It is estimated that by 2023, the eCommerce market in the US will be worth $740 billion. Do you want to be a part of this fast-growing market? If so, take a look at our guide, where we tell you all about starting an eCommerce business and leveraging digital marketing for eCommerce business growth. It’s never easy starting a new business, but it’s not too tough either. All you need is a structured approach, as detailed below.
Decide your product.
The first step in starting an eCommerce business is deciding the product you are going to offer. It could be varied products like an online supermarket or a specific product or range. You can sell the same products online if you already have a business. Otherwise, you need to look at different product ideas that would find general acceptability in the market. You can also look for a niche market to target so your product can take off.
Identify your target market.
Who will buy your product? Are you looking to sell your product to customers at large or a specific segment? This is the next thing you need to decide. The best way to do this is by market research. You can take the help of an internet marketing agency that can carry out research online. You can also use social media to conduct your research.
Comprehensive research should tell you who the people likely to buy your product are. While conducting the research, you also need to analyze your competition. Take a look at what the competitors are offering and try to create a unique product.
Decide your business model.
Your business model depends on your kind of product. You may offer it for sale on an online store where customers buy the product by making payments online or at the time of delivery. You need to decide how you would deliver the product. Will you have your own delivery team? Will you tie up with a delivery company? Is working with a big company like Amazon a better idea? You need to answer all these questions while finalizing your business model. At the end of this activity, you should be able to work out the price margins you need to set for your products.
Do a trial run.
You need to validate your product or do a test marketing exercise. Create your product in small quantities and offer it to your target audience. You can offer it for free as a part of the marketing research activity. Find out the feedback from customers. Ask them what price they would pay for such a product. These marketing inputs will help you work out a digital marketing strategy for eCommerce. The trial run will also help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, which you can use to improve your product and business model.
Decide your product source.
Will you make the product yourself? Will you outsource production to someone else? You can even partner with another company and ship the product directly to clients. Certain products like online training, books, etc., can be delivered digitally. Decide on this part before you proceed. If you depend on someone else for the product, you need to ensure the vendor or partner is reliable.
Make a business plan.
Whether it is an offline business or an eCommerce business, you need a business plan. The business plan should contain the following:
- An overview of your business
- Analysis of the market with an overview of your target market
- Product overview that explains the products or services you are offering
- A business model explaining how your eCommerce business works and how the pricing is done
- A marketing plan that should include your eCommerce marketing strategy
- Operations plan on how the eCommerce business would work
- Financials that talk about the investment you need to make, ongoing expenses, the source for funding (own money or loan), expected sales, expected revenue, anticipated profitability, etc.
If you want a loan or want someone to invest in your business, then the first thing any investor would ask for is the business plan. The business plan will give you a blueprint based on which you can operate your business. The plan is crucial if you need funding.
Make all preparations.
There are a number of preparations to be done before you can start your business. These include:
- Deciding the name of your business or eCommerce store
- Choosing a logo and other branding elements like tagline, color scheme, etc.
- Deciding if you want to work as a proprietary business, partnership business, LLC, or corporation
- Completing the formalities involved (for which you may need the help of a CPA)
- Registering your business as per local government norms
- Opening a bank account for your eCommerce business
- Obtaining permits and licenses as required by the law
- Getting registered with the tax authority and obtaining the necessary registration
- Having a warehouse ready for storage and shipping of your products
- Creating a website where you would offer your products (including registering the domain, getting the website designed, creating an online store, testing, and payment gateway integration)
The payment gateway is essential since it allows customers to pay online.
Launch the store.
Now that everything is ready, you can launch your store. Let your website go online and let people know it is up and running. Now sit back and wait for customers to start buying. But before that, you need to market it.
Promote your store.
Marketing is crucial, so your target market knows about your store and is attracted to visit it. Since yours is an online business, you need a digital marketing strategy in place. The strategy should outline the following:
- The expenses to be used for your eCommerce digital marketing strategy
- Advertisement design and websites or social media platforms where you would run the ads
- Social media accounts on platforms where you can find your target market
- Website promotion methods by using SEO and other techniques to attract visitors
- Online campaigns on social media to attract customers to visit your online store
- Offline campaigns through ads in local channels and by using word of mouth
- Promotional offers like discounts and voucher codes to encourage customers to purchase items from your online store
As outlined in our guide, you need a systematic approach to successfully running an eCommerce business. Since marketing is the key, you can take the help of a reputed digital marketing agency. The agency’s expertise and experience would ensure you can market your eCommerce business well and make it a success.