With an estimated global population of 7.7 billion people, about 25 per cent of the world’s population is shopping online. This has made e-commerce a predictable and profitable business to venture into in the 21st century.
Do you seek a profitable business to start with very minimal business capital, then look nowhere because this article is here to walk you through how to create one of the major businesses of the 21st century, which is no other than eCommerce.
What Is E-commerce
E-commerce means electronic commerce. An online business model allows a virtual store to display products and permits anybody registered and authenticated to shop and pay for anything they desire.
The platform managers get the information and process the delivery right to the customer’s desired location.
Ever since the dawn of the internet, e-commerce has become increasingly popular and a business model of the 21st century that has generated millions in revenue for business owners.
The funniest thing about the e-commerce business model is that you do not need to have everything to sell everything.
All you need is to reach out to people who have those Items and agree with them, and the deal is done.
A commission can also be added alongside sales of a product.
How To Start an Ecommerce Business
Are you interested in becoming a sales powerhouse in your desired location? This detailed guide will help you get started.
1. Choose a Business Niche.
Choosing a niche helps you to be able to decide on how your business should be operated.
Also, choosing a niche has a lot to do with research, most of which would answer the various questions such as;
1. what kind of product do I intend to sell, physical or digital?
Most people have products that are not physical such as; eBooks, music, images, subscription and other software products, and these products are categorised under digital products.
2. What product category do I intend to focus on?
Most eCommerce websites are based on a single category, such as Fashion, electronics, agriculture, etc.
You can decide to take one out of everything or engage all categories on your website.
2. Choose a Business Name and set up A Legal Entity.
The next step to take when you decide to start an eCommerce business is to pick up a business name that would represent your business online and on legal documents.
Maybe, you don’t intend to expand your business; then, you may run a business as a single person, limiting your business’s potential earning capacity.
Getting a business name also ensures that your business complies with your country’s laws and the amount of money you can make.
There are so many ways to get your business registered in your country. Still, if your business is located here in Nigeria, all you need do is visit the official website of the Nigerian government to get started.
If your business is located elsewhere, you may need to consult your government.
3. Buy a Domain Name and A Host.
A domain and a host combined make your platform accessible online worldwide.
Also, when buying a host, make sure to purchase an unlimited plan because your website in no time would be jam-packed, and you don’t want it crashing all the time when essential activities are being carried out on the website.
4. Choose the Proper E-Commerce Engine.
An E-commerce engine is a software framework explicitly built for the sole purpose of Buying and selling.
An E-commerce engine should be able to list products and display prices, and process payments. There are various E-Commerce engines, with their myriad pros and cons, a few of them are.
One thing I love about software is the ability to reuse an existing solution. So software developers worldwide are trying to make sure that business software solution is available for reuse.
One standard business solution that has become very popular is E-Commerce; right from the success of Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay, you can see that E-commerce is a business solution that will not leave humanity for a very long time.
This article will focus more on E-commerce solutions that help you handle your business solution, right from inventory, to accepting payments.
Here are some of my very few picks for choosing a hosted E-commerce solution.
1. Big Commerce.
BigCommerce is a privately held technology company that provides a SaaS e-commerce platform. The company was founded in 2009 and has 600+ employees with headquarters in Austin, Texas.
Its features include customer groups and segmentation, search engine optimisation, web hosting, etc. Big-commerce is relatively new, but I must confess that they are doing quite well over the years.
They are the most open SaaS e-commerce platform on the market – open APIs, zero transaction fees, and an available partner ecosystem.
However, there is a slightly higher learning curve than a more basic tool like Wix.
Brands like Ford, Toyota, Skullcandy, and others in the Fortune 1000 use BigCommerce just so that you know. Their themes are fully responsive and optimised with conversion in mind.
Here is a link to an article to help you get started with Big-Commerce.
TRY IT NOW – BigCommerce.com
Shopify Inc. is an E-commerce company based in Ottawa, Canada. One of the main reasons for its platforms is to help small E-commerce businesses and solutions to work better.
Dissatisfied by existing mobile apps and e-commerce products on the market, Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake built their open-source web application with Ruby on Rails and launched it after two months. As a result, Shopify has three plans ranging from $29 to $299. Additionally, its enterprise Shopify Plus platform offers custom pricing.
