7 Steps To Starting Your E-commerce Business

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Online Business Ideas

Does this sound like you? You’ve heard of ecommerce, you’re excited about it, you’ve read the reports and how profitable it is. Have you ever thought that one day, your online business ideas would lead you to ecommerce?  Why not, right? It is an easy online business to start, after all. Now you want a slice from it, but you just don't know how or where to start. 

Over 2 billion people purchased goods or services online in 2020. 2021 saw global ecommerce sales pass $4.9 trillion and are predicted to grow to well over $5 trillion by the end of 2022.

In today’s article, we’ll take a look at how you can go about starting up your ecommerce business. 

Online Business Ideas

It's still not too late to start your ecommerce journey

We’ll start by framing that it is not too late to start your ecommerce online business today. Consumers are becoming more and more comfortable with purchasing products online. This fuels the growth of our ecommerce industry as a whole.

Start with testing the waters and do not be afraid to create or build your online store. Shopee, Lazada, Taobao, these platforms and marketplaces have access to millions, if not billions, of online shoppers and can present you with a lot of interesting opportunities along the way.

Online Business Ideas

How profitable is it?

We’ll start by framing that it is not too late to start your ecommerce online business today. Consumers are becoming more and more comfortable with purchasing products online. This fuels the growth of our ecommerce industry as a whole.

Start with testing the waters and do not be afraid to create or build your online store. Shopee, Lazada, Taobao, these platforms and marketplaces have access to millions, if not billions, of online shoppers and can present you with a lot of interesting opportunities along the way.

How to get started?

Sit back and buckle in as we give you a crash course in making your online business a reality.

 1. Research Business Ideas

Without even touching your laptop or computer, you need to know and research your business plan as that will assist you in making critical choices quickly and efficiently. Sellers may have several ways to decide on what products they want to sell or build, but these are some of the most important things to consider when starting your ecommerce business.

Online Business Ideas

Find something worth solving

Think very carefully about what problem or challenge are you seeking to solve? Who will stand to gain by you solving these problems?

We’ve found that finding a problem worth solving is crucial, because without customers to support them some innovative ideas may fail.

There's no point in making high-quality kitchen utensils if nobody will ever use them! Make sure that whatever product or service you offer has something special for your target audience to not only satisfy their needs but also grow an engaged fan base by bringing new people into the fold.

When you're creating products, it is important to think of the challenges you will face and identify those who will truly appreciate what you are trying to create. This should guide all priorities as we move forward.

Good product ideas don’t always have to be far-fetched or high-tech. People sometimes sell to those they are familiar with as it’s then a lot easier to spot problems and pinpoint needs more easily.

Online Business Ideas

Observation can help inspire great product ideas

Ordinary, daily experiences, such as sharing a meal with a buddy, can provide the best inspiration.  

While out for dinner, online company owners Saadia Mirza and Bassel Riche had an idea for a business. On Atlanta's sidewalks, they spotted a problem. 

To ease their weary feet, women on a night out would remove their bothersome shoes and stroll barefoot on the pavements. 

Purse Pals, packable ballet flats that provide relief to achy feet from unpleasant shoes, resulted from this inspiration.

Your venture will be much more likely to succeed if you can find a problem worth solving and an audience that wants the problem solved.

Some questions to ask yourself in looking for product ideas

Your immediate surroundings are the best place to start researching your online business ideas. Find out what people's goals, aspirations, or challenges are, and then look for products that can help them. You can come up with online business ideas by being observant, which you can then research online. Some questions to ask while looking around are:

  • What are some pain points or problems that you'd like to solve?

  • What flaws or complaints do you currently have with the products you use?

  • What are some global trends you’ve noticed that you could profit from?

  • What kind of feedback do you get from friends and family about the products they use?

  • What are some of your favourite pastimes?

  • What products would aid in the enhancement of those activities?

Use keyword research tools to find trends and opportunities

When it comes to selling in your online business, passion doesn't always lead to success. You need to know if your customer wants your product. You can use online tools to look up trends and questions from your audience, and see what their current solutions are.

The product idea already exists

If your idea or product is already on the market, don’t worry. You have got some options. Namely, you would possibly be ready to offer the same product at a more competitive price or provide a more innovative alternative to the product. In addition to that, the very fact that the merchandise is already out there means that there is some validation of market potential.

