The eCommerce market is growing rapidly. In 2021 alone, eCommerce sales reached nearly $5 trillion, and data shows the market will grow to $740 billion in the U.S. by the end of 2023. With all this growth comes some serious opportunities to claim your own corner in the eCommerce market.
But with all that potential comes some hefty challenges—especially if this is your first venture in the eCommerce world. You may feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the process; luckily, following the steps listed below can turn your business idea into a reality.
7 Steps for Starting Your Own ecommerce Store
Like we mentioned above, there’s a lot of potential for business growth in the eCommerce world. According to the US Department of Commerce, eCommerce sales accounted for 14.2% of all retail sales. And that number is expected to rise to nearly 22% by 2025.
So if you’re looking to get in on the game and enjoy the additional flexibility, affordability, and opportunity that comes from running an eCommerce store, here’s how to get started.
1. Find Your Niche
The first step to starting an eCommerce business is finding the right product and market niche. What type of products do you want to sell? What’s your area of expertise? How are your skills and products better than your competitors?
With those questions in mind, start looking at the current market. Take a good look at what your competitors are doing and figure out how you can do it better. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- How are they reaching and attracting customers?
- What do you like or not like about their website?
- How have they set up their business?
From here, you’ll want to start narrowing down your product offering and target audience. This is crucial as a targeted product and customer base will help to set you up for success.
Remember, even Amazon and Etsy started off in a niche market, so start small and grow from there.
Next, you’ll want to do even more research on other businesses within your market niche. Look at their business model, history, and success rate and figure out which areas you can work into your own business plan. Find out what your target audience is looking for and how you’ll provide it in your own unique way.
You’ll also want to pay attention to potential pitfalls to avoid. For example, how are you going to reach your customers? Will you need to hire a marketing team? Do you have professional photos or videos of your products? Will you need to invest in digital ads or email campaigns? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, do you have the funds to pay for it? If not, how will you get funds? Can you start with what you have and build up?
3. Choose Your Business Name and Structure
With a product and audience in mind, it’s now time to choose your business name. Remember, you’ll want to choose something that’s unique and clearly indicates what your business does. Make sure to consult the US Patent and Trademark Office to ensure you’re not choosing a name already claimed by another business.
Once you’ve chosen a name, you’ll need to determine your store’s legal structure. The structure you choose will have important legal and financial implications so make sure to choose wisely. Typically, you’ll create a corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship, or general partnership. If you’re confused about which is best for your particular store, consider talking with a legal professional.
4. Obtain Permits and Licenses
Next, you’ll need to register for an employer identification number as well as a business license. Your state may also require additional permits before you can legally operate so make sure to check the specific requirements for your location. You’ll also want to register your company so you don’t miss out on important tax benefits and legal protections.
5. Write Your Business Plan
Now it’s time to put your business idea on paper and iron out a few final details. Your plan should include the following:
- An executive summary of all the important aspects of your store. It should be something someone can glance at and get a clear idea of what your store is and what your goals are.
- An overview that provides more details about your store. Here, you’ll list details such as store name, location, core values, mission statement, etc.
- A list of your products/services and their purpose or price point.
- A market analysis that details the operational climate of the market you’re in.
- An overview of your marketing and sales plan and how you plan to reach and sell to customers.
- An overview of your finances and how you plan to fund your eCommerce store.
6. Choose and Create Your eCommerce Platform
With all the paperwork completed, it’s time to set up your online storefront. Because this is going to be the face of your business, you’ll want to carefully consider which eCommerce platform you’re going to use.
Whether it’s an all-in-one platform like Shopify or something open-source like Magento, the platform will be where you build, sell, and maintain your brand.
Keep in mind that you may need additional eCommerce tools to help with things like package tracking, inventory management, marketing tools, data analysis, etc.
With your online website set up, you’re ready to start serving customers! Make sure you’re using the right marketing methods to get people to your store. Things like online ads, social media, word of mouth, and online promotions go a long way in attracting customers.
Starting an online store can feel overwhelming, but focusing on customers’ needs and constantly improving their experience will help keep your business running.
Remember, a great eCommerce store provides a great experience both before and after checkout. And the best way to improve your post-purchase experience is with Route, an intelligent package tracking application. Our intelligent software provides real-time shipping updates to customers, allowing them to see exactly where their package is—from checkout to delivery. And with Route Protect, you can give customers peace of mind knowing they are protected, even if their package is lost, stolen, or damaged.
Try Route today to learn more.