How to Start an Ecommerce Business

It’s by no means been simpler to begin an ecommerce enterprise. Thanks to increasing internet accessibility, growing online shopping trust, and extra user-friendly instruments, entrepreneurs can launch a profitable ecommerce enterprise very quickly.

That’s not an exaggeration, both. While we advocate you set somewhat extra time and thought into your corporation earlier than launch day, it’s doable to go from conception to take off in lower than every week.

Your ecommerce enterprise may very well be a full-time job, or it is perhaps a profitable aspect hustle. You might listing all of your objects on an on-line market like Amazon or Etsy, or you can host merchandise by yourself ecommerce web site utilizing Shopify or Squarespace.

There’s no single-best method to kind an ecommerce enterprise.

However, ranging from scratch with no path might be intimidating. Jump off on the mistaken foot, and also you may need to recorrect down the street, and that may waste useful money and time.

Let’s enable you to keep away from that from the get-go.

Below, we’ll present you ways to begin an ecommerce enterprise the suitable method. Our 6-step course of will enable you to do every part from discovering your goal market to figuring out the suitable merchandise to launching your on-line retailer.

But earlier than we present you ways to begin an ecommerce enterprise, let’s dig into the why.

Table of Contents

Why Start an Ecommerce Business?

Does it really feel like everybody out of your coworker to your grandma to your childhood pen pal is beginning an ecommerce enterprise? There’s a superb purpose for the surge.

Here are just a few (of many) causes to begin an ecommerce enterprise:

  • Massive Market: There are an estimated 2.14 billion internet buyers—that’s over 25% of the world inhabitants.
  • Booming Online Sales: US customers alone spent shut to $1 trillion on ecommerce in 2021 (up almost 18% year-over-year). By 2040, consultants estimate 95% of all purchases can be made via e-commerce.
  • Low(er) Startup Costs: You can begin an ecommerce enterprise with out spending 1000’s of {dollars}. You don’t have to fear about actual property, utilities, and even payroll. Here’s how much it costs to start an ecommerce business.
  • Easy Setup: Buy a site, buy internet hosting, discover your product, construct a model, and voila—your ecommerce enterprise is prepared to go. OK, it’s somewhat extra concerned than that, however an ecommerce enterprise is likely one of the easiest varieties to arrange.
  • Flexible Operations: You can function your ecommerce enterprise from anyplace on this planet. Want to take a month-long trip? Your ecommerce enterprise isn’t going anyplace. Need to relocate throughout the nation? Your ecommerce enterprise doubtless received’t even discover.
  • Limitless Scale: Sell a single product or tons of of various ones. Make 1000’s or tens of millions in gross sales yearly. Manage it alone or rent a workforce. Your ecommerce enterprise might be any dimension to suit your bandwidth and targets.
  • Fun and Freedom: Managing your individual enterprise is thrilling and rewarding. Yes, it’s a variety of onerous work—however the prize is well worth the effort.

6-Step Process: How to Start an Ecommerce Business

Hopefully, these statistics and advantages obtained you overestimated for beginning an ecommerce enterprise. Now, let’s discuss how to make it occur.

1. Choose Your Target Market First

Your goal market is the precise group of customers who is perhaps excited about your merchandise.

Some folks begin with a product thought after which outline their goal market—nonetheless, this technique has just a few potential pitfalls. First, you could discover useful merchandise to promote to an viewers that doesn’t curiosity you. Or worse—you could give you a superb product that no one desires to purchase.

Take Google Glass, for instance. Google created the wearable expertise and not using a buyer’s want in thoughts. After 2 years (and hardly any gross sales), Google accepted defeat and discontinued the product. Google constructed the product first and tried (and failed) to discover a goal market.

Lack of market need is the second biggest startup killer. Don’t fall into this entice.

Find the target market, establish the necessity, after which discover the product that solves it.

How to Find Your Target Market

Start with what . If you’re a software program as a service (SaaS) professional with a aspect ardour for backcountry snowboarding, promoting furnishings may not be your forte. And that’s OK.

Instead, look into niches you’re accustomed to and like. You’ll be within the know and higher prepared to discover issues that want fixing.

For instance, should you’re an avid knitter, you doubtless have already got a community of like-minded buddies in the neighborhood.

What do they complain about? Do particular stitching patterns frustrate them? Do they want for higher knitting needles?

What frustrates you? Is there an issue you battle with? Would you (and others) be keen to pay for an answer?

Once you discover your area of interest, area of interest down once more. Want to promote bikes to the biking group? Will that be street biking or mountain biking? Are you going to promote to males or ladies? Will they be younger or outdated? Are they new or skilled?

