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Updated: October 04, 2022

How to Start an Ecommerce Business from Scratch

If you're considering opening an eCommerce business, but don't know where to begin, or need some inspiring business ideas, you've come to the place.

eCommerce businesses have experienced a massive surge over the last few years.

In 2015, online retail sales across the globe raked in $1.5 trillion in profit. In 2021, this increased to $4.8 trillion and is expected to grow…

Do You Need an Online Business?

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A 22% increase in eCommerce businesses indicatives a shift from brick and mortar to digital stores, as well as behavioral changes in shoppers. Nowadays, more and more consumers prefer shopping online.

eCommerce websites enable business owners to reach their target audience regardless of where their customers reside. Local and international markets can also be tapped into via eCommerce platforms.

Niche market products are great to sell on the internet since the marketing possibilities are endless. Selling online products will help you get your message to the right people quicker, and also eliminates the requirement to purchase retail space.

The new way to shop is online, therefore, eCommerce stores are especially advantageous to small business owners looking to expand their reach, and brick and mortar stores who want to carve out their market share online.

How Do I Start an Online Store?

Starting an online store is similar to opening a physical store, except it’s digital. In general, before you sell products, you’ll want to:

  • Research and study eCommerce business industry trends.
  • Choose your eCommerce niche
  • Conduct competitive research
  • Decide on a business model
  • Develop a business plan
  • Determine your target audience
  • Find an eCommerce platform
  • Create a marketing plan
  • Build your eCommerce site

How to Choose the Right Products to Sell

Effective eCommerce stores sell unique, good-quality products. Niche products tend to perform well since they have a distinct customer base.

From a marketing perspective, it is crucial business owners select the correct products.

You can use tools like Google Trends, Shopify and Amazon to find out what types of products are gaining popularity.

How do I Start an Ecommerce Business Selling Products that are Trending

Trending product ideas sell well on the market and offer insight into consumer behavior.

Google Trends

Google Trends is a website by Google that analyzes the popularity of top search queries in Google Search across regions and languages. It uses graphs to compare the search volume of different queries over time, making it easy to evaluate and compare product ideas.

Shopify Market Research

This beneficial tool constantly releases updated lists of popular items linked to specific ideas on how to promote products. It provides eCommerce experts with useful insights they may not have received otherwise.

Amazon Study

Naturally, popular products on sites like Amazon are also worth considering when deciding what to sell. It’s worthwhile reviewing Amazon’s Bestseller section to get an idea of what products are in demand at present. Even though trends come and go, understanding the marketplace is a crucial step towards new online business success.

Is It a Good Idea to Sell Trending Products?

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From fashion accessories to tech and pet products, the online selling possibilities are endless.

Why would you pick a popular product? Because it’s already performing well, and there’s likely a lot of available data to help you market it effectively. Product data is crucial for providing a road map for the success of business owners who have just launched a new business online and need some direction to begin.

For instance, if you are able to establish your eCommerce store and launch a product while it’s trending, this can have a positive effect on your business.

Smaller eCommerce businesses may benefit from monitoring product trends and using insights to develop secondary products related to the original trending product.

For instance, if there’s an increase in Apple AirPods sales, eCommerce stores could offer Air Pod cases at a reasonable cost. Looking at the bigger picture and general online shopper behavior could help create new possibilities and increased profit margins for your own online store.

Simply put, trends in the market offer valuable insight that shapes the future market.

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What Are the Disadvantages of Selling Trending Products?

However, online business owners should think about the disadvantages of choosing to promote a trending product.

Popular products are profitable for a while until they stop trending. The roller coaster might yield a few hundred dollars, or more, for a specific period of time, but the profits are likely to decrease as the product loses popularity.

A higher level of competition is another disadvantage. The more popular a particular product or category of product is, the stiffer the competition. An eCommerce business that decides to sell something popular must be aware of the fierce competition and make content marketing plans accordingly.

The latest products are not necessarily good or bad. It is the responsibility of the business owner to decide which sub-products or products will yield the most profit.

How Do I Start an Ecommerce Business that Sells Local Products?

Local eCommerce stores selling local goods, often referred to as hyperlocal, are the result of brick and mortar stores that offer their products to local online buyers. This type of eCommerce solution falls under the category of Offline to Online (O2O) commerce.

