Nowadays it’s not enough to just provide a website and slap a few products on it. To ensure success, you need to know how to find the right products, utilize basic marketing principles, manage inventory efficiently, ship orders on time, provide excellent customer service and more. In this article, we share tips on how to start and run an ecommerce business successfully.
What is an ecommerce business?
An ecommerce business is one that sells products or services online. It provides customers with the convenience of shopping from any location, 24/7, without having to visit a physical store.
The vast majority of ecommerce businesses use an online store platform such as Shopify or Magento to host their products and services. Customers can browse and purchase items via the catalog on the website, and orders are placed using payment gateways such as PayPal.
The principles behind this business model are straightforward. By selling products online, you eliminate the need for a physical store and instead leverage the power of digital marketing to attract customers. You also take advantage of economies of scale by selling in bulk and leveraging technology to streamline your processes. This can enable you to reach more customers, reduce costs, increase efficiency, and boost profits.
The pros of running an ecommerce business include:
- Low startup costs: You don’t need expensive premises or industrial equipment to start up an ecommerce store — all you need is a computer and Internet access!
- Greater flexibility: With an ecommerce business, you have more control over when and where you work. It isn’t constrained by opening hours or geographical boundaries like traditional storefronts.
- Accessibility: With an online platform, you can reach far more customers than would be possible with a brick-and-mortar store. You can even sell globally if you want to!
- Automation: Technology has made it easier than ever before for entrepreneurs to automate many day-to-day processes so that they can focus on other aspects of their business (e.g., marketing).
Despite these benefits, there are some drawbacks associated with running an ecommerce business too. For example, competition tends to be fierce in the digital world so it’s important to keep up with innovative ideas in order to stand out from the crowd. Overall, though, provided that entrepreneurs understand all aspects involved in running an ecommerce business such as product selection, marketing tactics, customer service, etc., they should find success quickly within this promising sector!
What are the types of ecommerce?
Generally, there are three main categories of ecommerce:
- Business-to-Business (B2B): This type of ecommerce involves trading between two businesses such as wholesalers, manufacturers and distributors. A B2B website usually requires a log in to access product details and pricing information. Companies typically use this type of ecommerce to have better control over their supply chain and inventory management.
- Business-to-Consumer (B2C): This type of ecommerce occurs when companies sell directly to customers via an online store or marketplace. These platforms are designed for ease of use, with customers able to complete purchases securely using various payment methods like PayPal or credit cards. In addition, businesses often offer promotions such as discounts or free shipping in order to attract customers.
- Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C): C2C platforms allow individuals or groups to buy or sell products without involving any middlemen or third parties like retailers or wholesalers. Examples include eBay, Craigslist or other peer-to-peer marketplaces where individuals list items for sale with no intermediaries present in the transaction process.
It’s important to remember that each type of ecommerce offers its own advantages as well as potential drawbacks depending on the needs of your business model. It’s also important to understand that regardless of the type you choose, you will still need basic marketing skills in order to drive sales and attract customers.
How to start an ecommerce business
Starting an ecommerce business can seem daunting, but with the right tools, knowledge and strategy, you can achieve success. To help you get started on this journey, here are some steps to consider when setting up your online store.
Research potential products and niches
Before you begin building your site, it’s important to understand what type of products and services you are offering. Conduct market research to identify possible opportunities that fit your interests and expertise. Look for niche products or services that have potential for growth in order to maximize your profits and minimize competition in the marketplace.
Create a business plan
A well-thought-out business plan can guide you throughout your venture by helping you define goals, strategies, resources and more. It should include information such as startup costs, target markets, advertising plans, pricing strategies and a financial budget.
Set up your website
Once you’ve researched potential niches and created a solid business plan, it’s time to set up shop! Consider using web technologies like Shopify or Wix to create your website and build an online store from scratch with the ability to customize various design elements and features.
