How to Start an Ecommerce Business (A Complete Blueprint)
If you want to be your own boss, and take charge of your future, then starting an e-commerce, business could be the best decision, that you ever made. Consumers, are increasingly. Buying products online. And the tools and knowledge that you need to reach them are more accessible, than ever, there has never been a better time to start an e-commerce, business than right now. For beginners. Starting an e-commerce, business can feel overwhelming. So this video will offer you a simple blueprint, for starting one that will take you from choosing a product, all the way to making your first sale by the end of 2021. Worldwide. Retail, e-commerce, sales will reach 4.9. Trillion, dollars. And according to nasdaq, by the year 2040. As much as 95. Of shopping, will be facilitated, by e-commerce. Needless to say the future for e-commerce, is incredibly, bright. So if you want a slice of that pie, let's get started. The first step to starting an ecommerce, store is knowing what product, you are going to sell direct to consumer. For many people this is one of the hardest parts, and a lot of would-be business owners, stop here, after becoming, overwhelmed. By the sheer, amount of choices, available. Now before we get to powerful, techniques. For finding, profitable, products. We need to lay our foundation. By identifying. The problem, we are trying to solve, there's no one way to do this but here are some great ways to unearth, product ideas. Start by writing down a problem statement, and brainstorm. Multiple, products, that could serve as a solution. For example. Let's say the problem, was that many people, find it more difficult, to stay focused, and productive, while working from home. Potential, solutions, could be a productivity. Journal. A desk organizer. Blue light blocking glasses. Or noise cancelling, headphones. Now once we have done this it's time to turn our attention, towards, the internet. To learn more about these markets, and populate, our list with more potential, products. Here are some great avenues, for discovering, products. Trend hunter. As the world's largest, trend community, trend hunter, uses data, artificial, intelligence, and real humans, to identify, consumer, insights, and new opportunities. Then we have reddit. And as the front page of the internet, it showcases, forums, about pretty much every topic under the sun. Diving, into niche specific, subreddits, can help you unearth, some pretty interesting, product ideas, social listening. This can be as basic, as looking at trending hashtags. On twitter, and topics, on facebook. Or as advanced, as using social listening tools, like buzzsumo. To identify. And monitor, trends over time, you can also gather inspiration. By checking out what's popular, and trending, on other marketplaces. Browse sites like amazon. Etsy and ebay. Checking out their curated list, and other categories, that showcase, current customer demand. To make your life super simple, we've created a webinar, on how to find, and source, winning products to sell, in this 40 minute webinar, you'll learn everything you need, from research, to validation. To sourcing, your products. If you want to learn in a matter of minutes, instead of in months, make sure to sign up and reserve your spot today. Now look at your product list, by now it should be pretty substantial. Cross off any products that are too large or heavy, as these are going to be pretty expensive, to ship and are not a good place to start your ecommerce, journey. Cross off any products that are too fragile. Or you stand the risk of losing money on refunds, if the product breaks while in transit. Cross off any products that have excessive, regulations. These will be a hassle. Cross off any products that are perishable. This one is obvious. Cross off any products that are too easy to buy locally.
Once You've done this you should have a short list of products. And now it's time to do some deeper research. You see before, investing, any significant, amount of time, money or energy into your venture, you need to have a good understanding, of the market. What is the competition, like in the space. And how much market demand is there. Don't make the beginners mistake, of building a business on a hunch, to do this, run the products through google trends. This will give you a good idea about how search interest, is growing over time, the goal is to see if your product is trending, upwards, in interest. Be sure to check the geographical. Concentration. Of the searches. This can help you identify. Where your customer base would be most heavily concentrated. And lastly, be sure to take note of seasonality. Does, search interest, dramatically. Change at different points in the year, this is something, you'll definitely want to know, next you'll want to conduct keyword research, on your product idea using a tool like google's keyword planner. This will help you determine. How many people each month, are searching for keywords, related, to your product idea, and it's going to give you a good concept. Of how in demand it is, next, you should run the main keywords for your product idea through buzzsumo, to better understand, how many people each day are talking about your potential product. While these techniques, do not give us complete certainty, that these communities of interest, are markets of buyers, they give us confidence, that curiosity. Exists. The next thing you'll want to do to narrow down your product idea is run a competitor, analysis. This is where you see how your business would compare to other players in the space. The more you understand, about the competitive, landscape, before, you start your business. The less potential surprises. You'll face later on, by evaluating, the strengths, and weaknesses. Of your competition. You can begin to formulate. How you can give your company an advantage. To do this, simply run a google search and take a look at the top ranking, sites. You can also use a tool like sem rush to identify, competitors, at a glance. You see competition. Is good, because it confirms, there's an existing, demand for what you plan to sell. When conducting, a competitor, analysis, make