Niching down helps you outline your goal market additional and higher establish issues they want to be solved.

2. Find the Right Product

After discovering your goal market and figuring out their issues, it’s time to discover the suitable merchandise. With tens of millions (actually, tens of millions) of merchandise to promote on-line, narrowing down your choices might be essentially the most difficult a part of beginning an ecommerce enterprise.

Let’s have a look at just a few strategies for finding a profitable product that matches your viewers:

A. Review Top-Selling Items on Amazon

Visit Amazon’s greatest sellers web page to study the most well-liked merchandise (based mostly on gross sales). These lists are up to date hourly, and you may select any division to discover category-specific objects.

Want to promote to new moms? Check out the Baby division. Looking for in-demand Xbox equipment? Browse within the Video Games part.

Best-selling objects have a tendency to have tons of critiques and 4-star or increased scores. While you may not discover the precise product you need to promote on these lists, you will discover loads of inspiration.

For instance, you can go to the Electronics for Kids part within the Toys & Games division to be taught what’s resonating with kids (or their shopping for mother and father) as of late. Is it walkie-talkies and cameras or karaoke microphones and monster vehicles?

As of now, it’s really the unique Tamagotchi from the 90’s—go determine.

B. Find Demand With Keyword Research

Use key phrase analysis instruments like Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, AnswerThePublic, or Ubersuggest (all free) to be taught what customers are looking for.

Ideally, you need to discover key phrases with excessive search quantity and low product competitors. That’s simpler mentioned than performed, but it surely’s well worth the funding of your time.

Once you discover an in-demand product, seek for it on Google and Amazon. If you discover tons of different sellers, which means you’re going to be going head-to-head with pricing and branding to win clients. If you don’t discover many different sellers, there’s a superb probability you’ll have extra management over the value.

C. Avoid Over-Competitive Categories

Don’t attempt to tackle the large manufacturers. They have the funds, market penetration, and manufacturing scale to beat you each time.

If a product is dominated by names like Nike, Amazon, or Coca-Cola, transfer on to a unique merchandise. Soccer sneakers? Adidas and Nike personal it. Smart audio system? Alexa and Google have it locked down.

Waterproof headphones for saltwater swimming? Now, that’s a unique story. Caffeinated gum for ultra-endurance athletes? Yours for the taking.

D. Choose Products You Can Cross-Sell Easily

Don’t lock your model right into a confined class. Before you finalize your product resolution, consider different complementary merchandise you possibly can promote down the street.

Want to promote bullet-proof cellphone circumstances? That pairs nicely with promoting display screen protectors and energy banks. Thinking of promoting selfie sticks? Those might cross-sell simply with tripod stands and cellphone mounts.

Characteristics of a Good Ecommerce Product

Here’s what many good ecommerce merchandise have in widespread. While there are undoubtedly exceptions to these elements, your product is extra doubtless to succeed if it checks most of those bins:

  • High Demand, Low Supply: While you need to discover high-demand merchandise, you don’t need to compete with tons of of 1000’s of different manufacturers. Find the candy spot the place there’s excessive demand however low provide.
  • Recurring Purchase Potential: It’s a lot simpler to resell to a former buyer than to persuade a brand-new one. Find merchandise that clients will need to purchase once more quickly. For instance, clients want to substitute batteries and candles regularly, however they doubtless received’t want to repurchase your 10-year guarantee lightbulbs this decade.
  • Small Dimensions, Light Weight: As an ecommerce enterprise, you might have to ship your whole merchandise. Big and heavy objects will price extra to retailer and ship, driving your prices up and your earnings down. When doable, prioritize small, mild merchandise.
  • 4-Star or Higher Reviews: Find merchandise that folks love and charge extremely. Mediocre merchandise may promote nicely for a time, however they’re in huge hassle when (not if) a competitor swoops in with a greater merchandise. Focus on high quality and blissful clients from the get-go.
  • Evergreen: Hype can come and go shortly, so don’t leap on a product that is perhaps sizzling immediately and chilly tomorrow (particularly when simply beginning). Once you’ve mastered launching an ecommerce enterprise, you possibly can extra shortly and confidently capitalize on viral demand—however maintain issues easy and deal with evergreen merchandise firstly. For instance, Baby Yoda dolls is perhaps top-selling this month and gone subsequent yr, however child wipes and pet food will all the time be in demand.

3. Source Your Product

Now that what you need to promote, it’s time to discover the suitable sourcing technique. Product sourcing outlines how you propose to get the objects you need to promote.

