In the past few years, the ecommerce industry has seen tremendous growth, and it is still growing day by day. People worldwide are now more comfortable shopping online than ever before. It is safe to say that ecommerce is the future of shopping.
If you are also planning to start your own online business, then this complete ecommerce business blueprint is for you. This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about starting and running a successful ecommerce business.
Let’s get started.
What Is Ecommerce?
Ecommerce is the process of buying or selling products and services online. This can be done via a website, an app, or any other online platform.
Ecommerce businesses can be of different types. For instance, a business may sell products directly to consumers (B2C), or it may sell products to other businesses (B2B).
Similarly, ecommerce businesses can also be classified based on the type of product they sell. For instance, a business may sell physical goods, digital goods, or both.
What Is an Ecommerce Website?
It is a website that allows you to buy or sell products and services online. An ecommerce website typically has a catalog of products, a shopping cart, and a payment gateway. Some also have additional features, such as a blog, a forum, or a customer loyalty program. A few great examples are Amazon, eBay, and Etsy.
It may look like the ecommerce industry is already saturated, but that’s not the case. The ecommerce industry is still in its early stages, and there’s much room for growth.
Did you know that ecommerce sales have grown by more than 20% in the past year? And they are projected to grow by more than 30% in the next 5 years!
This is a great opportunity for you to start your own business and get a piece of this pie.
Why Start an Ecommerce Business?
There are many reasons to start an ecommerce business. Here are a few of the most important ones:
- Ecommerce businesses can be started with little to no investment.
- You can reach a global audience with an ecommerce business.
- They are easy to scale. You can automate many processes and hire employees to manage different aspects of the business.
- You can operate an ecommerce business from anywhere in the world.
Now that you know what ecommerce is and why you should start an ecommerce business, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Ecommerce Business Blueprint: The Complete Guide
In this section, we will discuss every aspect of starting and running a successful ecommerce business.
Here’s a checklist of everything we will cover:
- Business models for ecommerce businesses
- Choosing the right platform
- Designing your website
- Selecting the right payment gateway
- Shipping and fulfillment
- Marketing your ecommerce business
- Converting visitors into customers
- Retaining customers and growing your business
Business Models for Ecommerce Businesses
The first step in starting an ecommerce business is to choose the right business model. There are several different models that you can choose from, and each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Here are the most popular business models:
Businesses sell products or services to consumers. This is the most common type of ecommerce business.
For example, Amazon is a B2C ecommerce business. It sells products to consumers all over the world.
- It can be started with little to no investment
- Potentially high profits
- Highly competitive market
- Difficult to scale
Businesses sell products or services to other businesses.
For example, Alibaba is a B2B ecommerce business. It connects businesses all over the world with suppliers.
- Less competitive market
- Easier to scale
- Requires more initial investment
- Lower profits margins
Businesses sell physical products to consumers. For example, Walmart is a physical goods ecommerce business. It sells a wide variety of products to consumers all over the world.
- It can be started with little to no investment
- Wide variety of products to sell
- Difficult to scale
- Requires storage space for inventory
Businesses sell digital products to consumers. For example, Apple’s iTunes Store is a digital goods ecommerce business. It sells digital music, movies, and TV shows to consumers worldwide.
- It can be started with little to no investment
- No need to store inventory
- Difficult to scale
- Requires a high level of expertise
Choosing the Right Platform
There are two main types of ecommerce platforms: hosted and self-hosted.
Hosted platforms are easier to set up and use but less customizable. They also charge monthly fees. Shopify is an example of a hosted platform.
Advantages of hosted platforms:
- Easy to set up and use
- No need to install software or hosting
Disadvantages of hosted platforms:
- Less customizable
- Monthly fees
Self-hosted platforms are more difficult to set up and use, but they are more customizable. They also require a higher initial investment. WordPress with the WooCommerce plugin is an example of a self-hosted platform.
Advantages of self-hosted platforms:
- More customizable
- One-time investment
Disadvantages of self-hosted platforms:
- More difficult to set up and use
- Higher initial investment
You also need to decide which features you need for your ecommerce platform. Here are the most important features to look for:
You need a platform that can accept payments from major credit cards and PayPal.
You need a platform to help you track your inventory so you know when to reorder products.
You need a platform that can connect to shipping providers to get rates and print labels directly from your ecommerce platform.
You need a platform that can help you keep track of your customers, so you can offer them better support and target them with relevant marketing messages.
You need a platform that can help you keep track of your products, so you can offer them for sale in multiple channels and manage your inventory.
Now that you know the different types of ecommerce platforms, you can easily choose the right one for your business.
Setting Up Your Ecommerce Website
Here are a few things you need to do to set up your ecommerce website:
1. Choose a domain name: This is the address people will type into their browser to visit your website.
2. Choose a web host: This is where your ecommerce website will be stored.
3. Install WordPress: This is the software you’ll use to create your website.
4. Install WooCommerce: This is the plugin you’ll use to turn your WordPress website into an online store.
5. Choose a theme: This is the design of your website.
6. Add your products: This is what you’ll sell on your ecommerce website.
7. Set up payment processing: This is how you’ll accept digital payments on your website.
8. Set up shipping: This is how you’ll ship your products to your customers.
9. Set up taxes: This is how you’ll charge taxes on your ecommerce website. Make sure to consult with a tax specialist to make sure you’re charging the correct amount.