sure to take note of these things. Who their target, customers, are. What market share do they currently own. What is their main differentiator. Or unique value proposition, or unique value add for their business and products. What are the key features and benefits, that they highlight, in their sales materials. What are the price points for products, across, different marketplaces. How do they approach, shipping. What are their marketing, tactics. What is their social media engagement, and what social channels, are they using. Have they received, any funding or venture, capital. And take a look at their customer reviews. Specifically. Look at the language, used around products, and any recurring, complaints. Make sure not to skip this step. It's impossible, to differentiate, yourself as a business, without, knowing who your direct competitors, are and what makes you different. By now, you should be able to narrow down your product idea to one standout, product, that not only is data to back it up but resonates, with you as a founder. Now as i stated earlier. Interest, doesn't always translate, to sales. Real product validation. Only happens, after money changes hints. If you can try to make some initial sales, that is definitely the best way to know you are fulfilling, a genuine, need, for example, if you were to sell handmade, jewelry. You can sell in person at a craft show, or listed, on a marketplace, like etsy, for some product ideas, this will obviously, be a lot more difficult. Especially, if your product requires, a significant, investment, to get to market. So here are two other options for validating, your idea. Test the market by building a landing page to promote your potential, product. Run a few paid ads to drive traffic, and then capture the emails, of interested, customers. Another way is to create a crowdfunding, campaign. And this is a proven way to test demand. If your campaign, is successful. You'll be in an excellent position, to transition. Into a sustainable, business, by leveraging, the audience, you built through your efforts crowdfunding.
To Succeed, you'll need a firm timeline, and a lot of focus to reach your goal, i'm going to post a link to a shopify, article below, that will tell you everything you need to know about crowdfunding. Once you have validated, your product idea your next step will be creating a plan, to obtain your products. Now there are four popular, ways to obtain, products for your ecommerce, business. Each with its own pros, and cons. Making your own products, is a common approach for hobbyists. Giving you precise, control, over quality, and your brand, while keeping startup, costs low. Now whether you're making physical goods, like beauty products. Or creating digital products, like an online, course. This is a great option for the do-it-yourselfer. However, it does have its drawbacks. There will likely be a large time commitment. And if you're selling digital products, you can have issues with scalability. Another, viable option for acquiring, your product and inventory. Is to find a manufacturer. To produce the product, for you, you'll have the option of choosing a domestic, manufacturer. Or finding a less expensive, manufacturer. Overseas. Manufacturing. Your product is a good idea for those people that have a unique idea, or a variation, of a current product idea that doesn't exist, currently. Now it's for people that have definitely validated, their market for their product, and found significant, demand. This is super important, as manufacturing. Will require, the greatest, financial, investment, up front. Domestic, directories. Like thomas net and makers, row, and international. Directories, like alibaba. Are great places to find manufacturers. Buying wholesale. Is a lower risk business model compared to manufacturing. For a few reasons. First you're dealing with brains that are already, validated. Also, you don't have to purchase, nearly as high a quantity, compared to manufacturing. Your own product. Now purchasing, products wholesale, is a good option if you want to get up and running quickly. Or if you want to sell a variety, of products and brands. One thing that's important to note here, is that these products, won't be exclusive, to you. Directories, like worldwide, brands, and sales who are great places to find. Wholesalers. Drop shipping is by nature the cheapest, option to get started. Therefore, drop shipping is for people that would prefer to keep startup costs, as low as possible. And are less concerned about margins, and customizability. Directories. Like oberlo. And aliexpress. Are great places to source products to dropship. For everything, you need to know about starting a dropshipping, business, check out the detailed video that we've already made on this subject. With your competitive, analysis. And knowledge of how you'll obtain your product. It is time to write a business plan, a business plan is a roadmap, that will help align your efforts, and give you focus. Knowing which actions to prioritize. Is vital to building a successful, business. Business plans, help you clarify, your strategy. Understand. What resources, you need, and understand, potential, roadblocks. A business plan is a document, describing, a business, its products or services. How it earns, or will earn money, its leadership, and staffing, its financing. Its operations, model, and many other details, that are essential, to its success. Now a lot of people dream about building a successful, brand but the reality, is most people just don't know where to start so to make your life super simple, we've created a handy template, that will take you step by step, through everything, you need to accomplish, to create an amazing brand. The difference between those who succeed, and those who don't, is that they act on knowledge. So make sure to download this template, and fill it out it'll be your first step towards, your entrepreneurial. Journey. A business plan will have these vital components. Executive, summary. Write this section, last, as it really is a high level overview, of your business plan, and is a condensed, version of your most important, information. Next we have the company, overview.