Will you make them with a producer or buy them from wholesalers? Will you retailer and ship the merchandise your self or ship them via a dropshipping supplier?

Let’s stroll via just a few of your choices:


Wholesale product sourcing might be essentially the most easy course of. Work with a wholesale firm to purchase objects in bulk at a reduction after which promote them for a revenue via your ecommerce retailer. The extra you purchase, the decrease the per-unit price can be.

Some wholesalers will even permit you to white label the merchandise. This means you possibly can promote the objects below your individual model.

In the early days, you can have wholesalers ship merchandise straight to your private home, the place you possibly can bundle and ship them to your clients. However, as you scale, you’ll have to change your success technique to one thing extra sustainable.

If you’re promoting via a platform like Amazon, you possibly can make the most of Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). FBA shops, packs, and ships all of your objects. They even deal with returns, exchanges, and buyer help. The solely factor you might have to do is maintain Amazon provided along with your product.


Hire a producing firm to make your customized product. If you’ve recognized a brand-new product—or need to make an current product higher or more cost effective—you possibly can work with a local or overseas manufacturer to bring your product vision to life.

This course of is extra concerned, pricey, and dangerous than wholesale, but it surely permits you to supply a very new product to your goal market. If you don’t have a singular product, you’ll have to discover alternative ways to differentiate your providing (extra on that later).


Dropshipping is comparable to companies like FBA, however there’s one main distinction: you don’t personal the stock.

With FBA, you buy stock and ship it to Amazon—they ship it whenever you make a sale. With dropshipping, your provider handles warehousing and success, however you solely pay for the product as soon as the client has paid you.

This may appear to be a better possibility, but it surely has monetary implications. While you received’t have to fear about startup prices or the fee to retailer your merchandise, you’ll face the next wholesale worth on every product—which means decrease revenue margins on each sale.

4. Brand Your Ecommerce Business

Every profitable ecommerce enterprise needs a professional brand. Without a model, your product is simply floating in a sea of competitors with none method to differentiate itself.

Think about your customers. Why would they select to purchase from you rather than another person? Is it worth? What occurs if a competitor is available in and undercuts you? Why ought to your clients persist with you?

Consider Coca-Cola. They’ve constructed a model and merchandise that buyers completely love. It doesn’t matter if Coke prices twice as a lot as Pepsi—Coke lovers will nonetheless purchase it.

Here are just a few different methods branding can construct your ecommerce enterprise:

  • Attract New Customers: We say, “Don’t choose a e book by its cowl,” however all of us do it anyway. The similar goes for the merchandise we purchase. When you’re purchasing for a product, the model identify, emblem, and colours all play an element in your decision-making course of—whether or not it or not.
  • Maintain Customer Loyalty: Customers come to know, love, and belief manufacturers. Brand loyalty makes it simpler for purchasers to store. Instead of sifting via 1000’s of things, they typically begin on the shops they love with the manufacturers they know.
  • Boost the Value of Your Business: Back to Coke actual fast. If somebody have been to come out with an identical-tasting Coke product for half the value, it most likely wouldn’t knock Coke off its throne. That’s the worth behind a model.
  • Improve Recruitment: It’s simpler to rent staff after they acknowledge and belief your model.
    Build Awareness: When you consider TOMS, what’s the very first thing that comes to thoughts? Likely, easy sneakers (at a excessive worth) which are donated to folks in want whenever you make a purchase order. TOMS model turned extra about serving to folks relatively than sneakers—and that’s why customers forked out cash to put them on their toes.

Here are the weather of your model you want to think about:

Let’s go deeper into every of those:


Choose the right business name from the start. Sure, you possibly can change it later, as Amazon did with its authentic identify Cadabra or Google did with BackRub (sure, that was the precise identify)—but it surely’s greatest to nail it from day one.

Would Apple have been this profitable if that they had began as “Plum” or “Pomegranate”? We’ll by no means know. However, we do know {that a} identify is a giant a part of a model’s id.

There aren’t any set-in-stone guidelines for a superb model identify, however we’ve discovered most nice names have just a few issues in widespread:

  • Memorable: Keep it quick and candy so clients can bear in mind it. Long, hard-to-pronounce names get forgotten.
  • Distinct: Hundreds of “Main Street Pizza” eating places exist. Make yours completely different, like “A Slice of Heaven” or “Dough Mama’s Did.”
  • Interesting: Don’t give all of it away—pique somewhat intrigue. Instead of “Sustainable Water Bottles,” you can identify your corporation “EcoH20.”
  • Makes Sense: It’d be fairly unusual if Dairy Queen solely bought lactose-free ice cream.
  • Flexible: Burger King has pigeon-holed itself because the monarch of hamburgers, but it surely’s troublesome for the enterprise to acquire traction promoting salads, fries, or hen sandwiches.


