Step-By-Step Guide to Starting an Ecommerce Business
Ecommerce is in full bloom and there is no better time to launch your online store than today. Owning or starting an ecommerce business has never been easier. By now, we’re all well aware that if you want to make money by selling things, it doesn’t necessarily have to be within bricked walls anymore. If you want to know how to start an online store, you’re at the right place.
Just grab your laptop and patiently follow this guide and you’ll be ready to sell online in no time! The internet is your playing field, and if COVID has brought anything other than chaos, it’s the demand for online shopping.
Things You Need Before You Set Up Your Online Store
1) Check the Feasibility and Make a Plan
If you are starting an ecommerce business, its success largely depends on sound planning. Trust me; a plan will save you from minor and unwarranted bumps in this journey. It is vital to study the resources, the categories you need to target, timelines, potential vendors, and other essentials. These small decisions can be a decisive factor in the success or failure of your online store.
- Do a market survey for your online startup.
- Check what is in demand by visiting online forums.
- Study your competitors.
2) Make a Brand Plan & Decide on Your Online Store Name
The next important step is to find a suitable online store name for your estore online and come up with a brand plan. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Choose a name that carries the essence of your business. It must be unique and memorable.
- Make a list of options and prioritize.
- Choose a logo and a picture.
- If you’re feeling fancy, brainstorm and come up with a tagline too.
3) Create Quality Images and Good Product Descriptions
Reputation comes with the experiences you are providing to your consumer base and experiences are not always about post-purchase or in-purchase services. It is a lot more than that. Would you ever spend money on something that looks shabby? No.
If you want to know how to start an online store, one of the answers is by not using stock photos that everyone is tired of seeing repeatedly. Take real pictures of the products in good lighting. Finalize three to four pictures of each product with different angles so the customers can take a good look at the products and know they will get exactly what they order.
From a customer’s POV, the next important part is the product description. Give as many details of the product as possible. This part is crucial, especially if you’re dealing in products that may be defective or are second-hand.
An Easy-To-Understand Summary of Basics
Domain Name, Website Hosting & WordPress
Even if the online store doesn’t have a physical existence, it will exist virtually. For this purpose, it needs a domain name and a web-hosting service.
What’s a Domain Name?
The domain name is the address to your estore online. If you’re not tech-savvy, the domain name is the URL you type to open a website. For example, www.youtube.com is the domain name of YouTube.
Choosing an Ideal Domain Name
A good domain name is
- Carries the essence of your ecommerce brand
- Usually has a ‘.com’ domain
Mistakes to avoid while choosing a domain name
A domain name that resembles the name of another famous website
- If they hear your website name from someone, they’re more likely to mix it up and later remember the famous one
A domain name that is meant to be a play on words
- Wordplay is always creative when it comes to content. In the case of domain names, you don’t want your customers confused about how to find you. Hence, a straight and memorable address is what you need.
What’s Website Hosting?
A web-hosting service provides you with a virtual space to rent out in order to store all the data related to your estore.
Hosting Packages that Support Ecommerce Stores
Basic hosting packages start from around $8/m. That sounds incredibly inexpensive, and it is, because it’s best suited for very basic sites that don’t have heavy traffic and don’t need to stand up to the rigors of online transactions. Businesses that are serious about online security and providing a great browsing experience for their customers often look for a more advanced plan to keep their business running smoothly.
If you sell a few products a month and don’t have plans for growth, then an introductory hosting plan with great security may be right for you. But if your online store is a revenue stream for your business, we can’t overstate the importance of ensuring that the hosting is fast, secure, and available 24/7/365. This kind of hosting plan is usually referred to as all inclusive hosting and will include things like a Content Delivery Network (CDN), a security suite that looks for and blocks malware and hacking, and blazing fast servers that can handle a lot of information transfer.
What is the Purpose of WordPress?
WordPress basically is the software that virtually deals with the construction and design of your store.
Starting an ecommerce business means that you need suitable software. There are countless other software options that you can opt for but WordPress is one of the best. Did you know that about 35% of existing websites are created with WordPress?
Yes, that’s how popular it is! Here are a few reasons why you should opt for WordPress for your eStore as well.
- It’s very easy to use. Even if you’re a beginner, you can create an amazing website yourself with only a bit of research.
- The theme says a lot about any ecommerce website. Luckily, WordPress offers a plethora of eye-catching estore friendly themes that can take your virtual shop to the next level. When choosing a theme, do some research and determine if it is well supported and won’t slow down your website. Sometimes it is better to choose a lightweight theme and then do your own custom ecommerce development to ensure your store turns out exactly how you want it to.
- An ecommerce website means that you will be dealing with information that comes with a lot of responsibility. This includes
– Customers’ addresses
– Customers’ credit card details
– Customers’ bank details
– Login details and more sensitive data
The security team at WordPress has more than 50 experts which makes the platform much safer. They also make it a point to release updates so that users are never uncertain and always in the loop. With every revised WordPress version, you can expect higher and stronger protection from safety threats.