This Section of your business plan should answer two fundamental, questions. Who are you and what do you plan to do. Include your mission, values, company structure, objectives. Key staff members, and what you sell. Then we have market analysis. And this should show how big you estimate the market for your products is, it should include an analysis, of your business's, position, in the market. And an overview, of the competitive, landscape. You'll need to use research, to back this up with hard data. Products, and services. This part is fairly straightforward. Simply provide, detailed, information, on the products you intend to sell, including, where they are sourced from. In this section, you'll want to include, how your products are different. Key attributes, for differentiation. Are price. Design, and function. Customer, segmentation. One of the worst mistakes, beginner entrepreneurs. Often make is believing they can sell to everyone. The reality, is is you can't afford to market to everyone, not even if you have a great product. That's why, this is where you include information, on your ideal customer. It should answer where they live. Common behavior patterns. Their beliefs. Values, and opinions. How much they earn, and where they spend their free time. Next, we have the marketing plan. Your marketing plan is one of the most important parts of your business plan, a marketing, plan should outline, your current decisions. And how your future strategy, will unfold. With a focus on how your ideas are a fit for your ideal customer. Here's what it should include. How much your products cost and why what problem you are solving, and how you are solving it what is different about your brand and product, from your competitors. How will you get your products in front of your ideal customer, what marketing, channels will you use, and where will you sell your products. Then we have logistics. And operations. And this is the part of your business plan where you will discuss, processes. That will make your big plans, a reality. In this section you will want to know, who will your suppliers, be, how much inventory, will you keep. How will you ship and fulfill your orders. And what tools will you need to keep up and running. The last component, is the financial, plan, now it goes without saying that businesses. Live and die by their financial, feasibility. So take some time on this part, the most vital components, of a financial, plan, are the income statement. The balance, sheet, and the cash flow statement, to help you understand, this in more detail, and also to get you started, we've created a beginner's, guide to cash flow management, which i'm going to link right here.
Once We have our business plan in place, now it's time to start building our brand. In e-commerce. Choosing a great name is vital to building a memorable, brand. There's no doubt that choosing a name can sometimes, feel frustrating. As it can seem like all the best names are already being used. There's, definitely no one way to come up with a great name, but a naming tool like shopify's, name generator. Or brainstorm. Sessions, with people that you trust, can be great ways to come up with ideas. Now if you're stuck for a name another great option is by crowdsourcing. A name on a platform. Like, namingforce.com. It can be a really cost effective, solution. Make sure when choosing a name that you check to see if the domain is available. Try and choose a name that has a dot com available. As a top level domain, signals trust to potential, customers. Once you've chosen a name and secured your domain, you will need to get a logo designed. Take this seriously. As logos, are a point of recognition. For customers, and can inspire, brand loyalty. A good logo, is simple. Memorable. Enduring. Versatile. And business appropriate. Online, logo makers like hatchful, are a great place to start if you're looking to save time and money. However. If those aren't large concerns. Hiring a professional, designer. Through fiverr or upwork, will help you create something, that is completely, unique to your business. If you're looking to create a serious business, it's important that you invest, time and money into making your business, legal. The reason for this is that some suppliers. Won't actually work with you if you're not a legally registered, business. Not only that, but you can create a lot of tax headaches for yourself, later down the line, if you don't set your business, up properly, from the get-go. Now, since i'm not a lawyer, and every business is completely, different, i'm just going to give you a high level overview. Of the most important steps, in making your business legal. First, you need to decide on a business structure. Second. Legally register, your business. Third. Setting, up a business, checking account and credit card. And lastly. Learn and abide by the regulations. For collecting, sales tax, based, in your region. Search engine, optimization. Is a process, by which websites, and content, are created, and enhanced, in a way, that makes finding them on search engines like google, easier. Before you dive into creating a website, you'll need to have a basic understanding, of seo. In order to structure your site properly. As it's really going to affect how easily, search engines can find your products, in your store. It's important that you take the time to get this right from the start. Now seo, is a pretty deep topic, so to give you a better understanding, we have created a separate video which you can see, here. Once you have a basic understanding of seo, it's time to get started building your store, now if you plan to use shopify, the theme store gives you access to premium, designed, ecommerce, website, templates.