Read customer reviews of current products to see where your competition falls short. Count the complaints and look for patterns. Next, do your research and find out the cost of solving the problem.

Online Business Ideas

2. Validate Product Ideas

Validating your product can help you succeed. Once you've identified your online business ideas, investigate the performance of similar products and what your potential customers are looking for.

Potential customers can provide idea validation

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to find out if your idea is worth developing is to talk to people. Once you've identified a problem worth solving, talk to people who feel the pain point or frustration most.

Reach out to a small group of people to understand if they are facing the problem you are trying to solve and find out how they are currently dealing with this challenge.  

Offer to buy 5-10 people a cup of coffee for 30 minutes of their time. Discuss the challenge in your meeting to see if the pain point is something they're willing to spend money on, or if it won't bother them too much. Avoid addressing your product as it may affect the responses you receive. Instead, focus on how they feel about the problem, how they are currently coping with it, and whether they are willing to pay to fix the problem. If so, how much are they willing to pay? Can you think of anyone who might be interested in your product? If so, who?

Online Business Ideas

3. Product Sourcing

Once you've figured out what you're selling and who you want your products to serve, the next important step is finding the right source for your products.

Good products will make your new online business a success. The key is not only in choosing the right product but also in the right source for your products. Here are some options for sourcing your ecommerce products.

Selling what’s being sold

Reselling is a popular choice because it's cost-effective and relatively easy to get started. Online directories and listings can help you find suppliers for your products. You need to contact the vendor, order your products and ship them to your company. Then send them to customers once the products are sold. Finding and building relationships with suppliers can not only result in cheaper procurement but also ensure a stable supply chain for your business in the future.

Handmade or building your products

You will have the most control over quality and design if you build your products. This method, however, may be difficult to scale up. Some sellers prefer to make small batches of their handcrafted items. This helps to keep operations under control. Given that some people believe handmade products are of higher quality, this option may allow sellers to charge a premium for their products.

Online Business Ideas

Build your products with the help of manufacturers

Working directly with a manufacturer to build your products can increase your chances of success, but it is also the most difficult path for a new seller to take. Finding the right manufacturer, working with them to build prototypes to your specifications, and eventually placing your first order will take time and money. Once you've created a new product, you'll have the opportunity to develop a distinct brand that will help you stand out from the crowd.

4. Picking Your Online Channel

There are a lot of options when it comes to selling your products online. Create a website and host your branded ecommerce store on your domain name, or sell your products on one of the existing ecommerce websites.

Create your domain and ecommerce website

Search engine optimisation, social media marketing, and internet advertising can all assist boost traffic, but they take time and money. Once orders start rolling in, you'll also need a method for handling them and fulfilling them. This might be difficult to manage while running a business.

Using an existing online marketplace

Using an established online marketplace like Shopee or Lazada with a built-up, steady stream of traffic can help you start selling online successfully, sooner. Furthermore, this technique allows you to learn about what works for sellers, gain feedback, and create revenue before investing in your solution. 

Selling on an online marketplace also reduces the risk of squandering too much time and money on a product before you've established a customer base and they will have already built up brand or market awareness as well as traffic-driving strategies.

5. Set Up Your Web Store

It's time to get your business up and running after you've decided what to sell and to whom you'll sell.

Pick your business name

Your brand name will serve as your business's identity, so make sure it's memorable, simple to type, and easy to recall.

If you know exactly what you're going to market, start brainstorming names by looking at other businesses in your field. Alternatively, a name may immediately come to mind. While it may work for rock stars, numbers and intricate symbols should be avoided. Maintain a straightforward and easy-to-pronounce brand name.

Branding will assist your ecommerce store in standing out from the crowd. It is critical to leave a lasting impression that will entice repeat customers. You don't want your product to be lost in a sea of competitors with no distinguishing features.

Online Business Ideas

Making your logo

You must now create a logo for your new business after choosing a memorable name and registering a domain.

Product listing pages

Customers will examine product descriptions to determine whether or not your product will meet their demands. It is critical to provide a detailed description that informs your potential buyer of all they need to know to make an informed selection. Titles, photos, bullet points, descriptions, and keywords can all assist you in creating a page that turns casual browsers into buyers.

