Electronic commerce or e-commerce is buying and selling of a different range of products or a service by businesses or consumers over Internet. Presently, there are hundreds of e-commerce websites available which are selling different types products or services. The online store is a convenient way to reach millions of customers around the globe in a short period. There are many shop owners who want to grow their business and e-commerce is a way to do so. E-commerce is also the cheapest way to start your virtual shop instead of expensive options like buy a franchise or open up a brick and mortar shop.
Starting an e-commerce business is like any other business and needs a solid marketing plan, along with excellent products. Many business owners face this problem of not knowing how to setup an online business store. Here are some steps and guidelines to start an e-commerce website which can help to grow your business:
1. A Business Plan
The first step to starting an e-commerce website is to have a business plan. In any business planning is very important. The good business plan must include the approach that will be used for marketing of the product, financing and advertising of the website. A business plan must establish a clear idea of how it will reach the heights of success. If funding is required, then this business plan will be required to get capitalists onboard with the idea.
2. Register your business
Once you are ready with a plan, the next step is to get it registered. Even if it is virtual Shop, it's business which trades in good and services and makes money it needs to be registered. The business needs to be registered according to your state/country laws. Before registering, lay out your plan, and consider production costs or procurement cost for goods and taxes of your business. After doing this, fill all the documentation to make your business legal.
3. Select your product or service and define it
The next step is the selection of products or services you have planned to sell. There’s a lot of competition in the e-commerce market, so this step has to be taken very seriously to ensure the success of your business. Firstly, you need to select what kind of product or services you are selling. After its selection, you will need to define it on your website. How is your product different from others? What does it have, that others don’t? Check into the similar products other e-commerce websites are selling and look for their shortcomings. Search what they aren’t offering and fill those holes with your products or services.
4. Get Barcodes for your product
Generate barcodes for your products for easy organization and discovery. You will need to have a barcode for every option of the same product if it has different colours and sizes. Barcodes can be easily generated through different online options, or you can buy barcode generating machine.
5. Have a complete Inventory
To establish your business online, you need to have more than enough inventory. You must always keep an extra inventory of products; they come in handy during festival seasons. For example in case your products get ten order in a day, you must have more than 15 products in your hand to be ready to ship them if needed. You should also have a proper storage facility keep your products. If you don’t have one, there are many companies who will provide this services at an affordable rate to store your products in their warehouse and can ship them out as orders come in. Another option is to procure product just in time or ship it directly from origin.
6. Choose a domain name and e-commerce store builder.
Now to real action, to setting up an online store you must select relevant easy to remember but attractive domain name for your online store. There are many websites where you can book domain name such as ask4domains.com. Next you need an e-commerce store builder to setup your online store. Here you can upload your product photos, classify them in different categories and set pricings and discounts. There are many options available to build your online store using either open sources store builders such as Magento, or you can go for pay as you go option such as Budo. Also, you can get your store customised with vendors like ShimBi Cart. Any option you use to build your online store, make sure it is safe for your buyers to buy at your online store. Safety and on time delivery of product build the trust.
7. Logo & Design
Logo and design of your store should reflect your brand and business philosophy. It should build confidence in your buyers. Design should be clean and create an amazing online shopping experience. Remember less is more, don't fill the screen with too many things. Here are some great examples of online shops.
8. Launch your E-store
Now that your store is ready with all necessary information such as product listing, pricing, discounts and also designed properly to ensure great user experience through your amazing storefront design; It's time to check once again for security compliances and if all payment gateways are working proper. Hit the publish button and here we go live!
The store is live and ready to sell, its time to do marketing. You can use several marketing channels like promoting your store and featured products on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. Another effective way of online marketing is blogging and collecting email ids as a subscriber to your mailing list and start sending them promotional and informational emails but in limited numbers without irritating anyone. Also, optimise your storefront for search engines such as Google and Bing, submit your website to several online directories. Once you start making some money through online sales, it's time to consider some paid marketing options such as Google, Twitter, and Facebook advertising.
10. Maintain your Business
After a great start to your business, maintaining it is a continual step. You have to take care of any and everything coming to your ways, such as any complaints, returns and customer reviews. Apart from this, you must ensure your shop always has something new to offer, and your product stock is always top up. Site database and security need to check regularly and update new security patches.
Building an e-commerce website from scratch is not a very easy task. From choosing a domain name to selecting products, to keeping it in shape all the times. There are a lot of points to be taken care of while starting an online store. However, guidelines written above should provide you with a clear map to help you establish a profitable e-commerce business.