a design brief for your company. If not, you can create your own. Just keep it consistent and read marketing tips designed to help boost your brand.
The color, font, style make it uniform on all of your social media pages, website and on your app.
Step 5: Finalize Your Ecommerce Business Plan
By now you should have a great idea of what your business will look like. You have your target market, your product niche and your brand name.
Now is a good time to step back and put your business plan on paper and determine your startup budget and monthly expenses.
The most important aspect of a business is the financial one. Figure out your break-even point, both in unit sales and duration (in months). Any real business is an investment of resources. In fact that was one of the first things we need to workout as a founder or as a investor. A founders role is to take resources and turn it into a return.
Yet, I am sad to see that many entrepreneurs don’t take the time to project their revenue and expenses. If you can’t figure out your profit margin, you will fail.
The business planning phase is also when you want to iron out details like your staff, product sourcing, logistics and marketing budget. Make sure you understand all the available financial resources available to you.
Step 6: Create Your Online Store
Once you’re officially an ecommerce business owner, you need to register your domain name and any redirect URLs that might be relevant. You’re going to need the design info you settled on in the last step now, when you finally build your store.
Whatever design you chose needs to be compatible with your ecommerce software, too.
There are literally hundreds of ecommerce shopping cart platforms. Choosing the right ecommerce software 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 many more.
I use the woo-commerce for my online store this is best and free to use online platform.
There are lots of themes for Woo Commerce platform and all they are easy to use.
I always love the idea of having digital assets like website and we can work on our own store at any point of time and from anywhere.
Setting up your online store is much more than adding your products and content. You need to get your email marketing and automation set up as well.
This is important to set up BEFORE you get traffic. Email marketing is essential for driving conversions. Make sure you set up coupons, thank you emails, and upsells so you can turn visitors into shoppers. You also have to think about customer support.
Step 7: Attracting Customers To Your Ecommerce Store
When you chose your 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 well. You need to keep keywords and search terms in mind on each page of your site, in your URLS, and in your ad campaigns. You also need to think about driving traffic to your site.
The best ecommerce sites invest heavily in online marketing. If you don’t have the funds, you better have the hard work learn and apply. Subscribe to marketing newsletters or listen to digital marketing podcasts to keep a pulse on the digital marketing industry and get your fill of marketing tips.
Your site isn’t the only thing you need to drive traffic to. The product(s) you choose also need to be included in your marketing budget.
Your mission is to sell products, not drive traffic. To sell products, you have to think beyond your site and look for expansion areas.
Grow your Contact List
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, launch a social media campaign to gain subscribers, or host a giveaway where the entry ‘fee’ is your customer’s email address.
Running a giveaway is my go-to marketing tactic to get traffic and subscribers quickly. Giveaways have the added benefit of increasing your brand presence and product visibility. Building an email list gives you a group of warm leads to work with, making the sales process much easier.
Providing consumers with coupons and content via email helps to keep your brand on their mind, boost sales, and establish credibility. Keep your emails interesting – ask for your customers’ input often, including reviews. Respond quickly to customer service and product quality issues, and work on building relationships. No sales interaction is about the first sale; focus on the next one always.
On your site, look at how and where traffic flows. Are your product pages targeted to your persona? Are you losing potential customers in the same place? If you’re driving traffic to your store but nothing is selling, fix the leaks in your sales funnel by carefully optimizing each page and taking a close look at your product listings. Use analytics to help with this task. There are tools that can help you monitor and optimize every step of the sales process. Make use of them.
Look into partner and affiliate marketing to boost your brand presence by offering affiliate marketing options and partnering with retailers in your shoulder niches.
You can also offer bloggers in your niche a free sample of your product in exchange for reviews. If you’re selling products on Amazon, one easy way to gain consumer respect and confidence (and reviews) is to ask for feedback. Include a card with each product that asks for an honest review and provides contact information for your company (email is enough, unless you have a dedicated customer service phone line).
Ready To Start Your Online Business?
Did this post answer your questions about starting an ecommerce store? If so, please give it a share. I’ve started just like you and now proud owner of the Bombay Clothing Company. Running a successful ecommerce website doesn’t have to be a struggle or pricey.
If you are ready to hard work with dedication then online business for you, you could launch a profitable online store for a few hundred dollars per month.
Your success is important to me. If you take the time to read through the resources above, you’ll save hundreds of hours of work and you’ll know where you’re more likely to get your money’s worth in ecommerce. I really hope you enjoyed this article on starting an ecommerce business. If I missed anything let me know in the comments.
Good luck with your ecommerce business!!