Got an idea? Wondering how to start an ecommerce business to turn that idea into money? Selling stuff online can be the perfect choice! With an estimated 95% of purchases to happen online by 2040, it’s important to get your foot in the game.
But ecommerce is such a sprawling industry, and one that is increasingly competitive. So how do you start – and where? And how can you stand out with your creation?
Follow along as we guide you through how to start an ecommerce business. We’ll take you through step by step on some things you’ll need to do – and what helpful resources you can use to get a store up and running.
#1: Research the market & decide on a niche
Knowing what to sell (and who to sell to) is all part of the game of research. Whether you have a particular category of products you want to focus on, or know of a target market in mind due to personal interest or existing expertise, do your homework in seeking out what is popular, trending, and of interest to you.
#2: Create a brand
Naturally, once you find something you want to do business in and sell products for, it’s time to tell a story. This can be accomplished in a number of ways:
Come up with a brand name
Yes, because name recognition is everything. So dream up a catchy name or something that seems authentic and unique. This name will carry your brand story, values, voice, and so much more.
Tell your brand story
Let customers know – how did you come up with your brand? What was the inspiration? How long have you been in business?
Declare your brand values
What does your brand stand for? What beliefs do you stand by (ex. Are you committed to eco-friendliness, do you care about inclusivity, do you stand for quality and convenience). These values will help consumers see the integrity and core weavings of your brand.
Identify your visuals
Create a design that can stand as your logo for visual branding. Also determine the theme and looks and feel that matches your brand. This will help with the design phase of your website.
#3: Secure a website domain + hosting
What naturally comes next when you start an ecommerce business is securing a website domain and a host so your website can exist. A domain (domain name, in particular) is the URL of your website, and a host is a service that allows you to post said URL onto the internet.
Some popular sources to find domains are:
And for hosts, these are some common names:
#4: Build a fully-functioning website
Once your domain and website are registered and paid for, it’s time to create an actual website. With ecommerce sites, having a site platform is what will run your business and allow you to customize and change stuff.
An ecommerce platform allows you to run your business (i.e. process orders, change website banners, manage settings, etc.), so it’s crucial to find one that is user-friendly (and affordable!) so that it can help you manage your business, fuss-free.
#5: Set up a payment gateway
Once you have your site platform chosen and paid for, logging in will allow you to start uploading banners, product images, descriptions, and all that jazz. But one major thing you have to remember to link and set up is a payment gateway – so site visitors can pay for things. Most ecommerce platforms have gateways built in, but some popular outside gateways include PayPal, Stripe, and Square. The more gateways you have built in for your website, the more payment options you provide for your customers.
#6: Partner up to establish your items or services
Once your basic setup work is done, it’s time to tackle a very big task: finding suppliers and/or companies who can provide you with your products. From auto tools to mugs and tumblers, there’s a lot that needs to be manufactured (or ordered) to supply inventory for your website, depending on your niche. Depending on your business model (private label or dropshipping or wholesale), you’ll need to scour for the right partners to do business with.
#7 Get to work on your website’s content
Alright – so this is where the next chunk of the work comes in. It’s time to work on product descriptions, imagery for products, sales banners, and also just setting up things for your website that you had previously created. Write your brand story for your site’s “About Us.” Set your shipping policy. Create a FAQ section to resolve common questions customers may have.
Whether you use third-party freelancers or stock-image sites (or do all the work yourself or with a team), ensuring you have the right material created and ready for your website and its homepage, pages, and emails (more on that later) is important. It’s also important to see that SEO is properly being implemented throughout your site’s pages for search engine visibility.
#8: Test functionality (and test)
Content aside, ensuring functionality such as an “add to cart” button or logistical procedures such as processing a refund should also be tested. Flesh out sections of the site and ensure internal and external links alike are functioning properly. Contact your suppliers and run full-cycle test orders to make sure everything from order placement to fulfillment and delivery are bump-free. It also helps to test-run customer service scenarios to confirm correct refund and return procedures.
#9: Make sure social media and an email marketing system are ready
As you complete your website and its functions, make sure to not forget about your promotional tools. This is where platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok come into place. It is also smart to have some email deployment software built into your website’s backend (or connected to your site) so you can advertise to customers; big names used in the ecommerce world include Shopify Email, Constant Contact, and Mailchimp. And as noted earlier on, any imagery and design used also should be used or formatted for your social media posts and layouts for your emails. That means product shots, your brand logo, brand’s elements, all that.
Once you complete all of these nine steps, your site should be ready to go. This is how to start an ecommerce business. There’s a lot of technical work and creative challenges within, but it’s a fun (and busy) journey.
#10: Keep going!
In a way, the work never ends. To have an edge up on your competition and bigger-corporation brands, you’ll need to always keep an eye on what others are doing. That’s part of business. What are the trends, what are the cool and enticing things used on social media and websites to showcase items, brand individuality, and customer buzz? Always have your eyes open, and also tinker with SEO and search engine results to learn what competitors are doing to capture traffic and leads.
And with Sellvia, you’re never alone. Remember: we cut out a lot of the heavy lifting such as niche research and supplier-finding and make it our worry (not yours). We also handle all the coding and web design and backend work. In fact, we can build you a Custom Store to visualize your ecommerce vision from scratch – or be your product haven with our Sellvia subscription service to provide hot, of-the-minute items to an existing site of yours (did we mention we handle the fulfillment as well?). Should you ever need detailed guidance on how to start an ecommerce business and grow it further, our experts at our Sellvia Academy are ready to help. All the courses are free, and we even have a free, comprehensive guide to provide tips and insight into ecommerce processes and success.
So whether you embark on your ecommerce brand adventure solo, with some friends, or with Sellvia by your side, we hope this guide (and our free resources) can accompany you and help you realize the brand and shopping destination of your dreams — so you can get an extra income stream.