There was an estimate that there would be around 2.14 billion global digital shoppers in 2021, which means 27.2% of the entire world’s population will shop online for their everyday and other needs.
We are sure we’ve surpassed the estimated numbers of digital shoppers since no market research, and statistical analysis company could’ve predicted and accounted for the effects of the current global pandemic situation in their studies.
The above data point provides us with a simple inference that the eCommerce industry is in its prime growth stage, and if you’ve been sitting on the idea of starting your own eCommerce business, then this is a perfect time.
Starting any business is hard work, requires a lot of attention to detail, high-stakes decision making at the right time, choosing the right team, and whatnot.
So, to help you start your eCommerce business the right way, we’ve compiled the most important steps, action items and tasks, and decisions in a checklist after researching and analyzing various successful businesses. Our realistic and proven items on the checklist will help you build a successful and scalable eCommerce business.
- Choosing a business name
- Creating a logo
- Registration of a domain
- Business licenses and permits
- Finding products to sell
- Evaluation and validation of your idea
- Procurement and order fulfillment
- Preparation and Planning
- Competitor analysis
- Creating a business plan
- Building and Implementation
- Website creation
- Search engine optimization
- Setting up other marketing channels
- Sales channels
1) Choosing a business name
Choosing a catchy, strong name for your eCommerce business gives it an immediate advantage over your competitors as it will be easier for your audience to remember. It is one of the most valuable assets required to build a strong brand presence.
A few rules to follow while shortlisting names for your business:
- Keep it short and simple to make it more memorable. You can try a combination of short words related to your product offerings
- Try to come up with something unique and catchy
- Check all your shortlisted names on GoDaddy or other domain hosting services to see if the domain is available for your names.
- Look for new inspirations for names. Pinterest is a great source, and so are different languages like Greek, Latin, etc.
2) Creating a Logo
Once you’ve finalized a catchy, unique, and memorable name for your business, create a logo that’s simple yet remarkable. The iconic smile in Amazon’s logo, the Michelin Man, and the Mustang’s horse are a few examples of exceptional and memorable logos.
Some quick logo design tips to help you get started:
- Use the white space around your logo to keep the design clean.
- Make use of shapes that can induce some out-of-the-box thinking.
- Try to imagine your logo on various surfaces like mugs, t-shirts, keychains, etc.
- Choosing the right color is the key.
- Being literal with your logo can increase its resonance with your audience.
- You can use contrasting colors to add a pop to your logo.
Generally, this work is outsourced to graphic designers for ideation and designing, but if you are on a tight budget or bootstrapping, you can use this free logo maker, or even Canva can be used for the same.
3) Registration of your domain
This can be done parallelly with the logo creation step. Once you’ve finalized the name of your business and checked the availability of the domain, you can go ahead and purchase the same from any domain register like Godaddy, BigRock, etc.
4) Business licenses and permits
For operating any business, it’s necessary to have required business licenses and permits. The number of licenses and permits you need to acquire is based on the location of your business. Rules of operating a business might be different in India than in the USA, and they can differ from one state to another.
For example, to run a business in the USA, you need EIN, which is short for Employer Identification Number. This number is also necessary to open a bank account for your business and file taxes.
5) Finding products to sell
This is one of the most challenging parts of starting a business; choosing the right products to sell. Whether your business model, be it a B2B or B2C, you need to pick the products with a unique selling point, are in demand, and marketable.
A few strategies to help you find the right product for your business:
- Solve a pain point of your target audience
- Target enthusiastic hobbyists
- Monitor them and find a way to capitalize on them
- Keywords are a great source for product ideas
- Research to find products with higher profit margins
6) Evaluation and validation of your idea
Before fixating on a particular idea, make sure to validate it and understand the potential market. Selling products that don’t have much demand doesn’t seem like a good idea. Moreover, you will end up demotivated and wasting your money.
So, to validate your product idea and build a highly profitable and scalable eCommerce business, start by:
- Evaluating the potential demand and market size by using tools like Buzzsumo.
- Understanding your competitors, direct and indirect. For example, potential competitors for organic coconut hair oil could be pure coconut oil, commercial coconut hair oil products, and DIY oil recipes.