At A really affordable, price. I really recommend this option as it's a lot more cost effective than hiring a designer, and will be the quickest way to get your store live. When building your store, here are some things that you should really keep in mind. Write brand copy that communicates. Brand values. And speaks to your ideal customer. Write product descriptions, that entice, customers, with product, benefits. Take high quality, beautiful, product photography. You don't need to have thousands, of dollars in camera equipment. To make beautiful, photos. Check out our video that shows you how to take really great photos, on your cell phone. Your website, design can have a huge impact on your seo. As a best practice, make every product page as few clicks from your home page as possible. Your page design can also have a huge impact, on your conversions. Design your pages, with simplicity, in mind. Trying to weave your brand's dna, into the page so that at a glance a visitor knows exactly, what you're about. Use, social proof. Social proof adds credibility. And definitely, boosts conversions. Reviews. Photos from instagram, and first person testimonials. Are a great way to build trust and encourage, purchasing, behavior. Now let's talk about shipping, before you make your first sale it's incredibly, important that you map out a defined, shipping strategy. Here are the most basic things that you need to know. Number one is who pays for shipping, are you gonna pass the full cost of shipping onto customers. Will you offer free shipping. Or will you offer flat rate shipping, there's pros and cons to all of these but you need answers. Shipping rates and methods, are the next thing that you need to keep in mind, calculating, shipping cost depends, on a variety of factors. Such as package size. Package, weight. Origin, country. Destination. Country. Carrier. Additional, shipping options, like tracking, and insurance. Luckily, shopify, makes this a lot more simple. If you're based in the us or canada, you can pay for usps. Ups. Dhl, express, and canada post shipping. Right through shopify, and receive, pre-negotiated. Rates. Next thing is sourcing your packaging. You can order free packaging, from usps. Ups, or dhl. Or invest, in branded packaging. One thing that's really important to consider, with e-commerce. Is that packaging, is a part of the customer, experience. Which is central to the overall brand experience. People do unboxing, videos, for a reason. Then of course we have customs, declarations. And forms. If you're shipping outside, of your own country, you'll need to include the proper customs documentation. Check with your country's postal service to find out exactly, which forms you need to attach, to your package. Next we have labeling. Many new e-commerce, entrepreneurs, start off by writing the ship to and return addresses, on the package by hand. Although this can be a great way to start it tends to be pretty time consuming, tedious, and not scalable, as your business grows. Shopify, shipping, happens to solve this problem. Allowing you to print and pay for multiple, shipping labels, directly. In shopify. Lastly, we have fulfillment, warehouses. Shipping is undoubtedly, one of the more challenging, aspects, of starting an e-commerce, business. Fulfillment, warehouses, help simplify, this process. By automating, and handling the shipping for you they accomplish, this by keeping part of your inventory, at their warehouse. Fulfillment, warehouses, can help you get cheaper shipping rates and shorter shipping times, but it's going to come at the cost of customizability.
Now That you have launched your store, the work of marketing your products begins. It's time to make some sales. Now the goal of digital marketing, is to drive targeted, traffic to your site, here are some effective, digital marketing, strategies. First we have paid advertising. Paid ads allow you to target users, based on demographics. Interests, and traits. To serve ads to prospective, buyers, that can turn them into paying customers. Now while this does require a budget and there is a bit of a learning curve, paid ads can be one of the fastest, ways to acquire, customers. When it comes to the world of online, advertising. Facebook ads and google ads, are among the largest, providers, of paid traffic. Next we have influencer, sponsorships. If you have a marketing budget, one of the quickest ways to get your product or brand, in front of a relevant, audience. Is by paying someone with an online following, to promote it for you this involves, finding influencers. That have an active, engaged, following. Who would be interested, in your product. They also need to have the creative ability to produce content that reflects, well on your brand. Then we have building an email list and this involves, generating, leads, by collecting, information, from potential, customers. In order to nurture them or retarget, them with ads, that will eventually, convert them into a customer. There are plenty of ways to build an email list from driving, paid traffic to a page with an email capture. To offering, a welcome, discount, on your website, for new subscribers. Email lists can be one of your most valuable, assets, as a business owner. Of course we have search engine optimization. When looking for a product or service, many consumers. Begin, their search on a search engine, like google. Doing keyword research, and implementing, your findings, into a content strategy, for website, pages and blog posts. Can really help you climb in google's rankings. Which can bring you a lot of search traffic, filled with potential, customers. Then we have social media marketing, social media, is such a powerful, tool for reaching new customers. Building brand authority, and creating an audience, that can help you consistently. Make sales. While each platform, is unique, they all follow the exact same principles. You need to create content, that is relevant, and valuable. You need to collaborate, with other social media accounts, to broaden your reach. And you need to post consistently. To get recognized. And figure out what works, and what doesn't, now the subtopics. Of marketing, shipping, operations. Finance, and basically, everything we discussed here today, are huge topics, with tons more to learn. Consider, this video a roadmap, to e-commerce. Guiding you towards, the most important things, you need to learn about further, to create a successful, online, business.
Make Sure to subscribe, to our channel because we're going to be doing some deep dives on each one of these topics, hopefully, this video has given you a blueprint, to help you start your ecommerce, journey. Let us know in the comments what other videos, you'd like to see and we'll make it happen also, don't forget to like and subscribe, so you don't miss out on more tips to grow your online business. Remember, we're a channel for small business owners with big plans. I've been your host tyler and i'll see you next time on learn with. Shopify. You.