Tips for starting an e-commerce business:
1. Start simple
2. Share your business across multiple channels
3. Invest in multichannel selling
Things to Consider When Selecting Your Small Business Ecommerce Platform
Price, cost, and additional fees
Most small businesses don’t have an unlimited amount of resources to pour into a website. That means the price of an ecommerce platform will be a major point of consideration. However, prices on the surface don’t always tell the whole story.
Some platform options that appear to be extremely cheap with very low rates per month may require more expenditures down the line. Here are just a handful of hidden fees to keep an eye out for:
Site maintenance fees.
Security and PCI compliance.
Plug-ins or add-ons.
Credit card processing.
The first step in learning how to start an e-commerce business is performing the necessary research. Just as if you were starting a restaurant and looking into different locations, food options, and themes, you’ll want to investigate the e-commerce area you’re interested in and make some decisions with regard to your specific business.
For example, you’ll want to consider what exactly your e-commerce business is going to offer. Will you be selling products or services? If you’re selling products, are they physical or digital? Where will you source your products? Along these lines, you’ll also want to think about the type of business model you want to employ — will you offer single products, packages, subscriptions, or something else?
Additionally, you’ll want to think on a broader scale during this process as well:
How will you get your products or services to your customers?
What will your startup costs look like?
Are there legal or other regulations on your product or service that you need to keep in mind?
These lines of questioning, among others, will be integral to the beginning of your business and will help you start to create and write your business plan. This process will give you a better sense of your specific goals and how you’re going to reach them. Particularly in the e-commerce space, an important part of this step is finding your niche.
Although the growth of the e-commerce industry is a great benefit for those looking to learn how to start an e-commerce business, it also means more competition. You’ll want to perform competitor research and find a space where you think you can establish your brand and find success in selling products and services.
Most e-commerce platforms not only allow you to create and launch your online store, but also customize your design, add your domain (or purchase one), manage inventory, take and ship orders, receive payment, and more.
Although there are hundreds of these platforms available on the market, you might consider any of the following popular solutions for starting your e-commerce business
Perhaps the most well-known and popular e-commerce software out there, Shopify offers an all-inclusive, user-friendly solution with a variety of add-ons. Apopular SaaS platform for starter stores and small brands, Shopify makes it easy for business owners to quickly get a simple store off the ground.
With an expansive marketplace of more than 6,000 integrated apps and 70 professional and responsive themes, Shopify allows merchants to add custom features and functionality to their online stores, and it offers a separate marketplace for Shopify Plus Partners that work with high volume merchants. But for small business owners who want to keep things simple, Shopify Lite is a good option if you simply want to include a buy button on your existing website or blog.
In addition, Shopify and Shopify Plus merchants can sell products on a variety of social channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Messenger and Shopify.However, if you have a large product catalog with lots of product variants, keep in mind that Shopify does cap you at 100 SKUs per product and only 3 options per product. And while Shopify does have a headless commerce offering, it has rigid API call per second limits.
If you already have started a WordPress site, or are familiar with the platform, you can download WooCommerce to start selling on your WordPress site. This plug-in is open-source, free to download and includes the full range of e-commerce features. Compared with Shopify, however, WooCommerce is best-suited for business owners who have some technical knowledge to take advantage of its open-source nature.
Most often thought of as website builder, Squarespace also offers e-commerce capabilities and is known for its modern templates. You can choose from two eCommerce-specific plans from Squarespace.
Like Shopify, Squarespace is user-friendly and can accommodate business owners of all technical skill levels. However, as a website builder first, Squarespace may not offer as many features, tools, or add-ons as some other alternatives.
Finally, if you want to be able to customize every aspect of your online store, you might choose to use the open-source version of Magento. With this e-commerce platform, you can manipulate every element and customize your site — but you also must have the technical skill (or pay for it) to do so.
Although it’s safe to say this platform isn’t typically suited for e-commerce beginners, if do have the technical skill needed, or the budget to pay to work with a developer, you’ll find that Magento likely offers the most of any open-source solution on the market — plus, it’s free to download.
As you can see, there is a lot involved with this step and a variety of important considerations to take when choosing the right platform for your e-commerce business. You’ll want to think about cost, features, usability, and more — ultimately, as the backbone of your e-commerce business you’ll need a functional system that allows you to get up and running and manage your operations on a day-to-day basis.
Once you’ve decided which solution is right for you, the next thing you’ll need to do is actually work on customizing and launching your site. You’ll want to think about how you want your online store organized, what you want the design to look like, what colors you want to use, etc. Depending on your platform and budget, you may decide to create and launch your website yourself, or you might invest in a professional designer or developer for assistance.
As a small business in a saturated market, owning an ecommerce site will undoubtedly give you a competitive advantage over those that don’t. Not only that but building an ecommerce site can lead to increased online sales, a better omnichannel experience and a stronger digital brand identity.