- Knowing the direction of the potential market. It is just a trend, fad, flat, or a growing market? To understand this, Google Trends is a good place to start from.
- Knowing if your product will have seasonality swings, etc.
For a detailed understanding of how to evaluate your product idea, you can refer to this 16-step guide.
7) Procurement and order fulfillment
Once you’ve evaluated your product idea, the next step is to decide on your procurement and order fulfillment strategies/models. Are you going to set up a manufacturing plant? Are you going to take care of the entire order fulfillment process or choose a third-party logistics partner?
This step is among the crucial steps which will determine the success of your eCommerce business.
To pick the right business model that is profitable and easy to implement, refer to these two guides:
Preparation and Planning
8) Competitor analysis
Competitor analysis can be defined as a strategic research process that helps identify and evaluate your competitors’ market, product strategy, growth, etc.
By getting a clear understanding of your competitors’ brand positioning in the market, you can craft better branding and marketing strategies for your business.
To conduct a detailed competitor analysis, you can use tools like:
- Social media platforms
- SemRush, Ahrefs, or similar keyword research tools
These tools will help you get a proper understanding of your competitors’ offerings, main product features, their USPs, their marketing strategies, their content strategy and reach, social media presence, main marketing mediums, and more.
For an organized approach, create a competitor analysis framework. Here’s an image of the same to help you get started:
9) Creating a business plan
Once you’ve understood the market and your competitors, the next step is to write a kickass business plan. It acts as a business roadmap, and it’s an optimized way to collect your thoughts and ideas in one place, which will further enable you to turn them into actionable items.
This step helps determine a priority task list, effective ways to reach your target audience and identify the blind spots to take the right measures before anything could go sideways.
Here’s a standard table of contents in a typical business plan:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Overview of your management
- Products, services, subscriptions, or any other offerings
- Customer segments
- Marketing plan along with the product mix
- Operations and logistics plan
- And lastly, the financial plan
Building and Implementation
10) Website creation
Once you have a business plan and a final list of products you want to sell, the next step is to build an eCommerce store with high-converting product pages.
Here are some killer tips for creating a successful online store:
- Engaging web design
- Creative About Us page to give your brand an identity
- Offer live chat or other customer support options
- Integrate necessary payment options [Don’t forget COD]
- Have an SEO-drive blog
- Add product reviews to your product pages
- Make sure your store is mobile responsive
- Integrate analytics and tracking software
- Use high-resolution photos
- Add social sharing icons, etc.
Make sure to revisit your website strategy every once to optimize the same for better conversions. Here, analytics and tracking software will help you determine what’s working and what needs to be worked upon.
11) Search engine optimization
After you’ve created your store, the next step is to optimize it for search engines. Unless you don’t put effort and resources into optimizing your store for Google and other search engines, it’ll be hard to bring traffic to your store.
A few SEO tips to get started:
- Use keyword tools to identify high-volume keywords for your product pages. Then add them naturally to your content.
- Improve internal linking by adding the Related Products section
- Target long-tail keywords as people using long-tail keywords are usually further down in the buying funnel
- Create and add a sitemap to your website to ensure all your pages get indexed
- Use redirection for broken links and 404 pages to ensure your customers don’t end up on a dead-end page
12) Setting up other marketing channels
Apart from SEO, you will need to invest in other marketing channels to attract traffic to your website. You can select social media platforms where your target audience usually spends the most time creating your brand’s profiles.
Another great channel to market your products, sales, offers, and discounts is email. You can add lead magnets to your store, collect emails from the checkout page, or simply by asking your visitors to sign up. To effectively collect leads, make sure to incentive this action. Offer them discounts in exchange for their email address.
13) Sales channels
Lastly, apart from your own eCommerce store, setting up other sales channels where your target audience is already shopping is necessary. To pick the right sales channel, see where your target audience shops and where your competitors are listed. Remember, other sales channels like Amazon, eBay, Shopify should complement your self-hosted store.
Now You are Ready to Start Your Online Business
Besides the above-mentioned points, be ready to face some random and abrupt challenges as we live in uncertain times. While facing such challenges, keep yourself calm and approach problems with a solution mindset, and there’ll be nothing that can stop you from building a successful eCommerce business.