You will need to set up attractive product pages so that your potential customers are compelled to buy your online or physical products. This can be one of the most important aspects of starting an ecommerce platform. Alternatively, you could also reach out to a professional if you don’t want to deal with the technical aspects of website creation.
Optimize for SEO
Optimizing your website for search engines will ensure that customers easily find your store when searching for relevant keywords related to the products or services you offer on your e-commerce business.
A good way to do this is by establishing a blog for your website where you can regularly post content relevant to what customers may be searching for online. Additionally, you can use plugins like Yoast SEO (for WordPress) which allows you to optimize each page on your site in terms of metadata (title tags & descriptions), URLs, images, videos, etc.
Market your store
There are countless channels available where businesses can advertise their products and services both online and offline such as social media platforms (Facebook & Instagram), Google Adwords/PPC campaigns (pay-per-click), email marketing campaigns, etc.
It’s important that before investing money into these channels, you conduct research into each one so that you understand how they work before making any financial commitments. Some may not be suitable depending on the type of product/service you advertise.
Monitor performance and improve
Last but not least, it’s important that businesses track their performance by monitoring key performance indicators such as conversion rates and visitor engagement over time in order to identify areas of improvement so that appropriate actions can be taken in order to increase sales and profitability.
How much does it cost to start an ecommerce business?
The cost of starting an ecommerce business varies depending on a variety of factors such as the type of products/services being sold, the size of your inventory, website design, development needs, marketing efforts and more.
In general, you can expect to spend anywhere from $500 to $10,000+ in order to get your store up and running. This includes setup costs for hosting plans, domain names & SSL certificates as well as any other expenses related to getting your store online.
Of course, this range is very wide and there are plenty of options that can be explored depending on your budget and the type of business model you’re looking to establish. For example, if you’re looking to start a dropshipping business, then the cost of getting started is usually much lower than if you were to open a traditional brick and mortar store.
7 tips for starting an ecommerce business
Do your research
Take the time before you choose a business niche to research the products you’re selling, their market value, and any competition that is out there. This will help you make informed decisions about pricing, product selection, and other aspects of running your business.
Understand basic marketing principles
Make sure you know the basics of how to market your products effectively to reach the right customer base. Use digital marketing channels such as search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing platforms to spread the word about your store and its offerings. You could also consider running campaigns or contests to gain new customers.
Create a well-designed website
The look and feel of your ecommerce site should be both attractive and easy to navigate for customers. Make sure to invest in a well-designed website with an intuitive interface that makes it simple for customers to find what they need.
Establish efficient shipping practices
Shipping orders is one of the most important parts of running a successful ecommerce business so it’s essential that you have clear policies in place regarding shipping costs, timelines, carriers used, etc., as well as reliable processes for order fulfillment and tracking shipments once they leave your warehouse or fulfillment center.
Offer great customer service
Providing an excellent customer experience should be a top priority when it comes to managing your ecommerce business. Happy customers are more likely to return again and again! Make sure to respond quickly to customer inquiries and complaints via email or phone calls using knowledgeable staff. Don’t forget that customers also appreciate getting updates on their order status from time to time!
Manage inventory efficiently
It’s important that you have accurate inventory records so that orders can be fulfilled quickly without any delays caused by stock shortages or out-of-stock items. Invest in good inventory management software or systems if necessary in order to keep track of everything effectively.
Prepare for returns and refunds
You should make sure that you are prepared for any returns or refunds requested by customers. Having clear policies on this from the outset will save you time dealing with such matters later on down the line!
Ecommerce website development services
Don’t have the time or know-how to create an ecommerce website on your own? We’re here to help! At PWM we’re experts in ecommerce website design and development so you can focus on what you do best: running your business. Leave the tech to us!
With a professionally designed and developed ecommerce website from PWM, you’ll be able to start selling online quickly and easily. Plus, our team is always here to help with any questions or problems that may come up. Contact us today for a free consultation about designing and developing your ecommerce website, and get started on the online selling world in the easiest possible way.