In a world where brick-and-mortar stores were becoming passe, the pandemic has made them more irrelevant. All businesses have slowly moved to online platforms. If you are looking to start your own business, here is how to Start an eCommerce Business in India.
E-commerce businesses are booming these days. Starting an ecommerce business is easy – if you have a step-by-step plan and you implement it carefully.
Before we discuss how to start an ecommerce business, it’s essential to understand what is an ecommerce business.
What is an ecommerce business?
Ecommerce which is short for electronic commerce is the business of buying and selling products over the internet. The term “ecommerce” has been restricted to buying of products, but in general, it can be any transaction made over the internet.
Did you know?
- The first online sale was made on 11 August, 1994.
- The first product that was sold was a CD of the Band Sting.
- It was sold through a website called “NetMarket”.
Since the first purchase, the ecommerce market has been ever-expanding. There are multiple platforms, enterprises, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and freelancers who offer products and services on the internet.
It is clear from the growth rate of the ecommerce market that it presents lucrative opportunities for smart businessmen. However, starting your own business will introduce you to many challenges.
How can you navigate these challenges effectively? Let’s dive deep into how to start an ecommerce business.
How to start an ecommerce business in India
Entering the ecommerce space and selling products and services used to need some heavy lifting. It required team collaboration and knowledge of coding to build a website. The times have changed and now any individual with a passion, idea, plan, and product can explore the space and start a business online.
Steps to create an ecommerce business
Here is your step-by-step guide on starting an ecommerce business and building an ecommerce website.
Step #1: Research and identify your niche for the best ecommerce business ideas
A basic task like going out for dinner takes a lot of research. We look up restaurants, locations, ambiances, types of foods, and consumer reviews. Starting a business is not so different. Once you have decided that you want to start an ecommerce business, you need to be nose deep in research.
You need to ask yourself:
- What will I sell online – is it a physical product or a service?
- Will it be a product, package, or subscription?
- What will be my source or raw material?
- What is my target audience?
- Who is my competition?
Eyeing the competition and learning from them is highly recommended. Be it a success story or a failure story or the biggest faux pas of the century- it is a learning experience for you. Analyzing your competition will lend you insights on why they are doing well and how you can attract customers.
The ecommerce space is vast and provides immense opportunities to all. This easily translates into a greater competition. To have an edge over the competition you must identify a niche for your business. Your niche will attract customers and ensure retention. It will also help you in attracting the right talent to help you grow.
If you are unable to decide what product to sell, try to capitalize on your strengths. To sustain a long-term and healthy business you must focus on product ideas that interest you and will help you stay motivated.
The next step in your endeavor to “How to start an ecommerce business” is formulating a business plan.
Step #2 Crafting an ecommerce business plan
A business plan is practically a roadmap for your business. A business plan will include all analysis, research, study, financial plans, and marketing plans that you have devised for your business.
A well-defined business plan will help you see what can be the best course of action for your business or online store.
The basic structure of a business plan includes:
- Executive Summary
- Company description
- Market Analysis – SWOT analysis
- Management and Organization
- Product and Services
- Customer base
- Marketing and Advertising plan
- Logistics and working cost plan
- Financial Plan
Once you have all this intensive research in hand and a well-defined business plan, it will become easy for you to plan your next move. It will also help you evaluate your idea. A business plan can come in handy for recruitment, partnership, and attracting investments.
Step #3 How to set up an ecommerce business
The setting up of the business part is a multi-step process. For setting up a business, each step should be planned and executed carefully. These steps are actions that will help you come one step closer to start building your store.
Step 3.1 Select a name for your online ecommerce business
Your brand name or business name is its identity. The name will define what your consumers, investors, and potential employees will perceive from your business. So, choosing a catchy, memorable, and appropriate name is a must.
Takedown all the best ideas and stick with the one that just clicks! Do not forget to run the name by google to ensure that no one else is using the same name. Once you are sure that the name of your choice is unique and apt – register it.
Step 3.2 Design a logo
A logo is as important as the name of your business. Your clients will come to identify and resonate with you based on your brand logo. The logo should be creative and match the tone of your business. A logo grabs the attention of potential customers, makes you recognizable, sets you apart from the competition, and helps build customer loyalty.