A emblem speaks a thousand phrases. Avoid the cheap-and-easy do-it-yourself route and rent an expert. You can discover loads of nice logo artists on Fiverr for lower than $100—and so they’ll even ship your emblem in quite a lot of kinds and file codecs.

We have just a few suggestions when it comes to choosing your logo (and your overall brand) colors:

Don’t Try to Please Everyone: Your emblem received’t resonate with everybody, and it shouldn’t. The solely folks you want to love your emblem are your goal market.
Remember Color Psychology: Colors have meaning. White is related to peace and cleanliness, whereas silver represents wealth and magnificence. Red is related to ardour and power, whereas blue represents calm and management.
Maintain Brand Consistency: The colours you employ in your emblem must be used straight (and complementary) throughout your web site, social media profiles, and advertising and marketing materials. Stay constant. Publish your colour code hex to assist creators keep on-brand.


It’s not what you say; it’s the way you say it. Your voice performs a giant half in your model’s id. It doesn’t matter how elegant your emblem is or nice your merchandise are in case your model comes off tone-deaf or impolite.

Develop a voice and tone that’s distinctive to your model and resonates along with your viewers. Take Wendy’s, for instance. Check out their Twitter account to get a really feel for his or her voice.

It’s sarcastic, snarky, intelligent, and downright savage at occasions—but they’re constant, and followers completely love them. Wendy’s created (and received) a social media rivalry with McDonald’s that buyers didn’t even know or care existed.

Decide what you need your voice to be and why—then stick to it. Be constant along with your voice throughout all of your channels. Wendy’s can’t be witty on Twitter and bashful on Facebook. A model that’s two-faced has no face.


Apple stands for innovation and belief, whereas IKEA seeks to create budget-friendly furnishings that appears good. Tesla stands for sustainable power, whereas LinkedIn stands for skilled networking.

What does your model stand for? What is your goal?

Elizabeth Hague, cofounder of Wildcat Echo, recommends answering one easy query: “What’s the particular factor solely YOU can try this your clients will miss out on should you by no means existed?”

Answer that query, and you’ve got your model’s goal. Without a goal, you’re simply an ecommerce enterprise with a product out to make a buck—and that goal received’t drive buyer loyalty or repeat purchases.

5. Launch Your Online Store

Finding a product and branding your ecommerce enterprise have been the enjoyable steps. Now, it’s time to get into the extra technical particulars.

Your first main resolution is to select whether or not you’ll promote by yourself ecommerce web site or whether or not you’ll depend on on-line marketplaces.

Let’s have a look at what these choices seem like:

Selling on Your Own Ecommerce Website

A web site provides you full management over the client expertise. You get to resolve the URL, structure, and obtainable merchandise. You additionally get to keep away from putting your merchandise subsequent to direct rivals, as you’re pressured to do on platforms like Amazon or Etsy.

You have loads of choices when it comes to internet hosting your ecommerce web site. Here are just a few of the most popular ecommerce platforms:

  • Shopify
  • Squarespace
  • BigCommerce
  • Magento Commerce
  • Wix
  • WooCommerce
  • Shift4Shop

These platforms are designed to safely join consumers and sellers. They have fee processing built-in, in addition to user-friendly templates and designs. For essentially the most half, it’s a drag-and-drop website-building course of.

The largest draw back to promoting by yourself ecommerce web site is that you’ve got to generate all of the site visitors. 40% of consumers worldwide use search engines like google to discover merchandise, 38% use Amazon, 35% use different on-line marketplaces, and 21% use the web site of the model they need.

No buyer goes to randomly kind in your URL and begin buying in your web site—you might have to run advertising and marketing campaigns to drive site visitors (extra on that in step 6).

Selling Your Products on an Online Marketplace

Another possibility for promoting your merchandise is on an on-line market. Online marketplaces have already got tens of millions of consumers, that means you don’t have to go and discover your viewers.

Popular on-line marketplaces embody:

  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Etsy
  • Walmart
  • Alibaba
  • Facebook

Competition on on-line marketplaces might be intense. You could also be compelled to drop your costs to compete for purchasers, particularly when your merchandise are featured proper subsequent to related, cheaper objects.

6. Market Your Ecommerce Business

“If you construct it, they’ll come.” That couldn’t be farther from the reality when it comes to digital merchandise. There are loads of glorious blogs and merchandise on the web that by no means get any love, primarily as a result of they fail on the advertising and marketing side of their enterprise.