Many eCommerce entrepreneurs overlook the importance of selling their goods locally, preferring the international or national model instead. Local demand can be an excellent beginning point for many smaller eCommerce companies.

“Local” is generally a reference to customers that reside within a 50-mile distance from the site of your brick and mortar store. However, the exact population density must be taken into the equation as well. The purpose of selling locally sourced products is to deliver your product in front of local customers as fast as you can.

What Are the Advantages of Selling Local Products?

smartphone users

According to Google, “local intent” searches comprise about 30% of mobile search queries, meaning one-third of all mobile search queries are looking for local business products and services.

While retail giants like Amazon, Target and Walmart will always be competitors, local businesses can provide some benefits large retail chains can’t.

These massive online stores typically use online shoppers’ information in a way that makes them question data security, not to mention dubious labor conditions, in the instance of Amazon.

As a smaller eCommerce store, you can improve search engine optimization by leveraging local SEO “near me” Google searches. Around 80% of smartphone buyers use the Google “near me” search feature to locate businesses nearby.

There has also been a zeitgeist shift, since the pandemic, to support local commerce businesses instead of larger corporations. Furthermore, shopping at a local online store stimulates local economies by 70%.

What Are the Disadvantages of Selling Local Products?

Although you’re connecting with local customers, you’re not necessarily gaining access to a vast potential of customers.

Stiff competition is another drawback, too. While “near me” can undercut the competition, there will still be larger companies, with bigger online advertising spend, that dominates search engine results pages.

A lack of authenticity and novelty are also potential disadvantages of selling local products. If the products you sell online are associated with a different company, or location, people may conclude you’re ripping them off by offering an imitation.

For instance, there are numerous small brick-and-mortar businesses like Italian coffee and wine shops supposedly selling “authentic” products in the middle of America, which may seem phony to potential customers.

Sell Products You Know Are Good

Selling products you believe in, regardless of whether they’re trending, is another strategy you can adopt.

Perhaps you’ve discovered something that has transformed your life, and you’d like to be a part of making a difference in the lives of others. Or maybe you grew up exposed to a distinctive product that isn’t yet able to find an audience.

When you believe in the products you’re selling, your passion translates through to all business activities and can help create a successful eCommerce business. In the end, nothing beats passion and dedication.

Do Your Product Research Before You Start an Ecommerce Business

making research before starting your own businesss

The idea of starting your own eCommerce business is exciting. However, you must conduct the necessary research and establish the proper foundation before launching. You want to appeal to your specific target audience, not everyone shopping online!

Conducting the necessary market research is the first step toward building the foundation of a successful business.

To determine your eCommerce business model, you’ll need to conduct:

  1. Competitor Research
  2. eCommerce Niche Research
  3. Target Market Research
  4. Budget and Resource Research

Competitor Research

A profitable online store knows who its competitors are and what they offer. Once you know your ideal customer base, you need to get a feel for the market. If you don’t know what’s already out there, you won’t know how to position yourself against other businesses, or what you can offer that’s unique.

Niche Research

The niche you select should be well-known, as in, it has a client base, but isn’t over-saturated. If well-known brands already dominate your field, it will be more difficult to establish a presence on social media channels and search engines.

A helpful tip: Your product category or niche should contain at least 1,000 useful SEO keywords. This will help shape your search engine marketing strategies, and ensure your social media marketing is on point.

Identify Your Target Market

Once you’ve identified your business area of interest and have developed an eCommerce business plan, you’ll need to establish your target audience. Don’t skip this step and go straight to manufacturing! You must know who will buy your products before you begin.

Think about your business name and its brand identity. If you were to imagine your ideal client, what type of person comes to mind? The voice of your brand, its mission, aesthetics, and message should represent the brand you’re trying to build.

After you’ve developed buyer personas, you’ll want to test your products. We advise testing them out on small customer groups to determine how viable they are and where you can make improvements.

Budget and Resource Research

The next step is to assess your available resources. How much do you have to start an eCommerce business online? What unique skills do you contribute to your company? How much are start-up costs?

Things to consider include the price of the product and marketing costs, such as the creation of an SEO strategy packaging, shipping costs and insurance, business equipment, business licenses, and the cost of employees.

Don’t forget the initial costs associated with eCommerce platforms, as well as maintenance. If you’re a small eCommerce business, you might be able to get away with a simple plug-and-play platform, however, if you have loads of product pages and want to ship internationally, you’ll probably need to hire professional web developers.

