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How to Start an E-commerce Business from the Scratch?


Setting up an online store is now easier than ever – maybe easier than boiling yourself a cup of tea – thanks to tens of brilliant eCommerce website development platforms available.


But guess what, building an online store with different eCommerce website development technologies is way different than launching your own eCommerce business – it’s not just about setting up a website, but hello! It's much more about driving eCommerce growth, integrating payment systems, and putting it on the market, phew.


But despite it can be a tough job, both the sellers and the users enjoy the convenience it brings to the table – you know – shop anytime, better prices, and much more.

No, we do not intend to make you nervous, but yes, it may seem like creating that never-ending to-do list on your smartphone.


This is not about making a sizeable list of chores, relax. We will help you understand, with the help of our step-by-step guide, how you can start your eCommerce business, from zero to top while simultaneously driving eCommerce growth.


So, gear up to the bottom of this blog, it is of great help to you, trust us.

Why start an eCommerce business?

Your business can reach a wider audience through online exposure, as internet access enables customers from any location to purchase from you. The eCommerce industry has experienced significant growth during the pandemic, with more shoppers switching to online purchases, spending on average 10-30% more according to a report released by UNCTAD and this growth doesn’t seem to be taking a break even in the far future.


With an eCommerce business, you have the opportunity to earn revenue round the clock through automated business processes and the ease of eCommerce website development platforms. This frees up your time to focus on marketing and scaling your business.


Finally, starting an eCommerce business doesn't have to require a significant amount of capital. Despite its technical requirements, eCommerce website development can be more affordable than you might think. In fact, you also have the ability to even launch a free online store.


Marketplace vs eCommerce: Are they different?

When we talk about marketplace vs eCommerce, there is a lot of confusion among business owners, so let’s keep it simple.


An E-Commerce website provides a platform to showcase and sell your products, allowing you to categorize them for easy access. When a sale is made on such a website, there are two parties involved: the buyer and the seller.


On the other hand, a Marketplace serves as an online shopping platform where multiple sellers offer their products. Buyers can purchase products from various sellers and make a single payment at checkout. When sales are made on a marketplace, there are three parties involved: the buyer, the seller, and the marketplace administrator.


In layman's language, the difference between marketplace vs eCommerce can be summed up in one line - eCommerce website development will focus on you and only you whereas, the marketplace will focus on different brands.



10 Steps to Start an eCommerce business from scratch

We will guide you through the process of initiating the necessary steps today to establish a thriving d2c development from the ground up, similar to many others who have achieved success.

1. Conduct research – is it really gonna work?

Before embarking on any construction towards your d2c development, it is advisable to investigate the feasibility of your concept. Ask yourself:

  • Are search query trends indicating a demand for your product or store?

  • Will your market position be profitable?

Are people searching for your product already?

To gauge the level of interest in your idea, Google Trends and a reliable keyword research tool can be used.


Google Trends is an online search tool that displays the popularity of broad queries in Google Search over time, across various regions and languages.


For example, if you're considering starting an online cosmetic shop, Google Trends could reveal searches for cosmetic products online, which product is being searched the most, etc. (see the below image).


A keyword research tool like Semrush or Moz can also be useful in the research phase.


Do you have customers waiting for you?

Understanding why people purchase and what they want to see improved is critical.

To gain insight into why people buy, you can join industry forums, read reviews of similar products, and collect feedback directly from potential customers with surveys and polls. Collecting feedback from your audience will help build your brand's market position.

As your product rolls out, stay connected with your customer base to ensure a successful d2c development.


How much are your customers okay to pay?

Pricing decisions impact your business finances and your product's position in the market. All pricing strategies involve costs, profit margin, and markup.


Compare your selling price to competitors' pricing and explore historical price patterns. Ultimately, understanding what your customer base is willing to spend is crucial.


2. Create a business plan

Next, the step is creating a business plan. Here's a general outline for a business plan for an eCommerce business. However, remember that every eCommerce business is different, so your business plan should be tailored to your specific needs and goals.



