eCommerce is booming, and this online business model is projected to nearly double its sales numbers over the next few years. If you have been considering launching an online business, now may be the ideal time to throw open your virtual doors. But what's the first step? Find out how to start an eCommerce business and discover what you'll need to launch.
What Is eCommerce?
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Before you learn how to start an eCommerce business, you should know that many of these companies operate almost completely online. Essentially, they sell anything from digital and physical products to a wide range of services without brick-and-mortar storefronts.
The world of eCommerce dates back to more than two decades ago, but this industry is still growing rapidly. In 2017, eCommerce sales totaled about $2.3 trillion, and a Statista report anticipates that eCommerce sales will almost double to $4.5 trillion by 2021. Though eCommerce is a major global industry, it's particularly large in the United States. Across the nation, eCommerce accounts for nearly 10% of retail sales and is predicted to grow substantially every year.
Register Your Domain Name
In the eCommerce industry, online presence means everything. That's why to start an eCommerce business it's critical to register your domain name as early as possible. If you're new to domain registration, keep in mind that shorter names tend to be better than longer options, as simple names are easier for customers to remember. Avoid choosing a domain name that's similar to the name of a site that already exists, especially if the other site is well-known. Always choose a .com domain over any other version, such as .net or .org.
Remember that registering a domain name doesn't mean that the site belongs to your company for eternity. Most registrations expire within a year or two, so make sure to renew when necessary or purchase an extended registration up front.
Select an eCommerce Platform
As you'll quickly discover while learning how to start an eCommerce business, registering your domain won't make your website magically appear. You'll need to choose an appropriate hosting company, select an eCommerce platform, and develop a website to sell your products and services.
While you can certainly choose a DIY solution for your site, opting for Magento may be a much smarter option for your business. Since Magento is designed for business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, business-to-business (B2B) organizations, and everything between, it's the ideal platform for offering a seamless shopping experience, no matter what you are selling. This cloud-based eCommerce platform even helps track inventory, automate order management, and, ultimately, reduce costs so you can spend your budget on what really matters.
To create an effective eCommerce site, consider opting for a full-service Magento agency that offers everything from hosting and development to support, especially if you are planning to scale quickly. When you contract IronPlane for Magento Commerce Edition Websites and Magento Hosting, you'll get a great looking site powered by Magento's eCommerce platform, along with customizable hosting that scales to meet your company's growing needs.
Secure Licenses and Permits
Your eCommerce business model may differ from the business models of other companies you've built, but many basics still apply. For example, even when you're selling exclusively online, you will still need to obtain licenses and permits to run your company legally.
Some products and services may be subject to regulations, even if you’re not offering them in-person. Similarly, you may be responsible for sales tax, even if you're selling only digital products. Consult with an expert, and with your state and local agencies to avoid hefty penalties or tax bills.
Validate Your Product
Before you launch your website, you'll want to do essential market research and validate your product concept. Naturally, you'll want to ensure that your eCommerce business will be profitable by selling products that are in demand and have the potential to be profitable.
If your eCommerce business is an extension of your existing company, you may have already done extensive market research. However, if it's an entirely new company, take the time to research similar products and companies and/or conduct online surveys to validate your product idea.
Once you have determined that your product is viable, you can move onto the next step to start an eCommerce business. Start researching vendors. Digital products that you produce in-house need software and other services to look and function at their best. Physical products may require dedicated manufacturers, reliable suppliers, or even complex supply chains.
Always review your business plan before committing to a vendor. Do your due diligence to ensure that the company has the potential to serve as a solid long-term partner that will help you meet your business goals for years to come. Continually shifting operations to new vendors can get expensive quickly.
Develop a Marketing Plan
One of the most crucial things to learn about starting an eCommerce business is that you shouldn't wait until you're ready to launch to develop a marketing plan. Instead, create a multifaceted plan at the very beginning, and fine-tune the details after choosing an eCommerce platform.
In many cases, building buzz early on can help your eCommerce company attain a strong launch and meet its goals for months and years to come. Whether you plan to grow your email list, build a strong social media presence, or opt for paid ads, don't wait to solidify your strategy.
Perfect Your Systems
While you can automate many aspects of your eCommerce company, you won't want to let your online business manage itself completely. Plan to review site analytics and sales numbers regularly to assess what's working and what needs improvement.
From improved site speed to more responsive design, minor changes can make major differences. By taking steps to perfect your systems throughout the life of your company, you will increase your chances of meeting your objectives and building a successful eCommerce business.
Whether you were ready to launch your company yesterday or are still in the early stages of learning how to start an eCommerce business, a full-service Magento agency can help you get your product or service to market. Book an appointment with IronPlane to learn how our team can help bring your eCommerce business to life.