Incomplete or inaccurate descriptions may result in complaints, more returns, and a negative image, so be detailed, precise, and honest. Your descriptions, however, do not have to be dry. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and create exciting and engaging descriptions of how they can use your products.

Running your online business

After you've established your online store, it's time to focus on running your business. A nice online experience can be created in a variety of ways. A good place to start is with accurate product descriptions, a quick and easy checkout procedure, timely delivery, and an easy returns process. A good number of reviews from other customers might also go a long way.

Fulfilment - storing, shipping, and returns

How will you store, ship, and handle product returns? When you first start your online business, you'll need a system in place to handle shipping and refunds. To keep things simple, it may be advisable to choose an accessible and cost-effective location to store and send your products. Some sellers find that storing things in their homes (such as a garage) is the ideal solution. As your company expands, you may want to consider employing a third party to help you store, package, and ship products.

Show social proof

Ecommerce reviews can be powerful tools. Ideally, display your reviews so that they will be visible to popular search engines and customers shopping for products like yours.

Online Business Ideas

Track performance with Google analytics

Analytic tools show how website visitors interact with a shop and its products. Ecommerce analytics are normally built into dashboards or can be installed via third-party programs.

Whatever system you decide to use, you should monitor your store's ecommerce analytics regularly to manage inventory. Analytics is also where you can measure account performance by tracking orders, evaluating customer service and returns, running promotions and advertising, and more.

You'll be able to grasp how visitors interact with a store after you're familiar with its data. Analysing a store's analytics data will also provide you with useful information on how to diagnose and troubleshoot problems with your online shopping experience.

6. Getting Your Customers

The hard work of selling your products begins now that you've launched. While many new store owners should consider selling their real things in person, the remainder of digital marketing relies on one thing being done well: attracting targeted visitors. 

This can be done through strategies like SEO and having some top-notch copywriting to go with your marketing materials. As fate would have it, we’ve written articles on both SEO and COPYWRITING too. Do feel free to go through them and implement them in your ecommerce blueprint.

7. Grants

If you’re in Singapore and want to get your ecommerce journey started, there are several grants available here to help you get on the way. Whether you're looking for funding assistance, local hiring subsidies, digital solution adoption, tax breaks, or angel capital, there's something for you! We’ll cover some of the grants that are available to you here.

Grants available to ecommerce businesses

  • Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS)
  • Startup SG Equity Programme
  • Temporary Bridging Loan Programme (TBLP)
  • Advanced Digital Solutions (ADS)
  • Grow Digital
  • Productivity & Solutions Grant (PSG)
  • Startup SG Tech
  • Double Tax Deduction for Internationalisation (DTDi)

We would like to take this opportunity to talk a bit about the PSG grant mentioned above. For companies that want to boost productivity by implementing pre-scoped technological solutions in customer management, data analytics, financial management, and inventory tracking.

Fortunately, since you will be starting your very own ecommerce business, you can opt for all that we talked about earlier in this article and you will be subsidised by the Singaporean government in setting up your online shop.

Online Business Ideas

What is more interesting is how much you will be supported. When you opt for an all-in-one solution to setting up your website and have it linked to other online marketplaces like Shopee and Lazada; one system where you can manage all your inventory without having to manually repeat the process multiple times. Wouldn’t this be your ideal dream solution? You get to set up shop without the technical hassle of worrying about how to code your website.

Here’s your chance. Shopcada’s omnichannel solution is the ultimate must-have for entrepreneurs who want to take their business to the next level. What’s even better is that Under the PSG initiative, you get to enjoy up to 80% off when you sign up.

Shopcada is the solution for entrepreneurs who want to take their business to the next level. Sell your products from web to retail, mobile commerce, social media, and online marketplaces. We make it easy for you to scale your business across channels.

Closing Words

No matter which way you look at it, your blueprint is only the start. Building your own ecommerce business is both exhilarating and difficult.

You'll learn a lot about selecting a product, evaluating its viability, determining how to get it produced, creating an online store, and marketing and selling to new customers.

 The whole process can feel like you're solving a mind-boggling riddle, yet it's still satisfying and immensely rewarding. Now that you have all these awesome online business ideas and you know what steps to take, what are you waiting for? Come sign up with Shopcada and start your ecommerce business journey today!

Posted on 08 April 2022