The basic Shopify plans come with the following features. Free SSL, multilingual support and even 24/7 support.
TRY IT NOW – Shopify.com
Payhip is an e-commerce platform that allows anyone to sell digital products, courses or memberships directly to their fans and followers.
Anyone can embed Payhip directly into your website, or you can use the inbuilt storefront to sell your work.
Payhip is designed to take care of everything because it is an all-in-one eCommerce solution for creators.
Payhip is just one of the leading solutions for digital downloads today; it also supports courses and physical product sales.
Payhip offers support for selling downloads, memberships, and an EU Vat calculation built-in, so you have less to think about when generating your income.
The good news is that Payhip is trusted by over 130,000 people worldwide while it keeps growing.
Payhip is particularly compelling because you can sign up for free and access all the features, unlimited products, and unlimited revenue opportunities within this package.
TRY IT NOW – Payhip.com
Wix.com Ltd. is a web development company based headquartered in Isreal. Wix allows you to create a fantastic website with built-in drag and drop tools, making it easy for a newbie to start using it quickly.
Wix is a fast-growing website builder that allows users to upgrade to full e-commerce functionality for $20 per month.
You can also get started with Wix using their mobile app on various stores on Google Play and Apple app store, respectively.
With the Wix basic plan, you get 24/7 support and free templates usage. Free SSL, multiple payments options and even global tax and shipping. This functionality mentioned above makes it very easy to get started with Wix.
TRY IT NOW – Wix.com
5. Woo Commerce.
WooCommerce is a fantastic plugin built for WordPress users. Woo-commerce powers over 74 million stores worldwide, bringing the total percentage to over 25% of online stores on the Internet.
I love Woo Commerce because it was one of the first E-commerce tools I got exposed to, and I can thoroughly recommend it to anybody at any time.
WooCommerce is entirely free; all you need is an existing WordPress website, which settles it all. You can also choose to extend its basic functionality by subscribing to paid plugins.
TRY IT NOW – Woocommerce.com
Weebly is another web hosting and online builder platform that helps you get started with E-commerce.
It has over 700K paid subscribers all over the world. Another unique functionality offered by Weebly is the built-in marketing tools you get when you get signed up. With Weebly, you don’t have to seek things like Email marketing because it all comes in.
Their eCommerce functionality begins with their $25/month Business Plan, which provides a free domain.
TRY IT NOW – Weebly.com
Sellfy is an all-in-one eCommerce platform created to solve your online sales challenges, such as physical and digital sales.
Sellfy was initially launched in 2001 and, to date, has over 270,000 creators and over 2 Million products presently hosted on its platform.
Sellfy gives you the total capacity as a creator to monetise all your digital products such as eBooks, music, design assets, videos and many others.
Sellfy comes with many exciting features and customisation, most of which include; Digital products and sales of all kinds, subscriptions, the ability to design a beautiful storefront, unlimited marketing options, embedded options, and world-class payment integration.
With just $19/Mo, you can get started with a simple plan on Sellfy.
TRY IT NOW – Sellfy.com
Ecwid is a cloud-based eCommerce tool that allows you to build your online store. Like Shopify, Sellfy, and extensive commerce, Ecwid will enable you to set up ‘catalogues’ of products and add photos, pricing, weight etc., for each item.
You get the opportunity to define shipping rates, accept credit card payments, etc. You also get the key pieces of stuff required on an eCommerce platform.
Configurations on Ecwid do not require you to use additional software as everything is done on your web browser.
One unique feature Ecwid brings aside from every other eCommerce cloud platform is that it does not allow you to create a standalone eCommerce website in the early years of its existence. Instead, all you have to do is design your eCommerce store using cloud-based technology and add it to an existing website or online presence.
In a move to upgrade, Ecwid has added some new functionality, called ‘Instant Sites’, that allows you to create a basic, one-page standalone page.
Ecwid also works by giving you a ‘widget’ that gets placed on other sites hence its name: it’s short for ‘Ecommerce Widget’.
Once set up, you get a few lines of HTML code to add to an existing website or social media profile, and your store is displayed wherever you successfully placed this code.
Ecwid comes at affordable pricing that lets you sell up to 10 products from $0 up to $99, which allows you to sell an unlimited number of products. Need to get started with Ecwid? Follow the link below.
