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Online Business: A Basic Guide for eCommerce Startups

Published in Ecommerce Tools

Starting an eCommerce business isn’t easy; let alone one that is 100% online-based. Nonetheless, the process of building and ecommerce startup is more achievable now than it has ever been. 

Ecommerce businesses are businesses that transmit goods, services, and funds over the internet. They vary in size and scope, from retail behemoths like Amazon to Etsy craft sites. Furthermore, online shopping is just one of many areas that have seen immense growth over the past six years. In addition, with most of the country still coping with the pandemic, businesses have looked towards eCommerce as a way to stay afloat. 

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of starting an eCommerce business. Whether you’re a startup or a brick-and-mortar business, you’ll be able to get the information you need!

How to Start an Ecommerce Business

There’s nothing more rewarding than starting a business from scratch, then watching it grow. However, an eCommerce business takes more than choosing a brand name, writing product listings, and selling products online. Even the best business ideas can flop if you aren’t driving enough traffic to your site.

Nonetheless, that’s not to say these things don’t matter. So, make sure you build the foundation for your business is crucial. Here’s where you can start:

Step 1: Research And Find Your eCommerce Niche

Research is integral to the success of your eCommerce store. 

There isn’t a single business structure that works for everyone. Selling services, software, digital product sales, or physical products are just the tip of the iceberg. Before you decide on what to sell online, you should understand the different business models available. 

Get as many business ideas as you can. This is because the eCommerce industry continues to rapidly grow. So you’ll be facing a lot of competition. It’s best to do some serious thinking about what sets you and your business apart. From there you can niche down.

Niche-ing down gives you the benefit of having a lot of “shoulder” niches, related to what you do, but not identical. You can work with business owners in those niches. It opens the possibility to cross-promote, become (or acquire) an affiliate, and or grow your customer base.

Furthermore, it’s recommended that you don’t pick an overly crowded niche. If you’re having trouble with this, drill down further on what you want to do. By being more specific you’ll less likely to face competition.

Step 2: Select Your Business Name And Choose A Legal Structure

Once you’ve solidified the plan for your eCommerce business, the next step is to choose a name. Like any other business, you’ll want to choose a name that’s unique. However, it’s ideal that your name indicates what your business is or does. You’ll likely want to consult your local secretary of state’s website, as well as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This way you can ensure your ideal name isn’t already chosen.

Additionally, the name of your site and the legal name of your business doesn’t need to be identical. However, keeping them consistent has its benefits. This being said, it will be worthwhile to check to see if your potential business domain name is available. 

After you’ve selected a name for your business, you’ll want to choose your business’s legal structure. The business entity type you choose will have important legal and financial implications. Most startups tend to choose a sole proprietorship, general partnership, LLC, or corporation. Each structure has it’s benefits and drawbacks to each of these entity types, so you may decide to consult an attorney or another legal professional for advice on the best option for your business.

Step 3: Obtain The Necessary Business Permits, Licenses & Documents

If you’re not familiar with this part, the Small Business Administration has many resources that can help.

Generally, most eCommerce businesses are home-based. So, they do not require as many business licenses and permits as brick-and-mortar stores. This being said, however, you’ll want to determine what the specific requirements are in your area. Typically, online information can be found via your state or local government website. 

Step 4: Choose your eCommerce platform and create your website

Now that you’ve done all your paperwork, you can move on to the more fun part. To have an eCommerce business you’re going to have to have a website. Your website is one of the most important factors in your online business. 

Think of your website as your home base. To even sell your products on other platforms like Instagram you need to have a website. Not only do you need a website to sell, you need an optimized website. Finding an eCommerce platform that can integrate fulfillment partners and offer optimized storefronts is crucial. You’ll likely have to do some shopping around. However, there are many great options to choose from!

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Market Products & Fulfill Orders

Marketing your products and fulfilling orders are other critical aspects of running an online business. If you want your eCommerce business to be successful, it’s important to focus on these areas. 

Part of marketing not only can increase sales, but can grow your business. In addition, the increase in sales will lead to an increase in fulfillment operations. Being able to scale and maintain your growth will be worth the effort long term.

Market your eCommerce Business and Products

The best eCommerce sites invest heavily in online marketing. You can do this by yourself, but finding additional help can be beneficial. 

However, If you don’t have the funds, you’re going to have to muster up the elbow grease.

This is because there are a variety of marketing strategies you might decide to utilize. From Google ads, to social media ads there’s a lot to choose from. 

No matter what and how you decide to market, a good step is to make sure your site and products are search engine optimized. Additionally, you can consider placing an opt-in freebie on your website. You can also launch a social media campaign to gain subscribers or host a giveaway where the entry ‘fee’ is your customer’s email address.

As previously mentioned, there’s a lot of avenues to go down. This can require a lot of creativity and research. However, with good marketing strategies, it can really pay off.

Fulfilling eCommerce Orders

Fulfilling your online orders is another critical factor. With an offline, brick and mortar store, it’s easy! Customers simply go into a store and pick their items, pay for them, and take them home. On the other hand, with an eCommerce store, you’ll need to find a solution for delivering your customer’s orders

If you’re not careful, this can take a lot of time and effort and even lead to errors. 

Starting off, you may opt-in to self-fulfillment; in which you fulfill orders in-house or by yourself. Depending on your sales volume, this may be manageable at first. Nonetheless, increasing sales volume may lead to complications. 

It’s suggested you take the time to research other fulfillment solutions such as dropshipping or partnering with a 3PL. These solutions can provide the much-needed support and even help you grow. In addition to utilizing fulfillment services, you’ll be able to focus more on your business; such as marketing.

Working With a 3PL Fulfillment partner 

If you’re considering working with a 3PL you may be wondering if it’s worth it.

Partnering with a 3PL offers many solutions to help you better manage your eCommerce business. A third party logistics partner (3PL) refers to the outsourcing of eCommerce logistics processes; such as inventory management, warehousing, and fulfillment. Many 3PLs offer similar services. However, not all 3PLs are the same. Nonetheless, finding the best 3PL partner is simply a matter of what you need.

When it comes to great fulfillment solutions, Print Bind Ship excels! 

Print Bind Ship is a certified shipping center and can ship orders worldwide within 24 hours of order processing. In addition to fulfillment, Print Bind Ship offers printing, packaging custom kits, and more! Find out how they can help by taking advantage of their free consultations and get in touch with an expert today.

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