But that’s not the place you’re going to flounder. While there are tons of of selling methods you can execute, listed below are the 5 most cost-effective channels:

  • Social Media: Get began with natural social media advertising and marketing, then transfer into pay-per-click (PPC) adverts. Facebook promoting could be a implausible advertising and marketing software on your ecommerce enterprise when used accurately. Read our fast intro to Facebook Advertising for Social Media Beginners to get began.
  • Email Marketing: Email advertising and marketing has one of many highest return on funding (ROI) of any advertising and marketing channel. Build your email list, start an email newsletter, ship promotional campaigns, and monitor engagement. Need assist launching your program? Check out What Emails to Send at Each Stage of the Sales Funnel to Increase Conversions.
  • Content Marketing: Blogging, podcasting, YouTube publishing—content marketing is the act of manufacturing content material to entice viewers, acquire leads, and in the end convert eyeballs to revenue. Your viewers will come for the content material, and your purpose is to get them to keep for the merchandise.
  • Search Engine Optimization (search engine optimization): Whether you’re driving site visitors to your web site, YouTube channel, or Amazon itemizing, SEO needs to be a high precedence. Research the key phrases you need to rank for and make sure you strategically embody these phrases in your pages to begin raking in natural site visitors. search engine optimization is a long-term ecommerce marketing strategy, but it surely’s one price investing in. Learn the fundamentals of search engine optimization with our Ultimate Guide for SEO Beginners.

Master 1-2 of those ecommerce advertising and marketing methods, and also you’ll begin seeing constant site visitors—and extra site visitors means extra gross sales.

Want to be taught extra about advertising and marketing your ecommerce enterprise? Read via our information: 11+ Ecommerce Marketing Strategies to Boost Your Online Sales.

Best Practices for Starting an Ecommerce Business

Regardless of what enterprise you’re beginning or what you’re promoting, there are some things you must do to set your self up for achievement. Follow these greatest practices to begin your corporation on the suitable foot:

Research the Competition

Find out what you’re up against. Are your rivals huge and infamous, or are you up towards different blossoming companies? Does a handful of different firms promote your merchandise? Or is it 100 or a thousand? What are your rivals’ unique value propositions (UVP)?

Differentiate Your Offering

Decide how your ecommerce enterprise (and merchandise) are going to be completely different from the others. Will you might have increased high quality merchandise or decrease costs? Will you present undeniably superb buyer help, or will you deal with how your model helps a superb trigger?

Build a Brand

Don’t simply promote merchandise—construct a model. Products come and go, however your model can final a lifetime (or much more). Get folks to acknowledge and belief your identify and emblem. Trust is likely one of the first steps to incomes a sale. It doesn’t have to be everyone—you simply want your goal market to establish you.

Choose the Right Platform

Some merchandise and types do higher on on-line marketplaces, whereas others carry out higher on standalone ecommerce web sites. And some do nicely on each. If you’re ranging from scratch with out an viewers, you may want to begin with an on-line market as you construct credibility and begin seeing site visitors out of your promotional techniques.

Provide Top-Notch Customer Service

Anyone can whip out a product and throw it up on an on-line market—however the perfect (and most profitable) ecommerce companies go above and beyond when it comes to customer support. Remember, you don’t want everybody to love your model. You simply want a choose goal market. Focus on making your viewers’s expertise along with your product and workforce higher than they’ll discover anyplace else.

Optimize for Conversions

Analyze your metrics and run A/B assessments to drive up your conversion charge. You need extra folks clicking in your adverts, and when folks attain your web site or product web page, you need extra folks making a purchase order. If you optimize your conversions right, you possibly can considerably increase your revenue with out having to spend extravagantly on gaining site visitors with ecommerce advertising and marketing.

Start Small

Don’t attempt to do all of it. Take child steps along with your ecommerce enterprise. Launch with one product as an alternative of 5. Start on a single platform relatively than attempting to be energetic on all of them. Focus on a handful of selling channels relatively than doing completely every part below the limitless digital solar.

Launch Your Ecommerce Business

You now know the way to begin an ecommerce enterprise. Congratulations! Now, it’s time to make it occur.

Join our free course to be taught how one can begin a worthwhile on-line retailer in 12 weeks or much less. We’ll stroll you step-by-step via each section of the method, serving to you discover merchandise that’ll promote and techniques for producing gross sales instantly.

Ready to make your ecommerce enterprise a actuality? Sign up and get began.

Ecommerce course banner

Recommended For You

Leave a Reply