How to Crush Ecommerce Business Competition

In 2023, eCommerce sales are projected to total 22.3% of all retail sales, which provides hope for those launching new eCommerce businesses. Due to the user-friendly nature and availability of eCommerce software, you can start an online store for as little as $100.

However, there are an estimated 12-24 million eCommerce sites across the world, making online ventures exceptionally competitive. Successfully penetrating an over-saturated market demands rigorous market research to assess the viability of your proposition and know how best to position your brand within the market.

Digital marketing plays an instrumental role in brand building and advertising. The right marketing strategy can grip your target market’s attention, ignite curiosity and convert website visitors into lifelong customers.

With more than ten years in the digital marketing game of helping hundreds of clients stand out among their competition and achieve their business goals, here’s what we recommend you do if you’re going to sell online.

How to Choose the Right Ecommerce Platform

The type of platform your eCommerce website is built on will impact business development. Because eCommerce is growing in popularity, you’ll discover you have numerous platforms, each with unique features that must be carefully considered.

When selecting the right platform for your own eCommerce store, consider size, scalability and the specific requirements of your store. We’ve listed some of the most well-known eCommerce platforms in the table below.

Shopify

Shopify is among the most popular eCommerce platforms, and with good reason. It is an excellent option for entrepreneurs who are just starting out due to its simplified digital marketing capabilities. The platform offers great personalization, as well as the ability to manage and keep track of orders, and much more.

Magento

Magento also provides a high degree of customization for your brand store, as well as more advanced SEO tools and impressive scalability. It’s free to download and is well known in the marketing industry for its compatibility with third-party integrations. You can visit our Magento development services page to learn more.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an open-source, flexible platform that was designed especially for WordPress websites. The plugin is available cost-free; however, using it requires other upfront costs associated with hosting, acquiring a domain and other features. Visit our WooCommerce development services page to learn more.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce is a great platform for companies looking to scale as quickly as possible. It is popular for its powerful recovery of abandoned shopping carts and top marketing tools.

PrestaShop

This free, open-source eCommerce platform runs on cloud-based technology. It offers self-hosting and can is easily altered to suit your company’s needs.

Remember, selecting the best platform is an essential decision for your business, whether you sell your own products or someone else’s. Each platform has its pros and cons.

Before you start an eCommerce business, you should do the necessary research to ensure the platform has all the online services you need.

Choose the Right Marketing Strategy to Boost Sales

Commerce business to scale

Both eCommerce businesses, big and small, require a strategic marketing strategy to connect with the right customers at the right moment.

Having a solid marketing plan with clear key performance indicators will help you create a profitable business. It’s also beneficial to hire an in-house marketing specialist or outsource your marketing needs to a professional agency, as they will be able to effectively market your eCommerce store.

When planning your budget, accommodate business growth and create a strong team who are committed to selling products and to your company’s success. Try not to hire too many employees at once. You want to outsource as much work as possible while maintaining a small internal team.

Lastly, a strategic plan for sales will allow your commerce business to stay on the right track and meet targets throughout the process.

And remember, building loyal relationships with customers is key to developing a loyal fan base. An eCommerce store that communicates with customers regularly in a positive manner will experience more customer purchases.

Furthermore, it is through the interactions you have with customers that you can learn more about their behavior as consumers. The results of these conversations will help you attract more customers who are like them.

Investing in Digital Marketing Is Vital

Digital marketing is a prerequisite for a successful eCommerce business. Marketing strategies that convert are built on analytics gathered from your target market’s online behavior. Today’s digital marketing delivers impressive ROI because it’s backed by data.

There’s no guessing, and with real-time feedback, campaigns can be optimized at any moment to improve conversions. Customers interact with brands across various touch-points, and digital marketing allows you to meaningfully connect with them wherever they are—whether it’s via email, search engines, or social media.

Search engines are fueled by user queries. Therefore, everything about your eCommerce store, from your website’s copy to your pay-per-click advertising, must be SEO-friendly (optimized) to match your customer’s queries and drive more traffic to your store.

After all, there’s no point in having an online business no one knows about. SEO builds long-term equity for your eCommerce business, elevating your brand’s profile on search engine results pages and cultivating fruitful customer relationships through consistent content marketing.