10. Launch your ecommerce website: This is when you’ll make your website live for the world to see.
Adding Content to Your Ecommerce Website
To do this, you’ll need to create a product page for each product you want to sell.
On each product page, you’ll need to include:
- A name for your product
- A description of your product
- Photos of your product
- The price of your product
You’ll also need to create a blog for your website. This is where you’ll write articles about your products, industry, and anything related to your business. Make sure to include keyword-rich articles that will help you rank in Google and drive traffic to your website.
You should also add an About page, a Contact page, and any other pages you think are necessary for your business website.
Once you’ve added all the necessary content, it’s time to select the payment gateway for your website.
Selecting the Right Payment Gateway
There are many different payment gateways you can choose from, so it’s important to select the right one for your ecommerce website.
Some of the most popular payment gateways include:
Each payment gateway has its own fees, so make sure to compare the fees before selecting a payment gateway.
You should also consider the following factors when choosing a payment gateway:
Ease of use: The payment gateway should be easy to use for both you and your customers.
Security: The payment gateway should be secure so that your customers’ credit card information is safe.
Customer support: The payment gateway should have good customer support if you have any questions or problems.
Setting Up Shipping and Fulfilment
It’s important to offer free shipping on your website, as this is one of the main reasons people shop online. You should also offer fast shipping so that your customers receive their products quickly.
To set up shipping, you’ll need to create a shipping policy for your ecommerce website. This policy should include:
- The countries you ship to
- The shipping methods you offer
- The cost of shipping
- The estimated delivery time
You should also set up a fulfillment center to ship your products quickly and efficiently. A fulfillment center is a warehouse where your products are stored. When an order is placed on your website, the order is sent to the fulfillment center, and the products are shipped to the customer.
It’s important to choose a fulfillment center close to your customers so they can receive their products quickly. You should also choose a center that offers good customer service in case of any problems with an order.
There are many different shipping and fulfillment options you can choose from, so it’s important to select the right one for your ecommerce website.
Some of the most popular shipping and fulfillment options include:
- Shipping by weight
- Shipping by price
- Free shipping
- Flat rate shipping
Marketing Your Ecommerce Website
Marketing is one of the most important aspects of running an ecommerce business. Without marketing, nobody will know about your website, and you won’t make any sales.
There are many different ways to market an ecommerce website. Some of the most popular methods include:
Search engine optimization: SEO is the process of optimizing your website for search engines. This means adding keyword-rich content to your website and building backlinks to your site.
Paid advertising: Paid advertising is a great way to generate traffic to your website. You can use paid advertising to run ads on Google, Bing, and other search engines.
Social media: Social media is a great way to connect with your customers and promote your website. You can use social media to post updates about your products, offer discounts, and run giveaways.
Content marketing: Content marketing is a great way to generate traffic to your website. You can use content marketing to write blog posts, create videos, and develop infographics.
Email marketing: Email marketing is a great way to connect with your customers and promote your website. You can use email marketing to send updates about your products, offer discounts, and run giveaways.
Influencer Marketing: Influencer marketing is a great way to reach a larger audience and promote your website. You can use influencer marketing to connect with social media influencers and have them promote your products or services.
Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing is a great way to generate sales for your website. You can use affiliate marketing to find affiliates who will promote your products or services on their websites.
There are many different traffic generation strategies you can use to promote your ecommerce website. The best way to find the right strategy for your website is to experiment with different methods and see what works best for you.
Converting Visitors Into Customers
Converting visitors into customers is the most important step in launching a successful website. There are many different ways to convert visitors into customers, but some of the most effective methods include:
Offer a discount: Offering a discount is a great way to convert visitors into customers. You can offer a discount on your products, shipping, or both.
Run a contest: Running a contest is a great way to generate excitement about your website. You can offer a prize for the best review, the biggest order, or something else.
Offer free shipping: Offering free shipping is a great way to convert visitors into customers. Free shipping is a great incentive for people to buy from your website.
Tips for converting visitors into customers:
1. Make sure your website is easy to use.
2. Offer a great customer experience.
3. Offer a discount or free shipping.
4. Use social proof to build trust with your visitors.
5. Make it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for.
6. Use high-quality images and product descriptions.
7. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
8. Use pop-ups to capture email addresses.
9. Use the live chat to answer questions in real-time.
10. Use exit-intent pop-ups to offer discounts.
Keeping Your Customers Coming Back
Customer retention is just as important as customer acquisition. Many businesses focus on acquiring new customers, but they don’t focus on keeping the customers they have.
There are many different ways to keep your customers coming back, but some of the most effective methods include:
1. Offer loyalty programs: Loyalty programs are a great way to keep your customers coming back. You can offer discounts, points, or both.
2. Send out email newsletters: Email newsletters are a great way to keep your customers up-to-date on your latest products, offers, and news.
3. Offer a subscription service: Subscription services are a great way to keep your customers coming back. You can offer a monthly or yearly subscription.
4. Run a referral program: Referral programs are a great way to get your customers to promote your ecommerce website. You can offer a discount or a prize for every referral.
5. Host a contest: Hosting a contest is a great way to generate excitement about your ecommerce website. You can offer a prize for the best review, the biggest order, or something else.
If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to launching a successful ecommerce website. Just remember to focus on acquiring new customers, converting them into customers, and keeping them coming back.