3. Source your products from the right source

In this step of eCommerce website development, after determining the products, you intend to sell, the next step is to identify who will produce them. There are various sourcing options available for this:


Creating them on your own

Producing handmade products provides the seller with the opportunity to charge a premium price due to the perceived high quality of the products. You will have complete control over the design and quality since you create the products in small batches. However, the challenge with producing everything by hand is that it is difficult to scale production due to the limited number of products one person can create in a day.


Getting them manufactured

Working with a manufacturer to create products resolves the problem of scalability, but it is a time-consuming and expensive process. You will need to identify a manufacturer and work with them to build prototypes to your specifications, after which you can place your first order in bulk.


Collaborating with a supplier

Many people choose to enter the eCommerce space by reselling existing products because it is simple to scale and does not necessitate high upfront expenses. The process is straightforward: you locate suppliers via online directories, purchase products, and either ship them to your storage location or send them directly to customers (known as drop shipping) helping in a smooth eCommerce growth.


4. Prepare your brand identity

After devising a robust strategy for your eCommerce growth, the next step is to select a suitable name and complete all the necessary legal formalities to establishing its legitimacy.


While selecting a name for your enterprise, it's imperative to opt for a moniker that reflects your product offerings and caters to your intended customer base. You'd want your brand name to remain etched in your customers' minds, ensuring easy accessibility when they're ready to make a purchase.


Once you've arrived at a potential name, it's crucial to verify that it's not already in use by another business or taken as a domain name. In case the domain is already registered, you can try exploring some variations before going back to the drawing board.


To wrap up, you can swiftly verify the availability of the domain name through your preferred hosting provider. However, the most crucial step is to ensure that you abide by the relevant laws and regulations in your region. This entails selecting a suitable legal structure for your business and completing the requisite formalities to obtain patents and trademarks.

5. Choose an eCommerce website development service

After establishing your e-commerce business's legal standing, the next step is to construct your website.


While getting a customized eCommerce website developed by a developer seems interesting and authoritative, choosing to go for an eCommerce website development platform is comparatively easier. To customize your own eCommerce website, you can hire developers from a reputative D2C Branding Agency who can guide you from the very start.


In case you want to go for a third-party provider, choosing an eCommerce website development technology is confusing as there is a wide array of options available for selection.


Switching platforms at a later stage can be exceedingly challenging. Therefore, it's advisable to opt for a platform that's simple to handle and caters to the majority of SEO requirements.


Overlooking the significance of organic traffic from search engines could be detrimental since it has the potential to be your primary source of traffic.


In the interest of remaining impartial, we have compiled a list of the most prevalent eCommerce website development platforms – WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Shopify, and Magento.


WooCommerce development

With a global market share of 36.68%, WooCommerce stands as the leading eCommerce platform in popularity. Its widespread use can be attributed to its open-source nature and free availability for download.


Additionally, it offers a variety of valuable plugins that enable users to have full authority over their SEO settings. For those who possess technical expertise and operate a WordPress website, WooCommerce is the top choice for accessing its advanced capabilities.


Big Commerce development

Founded in 2009, Big Commerce development is a leading platform in the industry, serving thousands of merchants worldwide with its benefits like scalability ability to handle stores of any size without compromising on performance or speed, a user-friendly interface, customizable templates, and themes, an intuitive drag-and-drop editor.


Big Commerce development also has advanced SEO capabilities, multi-channel selling options, and robust analytics and reporting tools to help businesses track and analyze their performance and make informed decisions.


Shopify development

In 2022, Shopify held the position of the third-largest eCommerce platform with a 10% market share. Its comprehensive package includes hosting, website building, payment gateway, order tracking, and marketing tools. The platform doesn't require complicated installation processes or wait times, making it a convenient choice. For those without a particular inclination towards a specific e-commerce platform, Shopify is the ideal out-of-the-box solution for most people due to its features and easy management, even though it may not be without flaws.


Magento development

Magento allows businesses to create and manage their online stores with a wide range of features and customization options, including multiple payment and shipping options, product management, and SEO optimization. Magento is highly scalable and can accommodate the needs of small to large businesses. It also has a large community of developers and users who contribute to its ongoing development and support.


We have also created a detailed blog about the pros and cons of each of these eCommerce website development technologies which you can read here.