However, this type of digital marketing success is seldom achieved without a team of specialists skilled in SEO, UX design, content creation, PPC, and campaign management. An eCommerce marketing strategy needs a multidisciplinary approach provided by a seasoned digital marketing agency.

Ultimately, it’s easier to hire a marketing agency that can fast-track the process and boost your sales.

Don’t Forget About Your Ecommerce Blog!

70% of people would rather get information from a blog post than a professional advertisement. Blogs are content marketing gold because they provide customers with valuable information while building your brand’s visibility and credibility, and keeping your online store fresh with new content.

Search engine and social media platform algorithms favor consistency. If you regularly post high-quality content and your audience engages with it, they’re more likely to show your posts at the top of followers’ feeds and search engine results pages.

Regular content creation informs Google, and other search engines, that your website is actively updated and therefore warrants frequent checking to see what new content has surfaced for indexing.

Once you’ve posted a blog on your website, don’t stop there! Make sure to distribute your content on social media. This strengthens your audience reach, helps your brand get found, and drives new website visitors back to your blog; your website should be meticulously designed for conversions.

Three Simple Letters: S and E, and O — SEO

We’re constantly speaking about search engine optimization (SEO), and we know we sound like a stuck record, but the truth is the strength of your SEO strategy dictates your eCommerce success.

SEO determines how well your commerce business ranks on Google and other search engines. It’s in your business interests to always rank as high as possible in organic searches as this will improve your click-through rates.

Like marketing, SEO is also a broad term encompassing several components that should be part of your marketing strategy:

  • On-page SEO—Publishing high-quality content and optimizing web copy, headlines, HTML tags, videos, and images.
  • Off-page SEO—Techniques implemented outside your website, like link building, to improve the position of your business in SERPs.
  • Technical SEO—Ensuring your website is free from technical errors that prevent search engines from crawling and indexing its pages.
  • Local SEO—Improving your site’s visibility in local search results.

SEO is one of the few online marketing strategies that pay dividends over time. Traffic from optimized content will snowball, whereas pay-per-click advertising needs continuous funding to send traffic to your online store.

Patience Is Necessary for Success

According to Google’s webmasters, it can take your business between 18-24 months to see results from its SEO strategy, especially if you start an eCommerce business venture that doesn’t already have a brick-and-mortar store. SEO requires a lot of observation and data collection from analytics to optimize your online presence.

Several factors influence results: SEO keyword difficulty, competition, inbound links, and domain age. Therefore, SEO can take a longer or shorter time to work depending on your business’s position in the market, the industry in general, and search engine algorithm changes.

Additionally, it takes time for search engines to recognize your SEO campaign implementation. This is because they compare your content to other websites competing in the same space and assess over 200 factors to determine your website’s authority.

Don’t be dismayed by the wait. It’s industry standard and to be expected. The key is to lay a strong SEO foundation, so you’re ready to scale the moment the time is right. And remember, while SEO is an investment that requires ongoing maintenance, it works 24/7 for your business.

SEO’s cumulative nature provides lasting value. No amount of paid advertising can beat a top-ranking spot on Google search results pages and the unlimited traffic and revenue it brings.

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Hire Professional Ecommerce Business Developers

Ensuring your eCommerce store is a success requires patience and dedication, as well having as a clear and concise vision. Setting up an eCommerce store on your own can be challenging, particularly if you’re doing it for the first time.

Our team at Comrade Web Digital Marketing Company has spent many years working with eCommmerce businesses to help them sell online. From marketing tactics like search engine optimization to pay-pay-per-click advertising, we provide business ideas that grow revenue!

We offer an eCommerce marketing analysis at no cost because every so often you need help but don’t know where to start! We invite you to contact us to discuss your eCommerce website needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do you operate?

Comrade originates in Chicago, but we worked all around the United States. We can help your business grow and increase revenue whenever you are. We have offices across most major cities in the US. For example, we can offer digital marketing services in New Orleans or Minneapolis. You can even find our internet marketing experts in Washington D.C.! If you want to know more about our Cleveland digital marketing agency or find out how exactly we can help you, contact us via the phone or email.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you would like to discuss your project, reach out to our specialists.

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About the Author
Stan Bogdashin
Stan co-founded Comrade Digital Marketing and serves as its marketing strategist and IT expert recruiter.
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