TRY IT NOW – Ecwid.com
5. Give Your Platform a Proper Design.
User interface and User Experiences are one part and the future of Internet business in general. Your users will vary in their kinds, so be sure to give your website an outstanding design that will be attractive, easy to navigate and understand.
If you intend to use The Woo Commerce Engine for your online store, I recommend purchasing a premium theme from Themeforest.
6. Optimize Your website for search engine visibility.
SEO means Search optimisation; optimising your online store for search engine visibility is a tremendous plus and added advantage necessary for growth. When users are searching for an Item via Google, they should be able to get to your website. That is the sole importance of SEO.
Here is an article I wrote about correctly understanding search engine optimisation
7. Upload and List Products.
Now that you have connected as many vendors as required or intend to run it as a single business, the next task is to upload those products from your vendors or the ones you own personally to your intended platform. This involves uploading product names, descriptions, images and prices.
If you are starting and don’t know how to get products, then here is an article I recommend that you read.
8. Logistics and Delivery Services.
An E-commerce business entails that you move products purchased by customers from one place to the other in a specific region or location.
Another essential aspect to consider alongside your E-commerce platform is the need for logistics. You can create your very own logistics or subscribe to the service of an existing logistics company.
In this section, I would recommend a service called Deliverr for those of you intending to start a business in the US.
When starting an online eCommerce business, one of the most important things to consider is shipping.
Deliverr.com is a dynamic shipping and fulfilment startup based in the US. It delivers products for its clients, namely eCommerce brands, super fast.
It integrates with massive online marketplaces like Amazon, Facebook, Shopify, Instagram, Walmart, BigCommerce and WordPress.
Deliverr rivals Amazon Prime by providing fast (1-2 days) shipping to online sellers.
Deliverr can ship your products quickly because they rent warehouse space across the United States. But they stock their warehouse shelves in each location based on what’s selling well in that area.
Deliverr‘s is efficient because it stores your products in regions across the country, reducing shipping costs.
Deliverr also enables customers to pay just one fixed rate for its service.
All you have to do is create a free account with Deliverr, connect your sales channels (e.g., eBay, Shopify, etc.), and tell Deliverr what you want to send, and Deliverr determines which of its warehouses to send it to.
You can send Deliverr’s warehouses as much or as little stock as possible. Then, as orders come in, Deliverr picks, packs, and ships your products directly to your customers.
Note: Deliverr does not work outside of the United States.
TRY IT NOW – Deliverr.com
9. Build an App.
This process is not entirely necessary, but it is needed if you want your business to scale as fast as possible in most cases. An app is simply a Mobile-only version of your website available on Smartphones and Tablets.
You can create an app for IOS and Android app to retain user engagements and reach out to more genuine users.
10. Promote Your E-commerce Brand.
Now that you have created your E-commerce brand, there are chances that you will face so many competitors in the same business as you. So here are just some very few ways to help you give your E-commerce business a boost.
1. Inform your loved ones (Friends and Family).
Like I always say, the first set of customers that your business is likely to engage is your friends and family. So, therefore, you should do yourself a favour by letting them know about your new startup.
2. Social media.
The next place to spread the good news is via social media. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are good places to start with marketing and promotions.
Here is an article I recommend you read to help you start hacking your fortune via social media.
Writing search engine optimised content can bring you tons of potential customers. This is because so many factors surround writing with excellent content.
Here is an article I recommend you read to get started.
Before diving deep into the basics and hardcore part of owning a website or running a blog, allow me to assume that you at least have a basic knowledge of how a complete website or a blog should run, so it’s time to stop talking start doing.
I decided to drop a dedicated article on how you can own a great domain name and a cheap web host with BlueHost, and I recommend that you study and do what is advised in the article below.
Afterwards, you may return to fully digest the part you need to get started and stay on top of your game.
Here is a link to the recommended article.
4. Email Marketing.
This is one of the best marketing media any business model can subscribe to. I suggest you start building a list from day one to make marketing a lot easy Here is an in-depth guide you should read on email marketing.
Current e-commerce statistics state that 40 per cent of worldwide internet users have bought products or goods online via a desktop, mobile, tablet or other online devices. This amounts to more than 1 billion online buyers and is projected to grow continuously.
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