6. Integrate payment gateways

To fully operationalize your eCommerce website, it is crucial to establish a payment gateway that enables customers to pay for their desired products. Payment gateways are the technology systems that facilitate the receipt of customer payments by sellers.


When selecting a payment processor for your online store, consider the volume and value of your transactions. For instance, if you have many high-value transactions, it makes sense to use a payment processor that imposes a fixed monthly fee and a low transaction fee.


The most common payment processors involve PayPal, Stripe, Shopify Pay Instalments, and Amazon Pay.


7. Decide shipping methods

In order to deliver products to customers, just like you require a payment processor to accept payments, you also need a shipping system for your eCommerce growth. You have the option to either handle inventory, packing, and shipping in-house, or outsource these tasks to a third-party provider.


Amazon has raised the bar for customer expectations when it comes to shipping, which is why providing fast and affordable shipping options, including free shipping, can help prevent customers from abandoning their shopping carts and increase sales.


Offering free shipping may seem like it only benefits the customer, but it can actually be a mutually beneficial solution. For instance, you could provide free shipping on orders that exceed a certain amount, which would meet customers’ expectations and lead to higher average order values.


Additionally, it's important to consider offering free return shipping. Returns can have a significant impact on gaining new customers, as over 57% of surveyed consumers believe that their returns play a crucial role in their customer service.


8. Look forward to customer service

After launching your website, excellent customer service is crucial to ensure customer satisfaction and address any inquiries they may have which is one of the most important drivers of your eCommerce growth.


Initially, it's recommended to have a key staff member, such as yourself or a marketing director, act as the primary contact for customer inquiries to gain valuable insights into product design and areas for growth. However, as the workload increases, a part-time or full-time customer service representative can be delegated to handle these inquiries.


To provide the best customer service, several touchpoints should be considered, including live chat, social media, and email.


Live chat is essential as customers expect quick responses to their inquiries.


Social media is also important as companies that respond to customer service requests on social media gain more sales from those customers.


While email is preferred by the majority of customers for customer service inquiries, it's crucial to integrate it with other communication channels to resolve inquiries promptly.


It's important to note that new technology should not overshadow existing communication channels, but instead, all channels should be unified to provide the best customer service possible.


9. Market your business

Establishing a business is literally incomplete without tactically putting it on the market. For your eCommerce growth, having a strong passion, a unique product, and an attractive website alone may not be enough to attract customers. You need to allocate your time and resources toward various marketing strategies (specifically digital) such as SEO, social media, and more should be on the priority.

SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO), involves conducting keyword research, creating content, building links, and improving technical aspects to help your website rank higher in search engine results for relevant queries.


However, eCommerce SEO requires specific techniques, which can be overwhelming for beginners. But don't worry, we have got you covered with a team of SEO experts.


Social Media

Many, another option is social media marketing. With a new business, you’ll be juggling a lot—so choose one social media platform to focus on. Ideally, one that balances where your audience hangs out with a medium you feel comfortable working with.


For example, if you are into women’s clothing you may want to focus on Pinterest because as per statistics, out of the total audience on Pinterest, 76.2% are females.


The key is consistency. Refrain from spreading yourself too thin by trying to grow all your social media profiles. Focus on complementing your natural talents, so you’ll keep up with your eCommerce website development.


10. Monitor, Improve, Repeat

D2C development can be a tough game to step up in but if you have made the decision, you have constantly monitor, analyze, improve, and hustle to survive and play big.

Monitor the effectiveness of your marketing tactics as you receive orders and identify which strategies are successful and which ones are not. Continuously evaluate your results over time to refine and enhance your marketing approach and determine what works best for your business.


Several key metrics that can help you optimize the marketing strategies of your eCommerce website development include the buy-to-detail rate, average order value, customer lifetime value, and the number of returns or refunds associated with specific marketing campaigns. By regularly analyzing your outcomes, you can pinpoint areas that require improvement and take steps to expand your business.


Conclusion

That’s all, you now have an effective, one-stop, 10-step guide for setting up your eCommerce business from the scratch.


Remember, it may seem like a lot of work, but don't let that intimidate you. The crucial first step is simply to take action and begin.


Also, do not feel lost in the process, take the help of a D2C development company if you need any additional assistance because it's always better to take informed decisions than the hit-and-trial.

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