How to start an e-commerce business from scratch

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Jack Ma, arguably one of the greatest e-commerce entrepreneurs, famously said that all it takes to sell online is ‘vision’. No surprises then that every business, from your friendly neighbourhood store to the next unicorn, are all selling online. Although the early birds have had their advantage, it is never too late to start an e-commerce business of your own from scratch

Information overdose, coupled with a deluge of marketplaces and e-commerce platforms, can mean decoding ways to start an e-commerce business for beginners may not be simple. The following checklist can help you with a definite roadmap when starting out on your e-commerce venture.

I: Research and prepare
An illustration showing a girl doing research.
Do your market research and refine your product line

When you think about how to start an e-commerce business from scratch, it all comes down to some heavy lifting in research and preparation. Have a business plan in place for e-commerce based on your products and services. These, in turn, depend on the market problem you’re trying to solve.

Shortlist your product or service line

An e-commerce business works for a vast array of offerings, ranging from service-based offerings to tangible product-based ones. Shortlist your product or service line as part of your research and planning.

For example, when selling a product, work out all modalities from its sourcing and supply chain logistics to store sourcing and campaign management. You may also look at drop shipping options if not keen on investing upfront to maintain a huge inventory.

Ensure regulatory compliance

Depending on your product line, ensure you have all licenses in place. If you plan to sell globally, research on compliance requirements of various countries as per your product line. Although it’s not mandatory, you may want to trademark your brand name or logo in order to preempt misuse.

II: Choose your sales channel funnel
An illustration showing a person drawing graph.
Analyse and find out the best sales channel funnel

You can sell online by getting your company listed in various marketplaces. However, selling on third-party marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart may not be too profitable.

Alternatively, you can also build your own e-commerce store. Although, driving sales from your own e-commerce website upfront can be a tough ask. Opting for a balanced approach is recommended as you slowly adopt the best sales channel as per your product line. 

III: Set up your online presence
An illustrated version of an e-store or m-commerce store.
Start an e-commerce business with online presence
Build your e-commerce store

The first step in building your e-commerce store is to secure your product or company-related domain name and website. Once you have the domain, you can leverage various e-commerce enabling platforms to build your e-commerce store. WordPress-based WooCommerce, Magento, Prestashop, and Shopify are popular examples of such e-commerce enabling platforms.

Embrace the right underlying technology

Opt for the right e-commerce platform to build your online store and offer your clients a seamless shopping experience. For example, if most of your clients use mobile phones, it’s a great idea to convert your e-commerce store into a mobile application. For example, you can easily convert your WooCommerce-based online store to an Android/iOS app.
A dedicated mobile app can help your e-commerce business take the next giant leap into future online success. You can announce new product launches, secure your payments, and build your brand online.

When you start an e-commerce business from scratch, plan well and rely on superior technology for that X-factor in your business.

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  1. Awesome post! Keep up the great work! 🙂

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