- If you are comfortable doing it yourself, WordPress is free to set up, hence it’s cost-effective.
- The plugins that WordPress offers are designed to make your life easier! There is a pool of plugins that enables you to update your website with just a few clicks. One of the popular ones is WooCommerce. As of 10 Oct 2021, it’s a plugin that powers 42% of the ecommerce websites on the internet.
Successful Online Stores On WordPress
If you’re skeptical whether you’re making the right choice or not, here are a few successful brands using WordPress for their online stores today:
- Roberto Coin
- Porter & York
- Root Science
High-Level Steps to Launch Your estore with WordPress
Select a Hosting & Domain Name
Once you’ve evaluated your hosting options, the next step is to choose a suitable package and sign up! If you’ve chosen a hosting plan like Camberlion’s all inclusive hosting, your online store will not only provide an exceptional experience for your customers, but you can rest assured knowing that your business data is protected with a firewall and transactions are processed securely.
The next step is to install WordPress. Here is how you can do it:
- Login to your hosting account
- Go to the user panel and look for the ‘Install WordPress’ icon
- When you click on it, you’ll be able to follow a step by step on-screen guide
- Follow that and ta-da!
Install WooCommerce Plugin
If there is any store builder that you can not go wrong with, it’s WooCommerce. Since it’s a WordPress plugin, it’s convenient to use. All you need to do is open the plugin page, click on ‘Add New’ and use the search bar to find the plugin. When you see the hard-to-miss purple logo, click on the ‘Install Now’ button. Activate it when it’s done being installed.
When it’s activated, it will launch the setup. Follow along and fill out all basic information required. When you’re done, press the continue button. The next step is to choose the industry you’re creating the store in. The steps that follow will ask you some other details about the kind of products you’re selling – nothing too complicated.
On one of the pages, you’ll be shown two tabs:
- Business details
- Free features
Once you’re done filling in the business details, go on the second tab and uncheck the box next to ‘Add recommended business features to my site’. This will save you from a lot of unwanted plugin installation since you can always install the ones you need.
When you press continue, you’ll be directed to the “Choose a theme” page. Choose a theme that resonates the most with your vision of your brand and eStore and we’re all set to hop on to product listings!
List Your Products
This is probably the step you’ve been waiting for. If you have the images and descriptions mentioned above, just adding them to the website is what’s left. To ease the process here is a video tutorial!
Add Payment System
It’s important for your estore online to have a payment option! Here is how you can activate the payment option for your customers:
- Click on WooCommerce
- In the dropdown menu, select ‘Settings’
- Click on the Payment Tab
- You’ll see the following payment methods:
-Direct Bank Transfer
We personally recommend enabling PayPal and Stripe and for that, scroll further down. Below the ‘Save Changes’ button, you’ll see both options. Click on ‘Get Started’. To get these to function, in the upper section, click on ‘Set it Up’ for the payment gateway you want to enable. This will lead you to a page where you will be required to provide the information needed for it. Once you’ve filled in all the required fields, click on ‘Save Changes’ and you have your estore online!
How to Start an estore Without Inventory
It is not always necessary to collect inventory and make purchases while starting an ecommerce business. It can be a load on your finances and the good news is you can start your estore without having any startup inventory. Now the next question is how to start an estore without inventory. The answer is simple and easy!
An easy way to start your new business venture online without inventory and zero investment on that front is by choosing dropshipping.
How Dropshipping Works
Dropshipping is a delivery model designed to meet order requirements of customers. In this model, the product is delivered directly by the supplier to the end-user and never passes through the hands of the business entity.
The benefit is that you do not have to keep inventory on hand. You place the order to the supplier only when the purchase has actually been made by the customer.
The entire product range that is on display at your store is of the supplier and not you; hence, the alliance serves both. In other words, you are selling goods from the stock of the supplier and not yours.
The right kind of dropship supplier is important to kick-start your business. Do thorough research before you are choosing one for yourself as there are plenty of scammers in the market. Here is a list to help you connect with an ideal vendor:
|Directory name/ Supplier||Uses|
|Worldwide Brands||It is a directory that maintains and frequently updates the list of reliable suppliers|
|Spocket||Spocket also provides a connection platform between suppliers and those in need of drop shipping|
|AliExpress Dropshipping||AliExpress is a world-renowned name that brings together ecommerce businesses and dropshippers|
|Sale Hoo||Sale Hoo is also a supplier directory that brings together various dropshippers and makes it easy for you to start your online store without inventory|
|Inventory Source||Inventory source is a great network of inventory suppliers which allows you to access around 180 suppliers for your dropshipping requirements. An additional benefit is that it allows you to create synchronization between the network and your inventory data.|
|Mega Goods||Mega Goods specializes in items like kitchen products, clocks, and some electronics|
Whatever time of the year, business name, product, and supplier you choose to enter the business world, remember to give it your best. You may face glitches if you’re starting an ecommerce business – sales may be slow, promotions may not work as effectively as you want them to – but be patient. After all, once you get past the waiting period, it will all be worth it!