Your brand logo should be true to your brand identity. If you are a fun brand, you can go for bold colors and funky lettering. . If you are a serious brand, your logo can be minimalistic with strong colors and bold fonts. Remember, your logo should be designed such that it speaks to your target audience.
Step3.3 RegisterDomain for your online ecommerce business
Ideally, your domain name should be the same as your business name. Though in case it is not available, try to secure a domain name that is easy to spell. It should relate to your business.
For instance, your business name is Vikas’ Sports Accessories and the domain name VikasSportsAccessories.com isn’t up for grabs, try something like SportsAccessoriesByVikas.com
Step 3.4 Select a business structure
Business structure refers to the ownership pattern of the business. Here are some common structures which are recognized and followed:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited Liability Company
If you do not register your business as an LLC or corporation, the MCA ( Ministry of Corporate Affairs) automatically considers it to be a sole proprietary business or partnership.
It’s highly recommended that you opt for the later two business structures. If you are ever sued or are unable to pay back your debts, in the case of a sole proprietorship, your personal assets are at risk. In the case of LLC, your personal assets are free from the purview of the court. If you incorporate your business as a corporation or LLC, you can also avail of some tax benefits.
Step 3.5 Register your ecommerce business
Now that you have a name, a logo, a domain name, and a business structure – it is time to register your business and make it official. You need to fill out the appropriate paperwork laid out by the MCA. You can either fill it out on your own or take assistance from a lawyer. Get your Employer Identification Number
Next up is obtaining your EIN or Employer Identification Number. The EIN will allow you to open a business bank account and file for taxes. It will also help you gain tax benefits and buy assets for your business. Your EIN is similar to your Aadhar number, it’s a unique identification number for your business and allows you to file for important paperwork. You need to obtain an employer identification number irrespective of your plans for hiring employees or not.
All these steps have turned your ideas into a business. They have also changed you – you have become a business owner now from a mere person with a plan!
Step #4 Build a Website for your online ecommerce business
All the steps you have followed up till now mirror the steps required to open a brick-and-mortar store. Now as an ecommerce business, you must build your own website. The website will be the face of your business, so it should speak volumes about your brand.
Your website will also be the first impression your customers get of your brand. Try to make the website interactive, engaging, and interesting. Multiple websites help you build your online store without the hassle of coding. Here are a few famous and tested business favorite options you can choose from.
These websites come with customizable templates. They are easy to use and ensure results. Make sure to categorize your product pages for easy navigation.
However, if you are going to set up a custom-coded ecommerce store, you must ensure that your customers have the best brand experience with it. In order to ensure that it has all the necessary elements and information needed to engage a customer, it is best to talk to a good digital marketing agency to create a website and maintain it.
Step #5 Learn about SEO
You can make a wonderful website and it would still not attract customers if it’s rotting on 3-4-5th pages of search engines. Your website needs to rank higher on search results to be visible to your potential customers. You need to learn about SEO and implement best practices to ensure that your business ranks.
Hiring a digital marketing firm is a smart move as SEO can be complicated. A digital marketing firm will help your business take off and 10X your traction with the target audience.
Step #6 Market your ecommerce business
Being on top of your game is just not enough. Your product and services are top-notch – but still, you need to be visible to gain customers. Opting for social media marketing and running paid advertisements on Google, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter based on your product is crucial. Running social media campaigns will ensure targeted marketing and a swift rise in brand value.
Starting an ecommerce business has never been easier. There are obvious advantages of an online business to brick and mortar stores. It’s cheaper to start, it is functional 24*7 and its outreach is much greater. Not to mention, online stores reduce your carbon footprint greatly,
It’s much easier and affordable to expand the business making it all the more worthwhile for young entrepreneurs.
Here we have listed out for you important steps that you can follow to start your ecommerce business today! The earlier you start the greater edge you will enjoy over your competition. It’s crucial for you to identify the defining factor – the unique selling proposition of your business.
For all of you wondering how to start a small ecommerce business in India, this piece is like gospel. You can follow it step by step and ensure a successful head start.