How to start an ecommerce business: A step-by-step guide

How to Start an eCommerce Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

Ecommerce refers to any type of commercial transaction made over the internet. While often associated with goods and products, ecommerce can also be used to sell services.

Ecommerce advantages

Almost any company can realize significant benefits from establishing an ecommerce presence. Here are some of the key advantages:

Ecommerce challenges

Of course, ecommerce comes with its own hurdles, roadblocks, and speed bumps. When considering an ecommerce business, be sure to think about the difficulties you might encounter:

Take your B2B business into the digital commerce era

How to start your ecommerce business

While anyone can start an ecommerce business, those who don't plan in advance will struggle to earn a profit. Ecommerce companies must identify their niche, research their competition, choose a business model, and develop a marketing strategy. Using the framework below, you can create a foundation for a successful ecommerce business in five simple steps and avoid common pitfalls.

Step 1: Identify your niche

When determining what to sell, consider your passion, expertise, and trending products. Use this as a starting point for inspiration, but don't stop there. While you can make a lot of money from trendy items, every hot trend eventually runs cold. Ecommerce businesses that meet a specific need while consistently satisfying customer needs will achieve the most success.

Steer away from overly saturated markets as well. There will always be another store willing to provide more and charge less. Instead, choose a marketplace segment you’re confident you can build an exceptional customer experience around.

You should also consider whether your product will be digital or physical. Remember, your selected product will influence your overall business operations. For instance, large or fragile items will make shipping more difficult and costly.

Step 2: Research the market

After you've identified your niche, you need to research your target audience. You may be inclined to target a very broad audience to maximize the number of potential customers, but this is a mistake. As the saying goes, “If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.” Instead, target an audience that will be the most interested in your offerings.

You should also decide which business structure will serve you best. Will you try dropshipping or act as a wholesaler? Will you sell your product to consumers, other businesses, government agencies, or all of the above? Considering how you’ll manage orders and fulfill them is key to success.

Here are some additional tips to follow when defining and researching your target market:

After you've completed your research, formalize your findings into a plan. This plan will guide and prioritize your business efforts, providing a comprehensive goal framework.

Step 3: Set up your business

Once you've done the research, you're ready to set up your business. Decide on a business name and marketing messages. Select brand identifiers like colors, images, and font. Then design a simple logo using your selected identifiers to make it easy for customers to connect with your business.

Next, you need to pick the ecommerce platform you’ll use to build your online store. Look for a platform that includes the following capabilities:

You'll also need to incorporate your business and register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to meet legal and tax requirements. Think of your EIN as your company's Social Security number. You will need it to open a business bank account and file taxes. You must also check with relevant local, state, and federal officials to determine what business licenses you’ll need.

Discover how to define key requirements for your next B2B ecommerce platform

Step 4: Establish the launch campaign

Now you're ready to make some noise and bring in new customers to your ecommerce business. But before this happens, you must identify the goals of your launch campaign and key performance indicators (KPIs). What do you hope to accomplish with your campaign? What outcomes will prove that your campaign was a success? Use this information to craft a marketing plan as discussed below.

You should take care of the following tasks as well to ensure your launch is a success:

After launching your store, don't go dark. Continue nurturing audience relationships through email marketing with content and messaging which provide value. Speak to their problems and position your product as the solution to push prospects further down your buying funnel.

Step 5: Create a sales and marketing strategy

Your sales and marketing strategy determines how you’ll shape your efforts to reach the right people at the right time.

SEO provides a great way to attract new visitors to your store. You need to create a keyword list to target and attract quality leads. Search Google and social media hashtags for keywords. Add common customer phrases to your keyword list. Incorporate those keywords into pages of your online store, including your product descriptions, page titles, and headings.

You should also consider creating high-quality, informative content like blog posts related to topics of interest to your target audience. This is the best way to rank for relevant keywords your competitors are likely targeting as well. It also gives you great free and gated assets to use in your email marketing campaigns. See which content leads to the most engagement and the greatest number of conversions, then use that information to guide your future content development efforts.

While SEO leaves bread crumbs that lead prospects to you, ads on social media or search platforms like Google put your ecommerce business in front of existing and potential customers. Identify your targeted social media and sales channels by determining where your customers are spending their time online. Social media is also a powerful way to build brand loyalty through user-generated content in the form of customer testimonials and influencer marketing.

Be sure your plan includes periodic check-ins and tracking. You don't want to wait until the end of the campaign to find out whether your strategy is working. When selecting an ecommerce platform, choose one that has built-in analytics tools to determine where people drop off in your funnel.

Build Your ecommerce business with the right platform

With the number of consumers shopping online at an all-time high, this is the perfect moment to start an ecommerce business. But before jumping in, you need to identify the platform you’ll use to build your store and set it up for success. It should allow you to create a seamless customer experience, with features including reporting and analytics capabilities as well as frictionless fulfillment and order management.

Adobe Commerce evolves with your customer along their journey. From crafting personalized content and promotional ads to segmenting customers and applying strategic business intelligence, Adobe Commerce puts your brand experience first. It delivers everything you need to make strategic decisions regarding shipping, inventory, customer experience, and business operations.

To experience the Adobe Commerce advantage, powered by Magento, sign up for a free demo and start building your ecommerce business today.