It’s never been easier to establish an ecommerce business and get started. This is because there are lots of different tools available for every aspect of running a business; including shopping carts, shipping, and payments.
If you don’t have experience building a business, then you would understandably be unsure about where to begin. The key here is to ensure that your tools can be integrated together, as every tool and platform partners up with different companies. If you don’t have tools and platforms that integrate well, you’ll have to spend a lot of time updating the information across your different accounts.
We’re here to help you out with our handy guide on how to start an ecommerce business from scratch.
Know Where To Find Funding
If you are going to require funding for your business, then you have options outside of getting a business loan from a bank. There are plenty of online platforms where you can raise money to cover the initial startup costs. Consider running a crowdfunding campaign through a platform like Indiegogo, Kickstarter, or CircleUpl an investment platform offering start-up capital to early-stage brands.
Build the Ecommerce Storefront
After securing the funding for your business, it’s time to do some research and choose an ecommerce platform. The platform is the technology that allows you to create your online store. It will be the heart of the business, so be sure to take some time to compare options and choose a good one.
Many ecommerce platforms and shopping carts available have other offers and tools included in their packages. For example, most of them will include a complimentary domain name with the subscription package. We recommend looking at what is included in your account before continuing, so that you aren’t doing things twice.
Certain ecommerce platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce won’t require you to have a separate website platform. If you are interested in a personalized website, blog, or extra content pages, then you can consider using Weebly, GoDaddy, WordPress, or a similar service to create your store.
You should also think about if you are planning on connecting with marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. You don’t need to do this to start up a store, but it will give you another channel to sell your goods on and potentially improve your profit margin.
If you don’t want to manufacture the products yourself, you can choose to enlist a dropshipping service. That is where you sell products on your website, and dropshippers ship the products out to customers. They can even help with customizing packaging and customer communication to maintain your brand image. We recommend Doba, Oberlo, Sunrise Wholesale, and Dropship Direct.
If you do set up a website through an ecommerce or website platform, you are going to want to purchase your URL; either through the existing account or through a domain registrar such as Google Domains, GoDaddy and NameCheap.
Prepare to Process Orders
Another major step in the process of establishing an ecommerce business is choosing a payment gateway. That is how you will process payments for purchases. The good news is that payment gateways are generally able to integrate with many different platforms and carts. Just make sure that the one you choose accepts the kinds of payments your customers will be using. If you expect customers will primarily use Visa or American Express credit cards, then find a gateway that accepts them.
You should find an accounting solution that syncs up orders, tracks refunds and returns, and streamlines taxes automatically. Start by looking for one that integrates with your ecommerce platform such as QuickBooks, Wave Accounting, and Xero.
Consider how you want your products to be presented to customers. Will they be shipped in boxes or pouches? Do you need outer packaging that you can attach a shipping label to? There are lots of companies that can help to create consistent brand experience with products, including Taylor Box Company and Creative Retail Packaging.
Now you’ll want to choose shipping software to sync your orders up with your ecommerce platform or website and send back tracking information. There are several solutions for this, such as Fetchy, which can integrate to your online store, so shop around and find the one that suits your needs best.
Take Advantage of Marketing Tools
Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to inform customers about your business and products. There are a number of automated tools out there able to integrate with ecommerce platforms to make connecting with customers even simpler. Encourage users to sign up to a mailing list, and use tools such as MailChimp and HubSpot to send them regular email newsletters filled with updates and occasional coupon codes.
You can still take advantage of free social media management tools when starting out. These tools allow you to schedule your posts on social media ahead of time. This way, you are able to connect with the audience while busy managing your business and fulfilling orders. HootSuite, HubSpot, and Buffer are great choices here.
You want to ensure you are using analytics and tracking tools. These tools give you information about your store that you can use to improve your products and the overall customer experience. Many platforms have these tools integrated into their systems that you can use.
Many businesses also leverage Google Analytics to track data on site visitors and what they do. Other possible options are MixPanel and Hotjar. There are lots of different kinds of analytics and data tools available for ecommerce business. Consider the unique elements of your store and the information you want to track, and find a tool that can meet those needs.
The last step is to be sure that you have a customer service process in place ready to tackle any inquiries customers have. While it sounds like you might be able to manage each request as it comes in, I highly recommend working with a solution now so that you can stay organized. That way, if you get an influx of queries, you are able to quickly and efficiently answer them.
One of the hardest things about starting an ecommerce business is just getting started. Once you’ve done some research, we recommend just creating your account with an ecommerce service. After doing that, the rest falls into place and your business will get off the ground. With the help of the tools discussed above, you’ll be well on your way to establishing a successful ecommerce business. We wish you the best of luck!